Tag Archives: shoulder

Morote Seoi Nage: Tips and Details

I have the good fortune of knowing, and being friends with, a couple of people who have a deep understanding of their art and the ability to teach and explain it to stubborn assholes like me. Josh Vogel is a good example of that in jiu jitsu. Niko Dax, an excellent judo black belt, is an example of that in judo. He often teaches me tiny details about throws that end up changing the way I see the throw. He did that with koga-style ippon seoi nage, with uchi mata, and now with morote seoi nage.

Morote seoi nage has been a mystery to me. As for many people, this technique when done incorrectly can wreak havoc on your shoulder. Every high level competitive black belt I’ve ever talked to always said that it shouldn’t hurt your shoulder, and yet every time I tried it I could feel how it could destroy my shoulder. As a basic rule I don’t do techniques that have a higher than normal risk of injury. It ain’t worth it. Still, the reason I’m very interested in morote seoi nage is that it’s one of the variations of seoi that are good for jiu jitsu in that the grips prevent the opponent from taking your back on a failed or successful throw. This is in stark contrast to my favorite throw: ippon seoi nage.

Niko explained a lot of details about morote to me, but he also put out a quick video, that has some of the excellent tips we talked about:

I like how he suggests to think of morote seoi nage as more like kata guruma (fireman’s carry). He also emphasizes that the kuzushi (off-balance) is done not with a strong pull, but with a turning of the torso while keeping a strong frame.

Of course, as with all judo techniques, knowing the correct details is just the beginning of the journey. You have to drill the crap out of those details. I’ve been focused on wrestling in past few months, but I will start working on morote seoi nage after the upcoming stint of July tournaments is over.

Here is a highlight of morote seoi nage. Some of the throws here are either variations of morote or not morote at all so take the highlight with a grain of salt. But you can clearly see many of the judoka execute the technique the way Niko explains it. In fact, Niko has worked with and learned from some of the best judo competitors in the world. I think that’s the best way to learn the basics: from the masters who have beat the best in the world using those very basics.

Taking Time Off Before a Competition

Last year I competed, on average, every other weekend. Mostly judo, but some jiu jitsu too. What made competition an enjoyable experience for me was competing often and treating it as just another hard training session (where my opponent tries harder than usual). As in most aspects of my life, turning something into a habit makes it much more natural to fit into my schedule which is overcrowded by work-related activity.

Due to a recurring shoulder injury, shift of focus from judo to jiu jitsu, and a change in training regimens and teams, I struggled to get back into the same regular mode of competing in late 2010 and early 2011.

I missed 3 major competitions in 2011 due to the same shoulder injury. I hated how it felt as just another lame excuse. The essential problem is that my favorite technique from the feet is exactly what causes this injury, and even minor tweaks take weeks to heal back to anywhere near 100%.

All that being said, I’ve been really looking forward to the IBJJF New York Open (this upcoming weekend). I was very nervous about the shoulder injury, but training hard twice a day for several weeks leading up to it. Of course, as the gods would have it, I rehurt the shoulder Tuesday night, but not bad, just bad enough where it hurt and felt weak. I tried training Wednesday morning and it still hurt (worse). So I stopped right away and decided to take the next 3 days before the competition off. This is something that many people have said is a good thing to do anyway (even without injury) to let your body and mind recover. And also to get your mind to the restless state where you are itching to get on the mat by the day of the tournament. I never liked this idea, but the injury is forcing me to try it.

I’m not sure where my shoulder will be Saturday, but I’m competing without excuses no matter what. However, I have to be smart about it… With a division of 37 people and more in absolute, if I keep winning, there will be a lot of fights! So while the main goal of any one fight is to win, I have to be very strategic about the set of techniques I go for as to minimize the probability of making the shoulder much worse.

Much like white belts, blue belts are often very aggressive and erratic on the feet, so I just have to relax, be patient, and attack when the opening is there, without forcing anything even if the other guy is going crazy. I believe in the techniques I know, and that very little power is needed to execute them when the timing is right.

The time off from training is giving me a chance to relax and enjoy several productive days (and nights) working.

Training Around an Injury

I got a small tear in my right rotator cuff. There’s pain, there’s weakness. It’s a mess.

So instead of training twice a day, hard, with and eye for the New York Open in 2 months and Worlds in 4 months, I’m forced into the state of limbo that most of us know from having been injured: trying to recover, but not taking too much time off.

A reasonable doctor will recommend to stop all training until complete recovery. I honestly would IF I knew when complete recovery would happen. The problem is that you never really know.

My new program is BJJ for an hour every other day. Then I also do treadmill work every day: one day crazy intense, one day jog.

I hate running, truly, especially the hard interval training on the treadmill. But I don’t have much choice.

So, how am I surviving on just 1 hour of BJJ every other day as compared to 2-3 hours every day before the injury? Watching lots of video, both instructional and competition footage. For example, right now I’m watching the Back Attack DVD from JT Torres. It’s an example of the type of instructional DVD that I can learn from while sitting at home. He doesn’t show anything flashy, just the fundamentals of attacking the back. So I’m watching it second time through and trying to catch the little details, especially of the moves I’ve seen many times before. I find that instructional DVDs help most with moves that I’ve already practiced a lot. So I look for new little details that work for the particular instructor.

That’s the thing about guys like JT Torres. How does he pull off these very techniques on some of the best people in the world? There are two component I think. The first can be taught: solid technique (the details). The other cannot be taught with a DVD and that’s the timing, pressure, speed, etc of the move. So step one is to understand the details that make the technique work, and THAT I can sit at home and visualize after watching instructional DVDs. But then I have to take those ideas to the mat and get thousands of repetitions in. With an injury only the first part is possible, but since this part is often neglected, it’s good to give it some much needed focus.