The Dangers of Seoi Nage in BJJ Competition

nomura-seoi-nage-bjj-competitionI’m both a judo and bjj competitor, so naturally the subject of utilizing the techniques of one sport as part of the other has been of great interest to me.

First, I should say that in my mind neither sport can (or should) really lay claim to any of the techniques I’m talking about in this post (despite hundreds of forum posts to the contrary). Judo and jiu jitsu are very similar martial arts, but their respective sports have evolved in such a way that the rules of the sport make the two martial arts appear quite different. Judo emphasizes big throws, while BJJ emphasizes “dominant” position.

My favorite judo technique is standing ippon seoi nage. Here’s a video of Travis Stevens, a top level U.S. judo player whose gripping and technique I draw a lot of inspiration from in my own judo:

Not all seoi nage variations are created equal. Here are some characteristics which define distinct versions of seoi nage which are important in the context of BJJ. I’ll explain why below:

  • Lower body
    • Standing
    • Drop on one knee
    • Drop on both knees
    • Koga’s (and my favorite): step back through the opponent’s legs
  • Grips
    • Ippon
      • Lapel
      • Armpit
      • Sleeve
    • Morote
      • Sleeve + Lapel
      • One handed (Koga liked this version also)

I do many of these variations, both on the right and left side, which is very important given the unpredictable nature of the gripping game.

What’s important in the context of BJJ is that these throws will end up in different positions, both if they succeed or fail. The danger, in general, is that I turn my back to my opponent, allowing him to potentially take my back and score 4 points, both if the throw succeeds and fails. This doesn’t matter for judo, but it does matter for BJJ. A two-handed morote seoi nage version, for example, keeps space between you and the opponent, and thus the resulting throw is much less likely to wrap your opponent tightly onto your back. The drop version of morote seoi nage, in fact, is the most common seoi nage variation thrown at high level gi jiu jitsu competition (from my observation).

The most common unpleasant circumstance for me is that I do successfully throw my opponent but he chases my back and ends up on top of me in the turtle position. No hooks, so no points scored, but still, I just did a huge throw and the result is that I’m the one on the run. It shouldn’t be that way.

This post is already way too long, so I’ll leave all the things I want to say for later.

Bottom line is that, as Ray suggested after our judo training session at Osagame today, I’ll make a good bjj throw the project for the summer. My goal is to work on variations of seoi nage that land me in side control and also to work on other forward throws that may work well in BJJ competition. More on that later…

0 thoughts on “The Dangers of Seoi Nage in BJJ Competition

    1. Lex Post author

      That’s a great one but it’s cheating! 😉 It has to be a forward throw or it doesn’t count as judo 😉

  1. Chris Round

    In my opinion, the top throw for bjj is likely taio toshi. The reason is that if you don’t plant the person on their back, your actually better off as you have their back. Considering its low risk high reward nature it is rather rare that a bjj player knows enough judo to counter it.

    1. Lex Post author

      Interesting choice of top throw. I assume you mean top forward throw, because osoto, ouchi, kouchi, footsweep, etc are all safer.

      I’ll have to think about taio. I do think it’s very counterable against a strong guy who is not leaning. Of course, we are not talking about someone who is amazing at tai otoshi. I would have to say that the best forward throw for bjj (in terms of safety and effectiveness) is ken ken uchi mata.

      Then there are the sacrifice throws…

      So many tough choices 😉

  2. Eric Silverman

    Funny you should mention the ken ken Uchi Mata. I just showed that technique last Tue as one of my favorite Judo for BJJ attacks. We covered the ken ken Uchi Mata to Ko Uchi Gari switch followed directly into a straight ankle lock. It would have been a perfect opportunity for your Judoka/BJJ/inner Sambo specialist. Too bad you dont support my Tue BJJ class. But fear not, we are covering another Judo for BJJ takedown tomorrow Tue Jun 7th from 6:00pm to 7:30pm at Osagame Martial Arts at 1168 South Broad Street between Federal and Elsworth <—–(Yes, I am shamlessly advertising my class on someone elses blog)

    1. Lex Post author

      Luis, I haven’t seen tai otoshi in BJJ much for some reason. I don’t like it because it’s so dependent on the gi, and I try to focus on techniques that can be applied in both gi and no-gi.

      That said, if done with the traditional grips, it should be a very effective and safe throw. Have you had much success with it?

  3. luis balingit

    I am one of your admirers n even posts pictures on my wall. I started Judo when I was 7 and have been busy and stopped at 27 when I got married.

    I have not played Judo for quite sometime now- I wish I could. I would like to share this with you in memory of my father Sensei Pedro Santos Balingit for your thoughts :
    One of the throws Professor P. S. Balingit required a perfection of execution is the MOROTE SEOI NAGE.
    In Randori, he instructs that before the UKE touches his right foot on the mat, Morote Seoi Nage has already been executed.
    It is important to note that MOROTE SEOI NAGE must be executed as uke is moving forward, sidewards or while he is transfering
    his weight from left to right.

    The difference in his teaching is that the elbow is not placed on UKE’s right armpit (Standard). But instead, the elbow is forwarded tightly in front of Tori’s head or parallel to face. Fist or arm may almost appear beneath UKE’s jaw. Knees down or
    bent to get the center of gravity or on a Judo stance of throw (open or closed leg). The Uke will not pass necessarily over the shoulder. In Randori,
    he can pass overhead. The professor believes that the combination of the twist of the leg, the strong right hand grip, the
    pull of the left hand grip as TORI turns around bending his legs on a Judo stance without making a step allows a good execution of the throw.

    The Tori can hold any part of UKE’s kimono to execute this type of throw. But pleeeeaassse, BEWARE !!!
    this throw should be supervised and done by professional Judokas only. Countering this throw may result to injury.
    For your thoughts.


    1. Lex Post author

      Thanks Luis. You’re absolutely right and great suggestions on morote. If done correctly it should not result in injury.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *