Ippon seoi-nage (“one-arm shoulder throw”) is a more powerful and brutal version of ō-goshi where the opponent rolls over your shoulder instead of your hip, doubling the height of their fall.
Seoi-nage is part of the canon of jūdō, which all jūdōka are required to learn. However, seoi-nage is rarely used; ippon seoi-nage, is a variation of seoi-nage used instead, because it has an easier setup. Additionally, ippon seoi-nage is a “naked” or “no-gi” technique, meaning that it does not require the defender to grab the opponent’s uniform jacket, so it can be used against opponents who are shirtless or wearing tank tops, halter tops, tube tops, etc. While ippon seoi-nage is not a part of the canon of jūdō, it has been recognized by the Kōdōdan as an official jūdō technique. Within Goshin-Jutsu, ippon seoi-nage is usually reserved for intermediate students, since beginners and novice students need to refine their skill at ō-goshi, which ippon seoi-nage builds upon.
Like all throws, ippon seoi-nage is effortless if you do everything by the numbers.
- Kuzushi (Destroying balance): Ippon seoi-nage is a “towards throw;” which requires that the opponent’s energy to move towards you. As such, ippon seoi-nage is appropriate when the opponent is charging at you, pushing you, or is stunned and doubled-over following a strike to the abdomen or groin. Do not use ippon seoi-nage if the opponent is pulling you, or if they are leaning back. Fighting against the opponent’s momentum and balance is counter-productive.
First, 7-3 to the inside. (Ippon seoi-nage only works from the inside.) Grab the opponent’s same-arm. If they are wearing a gi, jacket, sweatshirt, etc., grab their sleeve, just under the elbow. Otherwise, grab their wrist with a grasping block. Pull the opponent’s arm forward; pretend that you are reading your wristwatch.
- Tsukuri (Positioning): Your free opposite-side hand slides inside of the opponent’s armpit, until your elbow is outside their arm. Flex your arm, as though you were showing of you biceps, to wrap your arm around the opponent’s arm, tightly pinching it in place. If possible, grab the opponent’s gi, jacket, sweatshirt, etc., at the shoulder seam to prevent the opponent from escaping. Turn, so that you and your opponent face the same direction. As you step in to do this, hip check the opponent’s groin with a Shakira [hips don’t lie]-like motion.
You must have a solid, secure connection before you can transfer kinetic energy and momentum to your opponent. Your opponent must be snug against you so that no light can pass through the space between you and the opponent, causing middle school dance chaperones to yell at you.
For optimum efficiency and leverage, there are two posture quirks that you must be mindful of:
- Your center-of-mass must sink below the level of your opponent’s center-of-mass. Shorter people have a natural advantage over taller people with this technique. Taller or equally-sized people can still perform this technique, if they squat lower than their opponent’s belt knot. There is a natural tendency to lean forward when squatting, but this is a bad habit that will compromise your balance. While leaning may look like getting low, you cannot lie to physics. Exceptionally tall people will struggle with ippon seoi-nage, and all other hip throws. Hip throws were not designed with tall individuals in mind, so they should substitute tai-otoshi in place of ippon seoi-nage.
- Your feet must be inside of your opponent’s feet. That is, ippon seoi-nage works best when your stance is narrower than your opponent’s.
- Nage (Throw): Straighten your legs to lift the opponent slightly. Simultaneously turn at the waist towards your left, and pull your hands to your left hip. It helps to pretend that there is a log sitting 45° to your left, and you are splitting it with an axe or maul. Alternately, the motion is like turning into a left front stance and swinging a bō in a diagonal downward strike.
This will cause the opponent to roll over your leg, and land directly in front you in a side breakfall. Maintain your grip on the opponent’s arm, as this is a setup for a shovel pin, arm bar, or stomp kick, depending on what the situation calls for.
[video of ippon seoi-nage fast and slow, from different angles.]