Ippon seoi-nage

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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; an easier-to-setup variant, ippon seoi-nage, is used instead. Ippon seoi-nage is not a part of the canon of jūdō, but the Kōdōdan has approved it as an official jūdō technique. Ippon seoi-nage has the added benefit of being a “naked” or “no-gi” technique, meaning that it does not require grabbing the opponent’s jacket, so ippon seoi-nage can be used against shirtless opponents, who wear tank tops, halter tops, tube tops, etc. Within Goshin-Jutsu, ippon seoi-nage is usually reserved for intermediate students, since 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.

  1. 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.) As you step in, hip check the opponent’s groin with a Shakira-like motion. 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.

  2. 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.

    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, be mindful of the following posture quirks:
    • Your center-of-mass must sink lower than 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, and this bad habit will compromise your balance. While leaning might look like sinking, 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 exceptionally 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.

  3. 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 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.]