Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Seoinage is not a crack-of-the-butt throw

If you look at the old texts on judo, like the Kodokan book or the Canon or Daigo's book, seoinage is considered a hand throw, not a hip throw, meaning that the hand action is of primary interest in the the technique. Most folks though, teach seoinage as a large hip throw (what I call a 'crack of the butt throw' because you put the crack of your butt on their thigh as a fulcrum). Check out this video of Mike Swain's seoinage. I certainly can't gripe about his form, it is a beautiful, powerful, flowing hip throw, but it is pretty obviously a crack of the butt throw. Notice he specifically mentions overturning the feet to get more power - that positioning of the feet makes his buttcrack line up better with uke's thigh. Thus a crack of the butt throw.
...and here is the Nagenokata form - pure hand throw. Not only is there no buttcrack on the front thigh, there is almost no hip at all. The very side or corner of tori's hip might brush uke's front thigh on the way by but it's pretty obvious that there's no fulcrum at the hip - thus a hand throw instead of a hip throw.
The question - can we get the hand throw version of this thing to work in randori against a resistive opponent or do we just give up the ideal and allow seoinage to become a crack of the butt hip throw because this form is faster and easier to teach beginners?


  1. The hand version works very well in competition... Not for me, mind you, but I have certainly had it done against me. Speed and body positioning (being low) are the keys. If you watch Koga, he very clearly had the hand version going - the first body contact is uke's chest to his upper back. But the cool part with his seoi is the "butt assist." Once uke is locked to Koga's back, his butt then shoots up and launches uke's lower half into orbit. He almost waits for them to come back down before he completes his throw...

    By the way: Swain's throw = tsurikomi goshi?

  2. Good catch, Chad. Following is a great vid of koga doing his no-crack seoinage.

    And I wouldn't call Swain's seoinage a TKgoshi. There is some lift in there, but Swain's lifting motion that he points out is not essential for seoinage and is not even the same form of pulling-lifting motion that I'd use in TKgoshi.

    Incidently, you got ot play with Mac some before he died, right? Mac always translated TKgoshi as 'the pull that picks him up' instead of 'lifting and puling.'

  3. I'm not seeing the difference between Koga's butt assist and Swain's. They seem to both be using the butt, although the foot placement is way different.

    I was taught Koga's way by an old teacher but I can't pull off such a deep step in randori. He teaches all of us beginners that thing but no one can make it work.

    So shoot for the ideal or do it Swain's way? I vote for Swain 100%. I'm about to be 38 years old. I don't have an entire lifetime to make the judo work. I want something practical, especially since I didn't start at age 4.

    I have all of Swain's stuff so I'm a fan boy of his. Maybe I'm biased. :)

  4. Swain's throw places the hips across uke's front thigh as a fulcrum, over which uke is turned. In Koga's throw, the hips are not across the thigh. Koga is throwing uke over his hip but the hip is not the fulcrum the fulcrum is somewhere around the ankle.

    Whenever you use the butt assist on any hand throw like taiotoshi or seoinage, etc... uke is already thrown before tori raises his butt to add some more oomph to the throw. Same thing with kataguruma. Uke is already thrown by the time tori uses his shoulder to direct the throw and give it form. It is not a shoulder throw.

    And again, nothing wrong with Swain's seoinage. He's busted a lot of people with it, but it is a hip throw and not a hand throw.

    Does it matter what we call it or classify it as? Maybe not if the goal is to flatten as many ukes as we can. But if we are trying not only to be able to bust baddies but also to be able to actually understand what Kano was trying to communicate in the structure of the art, maybe.(I want to do both.)

    Maybe it matters that seoinage is a hand throw and not a hip throw. Maybe it matters that kataguruma is a hand throw and not a shoulder throw. Maybe it matters that taiotoshi is a hand throw and not a leg throw...

  5. btw, when i first started watching koga's throw, I thought he was throwing taiotoshi. The way that I throw taiotoshi without the leg across in front looks a lot like that...

  6. So if it isn't TKG (I like abbreviating... good idea), and it isn't seoi, then what is it? Incidentally, I am interested in the taxonomy of Judo because I think it is revealing and interesting. Not crucial, though. Same way that I am interested in etymology. I am a bit of a dork that way.

    Regarding the difference in the butts: To me, one of the things I key on to teach and learn throws is the location of "the glue." What I mean by that is that for most throws, (tai o being a big exception, and there are others), you use your hands primarily to stick uke's body to yours (tsukuri), and then you let your body do the work (kake). The places that stick together should feel like they are glued... Not sticky, mind you, just... you know, not sliding all over the place. As an example, with ogoshi, the arm around uke's waist is used to glue uke's waist to tori's upper butt/lower back. Then the body leans forward and rises, which is the piece that really kills uke - so long as the glue holds. If uke slides, then the uke just stands there with tori rubbing his butt on uke. We've all seen it and done it.

    So, back to my point about the difference in the glue being key for seoi: for seoi, the glue is on tori's shoulder blade. That should be the first point of contact that uke makes with tori's body. If he runs into the hips first (and subsequently sticks to them), then it will end up being a hip throw. Which I still think would be called a TKG, given our nomenclature options. =:>

  7. I'd probably give it some bastard name like 'seoigoshi - the back carry hip throw' if I were to name it. The no-crack, pure hand seoi is a lot like sumiotoshi but thrown forward.

    I sorta use that glue idea, but it seems to only work for hip throws. I'm not sure there is necessarily any glue on seoinage. If you find yourself gluing your torso to uke's during seoi then you are maybe trying to turn it from a hand throw into a hip throw, which is a more familiar class of things for a lot of folks.

  8. One last thing: First, I believe that was Swain getting thrown in the first bit of the competition footage. Second: I didn't have time to do it (bed time) but try to find some additional Koga competition footage of his seois... Some of them are just crazy, with his "butt assist" turning into a real "butt launch." You'll know it when you see it. Mind blowing.

  9. The hand version video shows the attacker stepping into the attcker and the defender uses this forward mommentum to perform the throw. Mike Swains version shows him performing the throw against a static person and I think that is why a butt crack version is applied.

    If whilst holding your opponent you use a strong pull forward to create the same forward momentum as in the kata video version, with good timing it is possible to perform a hand seoinage instead of a butt crack.

  10. That's the theory, Marks, but have you noticed that to give a good strong pull to jerk uke into motion forward, you have to plant your feet at least for a short time.

    If your feet are stuck to the ground while uke's are moving and you can't get yourself into motion until about the time uke is ending his step then the no-buttcrack seoi is very hard to do. so people who pull uke into seoinage tend to do the buttcrack seoinage.

    On the other hand, there are a few folks, like Koga and Karl Geis and me (how'd you like how I just inserted myself into that list ;-) can catch uke in motion, synch with him, and throw seoinage as a beautiful, no-crack seoinage.

    For me, the chance to do seoinage doesn't seem to happen a lot in randori or shiai but when it does happen it tends to be the no-crack hand throw version instead of the buttcrack seoi.


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