Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!
Already a subscriber? Log In
The the drop seoi nage, is one of the most commonly used takedowns among some of the best heavyweights. But the traditional version of the throw is not without its faults. The textbook variation of the throw requires the attacker to turn his back to his opponent, giving the defender an opening to counter.
For this reason, some competitors have adopted a modified version of the throw, taking a less risky angle. In this week’s Technique Showcase, we consulted two-time olympic judoka Nick Delpopolo to break down this takedown, a favorite of athletes like Lucas "Hulk" Barbosa, Erberth Santos, and more.
Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa’s most recent demonstration of the drop seoi nage was at the BJJ Stars V: Heavyweight Grand Prix earlier this month. In his opening round against Yuri Simões, Hulk quickly brought his opponent to the ground with a variation of the throw.
Clip: Hulk Scores An Early Seoi Nage Takedown Against Yuri Simoes
After Hulk cleared Yuri’s left-hand collar grip, he stepped back, creating distance. As Yuri stepped forward to fill the gap, Hulk dropped to the side of his collar grip, putting all of his weight in Yuri’s right shoulder.
It wasn’t a clean throw; Yuri stayed on his knees instead of falling to his back. But it put Hulk in a position to begin advancing, and he eventually secured the top position.
This is a typical application of the technique by jiu-jitsu standards. Because Hulk was perpendicular to Yuri during the throwing motion, he was never in danger of giving up his back.
For contrast, here’s João Gabriel Rocha executing a more traditional variation of the throw.
Clip: João Gabriel Rocha Lands A Powerful Seoi Nage
Rocha had a similar set up here to the one Hulk used against Simões. He created space, and baited his opponent into following. As his opponent stepped forward, Rocha dropped between his opponent's legs. Because he had such a powerful off-balancing — or kuzushi — he wasn’t worried about conceding his back. The result: a high amplitude throw, and eventually a submission.
Learn Both Variations From Two-Time Olympic Judoka Nick Delpopolo
Nick Delpopolo offered his advice on both variations of the throw. Here’s everything from the kuzushi to the finish of the traditional technique.
The modification often employed by jiu-jitsu athletes can prevent the attacker from getting his back taken. But for this throw to work properly, the attacker must have a significant kuzushi, specifically using the hand techniques — or, te waza. Delpopolo gave a step-by-step analysis in the video below.
The Best Of The Drop Seoi Nage
Mahamed Aly has some of the best judo in jiu-jitsu. He’s landed his osoto gari on some of the biggest stages. But this seoi nage at Pans in 2018 was a thing of beauty. Even though he didn’t commit his hips, he got his opponent’s entire body weight loaded forward. Aly carried his opponent onto his elbow, and swung his body as if chopping an axe for a clean finish to the mat. Pay attention to Aly’s head position. His eyes follow his left elbow throughout the motion, allowing him to put his full force into the throw.
Clip: Mahamed Aly's Seoi Nage Looks Effortless
Erberth Santos scored big with this seoi nage at the 2018 UAEJJF World Pro. It started with his footwork. He pushed into Ricardo Evangelista, expecting Evangelista to push back in response. When Evangelista moved forward, Santos pulled and dropped to a perpendicular angle. He stayed at this angle until Evangelista was already committed over the top, at which point, Santos rotated to parallel to complete the throw.
Clip: Erberth Santos Has The Smoothest Seoi Nage In The Business
The most significant detail here was the frequency at which Santos yanked on Evangelista’s jacket. He uses three different pulls: one to bring his opponent forward, one to take his opponent over the top, and one to pull the grips snug as he finishes the movement to the mat.
Santos hit a similar throw against Buchecha at Worlds in 2017. He didn’t get as far underneath his opponent in this instance, but he brought his opponent to the mat, nonetheless.
Because he didn’t dive beneath Buchecha, Santos had to generate kuzushi in a different manner. Here, he used Buchecha’s arm as a whip, throwing Buchecha’s shoulder to the mat to create the off-balance.
Clip: Erberth Santos Throws Buchecha With A Seoi Nage
Even when the seio nage fails, it creates avenues for follow-ups. As Delpopolo showed, the defender may expose their back while trying to defend the throw. But even if the defender doesn’t overcommit in that way, there are other options.
One of them is the reverse seoi nage, sometimes called the Korean seoi nage. The following clip of Hulk is a great example of this.
Clip: This Double Seoi Nage Is Some Of Hulk's Best Work
Barbosa attempted a modified seoi nage to open this exchange. His opponents wisely sprawled his hips, but was still extended as he stood back up. This gave Barbosa an easy opportunity to create another kuzushi, this time opting for the reverse seoi nage. In the reverse, Barbosa dove into the throw leading with his sleeve grip, rather than the traditional method of leading in with the collar grip.
Hulk uses several throws that resemble the seoi nage. His options are not limited to the seoi nage and the reverse seoi nage. Hulk also favors the kata guruma. Hulk prefers to use this technique, which resembles a fireman’s carry, when he has a specific grip.
From a traditional collar-sleeve grip, Hulk reaches his sleeve hand across his opponent’s body to grab the other sleeve. Once he has cross-sleeve control, he feints a foot sweep. When his opponent reacts to the feint, Hulk has space for his hips. Similar to the way he executes seoi nage, Hulk dives to an angle, putting all of his body weight in his opponent’s shoulder and drawing him to the mat.
Clip: Hulk's Kata Guruma Is Masterful
Study Up On Your Judo Techniques
Who doesn't like to show off their takedown game? Check out our archives, featuring techniques and analysis from Travis Stevens.