The late, great Toshihiko Koga was renowned for his dynamic standing ippon-seoi-nage. Of course he had other techniques as well. But he became synonymous with ippon-seoi because that was the throw he did over and over again. JudoCrazy’s Oon Yeoh will highlight some other throws he did. Some of them were throws that he did throughout his career while others were one-offs that he seemed to do once and never again.
Although Koga’s powerhouse technique was the ippon-seoi-nage, he actually had an impressive range of seoi-nage variations. Here in Part 1, we take a look at four distinct variations of seoi-nage that Koga did.
Koga is known for ippon-seoi-nage but he did morote-seoi-nage well, though not in its conventional form. One type of morote-seoi-nage he had used since the early days of his competition career was the cross-grip morote-seoi-nage.
The morote-seoi-nage he is most known for is the legendary one-handed morote-seoi-nage he did on Chang Su Li of North Korea in the semifinal of the 1989 World Championships, for which Fighting Films commentator Neil Adams declared: “Goodness me, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a technique like it!”
Actually, this form of morote-seoi whereby Koga throws off a one-handed lapel grip is something he used whenever dealing with a difficult left-hander. In the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he tried this technique several times on Giorgi Tenadze of the Soviet Union, an extreme left-hander. Back then, he couldn’t get it to work and lost to Tenadze.
What a difference a year makes. By the time he fought North Korea’s Li, he had this technique down perfectly. Neil Adams rightly called it: “The throw of the tournament.”
In the 1989 World Championships, he did yet another unusual form of seoi-nage. It happened in the final, against Mike Swain of the USA, who is a left-hander. Swain had beaten Koga in the 1987 World Championships and knew how to stay away from Koga’s ippon-seoi-nage, having been thrown with it twice (in the Kano Cup and Shoriki Cup in Japan).
Koga was not able to do his usual ippon-seoi-nage so instead, he did a wide-split sleeve seoi-nage which scored a koka against Swain. This was the one and only time he was known to do this form of seoi-nage.
Koga had a variety of seoi-nages and he kept innovating even at the tail-end of his career.
The last form of seoi-nage we’re going to highlight is a 2-on-1 lapel seoi-nage where Koga would grab his opponent’s right lapel with both hands. Although it resembled ippon-seoi-nage, it’s probably more accurate to call it a form of morote-seoi-nage. Koga used this technique pretty late in his career, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.