Do you remember hula-hoops, the twist or duck tails? If you’re too young you can research these things in the ancient history section of the library. Better yet, go ask your parents.

These were all fads back in the 50’s and 60’s. A fad is a short lived mania, of no apparent rationale that in retrospect looks pretty silly. Where do fads come from? Are they the results of some primordial need to follow the herd? Is it a desire to be like everybody else? More to the point, is there social value in following fads?

Unfortunately, Judo also has it’s fads. The worst example that I can think of was the ‘Drop Knee Seoinage’. Back in 1971 a young Japanese player won the -78 kilo World Judo Championship by using just one throw. The young man’s name was Fujii Shozo and his throw was a very low, driving, seoinage. Fujii repeated his championship in 1973 and 1977 using the same throw.

The prevalent logic seemed to be that if a low seoinage worked so well for Fujii then low seoinage must be THE throw to use. Everybody and their kohei started dropping to their knees, supplicating themselves to the mat gods, and hoping for a throw. The problem was that it didn’t work! Every where you looked players were dropping to their knees and pulling opponents down onto to their own backs or, worse yet, slamming opponent’s faces into the mat.

Fujii didn’t just drop to his knees and pull! Fujii executed his seoinage in a dynamic manner that utilized HIS unique skills and abilities. The results were that an entire generation spent their Judo careers chasing a fad that they didn’t have the physical ability or the mechanical understanding to execute.

Fortunately the flop and drop seoi days seem to be behind us. It’s true, there are still a few players that use a very low seoinage but they’re using it because they have the physical abilities to perform the skill.

Not so fortunately, there’s another fad on the way. The “Koga Cross Body Tsurikomi Goshi” is coming. If you thought that the Fujii seoinage was tricky wait until you try this one. What’s scary about the ‘Koga’ is that it has the potential to be very dangerous! Think about it, you trap your opponent on your back and then pile drive his head toward the mat. Can anyone say Matte?

If you want to follow an example then follow the true example of great champions. Learn, practice and utilize the skills that work best for YOU. That’s all that the champions are doing. They’re only doing what works best for them. Now, that’s a fad that you could live with!

By the way, Maruki Eiji used the low driving seoinage to win the 1967 World Championship when Fujii was a still teenager and Orin Smadga was using the cross body tsurikomi goshi a couple of years before Koga. Just goes to show you, if you follow the herd too closely you don’t even know who the leaders are.

This page is provided by the author George Weers and published here by Neil Ohlenkamp, Encino Judo Club, California, USA.
Last modified July 25, 1997