How To Do Morote Seoi Nage: Step-by-Step Guide

Morote seoi nage (two-handed shoulder throw) is one of the most used throws in judo, it was ranked as the top scoring throw at the London Olympic Games.


In this article you will learn:

  • How to do Morote seoi nage (Step-by-step guide)
  • How to do Knee-drop Morote seoi nage (Step-by-step guide)

Step-by-step guide to Morote seoi nage

In this guide, we have broken down this throw into several steps. This does not mean that you have to execute each step separately, sometimes you have to execute several steps simultaneously.

1. Kumi kata (Grip fighting)

Start by establishing a solid grip on your opponent, you must have a dominant grip before attempting a Morote seoi nage, don’t attempt it if you don’t feel that you have full control, or you will be countered.

The best grip for Morote seoi nage is this one:

  • With one hand, grip your opponent from the lapel
  • With the other hand, grip your opponent from the sleeve, the elbow or even the tricep.

2. Kuzushi (breaking your opponent’s balance)

That’s the second step you should be focusing on, putting your opponent slightly off balance.


  • Use your sleeve grip to pull your opponent towards you and slightly upward
  • When pulling your opponent from the sleeve, rotate your hand to the outside as if you want to look at your watch
  • With your lapel grip, make a fist as if you want to throw an uppercut and press up towards your opponent’s chin. This will force them to elevate and will put them on the toes.
  • While elevating your opponent, turn your head to the side of the sleeve grip. To make it easier for you, your wrist (imaginary watch) is your anchor point, when moving your wrist up, keep your eyes on it and follow it with your head.

This is an essential step for Morote seoi nage, the whole throw relies on Kuzushi, so make sure to drill it as many times as you can.

3. Step in

  • Take a step with your right foot to the centerline of your opponent’s stance.
  • Pivot on your right foot to face the same direction your opponent is facing
  • Take a step with your left foot to join your right foot
  • Now you are facing the same direction your opponent is facing

4. Don’t bend over

When stepping into your opponent’s range, don’t bend over, keep a straight torso.

5. Narrow stance

  • Keep a narrow stance, your stance shouldn’t be wider than your opponent’s stance.
  • Your feet must be inside your opponent’s stance.

6. Don’t leave any space

Your back should be glued to your opponent’s groin area. Don’t leave any space between you and your opponent.

In order to manipulate your opponent’s weight as desired, it should become one entity with your own weight. Once this unification of your weight and your opponent’s weight happens, you become in full control of your opponent. Their body will go wherever you decide it goes.


7. Change levels

Bend your knees and lower your level. Your hips must go lower than your opponent’s hips.


The center of gravity of your opponent is in their hips, if you control their center of gravity you will control their balance. So the key here is to bring your center of gravity lower than theirs.

Notice how the blue gi player lowered his hips compared to the white gi player

lower hips judo

8. Lift your opponent


Now is the time to initiate the throw:

  • Your lapel grip is the most important part of this lift.
  • Your sleeve grip is just an assisting mechanism.
  • Drive your elbow under your opponent’s armpit.
  • Your elbow must be against your opponent’s elbow
  • Use your forearm to lift your opponent
  • Use the sleeve grip to assist the lift

Important note: A good test to see if the mechanics of your throw are correct or not is to lift your partner with only one hand (the lapel hand). If you are able to perform the throw with only one arm then your mechanics are correct.


9. Hit with the buttocks

When initiating the lift, hit your opponent with your buttocks in the area below their hips, this will take their feet from under them and will help load your opponent on your back.

10. The best way to finish the throw

Most of judokas perform Morote seoi nage with a lifting motion, where they load the opponent on the back, then they throw him on the ground.

There is another method to do this throw, this method doesn’t require much force and effort:

  • In this method, you don’t have to load your opponent on your back
  • Bend your knees and lower your level to the maximum
  • Don’t drop on your knees (that’s a different technique)
  • Get under your opponent’s groin area
  • Pull them over your back
  • Now push upward with your hips. The elevation of the hips will put your opponent automatically off balance
  • All you have to do now is to roll your opponent over your back and slam them to the ground

You can also apply the same principle with one knee on the ground


Knee-drop Morote seoi nage (Step-by-step guide)

You will see different variations of Morote seoi nage in judo competitions. One of the most popular variations is the knee-drop Morote seoi nage.
This variation is great to prevent any sort of counter by your opponent.


Here are some useful tips for this technique:

1. Don’t drop too far away

Don’t drop on your knees too far away from your opponent, you should be just under your opponent, between their legs.

2. Spin and shoot

Spin your body in the air while doing the knee-drop, you should do both simultaneously.


3. On the ball of the feet

Don’t rest your feet on the instep, instead, keep your feet on the ball.
Your feet, along with your knees make your base, they are the mechanism you will rely on to push against the ground.

4. Knees inside

Your knees shouldn’t be wider than your opponent’s stance, your knees should be inside your opponent’s stance.


5. Upper back glued to the groin area

Keep your back straight, your upper back should be glued to your opponent’s groin area.
Your upper back will serve as a tripping mechanism for the throw.

6. Follow through

Sometimes your opponent loses balance partially, that’s when you have to do a “short-run” where you literally go forward dragging your opponent with you until they totally lose balance.


7. Finalize the throw

  • The knee-drop Morote seoi nage is a subtle technique, it doesn’t rely on force, so don’t try to lift your opponent on your back while you are on your knees, this is a big mistake many novices make.
  • Pull your opponent to the ground
  • Make a spin as if you want to turn your head to your back.
  • Remember, your body is a spinning mechanism and your opponent’s body will just roll on that spinning tool.

8. Capitalize on your throw

Whether you are doing a standing Morote seoi nage or a knee-drop Morote seoi nage, remember to always capitalize on your throw.

Many students make the mistake of releasing the opponent once they feel that the throw was a success. Don’t fall into this trap!


Keep your grip especially on your opponent’s arm, don’t release it.
Depending on the rules you are playing under (Judo or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), Follow through with:

  • Side control
  • A pin
  • A submission