Koga’s other techniques (Part 3: Sode)

It’s quite common for seoi-nage specialists to also do sode-tsurikomi-goshi. Although seoi is considered a hand throw and sode a hip throw, in practical terms they have a lot of similarities. Both are forward throws that require tori to load uke on their back.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that Koga had sode in his repertoire. Actually, he had two: One to the left and one to the right. Normally, when a player has sodes to both sides, we are looking at a double-sleeve drop sode. But in Koga’s case, his sodes were standing versions and the gripping and mechanics of each sode were very different.


Koga’s one-handed sode.

Koga is well-known for his one-handed sode, which he debuted internationally at the 1989 World Championships. He would generally use this technique against left-handers. It was a technique he used extensively throughout his career, and he scored ippon with it in the 1991 and 1995 World’s.

His one-handed sode often (but not always) involved a leg grab whereby his free hand would be used to guide uke over and flat onto their back. He wasn’t the only player from his era to use this – Oren Smadga of Israel and Yordanis Arencibia of Cuba both had very similar forms of the one-handed sode.


Koga’s cross grip sode.

The other sode he had was a cross grip sode which was done against players who were right-handed. Koga would get a cross grip with his right hand (gripping uke’s right lapel). His left hand would be placed near uke’s right triceps. From there, he would pivot and turn in towards the left to execute an incredible cross grip sode.

He debuted this throw at the 1991 World’s, where he threw many players with it, including Joaquin Ruiz (ESP) in the final. He used it again, at the 1996 Olympics where he threw a young Flavio Canto with it for ippon.