Sumi-Gaeshi and the Head Outside Single Leg Two relatively recently introduced rules that have caused a great deal of confusion deal with the head outside single leg position, and the sumi-gaeshi that is often used to counter it. Firstly, for white belts and juvenile competitors it is illegal for a competitor to pursue a single leg takedown with their head on the outside of their opponent’s body due to the risk of the attacker landing on their head or neck during the takedown and causing injury. Although it is defined as an illegal moves in the rules, it’s not a move that the attacker is penalised for. Instead, should that position happen during the course of a match, then the fight is immediately stopped, the fighters are separated and then the match is allowed to continue. Advantages may be given as appropriate if they were secured prior to the match being stopped due to the safety issue. This ruling applies whether from a takedown, from a dominant position or a sweep, the context is irrelevant, the position is the one that is being dealt with. Obviously on occasion the head of a fighter will drift to the outside, and if it’s only a very temporary moment the match is unlikely to be stopped, but should that position be maintained with the single leg held and the head exposed, the match should be stopped immediately. Mechanically speaking, it’s not the best takedown anyway, so this is no great loss for the competitors.
A related rule to the one above that has caused even more confusion is that it is illegal to “grab your opponent’s belt and throw him to the floor on his head while defending a single leg situation while his opponent’s head is on the outside of his body”. This has been taken to mean that many sacrifice throws and counter throws from the single leg are now illegal. This is not the case. The only thing that is illegal is the deliberate driving of your opponent’s head into the mat, something which is made much easier by the position of their head within the single leg. It is possible your opponent may land on their head as a side effect of your throw, but if it is not deliberate and done with intent, it’s not illegal and hence not grounds for disqualification. Hopefully that clears some things up. Until next time!
Oli Geedes - Head Referee @ United Kingdom Jiu Jitsu Federation