Entrance to the Barn Dojo....

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Second Principle...in no particular order: kata analysis cont.

"Much of the stepping--particularly in the initial "uke"--indicates how the defender steps off line and consequently the direction from which the opponent's attack comes."

Taking Saifa--the first classical subject in the Goju-ryu canon--as an example, and imagining that one starts the kata facing north, the first sequence, repeated three times--a wrist grab release and arm bar, followed by a grab of the opponent's head, a step back and down into shiko-dachi, and a forearm strike to the back of the opponent's neck--shows the defender moving in along either a northeast tangent to the opponent (in the first and third repetition) or a northwest tangent to the opponent (in the second repetition).

The second sequence--beginning with the block of a two-handed push, followed by a front kick, and ending with the lower-level hammer fist--also shows an initial movement in along the northwest tangent.

The third sequence--the turn around to the south which again ends with a lower-level hammer fist--shows a 90 degree off-line initial movement with the attacker stepping in from the west with a left upper-level punch.

The fourth sequence, which shows an initial left hand block and right hand hammer fist strike and is repeated on the other side with a right hand block and left hand hammer fist strike, again shows a 90 degree off-line movement with the attacker again stepping in from the west.

The fifth and last sequence, the step and mawashi uke, again shows a 90 degree off-line movement with the attacker again stepping in from the west.

Saifa kata shows two of the directional off-line movements found in the Goju-ryu classical subjects. One can see an example of stepping back directly to the south in Seiunchin kata (with the defender facing north and the attacker stepping in from the north). One can see an example of stepping back at an angle to the southwest or southeast in Kururunfa kata (again facing north with the attack from the north).

Last sequence in
Seipai showing 90
degree step off line.
So what one should see in kata is a demonstration of how one steps off line. The pattern of kata doesn't show turns because one has run out of space but because it shows both where the attack is coming from and how one should avoid it in applying the technique. What should be apparent then is that in analyzing kata (bunkai) one should always start from the end of the previous sequence, because it is the movements and steps between sequences that show how to move off line, and, consequently, the application of the techniques may be different from what one previously imagined.

End of throw in last
Seipai sequence.
For example, in the last sequence of Seipai kata, if we begin from the undercut in shiko-dachi which ends the previous sequence, one steps and turns in a clockwise fashion to face the original front. But the off-line movement shows us that the attacker is not coming from the north or original front but from the west. This changes the way we might see the hand techniques applied. In this case, as one steps off line with the left foot, the left arm blocks an opponent's right punch. At the same time the defender's right hand comes across the opponent's face to the right side of his head. Then, turning towards the front, as both arms move in a clockwise fashion, taking the opponent's arm and head with them, the opponent is spun around and thrown. The sequence finishes with the low hammer-fist.

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