Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Kata analysis - Bunkai and Oyo - Nijushiho

Welcome to the first of what I hope/plan will be a regular series of technical kata blog posts.
I want to kick start this little project by discussing the kata Nijushiho (or Niseishi if you study the non shotokan versions).
Nijushiho is a very common and popular kata that is performed across many styles. As I have already noted the same kata is performed in Shito Ryu and Wado Ryu styles of karate under the Niseishi name as well as in Tang Soo Do under the name "E Sip Sa Bo". All translations of these names come back as "24 steps"
The kata is thought to be Okinawan in origin and comes from the Aragaki school (Aragaki was an old Okinawan martial arts master in the late 1800s that taught Itosu and Azato). Other katas from Aragaki include Sochin and Unsu.
Shinri karate schools place this kata at 2nd dan level, other schools may put the kata elsewhere within their syllabus but in general this kata should be learnt by the more experienced practitioner.
In the attached videos I have attempted to include pragmatic, realistic, applied bunkai as well as more traditional bunkai.
Some Bunkai is more likened to dojo training and involves very little alteration to the classic form of the kata. A few minor changes may have been made to aspects of the kata such as forward or back movement or areas of counter attack just to react to the attackers body but in general the kata should remain unchanged. The other Bunkai featured is aiming to be realistic and used on an untrained attacker (rather than another black belt in karate in a dojo setting).

In this video we see 2 slight variations of a traditional bunkai and a slightly more realistic version meant for self defence purposes.
The first uses the downward pressing block (osai uke) to block a mid level straight punch (Chudan oi zuki). The kata then gives 3 options for counters. In our demonstration we show all 3 in the same order as the kata, you could of course use just 1 or 2 depending on the situation.
The first counter is a quick reverse punch to the "solar plexus" designed to stun the opponent and open him up for a more substantial finishing counter.
The 2nd counter is a quick knife hand strike to the throat (Jordan shuto uchi). This of course could be altered to become a back fist or palm heel strike to the face or simply a push onto the chest if there is no viable option for the shuto uchi.
The final counter is a rising elbow strike to the face or throat. We make good use of the forward sliding movement from back stance (Kokutsu dachi) into hourglass stance (sanchin dachi) to close in the distance to make the elbow strike possible.
The next section of bunkai considers a counter for a one handed lapel grab.
In this bunkai we use the downward pressing block to trap the grabbing arm. We also use our backward step into back stance (Kokutsu dachi) to pull our opponent forward and, most likely, lower his head. This then could give us the opportunity to throw a quick reverse punch to the face.
We then use the previously explained shuto uchi movement to swap our arms over and keep a hold of the opponents arm. Then the forward shift from back stance to hourglass stance and the rising elbow gives us the height and leverage necessary to perform an arm lock or break.
The final piece of bunkai is the most practical and realistic. We use the kata to attempt a defence against a common one handed grab and punch. The raised left arm in the kata becomes a block to the expected punch (if the punch never comes it could easily be used to push the face away to divert the attackers view). We then use the right hand dropping to hikite to lock the grabbing arm and pull the attacker off balance. Our pressing block with the left arm then becomes a pull onto the back off the attackers head to force him down onto our on coming punch. In reality we would probably continue with repeated punches in this position or possibly knee strikes to the opponents now lowered head but in the video above we stick to the kata and show an elbow strike. We have made a slight change to the elbow from a rising strike to a round-house elbow due to our close range, we have also not made any adjustments to our stance as in the other applications.
The next section of the kata we are going to use is the age uke, age enpi (upper rising block and rising elbow strike).
The first demonstration is pretty straight forward in that we use the upper rising block in its most common use and block a straight punch to the head (jodan oi zuki). This should be extremely common to all karate-ka and something we have all used hundreds if not thousands of times. We are countering this attack with our rising elbow strike under the chin. This could be adjusted to become an elbow strike to the solar-plexus should the attackers height or distancing allow.
The second application makes a few alterations. Firstly we are considering a strangle attack from the front. We then use the sideways step into forward stance in the kata to move "off line" and away to the opponents side. Then we can make use of our leading hand before performing our upper rising block to push the attackers head to divert his view and cause distraction. Our age uke then becomes a break away technique to release the attackers arms from your neck or clothing. In the kata we only perform one elbow technique but in our demonstration we have added a second to show how we can use the strike to either break the attackers arm or strike into the body or both.
Next up we have the sideways knife hand block (yoko tate shuto) followed by side thrust kick (yoko geri kekomi) and reverse punch (gyaku zuki).
The first demo shows an application with very little change to the kata. The knife hand block is used to block a straight punch to the head. We then use the blocking hand to grab the attackers arm and pull them on to our side kick and follow it up with a reverse punch.
The second demo uses the tate shuto to move an attackers push/grab across our body. We would usually assume that any push/grab would be followed by a punch from an aggressor. By moving the grabbing arm across we would hope to prevent the following punch from being thrown with any force or direction. We can then use our side kick counter to strike the opponents leg or back of the knee to cause them to drop to the floor. This should then bring their head down to a lower height allowing or previous mid-level punch to be executed to the opponents head.
Section 4 features a backhand block (haishu uke) countered with a step in to rising elbow (age enpi), reverse punch (gyaku zuki) and a shift away into downward block (gedan barai).
The first application uses the back hand block to stop a straight punch to the head. We then step in to counter with the elbow strike and follow up with the reverse punch to the body. We then make use of the outward shift and the assumption that the attacker will have been forced into a reaction by the previous counter to use the gedan barai as a head strike. All of this is based on a few to many assumptions for my liking but demonstrates the katas techniques well.
The next demo hopes to answer a few of the questions asked in the first demo and again we are attempting to block a one handed grab and punch scenario.
We now use the haishu uke to lock the opponents grabbing arm. Our elbow strike is then made into a cover for our head to protect from the incoming hook punch, we can also use this as an elbow to our opponents head without much trouble. We now find ourselves in a very close quarters fighting position and probably feel the need to get as many counters in as short a time frame as possible. We can make good use of the reverse punch as a short body shot to the opponents kidneys and the downward block becomes a good forearm strike to the attackers head or throat.
Section 5 is very similar to section 4.
In the traditional application we start identically to section 4 but change our counter to a stepping in, forward elbow (mae enpi) and then a quick downward block or lower level back fist strike (gedan uraken).
In the next demo we make a slight change to the application used in section 4 in that we are now making the arm lock onto our opponents grabbing arm go across his body (as in the earlier section we would hope this prevents any further attacks). Our counter then becomes an elbow strike to our opponents arm or shoulder and the downward block can be used to force downward pressure to the upper arm and send the attacker to ground.

Finally, section 6 and the end section of the kata.
In the kata we perform a large circular arm motion leading to a double hikite followed by a double punch in sanchin dachi. We then step forward into a second sanchin dachi and perform mawashi uke (round house block).
The circular arm movement is to break free from a double grab or push. We then use the double punch to strike to the face and solar-plexus simultaneously. The mawashi uke can then be used to
finish off breaking the attackers grab (if the earlier attempt had not been completely successful) and we finish with a push to the opponent using our step forward into sanchin dachi to provide some body weight for a stronger push.
The second demo is slightly more complex. Our right arm of our circular arm movement is now to off balance a one handed grab. Again we assume that a punch is to follow so we move in close to shut down the punch and block early with our left arm. The left arm can then make a slight shift from the shoulder of the attacker to behind the head. This allows us to secure the head and give proprioception for our counter (what was a double punch is now just a single punch with the previous jodan level punch being used to grab the head). We could now make use of the mawashi uke and push to perform a neck break or choke hold to finish the opponent off.
Above is all the sections collated into one video to make viewing a little easier.
All questions and comments are welcome. Please contact via this blog page or email
In case anyone is interested the video features myself and my friend and colleague Phil Culley and was filmed across 2 of our regular weekly training sessions at the Martial Arts Centre of Excellence in Milton Keynes.
We hope to have more videos along the same format in the coming weeks. If you would like to see something specific please get in touch.

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