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Class Notes – Musha Dori

January 6, 2012

The technique for this week is musha dori, from the torite goho of the kihon happo.

Before we went into the technique proper, we looked at the 3 most common problem-areas for musha dori. In other words, when people mess up musha dori, chances are that they missed one (or more) of these three important factors:

1) Correct positioning – Your body has to be at the right position, distance and angle vis-a-vis your opponent. The first exercise was to have my students step into the correct angle, position and distance from the target until it became familiar. That, to me, was less than one-arms-length distance away from the target, with your body facing the same direction/angle as the target and feet in line with the target’s feet.

2) Correct stepping – It is lunging forward with a downward action with your first step, and turning to the right direction and raising your centre of gravity with the second. You have to do it all in just two steps. Quite tough against a stationary target.

3) Correct arm movement – You need to draw a circle with your opponent’s elbow at just the right angle. Too shallow an angle, and you will not turn the opponent’s shoulder away to keep him from punching you with the other fist, too deep an angle and your opponent escapes the musha dori easily by going with your force and movement.

A properly executed musha dori will have all of these factors in place.

Later on we looked at musha dori as part of a combi. We used chi no kata and ka no kata against a standard jodan tsuki, then added in the musha dori as the follow-up. This showed us clearly the context in which a musha dori would be appropriate. In fact, it was even easier to use it against a jodan tsuki than against the usual sleeve grab.

Extending the combi a little bit more, we looked at a version of kata maki from koto ryu. Block against the first punch, shift your weight forward to avoid the second. Notice that if you keep your first blocking hand in place, shifting your weight forward very naturally starts the musha dori. And if your opponent stepped forward for the second punch, your musha dori ends up applied against the cross arm.

If you think getting a musha dori is bad, try getting one on the cross arm. You are literally screwed up, very badly!

Final application, I showed how to use a musha dori in a multiple-attacker situation. If you get your musha dori correct, you are controlling your opponent and holding him in place with one arm. That means your other is free to capture weapons or draw your own. You can also just hold your captured opponent in place as a shield against further attacks. It’s very difficult to hold an opponent in a musha dori for long. We usually would just throw the opponent instead of just holding him up there. But in a multiple-attacker situation, having a shield for even a few seconds is usually worth the effort. It can buy you more time and space to deal with a very bad situation!

As usual, there was no way I could get my students totally proficient in musha dori in the space of one lesson, though I did see great improvement. But it was a great start. I look forward to looking at this really cool technique even more in the future!


俊傑 (Shunketsu)


From → bujinkan

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