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Class Notes – Ura Gyaku & Tsuke Iri

July 2, 2012

Two things happen when you look at a waza (technique) or concept in both its unarmed and weapon forms.

  • Taijutsu mistakes get magnified – if you are stiff in the upper body, you either get stiffer or it becomes even more obvious. If your kamae is weak or you have lousy balance, it comes out more.
  • Techniques become easier

Those two are not mutually exclusive, by the way. You can flub up a technique even more than usual, but the weapon gives you leverage and advantage, so you still get things to work somehow.

Last lesson, we looked at Ura Gyaku, done both unarmed and with the hanbo (called Tsuke Iri). Even though the stick makes it easier to capture and lock up the opponent (of course, or why use weapons in the first place???) you can still see gaps in the guys’ execution of the waza.

That’s OK, that’s what I am here for!

How did the stick make the ura gyaku a lot easier? When we are executing that waza, we are trying to:

  • Capture the wrist,
  • Straighten the elbow,
  • Control the shoulder (drive it downwards), in order to
  • Control the spine.

And that USUALLY is enough to take an opponent down. All those elements mentioned above are variables, and what we are trying to do is reduce or take away the opponent’s options, so he does pretty much what we want him to do.

Of course, if the opponent is skilled enough, there are two more variables that he can use to mess up the ura gyaku:

  • The knees
  • The ankles

What happens when we use the hanbo? We capture the wrist, straighten the elbow and control the spine (via the hanbo on the hip). We remove 3 of the variables (and make the shoulder quite irrelevant) and from there we can concentrate on just the taking down of the opponent in a way that allows us to capture and control the opponent.

From a teaching perspective, the stick allows us to isolate and drill the final takedown, as well as give us the awareness of what the opponent’s body feels like when we have taken away his options. So when we are doing the unarmed version, we are trying to re-create that same feeling.

That is why we grow faster in our taijutsu when we spend time on weapons training as well!

From Hanbo to Ura Gyaku

When we move on to the unarmed version, there are more variables involved than the hanbo version. The takedown for Tsuke Iri is quite straightforward, because the stick makes things simpler by restricting the movement of the opponent’s hip. When doing the ura gyaku, however, we have to consider our feet positioning vis-à-vis the opponent. Do our feet form a right angle relative to our opponent’s feet? Or are we more in line with his feet?

How you take your opponent down after ura gyaku depends a lot on that!

We spent a while trying things out, with me as the uke (as I could then feed them the movement that would help them learn what I want them to learn). At the end of the lesson, because of all the isolating and drilling of the various parts of the technique, I could feel that they were more confident of the ura gyaku.

Parting Thoughts

If the objective of the techniques, whether ura gyaku, tsuke iri or any others, is to cut out the variables and to reduce the opponent’s options, then it stands to reason that if we cannot immediately counter or escape a technique done on us, the next best move is to increase the room for variables. This opens up more options for us.

Looking at all the variables that need to be controlled in order for ura gyaku to work also tells us what are the areas we can look at to effect an escape or a counter. The idea is to look at a variable that the opponent hasn’t controlled yet and work from there. Many people focus too much on the wrist and forget to control the shoulder, spine or knee. We can start to escape the lock or throw from those areas.

More  work? Yeah! But that’s the fun of it all, right?



俊傑 (Shunketsu)

P.S. Starting last week my classes are shifted to Thursdays. Same time and place. Do take note!


From → bujinkan

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