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Ura Gyaku – Making Resistance Futile

July 15, 2013

Sometimes I wonder if I am trying to achieve too much when teaching ura gyaku. When I look at how other people teach ura gyaku, I realize that they teach it a lot simpler than how I do it. You can check out a couple of examples here.

But my sensei didn’t teach it to me that way. And I teach it the way he taught me. The core of ura gyaku as he taught it to me is:

  • Bring the hand up
  • Use your forearm to bring the elbow down
  • Objective: bring the opponent’s shoulder down

When I teach ura gyaku like that, what happens is that ura gyaku, muso dori and ganseki nage becomes pretty much the same movement, only done at different distances. And that means that you are learning a few techniques as you practice one movement. The easiest way to counter any technique is to move to a distance that renders that technique ineffective. When you train ura gyaku in the way I was taught, you are ready to deal with that kind of counter.

In class we also looked briefly at bringing the opponent down with a Gekkan type of movement – kick and bring down. It isn’t the nicest way to bring an opponent down once you got him to any technique from the ura gyaku family, as it is high on the use of force continuum, but it is nice to know you can turn up the force levels if necessary.

How to deal with a resistant opponent

The basic end position for ura gyaku, with the elbow straightened and shoulder down, is a position when the opponent’s body structure is broken. You have a lot of leverage, which means moving the opponent is extremely easy. So if you get the opponent to that position, resistance is a moot issue.

And that is why we always seek to get the opponent to that position.

Now there are a few ways the opponent can mess that up for you.

  • Keep you from straightening the elbow
  • Push back at you when you are pushing him away with the straightened arm
  • Uncurl himself when you are bringing his shoulder down into that position

When we encounter such resistance, the normal reaction is to fight back and try and bash our way through the resistance with brute force. Two problems: that means whoever has more brute force wins (so we are tempted to count more on brute force than skill) AND it makes it very likely someone is gonna get seriously injured in class sooner or later.

So what we do in class is to practice intelligent responses to such forms of resistance. And all these responses are based on a simple principle – counter straight movements with circles, counter circles with straight lines. Over time these principles become ingrained into our reflexes and become actual usable skills we can depend on.

Will we someday get to the point when we can have sparring in class? Maybe. When I am sure that all of you have the skill (and control) to actually gain from the experience and avoid injuring each other. In the meantime, expect that I will increasingly turn on the heat (add more pressure to you people) during class, but do so in a controlled way so that we can all train in a way that is safe for everyone.

Including me!

OK, that’s it for now. See you at class!

俊傑 (Shunketsu)


From → bujinkan

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