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Class Notes 09 Nov 2017

November 27, 2017

Ku No Kata (空の型)


1) Ku No Kata (basic form) – Opponent attacks with zenpo geri, we use gedan uke, shakoken at face level and then sokuyaku geri (足躍蹴)

It was not my initial intention, but I realized the shakoken at face level converts very easily to blocking ura shuto attacks and elbow strikes at the same level, since we already have the habit of blocking at the elbow. Such habits are essential for infighting (fighting at the jumonji range).

A few years ago I thought our taijutsu was unsuitable for fighting at that specific range, so we had to either stay outside of it or dive past it into grappling range. Now after a lot more training I realized I am not totally clueless at infighting. I would still get shredded by a wing chun practitioner if I stay at that range, but I won’t die immediately. Which is my end goal, buying time to shift the odds to my favour…

That is conditional, however, on doing the sanshin and kihon happo in the form I had been taught ages ago by my sensei. As I said before, in a henka-based martial art, the basic form has to be one that allows for the most adaptation. If I ever said that to my sensei he’d probably just say “Whatever…”, but the fact is, the basic form he taught me from the get-go is so far the form that has allowed for the most adaptation. And I have seen many versions ever since.

Yup, all these years teaching, add on years cross training and studying other arts, and I still think my sensei is cool…

2) Partnered Drill

Remember, whoever blocks on the inside remains on the inside for the duration of the drill, and whoever blocks on the outside remains on the outside. If there are any changes, that means someone somewhere cut corners on the full movement. Happens. Just continue on and get back to the full movements as soon as you can.

The physical proximity makes us all uncomfortable doing this drill. Even then, do not cheat. Follow the rhythm of the drill. Match your partner’s one move with one move of your own; don’t take two or three moves to his one move. That is an unrealistic rhythm, and your body will freeze in real combat because it knows the wrong rhythms you trained in won’t work in real life.

3) Tan Geki (擔撃 ) from Koto Ryu

If you’ve been with me awhile, you’ll know I taught this before. Key point this round: if you give the opponent three things to look at, there is a momentary brain freeze. This depends, of course, on your three things having enough substance to draw his attention. If not, a trained fighter will just carry on anyway, and continue bashing you. And that kinda hurts…

3) Shi Haku (指拍) from Koto Ryu

Muay Thai fighters like to launch their knee strikes from too close. People instinctively flinch back into the correct distance for the knee strike to cause maximum damage. Kyojitsu practiced in other arts, fascinating.

We can get a similar effect with this kata by pulling back the rear hand at the same time we raise the leg. We don’t compromise our structure or the long term health of our lower backs, but the contrast implied by the hand moving back and the knee moving forward is usually enough to trigger the gedan uke from the opponent. And we continue from there.

New Discovery!

Our follow-up gedan tsuki can be dealt with by a Wing Chun technique known as bong sao (膀手). It is a difficult technique to get correct, so you can be sure anyone who can pull it off properly (with kamae and taijutsu) has had serious Wing Chun training. I currently have no idea of how to handle that yet. So just don’t try Shi Haku if the opponent gives you any hint of knowing Wing Chun

4) Gekkan (月肝) from Shinden Fudo Ryu

We looked at this recently in our Ka No Kata lesson, because I wanted you to see how ura shuto can set up other moves. And some bright spark mentioned in that class, “Isn’t this Ku No Kata?” Yes, it is.

I don’t like my students standing around doing nothing when a kick comes up their groin direction. Very bad habit, that is training to lose. So in class, we practiced using the nearest knee to deflect the groin kick. Only a small movement necessary.

For Gekkan we often need the kick to kuzushi the opponent enough to go into O Gyaku. So if he deflects the kick and you know you cannot make O Gyaku work from there, carry on to use Osoto Gake instead. You’ll find that it is even more effective after the opponent has deflected the groin kick.

What if the person launching Gekkan against us is at an angle where we cannot use a simple knee movement to deflect the groin kick? Then the opponent is at an angle we can use all the other keri gaeshi (kick counters). Bear all that in mind.


One of the key principles to developing reliable skill is repetition. This undeniable. However, if we zone out while doing the reps, we lose some of the benefits from them. The purpose of all these henka is therefore to keep you all alert even as you clock in the reps. Your left brain is monitoring all the new details and changes, while your right brain is being drilled in the same movements while adapting to the shifting distance and angles.

Whole brain engagement.

The more engaged you are, the faster you learn. It is my job as a teacher to make engagement as easy as possible. That’s why I plan so much for my lessons!


Junjie 俊傑
Bujinkan Ninjutsu

From → bujinkan

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