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Class Notes 07 Dec 2017

January 31, 2018

Omote Gyaku

I take long breaks between seasons I teach Kihon Happo. First, there is a lot material to cover. Second, I myself need time to grow in my understanding of them!

My biggest challenge to my understanding of Omote Gyaku came from a sparring session with Manifred, the instructor of Bujinkan Vietnam. He was consistently getting me with Omote Gyaku, but in a different form from what I was used to. He caught my right hand on the way back, retracting from a punch. He did not get the lock into its full form, as we train in class, but just enough to take my balance and dump me to the ground.

If he got me with this once, I could just dismiss it as a fluke. But two or three times? And in case you didn’t know, I am not an easy person to get Omote Gyaku on. And I certainly wasn’t taking it easy on Manifred; he is at least double my dan rank, taking it easy on him would be insulting and disrespectful. So I spent a lot of time thinking about how he made it work on me, how to replicate it myself and how to teach it to my students.

1) Torite Drill – partners stand at jumonji distance. Uke punches with a cross punch, Tori deflects and captures the hand. Uke retracts the hand, Tori follows and applies Omote Gyaku. Uke does the pat-twist escape. Repeat.

The pat-twist escape is something I recently discovered. It does not work if the lock has already taken hold, but it works very well if done at the early stages.

I first encountered it done by my own son while we were drilling on technique flow, and I did an Onikudaki on him. He immediately snapped out that escape before the technique could set in. And that was the very first time he ever encountered Onikudaki. Maybe martial ability is also genetic? That very same evening I was attending an FMA class and they taught me exactly the same technique as a counter/escape for a disarm/arm-locks. When destiny brings a technique to me in such an obvious fashion, the right thing for me to do is shut up and train!

Anyway, we will be doing more Torite (hand capture) drills this season, and using the pat-twist escape whenever it is relevant.

2) Omote Gyaku Tsuki, Shato – opponent does a lapel grab and punch.

Variables include whether the opponent steps forward with the punch. That directly affects how far you need to move after you block the punch. If the Omote Gyaku is too much hassle (you need to move too far to make it work), maybe Onikudaki is a better choice?

Shato (Koto Ryu) is a related kata for us to study. This is what i wrote about it some time back: “The punch after the grab can be very strong, depending on how much hip the opponent puts into it. Your block may not be strong enough to work. Doesn’t matter, if you position your arm correctly, his punch powering past your block only helps to slam your koppo ken into his temple harder (poetic justice!).

The kick straightens his arm, moving his hand away from his hip (one of the things we are looking for). Omote Gyaku becomes very easy after that!”

3) Batsugi (Koto Ryu)

As i wrote before:

Again the arm is straightened, and the hand is moved away from the hip, this time through a shako ken to the face. The Omote Gyaku is done with a diagonal slice with your forearm across his forearm. You don’t need a big movement to make it work, as you discovered in class.

One thing I realized ever since I last taught these kata; we don’t treasure them because we don’t understand the danger of the lapel grab. If we ever did, we’ll understand why we need to train in these kata a lot more seriously. Hatsumi Soke himself wrote the following:

“In this principle of koppo jutsu, letting your opponent grab your chest is bad, but conversely, if you can take the initiative and grab the opponent’s chest, you are already winning. So with the one hand having taken the chest, pull strongly toward you and at the same time push in and strike, and you can hit into either the left or right kimon” – Hatsumi, Unarmed Fighting Techniques of the Samurai, page 86

The reason why we don’t fear the grab and punch combo is because we don’t grab like Soke does. If we ever did, we will start to understand this and our taijutsu will certainly improve, both in our attack and defense skills.

4) Saka Nagare (Gyokko Ryu)

Kata description:

a) Opponent punches with right fist. Jodan Uke with the right arm, and secure his hand/wrist for Omote Gyaku.

b) Opponent kicks with the right foot. Use right leg to deflect the kick with keri gaeshi. Begin Omote Gyaku.

c) Opponent punches with left fist, low punch. Gedan Uke with the right arm, Shuto (either omote or ura), then continue with Omote Gyaku.

The low punch in c) did not make sense to me when I first came across this kata. I thought anyone would rather punch high, since it has a higher chance of inflicting enough damage to prevent the Omote Gyaku from continuing.

But when I finally got the hang of Omote Gyaku, I realized that if it was done correctly, the opponent would be quite unable to punch high, therefore a low pinch was more realistic.

Take note also, the low punch can be really, really, fast. You may not have time to do a full Gedan Uke movement, and have to try blocking the attack with your elbow. And instead of a low punch, that strike can also be a knife stab, hidden, just waiting for you to get distracted with the other hand. So whether you use the Omote or Ura Shuto before continuing on the Omote Gyaku depends on which one allows you to control the knife better at that moment.

Sake Nagare trains us to have that spatial awareness of an attack coming along a vector that can be hard to perceive.

Ok, will rush the other lesson notes the best I can. See you at training!

Junjie 俊傑
(Shunketsu)
Bujinkan Ninjutsu
Singapore

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