We practised butsukarigeiko on Thursday. If you are not familiar with bustsukarigeiko, it is the continued practice of men and taiatari followed by hiki waza. It’s rather like kakarigeiko but with alternate forward and backward strikes separated by body checks.
We don’t do it very often because classes are normally made up of kenshi of a variety of sizes, ages, experience and fitness levels, which can make this form of training slightly hazardous. On Thursday however we had a group of young to middle aged males all in apparently good health, so we gave it a try.
We started by working on our taiatari, ensuring that we made contact in correct tzubazeriai and used the power from our hips by dropping our weight down. We paid special attention not to push from the arms and shoulders. Moving on to men- hiki- men, we looked at how to create correct distance as we moved back, so that we hit the target with the datotsu bu of the shinai. We then tried men-hiki-gote and men-hiki-dou. With these the challenge was to ensure that motodachi gave the correct opening, so for hiki gote the idea is to push to his right in tzubazeri, so that he pushes back and exposes his kote as you step back and release the pressure. With dou you need to push down so that he pushes up and creates an opening.
We finally added gyaku dou to the set and put them all together. Men-hiki-men, men-hiki-gote, men-hiki-dou, men-hiki-gyaku dou, followed by a shomen strike to finish and repeated the exercise for 30 minutes in mawari geiko.
I have seen and taken part in this kind of drill on a number of occasions in Japan. In fact one teacher in Hyogo uses this as the backbone of his dojo’s training. When I first saw this my first reaction was to wonder why such emphasis was put on body contact. However, watching colleagues I know well do the exercise was enlightening. As in kakarigeiko, a degree of tiredness makes people relax and use correct technique. Butsukarigeiko also ensures that your posture is correct as it is impossible to make repeated taiatari and hiki waza if you are leaning forward or backward. So any thoughts that the teacher in Hyogo was being harsh for no particular reason have now been dispelled.