Posts Tagged ‘hansoku’

HikimenHaving spent the past two weeks discussing the correct forms of zanshin for hiki waza, Olga reminded me that we have not looked at hiki waza as a technique.  Rather than start from scratch I have borrowed an excerpt from my book “Kendo a comprehensive guide. I have included Katsuya Masagaki’s excellent illustration for hiki men, which explains the technique far better than words alone. This is just one of a number of illustrations around the subject, which would make it worth looking at the book itself:-

Hiki waza fall into the category of shikake waza but are almost a class of technique on their own. Hiki waza are techniques made going backward from tsubazeriai. Men dou and kote can be done in this way. Only tsuki is not a viable hiki technique 🙂

To get to tsubazeriai in the first place we normally push into close distance with our opponent using taiatari, so it is probably worth briefly describing how this should be done:

If after making a forward attack, your opponent is still directly in front of you pull your shinai towards your body and push forward using your hips. The secret to successful taiatari is not to compromise your posture. After hitting, keep your arms and shoulders relaxed, drop your hands into correct tsubazeriai, keep your balance between your feet and slightly drop your hips forward. This should be enough either to move your opponent, or at least to put you in safe, close distance, ready to make your next move

In tsubazeriai the omote side of the jinbu of the shinai should be crossed at the point above the tsuba. The shinai should not directly touch your opponent. Any variation to the above is classed as a tsubazeriai infringement and would earn a hansoku in shiai.

Hiki men

From tsubazeriai push your partner’s hands upwards. As he responds by pushing down he exposes his men. Lean back slightly and step back with your left foot, making sure that you create sufficient distance to strike the men with the datotsu bu of your shinai. As you strike men you should pull your right foot back, making fumikomi.  Zanshin should take the form of you continuing to move back to safe distance, keeping your shinai in chudan position.

Hiki gote

This time push your opponent’s hands to your left so that he pushes back to your right, opening his kote for attack. Moving in the same way as for hiki men, step back and strike kote. Remember that as his kote moves forward into kamae it is closer than men, so you will need to create sufficient distance.   2.28

Hiki dou

Again the process is the same. This time push his hands down and hit dou as he forces them up against your pressure.


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ShigakukanI have just returned from the Sunday Mumeishi keiko and am writing this post before preparing for next week’s trip to Japan. On Tuesday we had a visit from Tajima sensei and 12 students from Shigakukan University. The energy and enthusiasm of our visitors was infectious and we enjoyed two hours of flat out keiko.

I am leaving for Tokyo on Wednesday morning for what should be a short but very interesting trip. I am meeting up with a number of Mumeishi OBs in Tokyo and also planning to visit Chiba sensei when I arrive on Thursday, then the hard work begins.

On Friday I check in for the 16th WKC referee’s seminar in Narita to become one of 36 referees who we will spend two days together improving our refereeing technique and learning to work as a team. So far I only know the names of the other eight members from Europe and can only guess who has been selected from the Americas and Asia zones. I am confident however that it will be a tough but valuable learning experience.

The format of previous WKC Referee Seminars has been for referees to officiate in real matches between “All Japan” level competitors from either the university or police sections of the ZNKR competition groups. Last time the organisers had also invited some nito players. The process is overseen by hanshi level instructors and shinpans’ errors and misdemeanours are examined and discussed in minute detail.

It is expected that at this level, referees can correctly judge yuko datotsu and move  as a group so that each has a clear view of the players. The aim of these seminars is to hone these skills to a level where there is complete consensus. I have been told that this year emphasis is being placed on correct shiai etiquette and tsubazeriai, so there may be a lot of instruction and discussion on the role of hansoku and the balance between managing correct discipline and the smooth running of the shiai.

Obviously spending only four days in Japan is far from ideal, and as I am straight back to the office the day after  I return home, there might not be time for next week’s blog post. I am sure that there will be some interesting information to pass on the following week.

I am looking forward to a much longer trip in May, when as well as attending the 16th WKC in Tokyo, I plan to travel to Kansai to catch up with old friends and enjoy the sights as well as some extra keiko. There may even be time for an onsen visit.

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taiatariAs part of the interest in kirikaeshi generated by Inoue sensei’s visit to the UK, the debate on whether or not to make taiatari part of the exercise has been brought back into focus.

Recently,many instructors have been teaching kirikaeshi without taiatari, as they feel that its inclusion leads to bad posture. This is particularly true for less experienced players who tend to lean forward and use the strength of their shoulders and arms when they make body-contact with their opponent. On the other hand learning taiatari equips the student to aim for the centre, to make successful hiki waza and when the chance allows, give their opponent an extra shove to gain hansoku in shiai.

The clue is in the name. Taiatari means “body strike”, not “push”. To do it successfully you simply drop your hands to the height of your navel, engage your opponent’s shinai in correct tsubazeriai (omote side to omote) and push down using the strength of your back and hips. You should hit just once with the forward momentum of your attack. Your hands and arms should be relaxed, your posture should be upright and your left foot should be in the correct position following hikitsuke from the preceding strike.

Taiatari almost always follows an unsuccessful strike when you are directly in front of your opponent. By dropping your hands you also ensure that you do not put him or her in danger by pushing forward with your hands at throat height, potentially causing neck injury.

In shiai the rule is that  a “one hit” body strike that pushes your opponent over the line, results in a hansoku in your favour; a repeated or concerted push which is not connected to a valid attempt to strike a target, could result in the penalty being awarded against you.

The intention of taiatari is not necessarily to push your opponent back. With heavier opponents it may be that your aim is to gain distance by bouncing off them. It is however possible for a lighter person to gain ground with the strength of their taiatari. I have seen 45kg female player move a 100kg male opponent with a well-timed body strike.

To practice taiatari we use butsukarigeiko, where we follow a forward strike with taiatari and a hikiwaza. So a possible sequence might be – men, taiatari, hiki-men; men, taiatari, hiki-gote; men, taiatari, hiki-dou. Or of course you can practise by introducing correct taiatari into kirikaeshi; which brings us back to where we started.

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Good old days?

Good old days?

Many old timers speak fondly of the days when Kendoka took an “everything goes” approach to keiko. Mukaetsuki, leg sweeps; even following an opponent down to the ground and using kumiuchi techniques to gain a submission. I believe that most of these practices disappeared in Japan after the reintroduction of Kendo post-war. However you can see a good example of “all in” Kendo on Mori sensei’s demonstration for “You asked for it” on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWQlx6CZMOo

Because people knew no better; or because they just liked a scrap, boryoku Kendo survived in the UK through the sixties and seventies and like surviving soldiers on a desert island, whom nobody told the war was over; there are still one or two people who go for a crafty ankle sweep or elbow to the men.

I have to admit that there is something satisfying about taking your opponents feet from under them and I did not worry too much if it happened to me, but now I am older and a bit more brittle, I do not relish the idea of landing on my butt on a hardwood floor. Now as a referee, I would immediately award hansoku to anyone dishing out this sort of treatment in shiai, so it is hard to condone in practice. Defenders of this kind of Kendo make the point, that it fosters fighting spirit, but viewed that way, so does road rage and excessive alcohol.

I believe that one of the biggest reasons for refraining from violence in our practice is that in these days of “no win no fee” lawyers, increasingly stringent health and safety laws and rising insurance costs, we are frightened of the legal repercussions of rough play. Now perhaps I am being perverse, but it seems a shame that we have to modify our behaviour because of people who want to protect us from ourselves, or through the fear of opportunistic litigants.

In my own view, we should not do anything that spoils the flow of our own correct kendo. If you have to break your posture or sacrifice your balance for any technique, legal or illegal, it has to be wrong. Some sensei will occasionally resort to the odd trip or sweep, but that is normally a sign that kakarite is putting him or herself in an awkward situation. So, whilst I am a total believer in “full spirit” Kendo and of the value of the odd strategic push, if you really want to go for it, try Valle tudo.

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