Having suspended dojo training over the Christmas break, the annual pilgrimage to Dragon Hill occurred the day after Boxing Day to blow away the cobwebs. Unfortunately the numbers were disappointingly low, probably not helped by the change in proposed date by Sensei (Sorry Baz and Kerry!), Karen swapping the muddy windy hill for the comforts of the local gym and John forgetting what day it was!

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The session focused in detail on Kanku Sho with repetitions being interspersed with bunkai partner work. Sensei pointed out that the order of the kata moves wasn’t an exact sequence for the bunkai response. Rather the kata choreographed various alternative initial responses to similar attacks from various directions (i.e. the first three morote uke moves). The follow up second movement for a bunkai application would then be one of the appropriate handed oi-tzuki aimed at the now tuned, exposed base of the skull. Followed by an optional controlling collar or hair grab with a backwards wrenching of the neck corresponding to the two leading forearm twists (mae ude hineri).

 

Additionally the kata includes contingency responses that may or may not be required. Further more the success of the first bunkai counter attack may in itself render the following sequenced kata move as inappropriate and/or unworkable. A good example of this being the jump following the backhand block (ushiro haishu uke) and ending in the going to ground position (hikui fuse no shisei) on all fours. The bunkai application of this sequence could be interpreted as an initial head level block on the inside line and simultaneous leaning away from the strike followed by an immediate crescent kick aimed at the attackers rear leg which if successful causes the opponents upper body and hence head to drop to a low level.

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The next bunkai move naturally continues with a low level knife hand strike with either leading or rear hand strikes to either the back or side of the neck. The change in kata direction ideally positions both uke-te (defender) and tzuki-te (attacker) for this finishing blow. Alternatively if the crescent kick is blocked/misses the anti-clockwise rotation continues allowing the next sequenced kata technique of ushiro geri to be applied.

 

Alternative bunkai themes based on the manji-gamae and morote tzuki combinations were then practised. As the kata defines, bunkai movement is not only towards the attacker but also a side facing orientation is adopted. A jodan attacked is first parried from the inside line with nagashi uke and the same defending arm subsequently blocks a chudan punch from the attackers opposite hand as the uke-te slides in and classically adopts back stance. A large circling movement of the leading hand to the rear hip causes the opponent to lurch forward with a shoulder lock being applied. The transfer from back to horse riding stance prevents the attackers leading foot moving forward to counter the shoulder lock. A powerful wrenching of the neck in a backwards direction could then be envisaged corresponding to the kata’s morote tzuki movement.

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A second theme involved the tuning of the attacker following the nagashi uke using the leverage of a gedan barai on the first thrown punch. Immediately followed by the rear am of the defender circling and initially applying a neck crank with the potential of progressing to a choke.

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Striking shield drills then followed to keep everyone warm with multi-strikes on alternative angled shields using mae-geri, kekomi, mawashi geri, ushiro geri, gyaku tzuki, uraken, tetsui and shuto techniques.

 

After a short break to share Big Dave’s thermo-flask of sweet coffee several advanced kata were practised; Jitte, Bassai Sho, Nijushiho, Gankaku & Chinte. Despite best efforts the balance and coordination during the single legged stance in the later two katas was a sight to behold in the blustery and muddy conditions.

 

A big thank you to Barbara and Ellie for provide a beautiful warming lunchtime stew and afternoon Christmas game.

 

Paul Edwards