Kata, bunkai, tegumi… (6)

LETTER 6. – About Tegumi.

I think that many people are off on a tangent concerning grappling, Te Gumi, Toide, etc., etc. etc. when analyzing Okinawa karate. I understand the need some people have when they consider having to grapple with someone and the Okinawan kata takes provides for this but not in the way that is being represented. Okinawan karate focuses on the basic understanding of

  1. Get out of the way of an attack. Even if you are grasped you use movement to escape not grappling.
  2. Parry the attack as you move to give yourself the added protection from the attack and to create an opening to counter attack.
  3. Attack the vulnerable points on the body as the openings are created through movement.

Yes, there are a few techniques in Okinawa kata that teach you how to block and grab as you apply a strike to the opponent. There are techniques in the kata that teach you how to react if your attack has been blocked and grabbed and techniques that teach you how to react when seized by the opponent but these are minimal when considering the vast number of techniques that are describe in 1 to 3 above.

My teacher on Okinawa taught four techniques against being grabbed. He stated that he only thought he would be grabbed in four ways. I thought about the many ways someone could grab you but the teacher said he only needed four because he believed that he would prepare himself to be only grabbed in the four methods that he could not guard against. Go through the kata and list how many ways someone can seize you. It is not many than four. You only have an arm, upper front body, upper back body and shoulders to defend. If someone tries an tackle you the kata of Okinawa gives you two choices or three if you count the one move in Uechi Ryu out of Seisan.

My point is that much is being made about a small number of techniques. It is true what someone said on the CD, if you are someone who practices atemi waza then kensetsu waza is something special and if you practice grappling then atemi waza is special.

IMHO the Okinawans specialized on 1 to 3 above.

And while I am espousing stuff that probably causes concern. Ikken haitsu is not an Okinawan concept. It comes straight from kenjutsu. The Okinawans simply say fight until there is no fight.


Dan Smith

E-mail response from Cyberdojo. Mr. Dan Smith is Vice president: International Okinawan Shorin Ryu Seibukan Karate Assn. 

Leave a Reply