Twenty Kuden for the Understanding of Kata

Following are twenty oral transmissions (Kuden) for the understanding of kata as taught by Kubota Shozan (a student of Gichin Funakoshi), from his student, Higaki Gennosuke:

1. Countering: Motobu Choki commented that the blocking hand must immediately become the attacking hand. It is not a true martial technique to block with one hand and counter with another. When the block and counter-attack are simultaneous that is true martial technique. “There cannot be multiple attacks against true Okinawan karate, because if an attack is countered properly, there can be no further attack.”

2. Immobilize the Opponent before Striking: The opponent must be rendered into such a state s/he cannot attack again, or even move, before executing a strike or kick.

3. The Names of Movements have been Disguised: Originally there were no names for the movements. It wasn’t until about 1935 that Shotokan established the terminology to teach large groups. However the terminology hid the meaning of the techniques. Many “blocks” were actually attacks.

4. There are no Techniques that End with a Block: There is no combative movement that ends with a block; there is always a counteroffensive movement. Moves that are called blocks are really attacks.

5. Block with Both Hands: In reality it is difficult to block an attack with one hand. When the hands cross across the chest, it hides a double block, which holds the true meaning. This is based on the fact that it is a natural movement to raise both hands when something comes suddenly at you.

6. Grabbing Hand and Pulling Hand: You pull your hand to your hip because that pulls the opponent into position for attack. The opponent will be pulled off-balance, you double the speed and power and the grabbing and pulling can be used for the beginning of throws and joint techniques.

7. The Front Hand is the Attacking Hand: By attacking with the front hand you attack from the closest possible distance. (The back hand is the blocking hand).

8. Perform a Movement that Consists of Two Counts in One Count: Many movements in kata that are shown as two count are really one-count techniques, which can be explained by a switch step.

9. Switch Step (Fumi kae): Most of the movements in kata use a walking gait. To correctly use the movements, it is necessary to change to a switch step. When this is understood, the meaning of kata will deepen. More power can be applied to the punch when the feet slide and the distance can be adjusted between you and the opponent as well.

10. Kicks are Performed Low While Grabbing the Opponent: “Kicks are meant to be delivered below the belt.” In most of kata bunkai, kicks are executed when grabbing the opponent. This helps stabilize a person when “standing on one leg.” Also, in close fighting where one can grab an opponent, the field of vision is limited, so it is difficult to defend against a low kick.

11. There is One Opponent to the Front: Do not be fooled by the embusen (performance line). As a rule, there is only one opponent to the front. S/he is actually being dragged to the front and rear and to the left and right in a Copernican (the method of tori maintaining the center) change.

12. Hang the Opponent to Sky: This is the same as a forearm twist (yuki chigai) in Aikido. It is
represented in between techniques in kata.

13. Re-block and Re-grip: This refers to controlling the opponent by shutting down the attack
by using both hands. The first three blocks of Heian Sandan cross the opponent’s arms (fushu
in Chinese; juji garami in Aikido).

14. Take the Opponent’s Back: This is the most difficult position for an opponent to counter attack from.

15. Crossed Leg Stance: Signifies Body Rotation or a Joint Kick

16. Jumps and Body Shifts: Represent Throws

17. Break the Balance: in a triangle whose Base is the Base of the Opponent’s Feet, and the third point being the Head, the center of balance can be manipulated accordingly.

18. Me-oto-te (The Use of Both Hands Together): An example would be morote uke. The supporting hand (against the elbow) is the grabbing and pulling hand. The “blocking” hand makes the attack.

19. Cut the Forearm: Try to use a technique similar to kendo in which the forearm is “Chopped”
leaving damage to the tendons.

20. The Kamae is an Invitation: When you know where the attack will occur, it is easier to
defend against it.

One Response to “Twenty Kuden for the Understanding of Kata”
  1. kickassprincess says:

    Twenty very good points for me to consider and study!

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