Taijutsu Jodan-tsuki

In the previous tutorial I explained my way of moving the feets when I do the basic jodan-ukemi, so I thought I also show how I attack (still only footwork!).

In Kihon-happo we attack straight to the face with a jodan-tsuki (in basic it should be a shikan-ken), so I will explain from this point of view. If he has a good ichimonji no kamae, he point his arm straight to my center which makes it more difficult. If his front arm is pointing to the side (like Gyokko-ryu), I would try to step on his foot while entering. But he is too clever for that, so he force me to move around his left arm. Going to the inside is not good so I will attack him from his outside.

step-by-step_Tsuki-1

I keep both knees bent, with the weight a little more on the rear right leg. I keep the spine straight and relaxed. I should be able to jump or push the body in any direction with the left or right foot. When I move in to strike, I want to be as quick as possible without making any signs before I explode forward in to the opponent.

step-by-step_Tsuki-2

The distance to the opponent decides how big the first step with the left foot should be.

I lift the left foot and quickly push the body forward with the rear right leg. I turn my left knee to the left in the same direction as the left foot is pointing (see the picture). There is no strange angles in the knee, I put the left side of the left foot on the floor first, and when my weight is over the leg, the whole foot will be rooted firmly to the ground.

step-by-step_Tsuki-3

Then I quickly put the right foot forward. As soon as my body weight passes the left foot I start pushing the body forward with the left foot, as I do this it is important that the left foot is rooted to the ground.

Soon after my right foot is placed on the ground my right fist makes contact. Then the spine twists, and my right foot and leg is starting to stop the body’s forward motion (if that is what I want*) as I strike through the target. The right knee should stop just above the toes, and you should have good balance and both knees bent. More weight on the right foot than the left foot.

*If the opponent jumps backwards or move quickly backwards, I can move the left foot forward very quickly with three more strikes in that left step (I will explain this in another tutorial if I there is interest). I can run after him much faster than he can run backwards, don’t think something else!

Also if the opponent doesn’t move properly here (like I explained in the previous tutorial) it will be very easy for me to kick him in the groin with the left foot (if he move the right foot too much to the side), or placing the left foot behind him for osoto-nage (if he moves his left leg off line).

* Ground the feet’s properly!

It is very, very important that the left foot (picture 2 & 3) does not turn on the ground as you are pushing forwards, then you will loose friction to the ground and you will slip very easily if you push forward strongly. Also Miyamoto Musashi spoke about the importance of rooting the feet to the ground and push the body forwards or backwards with the whole foot rooted, and not on the toes or balls of the feet.

Taijutsu uke-nagashi, the 45 degree step

I think most of you have heard about the 45° step when you do the basic jodan-uke for example, this does not mean that you end up in a 45° angle to the attack that I so often see. I think this is a misunderstanding, and I will explain here so that you have to be an idiot if you don’t understand ;-) .

But first let’s make some reference points. To get the distance right we need to understand that the opponent will hit you in the head with his right fist. And that you want to end up at a safe distance where you can block the opponent’s right arm from the inside without being to close or too far away. So you need to move your whole body as one unit about one arms length. So measure how far that is. I will use the tatami mat as a reference point so that you can easily understand. I recommend that you also use the tatami mat as I do here so that you can do the step without looking. And then look down and check if you are on the correct spot, angles and length wise.

Remember that you move the body one arm’s length, it doesn’t matter how long the opponent’s arms is. If he knows how deep he should punch (just through the target and not an inch more!) it will be perfect distance for you.

referencePoints1

When you move from point A to point B in the first step you should have the exact same angles but one arms length further back to the side. You should have rotated the whole body about 30° to the left, but the angles and alignment should be the same.

referencePoints2

So when you start in the basic Ichimonji no kamae both heel’s should be on the same line and pointing directly against the opponent’s center. I won’t go into detail about anything else than the footwork here. I might do a part two of this tutorial later?

stepb1

The right foot and toes should be pointing exactly 45° back to the right against the other corner of the tatami mat. Keep a rather low position with both knees bent (in basic training, be extra low), more weight on the right leg.

stepb2

Lift the right foot and push the body strongly and quickly back to the right with the left foot. You should explode from the position, so make sure the front leg is not too straight. Do not move the left foot first (I say that this is a bad habit). If you keep your right arm straight against the opponent, he will not step on the left foot, as he have to move around your arm.

stepb3

The right foot should go exactly 45° towards the corner of the tatami. Note how the right foot have turned a little, but the heel should be on the line. At the same time the left foot should follow the right foot in a straight line.

stepb4

As you can see this angle is about 30° from the starting point. Also worth mentioning is that the feet’s is never this wide apart as it is rather a jump than step, step. It is important that the upper body should not go anywhere else but straight backwards to the side as if you where on wheels.

stepb5

See how the left foot ends up on the same line. Now you have moved the body 30° back to the right. You should end up in the exact same position as when you started. Your kamae is “closed” and good, aimed directly to the opponents inside.

stepb7

From here you block and take his balance… as you can see you have also opened up the opponent’s lower region. You have the opening where you will place the right foot as you step in and counter with your own attack.

Training drill

A very good training drill is to stand in Ichimonji no kamae and move from point A to point B as explained above. Repeat this several times, you should move in a big circle keeping a perfect Ichimonji no kamae the whole time. Then change side and do it to the left. This is a good exercise that strenghten your legs and gives you a good foundation.

Happy training!

/Mats