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AllyWhytock's picture
Enbusen Article & Multiple Attackers


I read this translation article from Andreas Quast.  It was written by senior Uechi-ryū practitioner Tōbaru Keichō. It gives a quite good overview about the topic of enbusen. http://ryukyu-bugei.com/?p=7408

The topic is Enbusen but I zeroed in on these lines: As the basic forms of enbusen, there is the ‘I-shaped enbusen‘ (ijikei)  which assumes the enemy in the front and back, the ‘horizontal enbusen‘ (yokoichijikei) which assumes the enemy on the left and right, the ‘cross-shaped enbusen‘ (jūjikei) which assumes the enemy from four directions, the ‘all directions enbusen‘ (shihōhappō) which assumes the enemy in all directions, and the ‘enbusen in which the directions and footwork radiates to all directions’ (happō hōshakei). Additionally, depending on the type of kata, various other enbusen exist, such as the ‘T-shaped’ (teijikei), the ‘reversed-T-shaped’, and the ‘tree-kanji-shape’ (kijikei) enbusen.

Multiple directions. Surely one enemy & movement to acheive angles to either setup to gain dominance or bridging to support a technique or escape. 

Interesting article never the less.

Kindest Regards,


Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

AllyWhytock wrote:
Surely one enemy & movement to acheive angles to either setup to gain dominance or bridging to support a technique or escape.

That would be my chief concern with the article.

Envisioning effective and appropriate techniques of offense and defense against opponents from all directions …

If we contrast that with Mabun (Karatedo Nyumon):

The meaning of the directions in kata is not well understood, and frequently mistakes are made in the interpretation of kata movements. In extreme cases, it is sometimes heard that "this kata moves in 8 directions so it is designed for fighting 8 opponents" or some such nonsense.

He continues:

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because a kata begins to the left that the opponent is always attacking from the left. There are two ways of looking at this:

1 - The kata is defending against an attack from the left.

2 - Angle to the left against a frontal attack.

At first glance, both of these look alright. However, looking at only number (1), the meaning of the kata becomes narrow, and the kata, which in reality must be applied freely in any situation, becomes awfully meagre in its application.

Looking at an actual example, the 5 Pinan kata all start to the left, and then repeat the same series of techniques to the right. Looking at interpretation (1), the opponent must always attack from the left, and while fighting that opponent, another opponent comes from behind so the defender turns to fight that opponent. This type of interpretation is highly unreasonable.

Looking at interpretation number (2) however, the 5 Pinan kata show us that against an attack from the front we can evade either left or right to put ourselves in the most advantageous position to defend ourselves.

I’m firmly with Mabuni on this one. The angles show us the angle we take relative to the enemy, they do not show us the angle the enemy is attacking us from; as Tobaru Keicho suggests in the article. Mabuni tells us such a way of viewing the angles is both “nonsense”, “meagre” and “highly unreasonable”.

There is some interesting stuff in the article, but I disagree with the way enbusen is viewed throughout the piece. Viewed that way the kata has nothing so say with regards to tactical positioning. I also have to say that the angle is one of the most powerful tools for “reading” the kata in my view. It’s not telling you that the motion is for an enemy attacking from that specific angle (something outside your control), but instead it is giving you the required orientation between you and the enemy (something within your control).

All the best,