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Wastelander's picture
Complete Kusanku Sho Oyo Bunkai

Hello, everyone!

This week's Waza Wednesday is a special presentation of applications for the entirety of the kata, Kusanku Sho. These are not the only applications for the kata--or even the only applications that we teach and practice in our dojo--but they are some simple examples that you can use in your own training. The distance between the attacker and defender has been increased to allow for easier viewing on video, but should be closer in training. The attacks shown are also just examples, as the specific attack isn't as important as positioning, points of contact, and direction of movement.

Tau's picture

That's my favourite of your videos so far. As always. very well done. Interesting too.

It's becoming a cliché​ but "that's not how I do the kata." As ever there are differences, some subtle and some not so. The "stick stripping" part that comes after the double punch to the right is missing in your version and that's a continual point of interest to me. You also cut down the view-the-sky/jumping crecent kick and drop to something that's probably closer to the orginal kata before it became too athletic. I love how you see this as hane goshi. This is what I've long since had in mind, but it just didn't fit with how I do the kata. It fits really well with yours.

Great job.

Wastelander's picture

Glad you liked it! We hadn't done a full kata breakdown video in quite some time--not since our Passai Dai video from several years ago--but it was popular and we figured people might be interested in seeing Kusanku in a similar manner. Of course, there are bound to be differences! Even so, we hope that there is enough similar material for most to find it useful!

When you say the "stick stripping part," I assume you mean the bit that is often demonstrated as (somehow) grabbing someone's bo and taking it away from them? We actually considered doing a comedic bit for that movement, and have me walk out with a bo and have my Sensei laugh, shake his head, and wag his finger :P. In the end, we decided to keep it professional. The movement is still there, if it's the one I'm thinking of, but it's done in such a way that it's hard to make fit the bo defense idea. You're right about our version having the one-legged turn cut down, and we don't have the jumping kick at all. It's possible that this is closer to the original, but I suspect that it is just another variation--I have a feeling that move was originally meant to show jumping into a scissor sweep, which is how it is done in KishimotoDi. That explains the turn and the jump, just not the way it is shown in most modern versions. We actually do teach that as an application for it, but I'm not much of a scissor sweep guy. This throw isn't quite hane-goshi, at least not as I was taught in judo, but it is similar. It's a very popular throw in Shima (Okinawan sumo), and I've started to see it crop up in judo more often over the past several years, as well. Technically, it fits our Kusanku Dai a little better than Kusanku Sho, because that kata doesn't turn as far.

For comparison, this is our Kusanku Dai, which is generally considered to be the older/more original of the two, as Itosu didn't make as many changes to it as he did to Kusanku Sho:

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Nice videos! Thank Noah! Information dense bunkai and a good demo of Kusanku-Dai. I always like this version because I feel the forward lean on the opening movement makes the “wedging” intention clear; as shown in this one:

As regards Kushanku-Sho / Kanku-Sho, here is a video from last year showing my take on the first part of the kata.

All the best,


Marc's picture

Excellent work! Lots to be inspired by.

It is also always interesting to compare the kata versions from different styles and find the common theme in the variations.

Thanks for all the effort you put into making these videos.

Take care