This video looks at the “Cup & Saucer” hand position found in Passai / Bassai-Dai & Kushanku / Kanku-Dai. The purpose of the moment is to locate the enemy’s head by following the arm back to the target. While the hand and arm are very mobile, the head is always right next to the shoulder. We can therefore locate the head, in the chaos of conflict, by following in the arm back to the head. For this method, the hand (fist or palm depending on style) is then placed on the head so a direct feel for the enemy’s head is established. The main strike is then delivered.
Kushanku – the martial artist the kata is named after (later renamed to Kanku-Dai in Shotokan karate) – is said to have come from China to Okinawa in the 1750s with other military personal at the request of Okinawa’s king. There is a document called ‘Oshima Hikki’ (Note of Oshima). This document details a ship running ashore in Oshima bay and includes interviews with the crew of that ship. In one of these interviews the captain of the ship tells of an impressive grappling demonstration he witnessed that was given by Kushanku. The interview tells us that Kushanku was not a physically strong man and yet he defeated much stronger opponents with ease. We are also told that his methods involved placing one hand on the opponent whilst striking with the other hand. We can obviously see this method here. It would seem that Tode Sakugawa – the creator of the kata and a student of Kushanku – recorded the method observed by the ship’s captain in the kata.
This short clip was taken from a two-day event in Germany in May 2016. The clip therefore does not cover how this method fits into a wider approach. I nevertheless hope this short clip is of some interest.
All the best,
PS The YouTube link can be found HERE