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Drill for the Start of Kushanku / Kanku-Dai

This short clip is a recap of the “Kushanku 1 Drill” (Kanku-Dai 1) that we covered during a seminar in Canada in June 2016. It is not a “technique” to be applied “as is” but a drill to permit the quick practise of the limb-control methods of the kata. These methods must also be drilled individually, in alternate ways and in live drills. This short clip cannot convey the entirety of what was covered at the event, nor can it show how the drill fits into the wider training methodology.

The opening “wedge” is also a technique found in the Bubishi where it is referred to as “Two Dragons Playing in the Water”. The text accompanying the illustration is as follows:

“The first person comes in with both hands together overhead for an attack from above, like two dragons playing the water, this man will win.

“The second person uses only one arm, like a single handed golden lion, but with only the strength of one arm against two, this man will lose.”

We then angle off to the side, away from the uncontrolled arm – which side we move to will depend upon which arm is uncontrolled and what we feel when our arms part – the left / right of the kata is therefore communicating that option.

It should be remembered that the angle in the kata is never telling us the angle the enemy is attacking from (as is commonly supposed), but instead it is telling us the angle we should be at relative to the enemy. This is explained in Kenwa Mabuni’s 1938 book, Karate-do Nyumon (not to be confused with Gichin Funakoshi’s similarly titled book).

Immediately after that, we practise using the arm to locate the head. In the ‘Oshima Hikki’ (Note of Oshima) – a document recalling a ship running ashore – there is an interview with the captain of the ship, who was witness to a demonstration by Kushanku the military official (who taught Tode Sakugawa, who in turn made the kata) where we are told that part of Kushanku’s fighting style was placing one hand on the enemy whilst striking with the other hand. We can obviously see this at this point in the kata.

There then follows a series of motions that show how the elbow can be manipulated to cause a reaction. We then conclude the drill by moving behind the enemy (which is why the solo-kata turns behind in order to show the relative position) and taking the other person to the floor.

This is a very quick summary of the drill for those who had already learnt it. This video is therefore not instructional in nature. I nevertheless hope you find it of some interest.

All the best,


PS The YouTube link can be found HERE

Practical Kata Bunkai: Drill for the Start of Kushanku / Kanku-Dai