"On Kata" is reader feedback column designed
to elicit your ideas about kata, their philosophy,
structure, strategy and application.
If you have a good application for this first move
from Pinan (heian) four, we would like to hear from
you. Just send mail to Feedback@FightingArts.com
and describe the application to us.
You can also send a photo or sketch in an attachment
to your e-mail. We will post the best answers.
Here are some responses we have received:
While dealing with an assailant head on who grabs
your gi (about shoulder level), use both hands to
wedge yourself free, at the same time try to sidestep
so you can grab the back of your opponents head while
applying teisho (palm strike) to the chin or nose.
One application for this Kata could be: Your attacker
attempts an open hand push to your chest. While locking
onto your attackers ring finger and pinky, make a
high block motionextending his arm and opening up
the armpit region. Then spear your fingers into the
arpit to possibly disrupt the heart meridian. Be very
careful and use caution if applying this technique.
Application for Pinan Yondan opening sequence:
Funakoshi describes "Sokumen Uke" as a
defensive principle in Rentan Goshin Toudijutsu, in
relation to the opening sequence of Kusanku.
This similar principle may be applied effectively
to the opening sequence of Pinan Yondan, and relates
to attacking the "side flank" of the opponent.
Entry techniques may vary, but for the purpose of
discussion, consider the opponent attacking with a
right-handed punch, straight to the face. There are
tactics which may be employed in our posture to ensure
that we receive a straight punch, as opposed to a
hooking punch...these can be discussed separately.
Alternatively, attacker may be simply pushing the
As the right hand comes towards us, step and slide
off to the 45 degree tangent, to the outside (moving
left) of the punch. As we step, we slip the punch
(negashi uke), deflecting ("brushing") with
our left hand, bringing the right hand underneath
to take up the control ("parry), as if performing
Our right hand will perform this parry as we weight
our front (left) leg..as the leg becomes weighted,
we pivot to face back in the direction from which
we have come, using the momentum of the left hip to
throw the left hand up in a circular motion, bringing
the palm heel of the left hand into the back of the
head, at the occipital foramen, also referred in Kyusho
Jutsu as Gallbladder 20 (Feng Shui). This is a very
simple knockout technique to perform, and should be
performed with caution.
In terms of the kata posture, our right hand will
be ultimately controlling the attacking hand, whilst
our left hand (often mistaken as the blocking or guarding
hand in applications) is actually a short powerful
striking motion to the back of the head.
Perhaps the most important conceptual leap in visualising
and performing this application, is the kawashi footwork,
which brings us back to face the position from which
we started....this key concept underpinning the discussion
of Sokumen Uke which Funakoshi described.
Edinburgh University Shukokai Karate Club
Right hand deflects left handed attack up. Left spear
hand to throat or eyes.
Left hand grabs chin. Right hand grabs back of head.
Turn to right and thrust hands down. This will twist
the head and serve as a takedown.
I feel the back stance implies a left foot front
or stomp kick. Since the goal is to put the bad guy
down, I'd strike the closest knee. I've seen the takedown
done by simply grabbing the chin and turning, but
I ain't that good so I grab the head. You may be able
to apply this against a right handed attack but you'd
have to be careful to avoid getting the attacking
arm in your way.
Pinan Yondan was one of my favorite Kata almost 20
years ago when I first learned it. However, the opening
movements have been always been a little confusing.
Below is a list of bunkai that I have uncovered/discovered
over the years;
1. Against a high roundhouse kick, the lead hand
blocking right above the knee and the rear hand along
the shin. -my least favorite.
2. Against a grab to my right wrist, my right hand
goes overhead lifting and exposing their ribs/armpit/throat
to a spearhand strike. You may then move into the
next (same) movement to the other side, which is an
armbar/throw of sorts. The movement in-between these
motions also allows a palm strike to the groin.
3. Similar to the above, but use the palm of the
lead (left) hand to strike at their elbow. An arm
break of sorts. Grab a partner and try these, you
will discover yourself what eluded me for years.
Application for the first move of Pinan Yondan.....
Assailant attacks with right round punch to face.
Defender blocks with left forearm (ulna) to the elbow
region of attacking arm. Note that we do not step
back to do this, but move forward slightly into the
attack to unbalance the assailant and provide a larger
shock to the attacking arm. This is not so much a
block, rather an attack to the attacking limb. Simultaneously
strike with right palm heel to the face, utilising
the assailant's momentum to intensify the effect,
as well as the suprise value of striking them as their
The back/cat stance is not applicable for this bunkai.
Instead use a natural, relaxed and short forward stance.
Follow up with knee to groin, then whatever you want
- Mike Flanagan
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