Mark Hill said: Why three low palm strikes.
As I stated in an earlier post, this kata allows you to start at the beginning of any natural sequence of movements and have a useful bo defense application. The three low palm strikes in kiba dachi are an example of an application that can strip the bo out of both hands of an attacker who is thrusting his bo at your face.
I will explain, in as simplified way as I can, a complicated set of movements. There are lots of variables and variation that I won’t go into. But I think I can provide enough detail for a student to understand the essential elements so that he can work through the application.
For those unfamiliar with the movements, the kata link is below, the movements are at the beginning, just after the horse stance to the right (the left of the picture), the fifth stance of the kata. http://www.shotokan-arts.com/video/shd7hg_Jitte_Modern.mpeg
For the initial posture, the defender begins with his feet the same as in the opening of the kata, with the heels shoulder width and the toes flared out. The attacker is straight ahead.
The opponent attacks with a left bo thrust (left hand and foot forward, an attack shuffling, not stepping forward) to the face, neck or abdomen.
In the kata, prior to the first of the palm strikes (right foot forward, right hand), the stance is kiba dachi. The left foot moves half a kiba dachi in length to the right before the right foot steps forward. The application will mimic this movement. Half a kiba dachi is about shoulder width. So the left foot will move almost, but not quite to the right foot, before the right will move forward.
The bringing of the left foot to the right foot, gets you off the attack line prior to moving forward. You can block the bo in one of two ways. You can intercept with your right (an inward or inside block), then hook your left hand under the bo, then up to grab it. Or if you have necessary skill and speed, you can just block with your left, reaching past and under the bo, before stepping forward. The blocking hand pulls back to chamber while holding the bo.
The right hand slips into the small opening (a triangle) between the bo and the forward arm. (The triangle varies in size based the style of bo attack. Taira Shinken based kobudo systems, such as those practiced by Shotokan schools usually have plenty of space. However, Matayoshi style attacks have almost no space making this difficult.) The key is to get into the space first by pushing your fingers up and in, so your hand is almost in shuto position when slipping through.
The heel of the palm has to cross the bo. You want to make good contact with both the opponent’s arm and the bo by pulling your arm back towards you squeezing your forearm into the point of the triangle. The hard strike found in the kata is still a hard strike with full power, but this time the striking surface is up your forearm and you are using it to wedge your forearm right up to the attacker’s forearm at the gripping point. Now you are ready to turn the hand to the position it appears in the kata. By rotating the wrist, after it is slipped into the tip of the triangle, you rotate your forearm clockwise, from narrow to wide, driving the attacker’s wrist up and weakening his grip. Make sure your hand is fully through and on the other side of the bo.
To move forward, you have to go under the bo. No problem, since you are holding it with your left hand. Pop your left hand straight up just enough to drop the bo on the other side of your head and let go, and get your left hand back towards a chamber immediately so you are ready to strike hard. As you charge forward with your powerful rotating kiba dachi, you will be using all your energy of the turn to maximize the power of the palm heel strike on his forearm.
The target is just shy of halfway up the forearm. This is where the tendons of the finger muscles enter the muscles. There are pressure points on each one. A reasonably good strike causes the finger muscles to relax.
This strike in the kata is not just a reasonably good strike. It is just about the best strike, with the most power that you can do. You leverage the full body rotation of kiba dachi, the rootedness of the low stance, and the alignment of the elbow of the striking hand in close to the body. Everything needed to generate maximum power. While striking the opponent’s forearm, your right hand, still jutting through the space, is pulling back, helping to pry the attacker’s weakening grip off the bo.
When the attackers hand releases, you pull your own right hand slightly back to grab the bo, then, just as in the kata, make no pause and charge forward again.
So far, one hand down, one to go
The left hand is now going to grab the opponent’s right hand, in a classic wrist lock grip. See the second picture on this web site:http://www.kodenkan.com/pictures.html
Place your left fingers high on the hand/low on the wrist of your opponent’s right hand, with your thumb (pointing back to you) on the metacarpals of the index and ring fingers. You will grab tight and lock your wrist preventing his from moving. The position of your left hand is only a slight modification of the hand position found in the kata. The fingers are more up than out (Shito Ryu does it this way), and they bent to grip the hand/wrist, not straight. But the left hand is still very much in a palm-heel position.
As you charge forward again in kiba dachi, the right hand, holding the bo, strikes straight out directly ahead, popping the bo out of the opponent’s right hand. The bo has to take a specific path to have it pop out, slightly off the straight line forward, back towards the opponent. You want to keep the bo completely on the right side of your body on the release, not across your abdomen.
If you have problems, you can try pulling your opponent’s hand to your abdomen, to anchor it better. This immobilization may be needed to prevent the opponent's right hand from rotating enough to hang on to the bo and prevent the strip. This anchoring is very momentary since to keep the bo on the right side of you body, you need his hand on your right. But you are pivoting counter clockwise so you can only anchor the hand in the correct location for a brief moment.
At this point you are only holding the bo with your right, and you need to grab it with your left as well. There are lots of alternatives. I like to release the opponent’s hand, bring both my hands together to grab, right palm down, left palm up, and continue my forward moving energy with a spin, bringing my left foot forward to my right before swinging my right foot back behind my left, still moving it forward, (in the same direction as my three kiba dachis), spinning clockwise
From there, I typically perform a natural angular bo strike 45 degees down towards the opponent’s neck (left hand forward) and follow it with a right reverse strike (parallel to the ground) to his face, pulling my left hand back to my shoulder). Finally, as with all strips, I retreat back at an angle, stepping back with my left and reversing my grip on the bo.
Once you get good at this second release, you can add a crucial component. The final release can be combined with a strike. As you charge forward into the third stance, you can use your forward momentum/strike to smash the opponent in the nose with your right knuckles (not letting go of the bo). This will disorient him, and cause the eyes to close for a brief moment, allowing you to complete the technique.
Try it out, see if it works.