Bunkai: First Kata, 4-5

Application of First Kata, fourth to fifth direction. See article for safety info.

This bunkai shows one of many uses for this move. 

The move is from the fourth to the fifth direction in first kata, Fukyugata ichi.This bunkai is the same as the tenth to the 11th direction of Pinan Shodan, toward the end of the kata. 

In first kata the fourth direction consists of a gedan uke and then a jodan uke.

Moving to the fifth direction we go from the jodan uke to a gedan uke.

That transition is shown in this bunkai. 

In analyzing any technique, we consider this:

if it does not end the fight what vulnerabilities does it present to an opponent? And what opportunities does it offer us?

In this case we just stopped a punch to our face.

After defending against a punch to the face, with arms up, we are open at the lower part of the body. It is possible to trap the attacker’s punching arm and throw them. But it is not as likely given the body dynamics in the kata.  

There is another possibility which is more likely: 

The opponent drops and attempts a take-down,

a tackle, rushing in to push us down on our back. That is a standard mode of attack for many grapplers. 

If the attacker was coming straight in, we could defend by stepping straight back into a zenkutsu. (That happens in second kata, Fukyugata ni, which we will show in another bunkai video.) 

In this case he is rotating in, sending his left side forward, attempting to take advantage of the left side forward hip rotation we are using to power our jodan uke. 

So, we drop into a gigotai dachi, as shown in the kata. As we move, our arms go to the half position of the gedan uke – elbows to the center line, right arm on top. 

As we drop into the gigotai our right elbow is lined up with the fontanel or temple of the attacker, and we can drop through this target. Don’ t practice this with contact.  

Our left arm is under his head, for counter pressure and follow up.  

Then, as we rotate into the zenkutsu dachi we can apply the finishing technique which should never be practiced in class as it involves head rotation under pressure. For dojo practice we do not apply pressure to the head or neck.  

To prevent injury avoid putting any pressure on the head or neck as you explore this application.  


Video and Post Copyright © 2023 Jeffrey Brooks, Yamabayashi Ryu, Mountain Karate, Hendersonville-Columbus area, Saluda, NC   


Read First Kata, an in-depth article on Nagamine Shoshin’s kata, by Jeffrey Brooks https://mountain-dojo.com/2018/09/24/first-kata/

For more on quick reversals, the fundamental tactical skill used in Shorin Ryu, check out the article Too Fast To See.  


For more bunkai and the most lucid,inspiring presentation of the role of Buddhism in martial arts read True Karate Dō: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C9S7QX44

“One of the best books I’ve read in years, inviting and compelling. Jeff Brooks moves effortlessly from martial arts to Buddhism to consciousness studies, self-transformation, and related fields in this wide-ranging and Illuminating study that has much to offer both novice explorers and veteran practitioners. A splendid achievement.” 

— Philip Zaleski, Editor, The Best Spiritual Writing series

— Co-author, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams.  

 True Karate Dō is available on Amazon in paperback, hardcover and Kindle Edition


Mountain Karate’s YouTube channel @mountainkarate 


Note that many of the applications I am showing in this series are anti-grappling. These may not be the best or preferred self-defense under all circumstances, but they decode the kata without changing the kata. In these specific cases, the grappling interpretations might make more tactical sense than a striking application. 


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