H. Godan, Step 14-21, Seio Nage, Bayonet Disarming, Part 1

Applications of Heian Godan by Bruce D. Clayton.
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H. Godan, Step 14-21, Seio Nage, Bayonet Disarming, Part 1

Postby HanshiClayton » Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:26 pm

Reference, "Bayonet Disarming," pages 101-115 of U.S. Army Hand-To-Hand Combat: FM 21-150, June 1954.
Also, Figures 5-26, 5-43, 5-44, 5-45, 5-46, 5-47 of US Army, FM 21-150, Combatives Hand to Hand Combat, September 1992.
Also, "Jo Disarming," Sam Combes, Aiki-do, Volume 5, Black Belt Video, 1999.
Also, "Seionage" (technique 1-1), "Hidari Makikomi" (technique 7-1), "Bokken No Tatake Mae Nage" (technique 5-10), "Naka Mae Nage" (technique 5-12) of George Kirby, Black Belt Budoshin Jujitsu, Panther Productions, 1992.
Also see Gary Simpson, "Karate by the Book," BLITZ Magazine Vol. 22 No. 1, January 2008, p. 74-78 for Clayton interview on H. Godan.
Also, "Jaw Breaking," page 45 of Brian Adams, The Medical Implications of Karate Blows, A.S. Barnes & Co., 1969.
Also, Iain Abernethy, Bunkai Jutsu, Pinan Godan (sixth cluster), Summersdale, 2006.
Also, "One-Arm Shoulder Throw," page 292, and "Long Gun from the Front, Dead Side," a rifle-disarming technique on page 324-325 of Darren Levine, et al., Complete Krav Maga: The Ultimate Guide to Over 230 Self-Defense and Combative Techniques, Ulysses, 2007.
Also, "Unarmed Defense against Bayonet Attacks," pages 156-179 of U.S. Marines, Close-Quarter Combat Manual, Paladin Press, 1993.

Unarmed Interpretation

Steps 14-21 of H. Godan is the sequence from the kake-te "block" in side-stance to the jump and kosa dachi landing, with the following morote uke gesture.

Traditional Shotokan interpretations of this sequence are very weak, and usually involve a phantom menace who swings a bo staff at your legs (forcing you to jump) and then fades away in the mist. Just about the only part that seems convincing is the elbow strike in step 16. We cup the back of the opponent's head with our left hand, the experts say, and then smack him in the face with our elbow. This is an effective technique if you place the heel of your left hand against his jaw below the ear, and then drive the elbow into the opposite corner. That move snaps the jawbone like a pretzel. (See Adams, p. 45.)

Most karate-jutsu artists point out that steps 17 and 18 (the two moves just before the jump) closely resemble the setup for seionage, the classic judo shoulder throw. If so, then the opponent flies over your hip and lands on his back on the floor, and move 19 (the jump) carries you across his body to the far side before you squat in kosa dachi to do the "X" downblock of step 20.

At this point we must revert for a moment to the "perspective" article and note that the Shotokan branch is alone in insisting on a jump at this point. Non-Shotokan lineages don't jump. (Wado Ryu jumps, but their master Otsuka learned this kata from Funakoshi so they count as "Shotokan" in this instance.)

We should also note that some non-Shotokan lineages kneel in hantachi position (one-knee down) but don't use kosa dachi. This is significant because the hantachi position with wrists crossed is a very common posture in jujutsu. You see it in many situations where tori is placing a choke or submission on uke, who has been thrown on his back. There are chokes and figure-4 joint locks that look very much like juji uke (the "X" block).

Iain Abernethy follows this path in his videos, pointing out that even kosa dachi has a hidden attack: when you step across uke's chest and drop into either hantachi or kosa dachi, you can drive your left knee into his rib cage or abdomen. This move is especially vicious if you jump and then drop as we do in Shotokan. That would satisfy the Waldow Principle.

Bayonet Disarming Interpretation

Steps 14-21 of H. Godan present a step-by-step beginning lesson in bayonet disarming, very similar to corresponding lessons in military manuals. Part One of this lesson shows the recruit how to approach the rifle/bayonet from the soldier's left (your right). Part Two, which is steps 22-26, shows how to approach from the soldier's right (your left).

Historical Background

Matsumura, Itosu and Azato were Master Funakoshi's teachers in Okinawa. They were unarmed bodyguards to the Okinawan royal family. Matsumura was the official chief of the military and law branches of the government. Itosu and Azato were his apprentices. Azato was a bayonet-fighting expert who specialized in weapons-disarming techniques. Azato and Itosu were life-long best friends. In his old age, Itosu created Heian Godan for us to study.

In 1853, all three of these men stood barehanded behind the King of Okinawa as 200 US Marines carrying muskets and flashing bayonets forced their way into Shuri Castle. If you've seen The Last Samurai, you know that traditional martial arts and troops with bayonets were often in conflict during this period of history. This confrontation occured with Itosu and Azato were only twenty-two years old.

It is very appropriate that Shotokan katas would contain bayonet-fighting moves.

My major source for the historical veracity of these techniques is US Army Field Manual 21-150, Unarmed Defense for the American Soldier, published in 1942. That manual is very hard to find, so I have referenced the techniques to the 1954 edition, which is titled Hand to Hand Combat. Note that current "Combatives" manual is not as useful because it describes combat with dinky, plastic rifles instead of the ponderous weapons of the past. I worked out these bayonet-fighting moves using an 1854 Springfield rifle-musket with an 18-inch triangular bayonet.

This is a page from Shotokan's Secret showing a standard Civil-War-era bayonet fighting drill. These are the attacks Matsumura, Itosu, and Azato needed to defend against.


These attacks are also illustrated in Figures 5-43 to 5-47 of FM 21-150 (1992).

Certain types of fighting are highly stylized. For instance, a samurai holds his katana exactly one way: the right hand is up near the guard, and the left hand grasps the pommel. Similarly, military bayonet fighters always hold the rifle one way: the left hand supports the fore-end of the rifle while the right hand grasps the neck of the stock where the right forefinger can reach the trigger. The techniques described in this section are partly drawn from jujutsu and aikido "jo disarming" lessons. The jo is a light, four-foot staff. Aikido masters whirl the jo like a baton, striking with the sides and with both ends. That said, it is interesting that the attackers in the disarming lessons always hold the staff with the left hand forward and jab with it as if it were a rifle with bayonet. I don't think that is a coincidence.

Bayonet Disarming -- Part I

An experienced drill instructor can take a rifle away from a recruit with ridiculous ease, as can most aikido and jujutsu instructors. For a beginner, however, it's a good idea to break the soldier's arm first. Once his arm is damaged, taking the weapon away is much easier.

In step 14-16 you are attacking the soldier's left arm. According to the military manuals, the first step is to "beat" the weapon to the side so it isn't lined up on your throat. Step 14 is the kake-te "block," which lets you push the bayonet to the side and grasp the fore-end of the rifle near (or on) his left hand. From that point on, he will have difficulty bringing the weapon to bear on you.

In step 15, pull the weapon toward you to straighten out his left arm. Use your crescent kick to impact his straightened elbow. Any damage to his arm will reduce his resistance.

In step 16, step in and grab his left wrist with your right hand. Use the "elbow strike" to force his elbow into an arm bar. This is a second attempt to dislocate his elbow.

    Sidebar: At this point you are set up to perform jujutu's hidari makikomi (outside winding throw) simply by hanging on to his left wrist and turning your body halfway around to your left. The soldier goes down on his face. This opening is not pursued in the kata. This is illustrated in FM 21-150 (1952 edition) on pages 108-111.

Step 17 and 18 branch to three equally-useful disarming techniques, all of which put the soldier on the ground without his weapon. The weapon remains in your hands.

Use your right hand to grab the neck of the weapon behind his right hand. Grab it palm up for greatest leverage. Use both hands to yank the weapon forward and down in an attempt to bring the butt of the rifle out in front of his body. You may or may not be successful in this effort. (This is step 17, the crouching kosa dachi with the apparent morote uke.)

  • If he holds the weapon rigidly, you won't be able to pull it past his right hip. In that case, step 18 (the "uppercut") raises the butt of the rifle high behind his right shoulder. Step 19 (the turn before the jump) executes a classic seionage throw. The soldier, hanging on to his rifle for dear life, sails over your right shoulder to the ground. Once he is on the ground, lifting the rifle straight up plucks it out of his hands. This technique is illustrated on the second page of the Blitz article.
  • If you succeed in yanking the rifle out in front of his abdomen, then step 18 ("uppercut") slams the butt of the rifle up under his chin. This is a stunning blow. The following throw (if any is needed) is a jujutsu technique that flips him forward to land on his back. (This is Budoshin's naka mae nage, a jo-disarming throw.)
  • It is also possible to succeed too well when you yank the rifle out in front of him. In that case, the butt of the rifle crosses his body and ends up next to his left hip. Bring the butt of the rifle up outside of his left shoulder (step 18) and then swing it away from you and down in a big arc. This crosses up his arms and either rips the rifle out of his grasp or flips him over on his back. This is a common aikido jo-disarming technique that also appears in Figure 5-26 of FM 21-150 (1992).

If you are wondering what happened to the jump in step 19, recall from the "perspective" article that Shotokan is (almost) the only style that jumps. The other Heian/Pinan styles just step over the prostrate enemy before kneeling.

It is likely that Matsumura and Itosu didn't intend to instruct students in all three variations during an introductory kata. Most karate-jutsu experts (such as Iain Abernethy) identify step 18 as seionage, the judo shoulder throw. I agree, but I prefer to show the students a little more.

Now the enemy is on the ground, on his back, and you have the weapon. Hold the rifle vertically over his chest with the blade down. Squat into kosa dachi (step 20), and use your dropping body weight to drive the bayonet through his body. Then rise place your left heel against his chest, and use the apparent "reinforced block" of step 21 to drag the blade out of his body.

This last technique is a gruesome but essential piece of battlefield wisdom. The blade often gets stuck in the ribs. The Shuri bodyguards were always outnumbered and out-weaponed. Matsumura would shown apprentice bodyguards how to free the bayonet.
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
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Re: H. Godan, Step 14-21, Seio Nage, Bayonet Disarming, Part 1

Postby colinwee » Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:49 am

I reckon a variation on this sequence has to assume that the foot strike in Step 15 will successfully devastate the lead hand (either by striking the hand itself or the elbow). If this is the case, then the defender doesn't have to work on the arm bar in Step 16, but goes straight into an elbow strike to face and controlling grip on the rifle stock. Another interesting way to look at Step 17 is to push the stock down and then upwards around the attackers left arm (as opposed to the right arm). Look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGg3LfWbg-E&feature=channel 0:06 to 0:09. The aikidoka in that video applies a taki otoshi or a 'waterfall' throw using the bo staff - such a move can be integrated with the over-the-shoulder throwing motion as you have in the book. If you apply it this way you can wrap the attacker up really nicely without having to hold his hand to the rifle. Additionally, you can choose to throw him face first into the ground. Colin
Colin Wee has been practicing martial arts for 34 years across 3 continents. He leads a small school based in Western Australia. He holds a rank of 6th dan in Traditional Taekwondo. Come visit him at Joong Do Kwan.
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Re: H. Godan, Step 14-21, Seio Nage, Bayonet Disarming, Part 1

Postby HanshiClayton » Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:47 pm

Shotokan's Secret, Expanded Edition spells all that out. Perhaps you read the First Edition instead?
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