Page 1 of 1

Bodyguard Tactics in the Heian Katas

PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:53 pm
by HanshiClayton
In chapter 7 of Shotokan's Secret, I described the Shuri Battle Plan as performed by the royal bodyguards (Matsumura, Itosu, and others). Since they were responsible for the safety of the king, and were always unarmed and outnumbered, it was clear that their plan would have three essential elements:

  • React: Confronted by a superior force attempting to reach the king, the bodyguards would react with a ferocious counter-attack to upset the momentum of the assault on their principal. I used the phrase "shock and awe," which was popular at the time of writing. We see this enacted in the first half of each of the Heian katas where we seem to attack a mob of people, blocking and striking in all directions.

  • Extract: While the counter-attack was in progress, a select number of the bodyguards would surround the principal and escort him out of the room to safety. We see this enacted in the Tekki katas, where we throw the principal up against a wall and turn our backs to him, deflecting all attacks until we can get him to a door.

  • Retreat: Once the principal is out of the room, the bodyguards must break off the engagement and flee. We see this enacted in the second half of each of the Heian katas, where we desperately fight our way back to the door. The last few moves of each kata seem to be guarding the exit until all of our fighters are out.
The retreat phase also includes retreat through the castle and into the countryside, which are not depicted in the katas.