H. Nidan, Step 7, Ikkyo Wristlock, Mae Geri Keage

Applications of Heian Nidan (Pinan Shodan) by Bruce Clayton.
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H. Nidan, Step 7, Ikkyo Wristlock, Mae Geri Keage

Postby HanshiClayton » Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:02 am

Reference "Ikkyo Wristlock", Sam Combes, Aiki-do, Volume 1, Black Belt Video, 1999.
Also, Mashiro's Black Medicine III: Low Blows, Paladin Press, 1981, p. 52.
Also, "Tekubi Shime Waza" (technique 2-6) of George Kirby, Black Belt Budoshin Jujitsu, Volume 2, Panther Productions, 1992.
Also, "Ude Osae Dori," page 95 of Dennis Palumbo, Secrets Of Hakkoryu Jujutsu: Shodan Tactics, Paladin Press, 1987.
Also, page 62, 74 and 128 of War Department, Basic Field Manual - Unarmed Defense for American Soldier (FM21-150) June 30, 1942
Also, "Rotational Defense," page 138-139 of Darren Levine, et al., Krav Maga for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide to the World's Easiest-to-Learn, Most-Effective Fitness and Fighting Program, Ulysses, 2009.

Step 7 of H. Nidan is the yoko geri keage (side-snap kick) and uraken uchi (backfist strike). There is a problem, though. The side kick and backfist are unique to Shotokan, and are certainly not the original techniques taught by Itosu. We can find applications for this attack, but a historical analysis of the kata demands that we turn the hips directly toward the enemy and do a front-snap kick, like all the other Heian/Pinan styles do. (See the "perspective" topic for this kata for Step 7.)

Side Kick Application

The traditional Shotokan interpretation of this move is uraken-uchi to the head and yoko geri keage to the groin. This combination is very practical because it is difficult to block or dodge both attacks successfully. If the opponent flinches back from the uraken, he usually drives his hips forward in counterbalance, and therefore gets kicked. If he pulls his hips back away from the kick, it pushes his face forward into the fist. If he ducks the fist he gets kicked in the face. If he sidesteps the kick, he is still in the horizontal path of the uraken. One of the two attacks is very likely to succeed.

But... this isn't the kata's original application. In my research, I have yet to see an explanation of Shotokan's unique committment to these technques in H. Nidan.

Ikkyu Wristlock and Front Snap Kick

My first sensei was Briggs Hunt, who taught "dirty fighting" as a physical education class at UCLA. He taught an eclectic mix of techniques based on his US Army Ranger training, most of which are also found in jujutsu. Step 7 of P. Shodan (H. Nidan) is very similar to one of Hunt's "dirty" tricks. This one is illustrated on page 52 of Black Medicine III and on page 62 of FM 21-150 (1942 edition). It is called "Rotational Defense" in Krav Maga.

Have senpai grab your throat from the front as if choking you:

  1. Raise your right arm high up in the air, and turn 90 degrees to the left. This pries his hands off your throat.
  2. Grasp his right hand with both of yours, thumbs on the back of his hand and fingers curled around into the palm.
  3. Turn back to face him. This will twist his arm into the "ikkyo" (number one) wrist lock and arm bar, which every beginning jujutsu or aikido student knows.
  4. Twist his arm clockwise while pressing on the locked wrist, and the opponent will bend deeply at the waist and will turn to your right. This puts his head in the perfect position to kick his face with your right foot.

This is what's happening in H. Nidan, Step 7. There are a million ways to catch the enemy's hand and apply the wristlock. When we stack up in koshi kamae (two hands at the left hip), this symbolizes our two-handed grip on his hand. The hand gesture that follows (depending on the style) is the twist of the arm to force him to bend at the waist. The snap kick is the finishing blow to the opponent's face. This is another "twist and shout" application. The jujutsu is used to set up a brutal karate technique.

Nito Ryu Application

The discussion of H. Nidan, Step 1-3, emphasized a system of weapon-disarming techniques. Step 4-6 is the mirror image of Step 1-3. At a certain point (either Step 2 or 5), we attempted to pull a katana out of the grip of a highly-agitated and quite murderous samurai. If you can break his grip on the sword, the next move (either Step 3 or 6) is to slash back at throat level and kill him.

What if you failed to break his grip?

In step 5 of the kata, you have deflected an overhead cut from the left. You have caught and "hugged" the opponents arms and the handle of the katana. Your right hand grasps the handle of the katana up against the tsuba. This means that your right hand has captured his right hand where it grips the sword. If the techniques described in Step 1-3 don't break his grip, shift your left hand in to reinforce your grip on his right hand. Clamp his hand so that he can't let go of the sword. Lift the sword and the trapped hand up, over your head left-to-right, and down on your right, twisting his right arm clockwise as you go. This sets up the ikkyo wrist lock and arm bar, as described in the previous section. Twist the arm until he turns to your right and bends over. Now you can kick him in the face.

After that, it's your sword. You'll find that you can cut his throat as part of the stackup for Step 8, which is the first of several knife-hand "blocks."


There's another interpretation of Step 7 that fits the Nito Ryu theme and is even more elegant.

Matsumura and Itosu were not engaged in "self-defense." They were unarmed military bodyguards committed to protecting the unarmed king of Okinawa against the occupying Japanese samurai (see Shotokan's Secret for the details). They literally had a license to kill, and a commitment to inflict as much damage as possible in the "reaction" phase of the fight.

At this point in the kata you turn and look behind you, and there is a samurai bureaucrat who hasn't drawn steel yet. There is no such thing as a noncombatant in this fight; if he hasn't drawn yet he soon will. Can you leave him unharmed behind you? No.

What's the fastest way to kill a man using a sword? This is a deeper question than it first seems, because this isn't a duel. In a duel, getting the sword stuck in his body isn't very important as long as the enemy is well-cloven. In the Shuri throne room, however, we are surrounded by enemies. Getting our blade jammed in someone's skull could easily be fatal to us. Similarly, we can't spend the time to hack at the man multiple times as he tries to ward off the blows with his arms. In fact, we can't take the time to lift the sword for a "killing stroke." That's a two-motion attack (up, down) and we need something faster. Any delay gives time to our enemies.

So, kick him in the groin (or fake a kick to the groin) and when his hands drop in reaction, slash horizontally across the throat. That's a one-motion (slashing) attack that bisects soft tissue and has no chance of getting stuck.


This nito-ryu interpretation of step 7 isn't elegant. In fact, it is very inelegant. Suppose that in step 3, when we stabbed the second samurai in the abdomen, the blade got stuck. You took his sword from him in step 5, and slashed his face or throat in step 6. The sword in your left hand is still stuck in his gut.

What would you do? You would probably place your right foot against his torso and push him away while pulling the sword toward you. You might push away with your right hand at the same time.

This would be sufficient to explain the typical gestures we find at this point in the pinan katas. (Remember that the side-snap kick in step 7 is a shotokan anachronism. We have to explain the front kick that everybody else does instead.)


Or, you could assume that the man behind you has his sword out and is attempting the overhead killing stroke, so you slash with the blade to deflect the strike and kick the groin to put him out of the fight. That leaves him alive, which seems like it violates the Waldow Principle, but maybe we'll pick him up again in Step 22.
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
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Re: H. Nidan, Step 7, Ikkyo Wristlock, Mae Geri Keage

Postby HanshiClayton » Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:09 am

In the spirit of ongoing research, I have found another interpretation of step 7. It is very historical, and fits the nito ryu interpretation of the kata perfectly.

Step 7, with the front snap kick, looks exactly like a "stopping kick" from Wing Chun. I wrote it up over here.
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2012, All Rights Reserved.
This forum is supported by the sales of Shotokan's Secret, Expanded Edition
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