Training advanced: Receiving Katotsu

Most of the elements in “Receiving Chokutotsu” apply here:

  • The tiny step and receving of the strike
  • The correct distance
  • Posture while receiving

The new things to focus on are how to draw the strike out of the student and how to make the opening correctly.

To draw the strike create the opening by raising your mokuju up. The trick to this is to lift the students mokuju tip with yours. That will enable them to make the strike without dropping the kensaki (tip) of their mokuju. Dropping the kensaki before striking creates an opening for the opponent and also telegraphs intentions. Neither of these are good things and we don’t want to encourage the student to get into that habit. If you lift their mokuju and make the opening correctly the student will be able to make a strike which maintains contact or stays very close to your mokuju for the first part of the movement. This is much better technique.

As you give the command and the student commences their strike lift your front hand a little higher and to your frontside (at 00:54 you can see the very small extra rise, it is not a big movement). Immediately extend your front elbow to clear the path to the target. If your elbow is bent you will probably get a sore elbow or, even more fun, a bruise on your upper arm where their mokuju pinches the skin into your own kata.

Similarly if your front hand is incorrectly holding the mokuju you will either have to hold your arm a large distance out or get hit. Ensure that both of the balls of your palm are on top of the mokuju in the same bent wrist style as when you take basic kamae. This is very difficult if, like me, you don’t have flexible wrists. Try doing the motion with your hands each way (correctly and incorrectly) and you can feel the difference in your shoulder action which makes it easier to know when you have done it wrong with a student.

Raise your front hand no higher than your own shoulder and only 20 or so degrees off your centre line. Remember that the student doesn’t need to visibly see the target; their mokuju is a lot lower than their eyes.

Adding to the complexity of this movement is your hanme (side on stance) and front shoulder. A lack of hanme actually makes the target harder to hit for the student as your upper arm gets in the way. At 01:10 you can see that Lukasz is side on and that Terada sensei rolls his front shoulder up and slightly to the frontside making the opening very easy to strike.

Receiving Katotsu correctly is very difficult and remembering to make the tiny step absorbing the strike is even harder after all that thinking so practice slowly to avoid lots of bruises and bad habits. And remember that when the student does hit you it is probably your own fault!

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