Commentary by Simon Larsen
When shodan goes up against 6th dan you often get an interesting match. Shodan are often younger and super fast but 6th dan often have better senses of oportunity.
Kikuchi tests the reaction of his opponent with a fake for kote. I have seen a few people use this and stolen it myself. To me it is a good way of seeing what your opponents reactions are like; do they avoid, block or attack? without getting close enough that there is a big risk of being scored on. Feinting to kote and striking underneath to do is a great technique against a defensive opponent if you have the footwork to get out to the side without losing hanmi [半身].
Sato obviously likes to launch his own attacks when he sees one coming. Kikuchi holds him off until Sato commits to a strike fully. Watching the replay in slow motion Sato is faster but I think has one problem which caused the failure to score; his strike is not completely straight for the do, it almost looks like he was going for nodo but didn’t have the reach resulting in striking just over the top of the do but not on the nodo. Kikuchi on the other hand has a perfectly straight line strike to the do and takes the point.
Hisatsune sensei regularly holds a tanken against the nodo and the do to illustrate the extra distance involved. Especially against someone with hanme. I like nodo myself but it is a lot further and gives the opponent an easier chance to avoid with nuki waza or to simply strike do first.
Sato obviously is somewhat surprised by this and unlike the first “Hajime” where both players meet with the same speed this time Kikuchi takes an extra step taking the centre of the court and takes the aggressor position in tsubazeriai. His weight is forward and above Sato. As they separate Kikuchi has his arm extended and weight on his front foot with a wide stance.
I am taught that a straight arm is a defensive stance. Weight on the front foot also means you can’t move that fast. Tankendo is too quick to do that in close and Kikuchi takes the advantage given with a feint for men circling into a strike to do from underneath.