Training basics: Nodo Tsuki

Commentary by Simon Larsen

With Nodo tsuki your shimei (locked final position of the strike) is even more important than for normal tsuki. If you are not locked and end up pushing against the receiver in normal tsuki it is annoying for them and encourages bad habits. In nodo tsuki the same action can cause injury. If you do not have a proper jukendo men with the larger and stronger nodo and extra reinforcement inside the men on the leading flap I would recommend not doing this practice at all.

When striking nodo obviously your mokuju will be “nose up” against a lot of people. This is okay.

Especially when beginning aim to the leading side of the nodo target slightly. Few people can get their head completely straight when receiving and so hitting the middle of the nodo will result in a twisting force on the neck of the receiver which can be painful. Also your strike may slide off and look bad.

Nodo is further away so you will need to shorten your maai or push harder with your back foot. Don’t reach out with your hands to cover the extra distance as that will reduce your shimei and teach you bad habits. Remember that during basics especially a strike that is perfect but doesn’t cover the distance is far superior to bad form which hits the target.

For basics a shorter maai is probably better as you stand less chance of ruining your kamae. Your receiving partner should adjust this distance to ensure a correct strike.

For more advanced training or shiai I find that sneaking your back foot up close to your front foot is a good solution to the extra distance. When doing this it is essential that you do not stop in the movement. Your back foot should come up and then launch you forwards immediately. Your opponent will probably notice the change in your body when moving the back foot up and if you stop there you are in a bad position to respond to whatever this change triggers in the opponent.

When receiving nodo I find that clenching your jaw just before the strike lands helps distribute the force into the body rather than trying to stop it with your head. As the strike lands lower your chin slightly too direct the force into your kata.

The straighter your head is facing forward the less chance there is of the strike twisting your head, a slight reduction in hanmei (sideways stance) is probably okay but don’t get too extreme.

Your timing of the small step back to absorb the strike is very difficult to get right but is very important to ensure you teach the striker correctly. If you step away to quickly you will encourage the striker to push for the strike which is a bad habit and also will probably hurt you. If you step away too slowly you may find the impact quite heavy. In this case it is probably best to be slow rather than fast but neither is ideal.

As I take the small step back I lower my centre of gravity by bending my knees a little. This is the same as when receiving normal tsuki but makes more of a difference with this strike so if you don’t do it for normal tsuki you may want to try it here especially.


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