Mens Individual: Match 51 Senior Division

Commentary by Simon Larsen

This is from the next age group up. Tankendo shiai for the All Japans is not separated into Civilian / Air Force & Navy / Army groups like the Individuals for Jukendo. It is separated into age groups: 0-35, 36-50, 50+ usually.


Hisatsune loves shou ippon do. I know; he always tries to nail me with it in training and looks very happy when he succeeds. However in this case he didn’t go straight for it and allowed Abe to launch for an attack. I suspect Abe might have a kendo background as his footwork has very large steps and during fumikomi his foot is very high. Perhaps Hisatsune sensei knew this and tried to take advantage of it. Hisatsune’s nodo attempt got reasonably close but I think the zanshin may have let him down, it looks like Hisatsune was getting ready to block men and perhaps that lifting caused the lack of point. Or maybe not a straight enough arm on contact.


At the past few tankendo seminars we have been to there has been a distinct emphasis on “zanshin for men”. It has been stressed over and over that you do not lift the tanken high after a strike. Given the emphasis on this I would suggest anyone practicing men pay careful attention to their zanshin. Either leave it at the place where it connected or pull it down to chudan. I am pretty sure that if we are getting this brought up continually (despite neither of us ever really trying for men) I am pretty sure the judges are also getting it drilled into them.


In the opening strikes Abe looks to have gone for a kendo style men; very small movement with a flick in the wrist providing most of the strike. This is definitely discouraged. Men should be big; over your head when you lift up at the beginning.


We all know what I think of men anyway so I’d probably say “too hard don’t bother, learn do instead”. Hiki men from tsubazeriai can work sometimes but that is the only time I would consider it a safe technique personally.


Abe is a big boy and Hisatsune’s attempts at seitai just can’t get him off balance for the strike to score. I believe that for seitai to score you must have your opponent off balance. People that are quick like Hisatsune can often do this by letting their opponent get themself off balance. Hisatsune often strikes do and while I am off balance from the block he gets a nice seitai on me. Because I am off balance he doesn’t need to use as much power in his grip and is therefore much quicker. Something worth trying if you like seitai and are pretty quick. When Ewa practises this the best ones are when her hips pivot really fast and smoothly between the do and the initial grab for the seitai the second pivot for the strike doesn’t seem to need as much speed if she grabs my arm while I am still off balance.


Remember, dropping your tanken is hansoku! If you do drop it always pick it up by kneeling with one knee on the ground.


On the restart Hisatsune again tries to take advantage of Abe’s big steps and this time succeeds. They both start their final step at the same time but as Hisatsune takes short and lower to the ground steps his step finishes first and therefore his strike lands first.


Restarting for the second point I think they were both surprised Hisatsune’s strike didn’t score. My guess for the lack of point (or even a wiggle of the flags) is that Hisatsune’s posture looked like someone receiving ai-tsuki (both people striking at the same time). It is hard to maintain posture when someone big is coming forward and you connect. Their weight really knocks your shoulder out of position and then your arm is weak and your posture fails. If you don’t have good hanmei it is even worse and you can do a fair bit of damage to the ligaments running through your shoulder. In my experience if you get that injury expect about a year for it to heal completely, use that time to work on your hanmei 🙂


The final point, again Abe’s footwork is too big and slow for his strike to land in time.


For me this match is a good reminder to get that front foot nice and low in fumikomi and take lots of fast small steps rather than one big one.

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