Training drill (Advanced) – Circles

By Emily Jackman and Simon Larsen

This more advanced shiai exercise is another one from Yamaguchi-sensei; it’s not complicated but it does require good timing and footwork to do successfully.

The shuugisha takes the initiative to enter from tomaai using suriashi – as they cross ma-ai the motodachi, who does not move in, attempts to thrust omote. This strike fails as the shuugisha curves their angle of approach after crossing ma-ai so that they are off to the side as they complete their own omote strike. The shuugisha needs to keep moving backwards in a circular motion after the strike to come back in line with the motodachi to start again.

The footwork needs to be smooth and your balance centred as the shift from forward to side motion should be continuous and even.

For many people doing this exercise with bogu is probably a good idea until you get the hang of distance.

Particularly Note:

  • Shuugisha accelerates during the last 2 steps. There is no pause once at striking range.
  • The back foot comes up very quickly to push for the final step.
  • The strike is horizontal. Do not raise your rear hand to strike over the motodachi’s mokuju.
  • Motodachi doesn’t open, the strike is straight at shuugisha but doesn’t follow them as they move off the line.
  • The back foot can cross over during the last strikes depending on the distance.

What We Are Trying To Learn:

  • How to combine seme with the strike. As the seme is applied you watch for your opening but you don’t stop moving to look.
  • How to move off the centre line while maintaining posture and balance. Especially pay attention to your hips, don’t poke your bottom out to move to the left.
  • Striking distance as measured from your right foot and how to adjust your footwork to be at correct distance (rather than “reaching” for the strike.

4 thoughts on “Training drill (Advanced) – Circles

Add yours

  1. Hi Emily and Simon,

    Thank you for this video. I am having trouble seeing where the Fumikomi foot stamp is supposed to occur.

    Is the landing of the bayonet tip supposed to coincide with the landing of the front foot? Or does it coincide with the landing of the back foot as the shuugisha moves off-line?

    In what sequence do the following occur: 1) the landing of the bayonet tip, 2) the stamping of the front foot, 3) the move off line, and 4) the landing of the back foot? I am having trouble trying to figure out the proper sequence of these four events.

    Thank you for your time, and have a great weekend 🙂

    – Peter

    1. Front foot and Strike are at about the same time (some might argue for microseconds ahead or behind but that is all a bit beyond this level). If in doubt the “least worst” thing to do would probably be strike first then fumikomi.

      The move offline is done with either foot depending on distance;.a cm or two closer when launching the attack and it might be best to start moving offline with the front foot. If you are at perfect distance then use the back foot to start the change of direction.

      If you watch the video carefully you can see Sensei doing both.

  2. Hi Emily and Simon,

    Also, this is a cool drill, is there an Ura or Shita version of this drill that circles in the other direction?

    – Peter

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