10 Basic Techniques of Bojutsu performed by Yonamine Kosuke in 1982

In this video, Yonamine Kosuke performs 10 basic techniques of the bo. As can be seen, these 10 bo basics were already a part of the syllabus at that time within that kobudo association (Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai) in 1982. I don’t know exactly when they were created but guess it was around that time. They are still practiced today in the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai (led by Kuniyoshi Sensei), the Shimbukan (Akamine Hiroshi Sensei), the Tesshinkan (Tamayose Hidemi) and probably others and possibly with slight variations. They are used to convey the principles of bojutsu as a foundation for the kata and so they are important for beginners to get the “style sheet” of the specific school.

The techniques are found in the bo kata of Taira lineage. However, on a closer look, many of the techniques and combinations are just variations of what is found in kata. For this reason, you cannot teach kata moves by just saying “Oh, just do it as in Kihon No. 10.” I don’t know the reason for this. The Jodan-ura-uchi preceding every Shomen-uchi in kata is such an example. I wrote about it here. Yonamine still does it in a very pronounced way, but it has since been watered down and is has been treated as a mere kamae in the bo kihon (except in No 8). This obviously reflected back into kata, and so the change of the basic technique lead to the change of the kata. All kata. This is an actual example of how and why kata actually change…. And it is an example of the “style sheet” issue that I wrote about here.

Notwithstanding these little issues, this is a good set of bo basics.

Note 1: All techniques start from Chudan-kamae

  • 1. Shomen-uchi in Shiko-dachi
  • 2. Chudan-zuki in Shiko-dachi
  • 3. a) Shomen-uchi in Shiko-dachi – b) Chudan-zuki in Shiko-dachi
  • 4. a) Gedan-uke in Kokutsu-dachi – b) Gedan-nuki in Kokutsu-dachi – c) Gedan-barai in Shiko-dachi – d) Shomen-uchi in Shiko-dachi
  • 5. a) Jodan-nuki in Zenkutsu-dachi – b) Chudan-zuki in Shiko-dachi
  • 6. a) Chudan-ura-uchi in Shiko-dachi – b) Chudan-yoko-uchi in Shiko-dachi
  • 7. a) r. Chudan-gyaku-yoko-uchi in Zenkutsu-dachi – b) l. Chudan-gyaku-yoko-uchi in Zenkutsu-dachi
  • 8. Shiko (four attackes): a) Age-uchi in Zenkutsu-dachi – b) Kaeshi-uchi in Kokutsu-dachi – c) Jodan-ura-uchi in Neko-ashi-dachi – d) Shomen-uchi in Shiko-dachi
  • 9. Reverse grip: a) Chudan-uchi in Shiko-dachi – b) Chudan-zuki in Shiko-dachi – c) Kaeri-gyaku-mochi in Shiko-dachi – d) Chudan-tate-uke in Shiko-dachi – e) Mawashi-baraiin Shiko-dachi – f) Chudan-zuki in Shiko-dachi
  • 10 a) Jodan-ura-uke in Shiko-dachi – b) Jodan-nuki in Zenkutsu-dachi – c) Jodan-mawashi-uke in Zenkutsu-dachi d) Kaeshi-uchi in Kokutsu-dachi

As regards combinations found in kata, Nos 1, 2, and 3 are fragments found all over the kata. No 4 is eminent in Shūshi no Kun Dai and as a variety in Sakugawa no Kon Dai and Yonegawa no Kon. No 5 is not found in this combination, and also it has a Jodan-nuki, while most kata have Chudan-nuki. Moreover, the Chudan-nuki is done in six-foot-grip, not in regular grip as in kihon. No 6 is found in Shūshi no Kun Shō & Dai, Sakugawa no Kun Dai, and in Soeishi no Kun. The first two techniques of No 8 are found in Tsuken Sunakake, but there the following two techniques are completely different. No 8 is also found in Chinen Shikiynaka no Kon, but there the first technique is a Jōdan-barai, not an Age-uchi as in No 8, so here too the combination is a different one. No 9 is found in Urasoe no Kon, however, in the kata, it is done without the first tsuki. While the first two techniques of No 10 are found in Shirotaru no Kon, and the last two techniques are found in Chinen Shikiyanaka no Kon, the whole of No 10 is found nowhere in kata.

You see, complex combinations such as Nos 8, 9, and 10, you cannot be used to teach kata by just saying “Oh, just do it as in Kihon No. so-and-so.” The only kihon with more than just two techniques that is congruent with kata is kihon No. 4. Oh, wait, that is not entirely correct: Kihon No 4 ends by assuming chudan-kamae. But in kata, in which there are four instances of Kihon No 4 in Shushi no Kon Dai total, it is followed by a chudan-zuki and kamae in three instances, and by chudan-zuki and chudan-uke in one instance. No 4 is also found in Sakugawa no Kon Sho, but with a 180° turn, and in Sakugawa no Kon Dai, but as part of a longer combination, and also in Yonegawa no Kon, however – alas – in the different order of 3 – 4 – 1 – 2 and also including a 180° turn as well as once as regular Kihon No 4, followed by a chudan-zuki and kamae. Oh, and depending on the so-and-so-kan (insert name of dojo/association), some changed the kihon a little, but adaptions and improvements in Japan as well as Okinawa are veeeeery slow, that is, it takes decades to correct obvious things. Also, if kihon is not enough, usually more kihon is considered the solution.

And there you have it: These traditional 10 Bo Kihon do not coincide with kata! In this way, kihon has become an almost an separate and for sure an additional entity. It is like practicing gamuts that are not part of any song you want to learn to play. BTW, various schools continuously try to adapt and change the kihon to be more fitting, and by doing so add to the confusion.

Of course you practice techniques, you can apply them, you train the “style sheet” of the school and you do something for your fitness. BUT: How did kihon become more important then Kata? Kihon should be techniques and combinations from kata, to be able to train and optimize them separately. Or Kihon should refer to application, but alas, the 10 Bo Kihon do not only not coincide with kata, they also do not coincide with bo kumite.

© 2021, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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