In his 1930 description, which is the earliest description of a Bō kata, Miki uses the term nejiru on several occasions, namely every time after a strike to the front. It is a term that he might have learned from Ōshiro Chōjo, who in turn might have adopted it from Chinen Sanrā. Nejiru means to turn, to twist, to screw. In modern simplified and standardized terminology it is something like the chūdan-uke or mid-level displacement. Some dōjō even claim and insist that “This is just mid-level posture (chūdan-kamae), it is not a technique!”
Well, old tactics are lost while new meanings are invented, and you never know what they come up next with. In any case, Miki in 1930 writes “screw (nejiru) the Bō so as to displace the opponent’s weapon,” and this is done each time immediately after a front strike.
Eight years later Taira Shinken also used the same term in the work Karatedō Taikan (1938) in numbers 6d, 11d, 13d, and 14f of his kata description. Taira provides a slightly different interpretation of it and it is one that has come to be handled almost like a secret: He says that originally a thrust (tsuki) was hidden within this twisting motion:
“When the enemy thrusts toward your face, let your Bō rotate by diffraction of your right arm. Parrying aside the opponent’s Bō in this way, you simultaneous thrust to the opponent’s upper level. That is, during the defensive movement (nejiru) the front hand simultaneously serves as a guide for the thrust performed by the rear hand, which is then immediately returned to the defensive position.”
Taira adds that this integrated thrust is not always to be understood merely as a thrust to the opponent’s head. If, for instance, the opponent attempts to strike down with a sword from overhead position, it is also possible to thrust against his forearms, or his chest etc. For this reason, Taira’s interpretation of nejiru includes the meaning of a tsuki-uke. That is, it is a form of what is called kōbō ittai 攻防一体 in Japanese, or simultaneous attack and defense. While it is a Japanese term, it is a tactic found in almost all martial and combative arts.
The above is said to have been one of Chinen Sanrā’s specialties, namely, to sometimes thrust in the moment of defensive posture.
© 2022, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.