In the Saijutsu kata of Taira-lineage are often found longer combinations which are almost the same, but which almost always slightly vary. This is a real issue for practitioners, particularly during the first years. I have been asked how to memorize those differences in Chatan Yara and Hama Higa. I am sure everyone who has some exposition to Taira-lineage saijutsu knows of this issue. There is no logical explanation for it. I have heard even kodansha talk about it in an almost depressed tone.
The intros and the outros to these varying combinations are also remarkably similar. Because people condition themselves with lots of repetitions and kime and all, the performances almost become autopilot, and that’s why it gets complicated. That is, once you mastered the first kata, the second will confuse you, the third even more, the fourth again, the fifth all the more, the sixths will throw you in despair, and while you probably see some light at the end of the tunnel during number seven, and after like 20 years or so, the eighth will finish you off. Or as it almost once ripped out of an unnamed saijutsu student:
“Are you kidding me?”
It is not that dramatic, but it is an important issue that even seasoned kobudoka struggle with.
Therefore, today I would like to explain the topic shortly. I will do so by looking at the kata’s broader choreography or, more specifically, at the morphology of the combinations in question within its enbusen. In this way it is possible to address this topic. This is difficult for most people because as you are wading through the beginner and intermediate kata upwards to the final ones, you simply do not see the forest for the trees.
Note that at the end of this article I have added a short movie showing the techniques.
Also note that the terminology used for techniques might differ from school to school.
So lets get started.
First of all, in Tsuken Shitahaku no Sai there is a combination of ten consecutive techniques. These appear twice in the kata: 1. r. Jōdan-barai, 2. r. Jōdan-kaeshi-uchi, 3. r. Gedan-uke, 4. l. Chūdan-zuki, 5. r. Chūdan-zuki, 6. bdh. Chūdan-kamae, 7. bdh. Gedan-uke, 8. bdh. Jōdan-zuki, 9. Jōdan Kōsa-uke, 10. bdh. Jōdan-uchi.
Chatan Yara no Sai has the same combination as Tsuken Shitahaku no Sai, but with one additional technique (r. Jōdan-mawashi-uchi) so there are a total of eleven consecutive techniques. These appear twice in the kata: 1. r. Jōdan-barai, 2. r. Jōdan-kaeshi-uchi, 3. r. Jōdan-mawashi-uchi, 4. r. Gedan-uke, 5. l. Chūdan-zuki, 6. r. Chūdan-zuki, 7. bdh. Chūdan-kamae, 8. bdh. Gedan-uke, 9. bdh. Jōdan-zuki, 10. Jōdan Kōsa-uke, 11. bdh. Jōdan-uchi
Hama Higa no Sai in turn has the same combination as in Chatan Yara but without the last two techniques so there are a total of nine consecutive techniques: 1. r. Jōdan-barai, 2. r. Jōdan-kaeshi-uchi, 3. r. Jōdan-mawashi-uchi, 4. r. Gedan-uke, 5. l. Chūdan-zuki, 6. r. Chūdan-zuki, 7. bdh. Chūdan-kamae, 8. bdh. Gedan-uke, 9. bdh. Jōdan-zuki.
Kojō no Sai has the same 11-technique-combination as in Chatan Yara no Sai. These appear trice in the kata.
Tawada no Sai has a 9-technique-combination that is a shortened variation of the 11-technique-combination of Chatan Yara and Kojō no Sai, namely, the same combo simply without techniques number 2. (r. Jōdan-kaeshi-uchi) and 3. r. Jōdan-mawashi-uchi. This 9-techniques-combination appears four times in the kata: 1. r. Jōdan-barai, 2. r. Gedan-uke, 3. l. Chūdan-zuki, 4. r. Chūdan-zuki, 5. bdh. Chūdan-kamae, 6. bdh. Gedan-uke, 7. bdh. Jōdan-zuki, 8. Jōdan-kōsa-uke, 9. bdh. Jōdan-uchi.
Yakā no Sai has an 8-technique-combination twice that can be considered either a variation of the 10-techniques-combination of Tsuken Shitahaku no Sai (variation in the first two techniques, minus the Jōdan-mawashi-uchi), or of the 9-techniques-combination of Hama Higa no Sai (variation in the first two techniques, minus the last two techniques ), but with a slight variation: 1. r. Chūdan-barai, 2. r. Chūdan-renzoku-barai, 3. r. Gedan-uke, 4. l. Chūdan-zuki, 5. Chūdan-zuki, 6. bdh. Chūdan-kamae, 7. bdh. Gedan-uke, 8. bdh. Jōdan-zuki
Next, Jigen (Manji) no Sai has another unique 8-technique-combination that can be considered a shortened veariation of the 11-technique-combination of Chatan Yara and Kojō no Sai, skipping the three techniques number 7, 8, and 9. This combination is performed twice in the kata: 1. r. Jōdan-barai, 2. r. Jōdan-kaeshi-uchi, 3. r. Jōdan-mawashi-uchi, 4. r. Gedan-uke, 5. l. Chūdan-zuki, 6. r. Chūdan-zuki, 7. Jōdan-kōsa-uke, 8. bdh. Jōdan-uchi.
Finally, Hanta-gwā no Sai has a variation of the 9-techniques-combination of Hama Higa no Sai, however there is a whole new combi embedded it in.
And that’s all that need be said about this.