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Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson's picture
Manji Gamae

Manji Gamae is seen in lots of Shotokan Kata, most of them having different stances and movements structured around it.

I've seen Funakoshi refer to it as Sakutsuchi (Hammer Upside Down). The technique is also mentioned in McCarthy Sensei's Bubishi as one of the 48 Monk Fist Boxing techniques.

Since it's such a frequent inclusion within core Kata of various systems and it has differing set ups and post technique moves (Jion particularly) what's everyones opinion on it?

I tend to see it in Heian Godan as reaching down striking grion area and then lifting upside down and throwing, however not sure if this common, nor how the techniques in jion proceeding/post Manji Gamae in Jion are.

Michael Stolberg
Michael Stolberg's picture

Hi Paul,

There is a good free e-book on Jion bunkai by Rakesh Patel.


It demonstrates the various sequences involving Manji gamae among the other techniques.

Hope this helps,


BRyder's picture

Its a little hard to describe accurately but the posture is good for hyper extending the arm or the leg - you see an example in the bubishi called 'old man carrying an iron bar' for an arm where the high hand of manji gamae is pulling down on wrist, creating a lever on the user's neck against the recipients elbow...the low hand in the manji gamae is used t control the recipients other arm, trying to stop them turning around. The chudan version (in back stance) is better for the leg...rear arm secures the kicking leg, lean into back stance to disbalance then press on the stretched knee to knock them over.

There are pictures of Hanashiro Chomo performing the technique in a crouched position, which looks like a takedown when stood at the side of the attacker...front leg goes behind their legs, front arm goes in front of the legs, rear arm controls their closest arm...this levers the legs and trips them up...

karim_benakli's picture

Another very interesting application is the one of Vince Morris:

I think that all applications provided in this post as well as this of this video are valid, the point is to look at the movements following manji gamae, as they indicate if we are in the "throw" situation, or in the "old man carrying an iron bar", etc.

Andrew Carr-Locke
Andrew Carr-Locke's picture

Funny, I've always found that the hyper-extention of the arm or leg doesn't work against an unwilling opponent, more so when they are bigger or stronger than you. From Heain-Godan, I believe that using it as a leg grab and takedown by pulling up on the leg and using the other arm to off balance is equally unrealistic. 

But if you have made these work for you, good going. Maybe you are doing something that I am not. 

However, what I have managed to use it for is an arm bar. As in full ground grappling. From Heain-Godan, if we use the 'Jump' as a throw (Ippon Seoi-nage or similar), and view the 'landing' from that movement as the transition into ground work- then the X-block is more along the lines of a cross-collar choke. With all of the other movement in the Kata variations on ground work options aginast the limbs. When the opponent defends against a movement, use the deep reach to secure an arm. The stance changes represent the pressure we are putting into our opponents with our weight (think of going into the stance so low you are on your opponent fully). When you switch to the backstance, you are actually stepping the front leg over your opponents face (they are supine) the rear leg is in their arm pit on the near side, your reach has secured their near side arm. The manji-uke is a hold on their wrist, and the other arm is used to clear any attempts from your opponent to grab their own arm and prevent the submission. Using your body weight in the stance and motions, you should get a tap during this motion. 

Hope I could describe what I do in enough detail, I'll happily give it another go if its a bit unclear for anyone. lol.