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MykeB
MykeB's picture
Rohai Kata help/thoughts

Evening all,

This is my first time out posting a topic on this section of the boards, so have mercy.  Rohai kata, as taught in Matsubayashi Ryu is a favorite of mine and one I want to start examining for application.  I started dusting this kata off ater years of neglect and want to breath some life into it.  This board, having tons of knowlegable folks is where I want to turn for some help in beginning to break this one down.  Rohai, as I was taught it years ago, has a very different style of movements and postures from what I've seen in a lot of other kata.  It's a bit of a myster to me, and with my old Matsubayashi Ryu instructor mostly retired now, hard to get much direction any more. 

So, have mercy, this was filmed in our little dojo and I'm the sad fella performing this kata.  On the turn near the end of the kata, I'm on very thick grappling mats and my turning foot tends to sink in and "stick" during the spin, hence the eyes down and faltering on the foot work. (Excuses, excuses..I know.)

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Myke,

in regards to your performance, I wouldn't rush through the kata that fast. Just relax during the kata. I am not an adept of Matsubayashi Ryu but I really like the performance of Jim Sindt (now an adept of Koryu Uchinadi). Take a look

As for the application side of things there was a pretty good video on the web by the late Theo Theloesen. I was not able to find it though. Maybe you'll manage to do so.

Regards Holger

MykeB
MykeB's picture

I keep Mr. Sindt's videos as ready reference on my phone actually.  And rewatching the video, if it's playing for everyone else like it just did for me, I look like I'm on speed.  It's replaying with a lot of jumps in the video and I have no clue why.  I'll take a look and see if I can find the Theo Theloesen video.  More of a starting point than I had before.

Zach_MB
Zach_MB's picture

I love this kata, it feels pretty unique to me. I haven't done a ton of work on it, but I've started some prelimiary processes. The way I see it , this is a very close range form. The reason I say that is do to the one legged stances, which I interperate as knee strikes from a control postion. Additionally it makes decent use of the drawing to the hip motions, that should be a huge marker for close range. One the nidans at the club I train with came up to me and asked if the open squence could be arm locks, and wouldn't you know it, they can.

Just my two sense. Let us know what you come up with!

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Myke,

when I compare you to Jim Sindt I find him more calm and relaxed taking small breaks, finishing every technique (not overrunninng them). You seem to be in a little hurry. I hope I haven't offended you in any kind of way. You asked for thoughts and that was what jumped my eyes.

Regards Holger

deltabluesman
deltabluesman's picture

Hi Myke,

I will offer my thoughts.  Disclaimer:  I am not familiar with Matsubayashi-Ryu and I do not practice this kata.  Perhaps my bunkai will give you some ideas.  I will probably end up saying many things that you already know. 

I tried to borrow a camera for this but unfortunately it was not available—I’ll have to just use a mixture of written descriptions and quick Youtube links instead.  To make sure we are on the same reference page, I will use the video of you performing the kata and will refer to the time segments in the clip.  I have probably misspelled some things or shifted right/left, so please let me know if I make any mistakes.   Also, I hope this is not breaking any forum rules! 

Element One:  From the beginning of the kata to the posture immediately after the bow at 0:21. 

You can view this “ready” posture as a counter for a double wrist grab.  Perhaps you were clinched, you struck the groin, and the attacker reacted by seizing your hands.  If this were to occur, he would have grabbed your wrists from “above.”  You can use the ready posture to apply a wrist lock.  The basic principle is illustrated here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=m_DHthdfjJs#t=202s

The kata version differs in that it does not bother using both hands to finish the joint lock (as the individual in the video shows).  Instead, the kata only frees the wrists, leaving the hands high.  This technique is slightly easier to see in the version done by Jim Sindt.

Element Two:  From 0:25 to 0:27.

This is an alternative counter to someone grabbing both wrists.  In your version of the kata, it appears that you flex your wrist while angling downwards with the fingers.  This motion signals to me that you are twisting out of a wrist lock (especially since you seem to be shifting your hips back as well).  I am really struggling to describe this in words but the basic principle is illustrated here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSlSbMEKA2w

 

The only difference is that in the kata you do not press the hands down to clear the centerline.  

 

Element Three:  From 0:27 to 0:28.         

Now that the kata has stripped the grip, it illustrates a method to control the attacker’s limb and take him down.   The reason you are stepping sideways is because you are turning your body that way in relation to the opponent.  This technique would work as a follow-up to the previous wrist grab counter, or you could do it on its own.  Again, I am struggling to describe this technique, but I’ll do my best.

You need to be on the outside of the opponent’s left arm.  Seize their left bicep with your left hand.  Place the edge of your right hand against their jaw.  Now drive that hand down just as the kata prescribes while sinking your weight into the deep stance.  If done properly, you can apply serious torque to the opponent’s jaw and neck.  It is similar to but not the same as the Bubishi technique called “Going to Fight with One Knife.”  http://karatetokuinkan.galeon.com/bubishi31.jpg

 

The primary difference is that in your kata, the emphasis is not on the arm bar (although you might get that too depending on the angle), but instead on applying tremendous pressure to the jaw.  It will place you in a position of extreme advantage relative to the attacker.  You will also end up in precisely the same position that is shown in the kata.

Element Four:  From 0:28 to 0:30.

Here the kata shows an alternative method of limb control.  A weakness of the prior technique (Element III) is that you need to be fairly close to the opponent; in addition, it will not be as effective if he is starting to rush into you.  Once again, you have seized the opponent’s left arm.  You will ideally have a grip on the forearm or wrist.  Move to the side as you direct his arm away with your left hand and draw back your right.  Drive a punch into the back of his head, the kidney, the base of the spine, or the rib cage (whatever is open, really).  Your kata seems to record a strike to the head/jaw.  Now the kata shows you chambering both hands.  Keeping your grip on his left wrist or arm, grab his hair with your right hand and pull it into the chamber just as the kata shows. 

Element Five:  From 0:31 to 0:33.

(I do not have an application for the steps.)   The posture with the leg lifted is an advanced variation on Element III.   You can train this technique off a cross-hand wrist grab (his left wrist grabbing your left wrist) but the same technique can be used from a variety of different positions.  Perhaps the simplest way is to just grab the opponent’s left arm at the wrist.   You pull the opponent’s wrist high towards your head.  At the same time, you press against the jaw with your right hand and you drive your right knee into the side or back of their thigh (the side is preferable).  This is more of a takedown maneuver.  The advantage of this advanced variation is that you can do it from slightly further away.  A sufficiently powerful strike with the knee will take the opponent’s leg off the floor, upsetting his balance such that you can drive him down with your right hand.    

These very same principles could of course be extrapolated to create both flow drills and sparring scenarios.  You could experiment with the opponent seizing your wrists in any fashion and you fighting to secure your counter.  You could isolate the limb control methods in Elements III-V and have an opponent resist you with varying pressures and directions.  So if the opponent were driving into you, you would control the limb upwards (as in Element Five) or to the side (as in Element IV).  If the opponent were trying to pull away from you, you could instead resecure your grip on the bicep and do Element III.  These are just some ideas on how I would make the kata come alive.  I apologize for not having film of this—it would make it much easier to describe.

Element Six:  0:34 to 0:37

This records another trapping technique.  It is similar to but not the same as the Bubishi technique called Phoenix Spreads Its Wings. http://karatetokuinkan.galeon.com/bubishi32.jpg

 

Instead of striking up to the eyes, it appears that you are driving your fingertips into the throat or the side of the neck.  This is also similar to the Bubishi technique called Left and Right Wings. http://karatetokuinkan.galeon.com/bubishi45.jpg

 

 

You strike the throat, and then follow up with two punches.  It makes sense that you would use two punches, since the right cross will be the finisher.   The next move in the kata (where you step into the wide stance and strike downward) would be used if the opponent were rocked but not quite out.  He might reach out with his right hand to grab your lapel or the back of your head.  If so, you would slide your left arm underneath his grabbing arm and seize the top of his shoulder.  You would then press down hard with your right hand (either on the jaw or the back of the head).  This will put you in a control position which you can use to finish him with knees or strikes.  A similar technique is shown in this video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=PY59We17EDI#t=21s

The kiai in the kata makes me think that the bunkai is probably illustrating an armbar/shoulder lock on the trapped arm/shoulder.   IMHO it is difficult to catch this armbar against a resisting opponent, so I prefer to just use the control position to set up strikes.  If you are stronger than your opponent you can probably hit the armbar pretty reliably. 

 

Element Seven:  0:37 to 0:41

This is the same as Element Six, but instead of trying to grab your lapel or head, the opponent is now trying to grab your closest leg for a takedown.  As I am sure you know, sprawling against a good wrestler requires great levels of skill.  But the kata version seems to be a bit simpler.  So you would drive forward with your hips into the opponent while using your hands to either strike the eyes, stuff the head down, or press on the upper back (if he is really deep on the takedown).  Here is a brief illustration of the idea behind the technique

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ-ewVMglcA

I prefer to throw my hips back rather than drive into the opponent.  This is just my personal preference on the technique and would be different than the kata:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=HkV8uqHyBu8#t=57s

On this variation, you can use your weight on the opponent’s upper back to drive him straight onto the floor.   I have seen people get knocked out from sprawls without a single strike thrown.  A good wrestler will be able to pop right back up from the sprawl as well in case there are friends around.  If necessary, you could sprawl, leap right back to your feet, and soccer kick him into oblivion.  This would definitely be an extrapolation from the kata though.

(A drill for developing that springiness quality:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaECjpI1eaI)

Since Jim Sindt’s version includes a kiai, the bunkai is probably showing some kind of strike to augment the sprawl. I will draw to a close since this post is already growing quite massive!  Here is a clip from Iain on the yama-zuki.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLaHNVeg9L8

You could chain this yama-zuki bunkai to the previous technique (in case he grabbed your wrist instead of your lapel or leg), or you could use it on its own.

It goes without saying that almost all of my bunkai ideas for this kata are inspired by Iain’s DVDs…I make no claim to originality!

It appears that most of my applications would work the same for this Shito-Ryu kata as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYASKyvteIw

 

You might notice that the karateka takes three steps forward in this version, rather than the two steps forward that your style favors.  This makes me think that the steps are not important.   You can also see how the Shito-Ryu version I linked uses the underhook control position from Element VI to spin the opponent all the way down before striking him on the ground. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=zYASKyvteIw#t=36s

To develop the bunkai into a full fighting system, I would start with just basic grip-fighting—since that is where the kata begins.  I would spar against another person who was trying to hold on as long as possible.  I would attempt to defend with one of the kata techniques.  As soon as I was free, I would reset.

Once this stage was comfortable, I would put on gloves and introduce some strikes to set up the techniques.  After this, I might isolate the limb control.  The opponent pushes me, so I pull his arm high or to the side.  The opponent is pulling away from me, so I grab his left bicep and hang on.  The opponent is reaching to pull me towards him, so I parry the arm aside and arm drag the left bicep.  Once you were beyond this very basic level, you could sophisticate these techniques and introduce Elements III-VI. 

The video I linked in Element II could also be the beginning of a Rohai-style flow drill.  So you would start with the opponent seizing your wrists.  You apply the Element II technique (as shown in the video).  As soon as the wrists are free, you start striking the head.  The uke lifts his arms up to defend.  As soon as those arms come up, you grab one and flow into the limb control techniques. 

You could then branch out into tangential techniques, such as roundhouse kicks to the thigh (based on the same principle as the knee to the thigh in your kata).  You could also train the underhook control position (from Element VI) off a flinch reflex (such as the SPEAR, etc.)   You could even do “Rohai-style” wrestling to practice the wrist locks and the sprawl in isolation.  You could practice applying wrist locks when you are on the ground.  You could use the principle of twisting the neck (seen in Element III) in your ground work.  The armbar from Element VI illustrates the core principle behind most armlocks on the ground.  But I am sure all of this would be old news to anyone on Iain’s site.

Again, these are just very rough ideas.  I do not train this kata, I do not know anything about Matsubayashi-Ryu, and I have not extensively pressure tested these applications (although I do practice similar alternatives to some of them).  The application for Element III is probably my favorite.  It is simple and powerful, and you can use it off of a variety of entrances and postures.

Hope this helps…

MykeB
MykeB's picture

ky0han wrote:

Hi Myke,

when I compare you to Jim Sindt I find him more calm and relaxed taking small breaks, finishing every technique (not overrunninng them). You seem to be in a little hurry. I hope I haven't offended you in any kind of way. You asked for thoughts and that was what jumped my eyes.

Regards Holger

Holger,

  No offense taken what so ever.  Timing on kata comes and goes depending what others I'm working on.  Had to go back and slow everything down a month or two after this was filmed.  Getting reminded is good to keep me honest.  Mr. Sindt is good, I've always been a bit critical of his hand technique as being counter to what I was taught.  Organizations, instructors being different there.  Over the years I've mellowed on that sort of thing. 

MykeB
MykeB's picture

Deltablueman,

  Help?  I'll be a month sorting through it and looking over the linked videos and going over the written aspects.  The only starting points I can see for applications with Rohai relate to a lot of defensive work against tackles and body locking.  I can't even reference time stamps to my own video right now since it won't load (oh how I love technology).  Opening hand positions look to me like someone trying to create space for their hips, defending a take down or recovering your center of balance.  Dropping to riding stance, shifting laterally to the right with double knife hands look like a take down.  You've created your space/stopped the take down, now the knife hands cut into the neck with the right hand and the left slips under the right arm and starts about even with the shoulder blade.  It will break balance on the attacker that is forward committed.  Stepping out and sitting into cat stance with the "searching" left hand, sets off to the side of the attacker after gaining your space, engaging the left arm about the tricept.  Punch lands where ever there is an opening along the attacker's left flank (between kidney and head).  This would seem much more logical with video, as you were saying. 

I'm just looking for more experience and perhaps training depth to help me and act as a BS detector if I go off the deep end.  I'm not saying I won't be looking at everything offered up with an open mind.  I appreaciate the help, and look forward to more if you guys are willing to tolerate my poking and prodding at things as we go.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Just a quick note to say I'm loving this thread :-) Thanks everyone!

JWT
JWT's picture

Just a quick question, rather off topic, to ask if the pictures are weblinked or embedded in the posts?

I'd love to be able to embed pictures in posts like the ones above but have no clue as to how!

deltabluesman
deltabluesman's picture

Myke,

Hopefully at least one or two of the applications will be of interest to you; at the very least, you can use them as placeholders until you uncover applications that really fit your style and your skillset.  Otherwise, sounds great!  Just let me know if there is anything I can clarify from my original post or if you would want me to expand on some of the ideas. I am afraid I do not know how to directly embed video or images into the post--looks like Iain may have worked some forum magic on that one.  Thanks!  

All best!

Joshua

mike23
mike23's picture

Hi all,

I'm a little late here but had computer problems. I won't get very detailed but I love this kata. I feel this is an in-between kata. Between the lower "hard" punching and blocking kata and the higher kata. This mixes both hard and soft movements. Bringing yourself up into the crane stance without leaning back and rather feel as though you're being pulled straight up by invisable strings of a marionette puppet.

 Some simple applications to try from at least the opening moves could be a double wrist grab from behind. This explains the butt sticking out or the lean forward. Have someone grab your wrists from behind then give them a "hit" with your butt as you pull your hands into position, then turn around and strike them. A second application to look at is an attempted choke or double lapel grab. attempted not applied. Both hands come up one is deflecting the other strikes the attackers throat.

I hope this helps in some way!

Gambatte!

MykeB
MykeB's picture

deltabluesman wrote:

Myke,

Hopefully at least one or two of the applications will be of interest to you; at the very least, you can use them as placeholders until you uncover applications that really fit your style and your skillset.  Otherwise, sounds great!  Just let me know if there is anything I can clarify from my original post or if you would want me to expand on some of the ideas.

I am afraid I do not know how to directly embed video or images into the post--looks like Iain may have worked some forum magic on that one.  Thanks!  

All best!

Joshua

Joshua,

Your larger post contains a lot of good ideas that I intend to work on when I lay hands on a partner.  My youngest daughter has stolen me from the dojo for the week, so I'll be a few days getting a chance to try things out.  Hopefully I'll have things to report back by this time next week.

Thanks,

Myke

Dod
Dod's picture

I have a slightly off-topic question about the pictures from the Bubishi including the one's above if anyone could help:

The long description of the techniques below the pictures eg "if an attacker reaches out to punch or grab you..."  is this a translation of actual text in the original Bubishi or was it added in the modern publications as someone's interpretation of the pictures.  Believe these pictures are from Patrick McArthy's Bubishi - not that I would doubt his interpretations,   but I would be interested to know.

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Dod,

those lines are Patrick McCarthys own interpretations as far as I know.

When you take a look here you will find Mabuni Kenwas Seipai no Kenkyu (published in 1934) which contains the first ever openly displayed parts of a Bubishi. There you can see 28 of those 48 pictures. There you have only the winning and loosing sides and no explanation of the actual meaning of those lines.

Hope that helps.

Regards Holger

Th0mas
Th0mas's picture

Hi Holger

Did you every get hold of the old Theo Theloesen video ?

I used to have a link to it when it was on google videos (prior to google buying youtube) but sadly they are all broken now, love to get hold of it again.

Cheers

Tom

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Thomas,

unfortunately I am sitting in the same boat like you. My links are broken too. I thought that I downloaded it back then, but I couln't manage to find it on my harddrive either. My extended web search was'nt successful yet. When I am able to locate it I will post a link. But I am not very positive on finding it again.

Regards Holger

Dod
Dod's picture

Holger,

Thanks for that on the Bubishi pictures,  as I suspected it would just make it too easy for us if the old texts spelled everything out!  That link had some very good resources.

Dod

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Dod,

no problem. McCarthy used more than 10 Bubishis for his compilation and I am sure he had a lot of trouble to come up with his interpretation of those 48 pictures. If only my japanese/chinese would be better smiley.

Regards Holger

Th0mas
Th0mas's picture

ky0han wrote:

Hi Thomas,

unfortunately I am sitting in the same boat like you. My links are broken too. I thought that I downloaded it back then, but I couln't manage to find it on my harddrive either. My extended web search was'nt successful yet. When I am able to locate it I will post a link. But I am not very positive on finding it again.

Regards Holger

A real shame, as some of his application interpretations were also applicable for a bunch of other kata particularly bassai - defence against headlocks. I am wondering if , when he was alive, he every released the video commercially? I would certainly buy it.

Cheers

Tom

DaveB
DaveB's picture

Hello all, My thoughts on this kata are quite general, based on the type of movements you are being asked to practice. Looking at kata in this way presents a somewhat simple but highly strategic view.

To me, Rohai is asking you to invite attack by advancing on the opponent (all the stepping back into crane stance follows a movement of the body into the opponent, such as the two steps forward with no guard) and then capture and redirect the energy of their counter attack to make the opponent vulnerable to being stunned and floored.

The opening either is implying catching a tackle (rising double underhook) and using the forward momentum to throw them off to the side or, inviting the tackle by holding the hands high, then doing the same.

The searching hand in cat stance twists something, maybe the head to set up the punch.

The leaping back into crane stance represents a universal defense: every zone is defended by a sweeping arm or leg which seamlessly wraps around whatever it deflected to make the step into cat stance with the reverse dropping back fist. Each limb should be studied for individual defense into trapping movements based on the transition from the crane stance to the cat stance.

The punches double as a push/pull, or twist of the opponent to take him down over the lead leg - or if strikes, the following movements become the take down. Hands stacked to the sides presents an open target, again inviting attack that can be simultaneously defended and countered.

The final sequence is a set of strikes made while shifting backwards: cat stance dropping the weight backwards, pulling the opponent by his attacking limb and then kicking or using short knife hand strikes.

It follows then that the way to train this kata for application is to work first on foot work, learning to evade and make distance in a balanced way that can support catching and countering. Next work on trapping attacks, first in 1-step, then by defending straight blasts and combinations and tying up your opponent before he gets through.

In this process you must also try to work out what kind of attack is invited by what kind of movement. Are the HAPV the same when you are advancing with an open guard or if you are standing with hands high etc.

The final level of training for a method like this would be to free fight in a win/Llose environment against skilled fighters and be able to use this method to invite and exploit the attack that you want.

Prior to this level, for self defense the emphasis would be on using the weight of an incoming attack, tying up incoming attacks and flowing into a takedown without losing your footing or being pulled down.

Not an in depth look, but I tried to be complete enough to give a clear idea what I was thinking. Bear in mind I don't know this kata nor do I know matsubayashi ryu. These are just my thoughts based on the sequence and type of motion presented. Hope it ishelpful. D

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

JWT wrote:
Just a quick question, rather off topic, to ask if the pictures are weblinked or embedded in the posts?

I'd love to be able to embed pictures in posts like the ones above but have no clue as to how!

deltabluesman wrote:
I am afraid I do not know how to directly embed video or images into the post--looks like Iain may have worked some forum magic on that one.

This is were my ignorance about my own website becomes apparent :-) All that is needed to embed an image is the link for its location on the web. When Deltabluesman posted the links, I changed it so the images would display directly. It’s the same as how I will come along and embed YouTube videos if people post the links.

I have an “administrator account” which allows me to do that, and I’m not sure if member accounts have that facility or not? This is what appears on my screen and the icon I use is highlighted with the arrow.

If you don’t have that icon, then it must be disabled as a security thing for member accounts (which would make sence). Rest assured that if people do post the url to the image I will get it to display when I next do my round of tidying up :-)

All the best,

Iain

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

Just pointing out, the video to the Shito Ryu version, is actually the Shito Kai version.

And FYI, a common mistake in the name.  Its actually Matsumora No Rohai, or just Matsumora Rohai  Not Matsumura.

Typically we just call it Rohai.  We also do the 3 kata Itosu Sensei created, Rohai Shodan, Rohai Nidan, Rohai Sandan.

That video is a very good reference.

MykeB
MykeB's picture

Testing/experimentation report from Thursday evenings class.  I'm not using Japanese terminology for two reasons.  One, I have horrid spelling to the point that my phonetic work outs of the terms would lead to even more confusion than is already present in text based bunkai examples.  Two, I don't want to have to quibble back and forth over what a term means and further obfuscate what's going on.

The opening movement with the hands raising and shifting the hips back was used in two ways.  First from a double wrist grab, which worked nicely.  The next series where you drop and shift into riding stance with the double knife hand to the right, when viewed from the wrist grab attack, works as a continuation of the first movement.  The chambering of the knife hands acts to twist your wrists free of the grips and offers a clearing technique, with the right hand crossing the attacker's wrists over themselves.  As you drop down, shift pulls the attacker off balance and worked as a off balancing or throw.  Lastly, the 90dg shift to the left and searching hands is the last attempt to remove the grips.  The left hand slides under and grips the wrist and the right pulling back aids in stripping the hand away, settling into cat stance shifts your weight down and slightly back, further aiding and breaking the balance and grips of the attacker.  The punch is either on an open flank or to the head, depending on the target presented.

We also experimented with a frontal bear hug type attack, and the defenses worked similar to what was talked about in a prior post.  I was working primarily with my brother, who currently trains in a BJJ academy along with his stand up work, and has a wrestling background as well.  He saw Rohai as a kata that handles grappling attacks right away, most especially against the front body lock/bear hug/tackle.  When I have time I'll go back into this attack defense with an experimentation.  Hopefully we can film this and put it up for review soon. 

Touching briefly on the single leg stance, again my brother saw this working well for defense on a leg grab/single leg.  Or knee attack with the head pressed down.  Still a lot more work to do there though, and again, hopefully I can come back to this and perhaps get it on film.

Myke