How to Control, Block & Counter Strike a Grab – Yakusoku Kumite VII Video Study

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Yakusoku Kumite VII shows how to control, block & counter strike a grab. It introduces the principle of checking the grabbing arm to monitor and control its position before simultaneously blocking and counter striking. This Yakusoku Kumite VII video study is a quick breakdown and analysis of the seventh and final set of the full Yakusoku Kumite I-IV fighting drill series. The above video shows both full speed and slow motion versions of two different interpretations of the set being practiced. First I give a relatively formal defense version followed by MJ who gives a more natural defense variation.

!!PLEASE READ DISCLAIMER!!

This drill is based on Yakusoku Kumite as described in The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do.
Shoshin Nagamine's The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do


The 7 Essential Principles of Yakusoku Kumite

O-Sensei Shoshin Nagamine developed the Yakusoku Kumite agreement fighting drills with seven key fighting principles based on the teaching of his sensei Choki Motobu. Yakusoku Kumite VII specifically demonstrates the following highlighted principles.

  1. Simultaneous attack and defense
  2. Simultaneously use both hands
  3. Simultaneously use both hands and feet
  4. Naturally shift off-line to attack from the side
  5. Intently defeat the opponent in critical situations
  6. Reflexively kick when grabbed or grabbing
  7. Reflexively attack after suppressing and grabbing

How to Control, Block & Counter Strike a Grab – Step-by-Step Breakdown

The following Yakusoku Kumite VII video study step-by-step breakdown uses freeze frames from the live action video of the full Yakusoku Kumite I-VII series, so these snapshot poses may not be quite as clean as specifically posed photos would be.

1) Start Position: Yoi

Yakusoku Kumite VII-1

The yoi or ready position for all the Yakusoku Kumite sets is the same as in the Pinan Kata. Stand facing each other in hachiji-dachi. Keep your knees and entire body relaxed and ready to move. In these photos Renshi Mike on the left is the defender and Sempai MJ on the right is the attacker.


2) Initial Grab: Grab – Check

Yakusoku Kumite VII-2

Attacker steps forward right in a natural stance (shizentai-dachi) and grabs the defenders collar with his right hand.

Defender steps back right into natural stance (shizentai-dachi) and checks the grabbing arm with his left open hand (haito).

Notes: By the defender stepping back and angling his body he minimizes the target area and creates a glancing angle to minimize the effectiveness of any potential attack.

The open hand check on the grabbing arm does three things.

  1. It monitors where that arm is. The attacker can’t strike with that hand while grabbing.
  2. It checks the arm preventing the attacker from striking with that hand toward the defender’s face.
  3. It also puts the open checking hand/arm in a prime position to block any incoming strikes from the attacker’s other hand.

3) Push: Attacker Pushes Forward

Yakusoku Kumite VII-3

Attacker steps forward pushing defender backward.

Defender maintains the check on the grabbing arm and steps backward.


4) Push: Attacker Pushes Forward

Yakusoku Kumite VII-4

Attacker steps forward pushing defender backward.

Defender maintains the check on the grabbing arm and steps backward.


5) Push Back: Defender Pushes Forward

How to Control, Block & Counter Strike a Grab - Yakusoku Kumite VII-5

Defender maintains the check on the grabbing arm and steps forward, driving the attacker backward.

Attacker steps backward maintaining grab.


6) Push Back: Defender Pushes Forward

How to Control, Block & Counter Strike a Grab - Yakusoku Kumite VII-6

Defender maintains the check on the grabbing arm and steps forward, driving the attacker backward.

Attacker steps backward maintaining grab.

Notes: We have the defender push forward on these moves driving the attacker backward while the book has the attacker step backward pulling the defender forward. Either way the most important part is the final attack/counter attack.


7) Final Counter Attack: Gyaku-zuki – Gedan-barai-uke / Jodan-zuki

How to Control, Block & Counter Strike a Grab - Yakusoku Kumite VII-7

Attacker throws a left punch to the solar plexus (gyaku-zuki).

Defender reflexively drops left arm blocking the incoming punch with the left open hand while simultaneously punching with right fist to the face (jodan-zuki).

Notes: Defender rotates from the core/hips to drive both the dropping left hand block and the right hand punch simultaneously.


This is a more detailed look at one set showing how to control, block & counter strike a grab. It’s from a longer live action practice video, Yakusoku Kumite I-VII Video Breakdown, which included the full seven set series being practiced. Such video studies are a great way to analyze your karate to see where you can make further improvements (and we see plenty to continue refining here). Karate is always a work in progress!

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Arigato Gozaimasu (Thank You Very Much!)
-Renshi Mike Scaramozzino

This drill is based on Yakusoku Kumite as described in The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do.
Shoshin Nagamine's book The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do Matsubayashi Ryu

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