How to Defend Against and use Kicks – Yakusoku Kumite V Video Study

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Yakusoku Kumite V shows how to defend against and use kicks while introducing the principle of simultaneously blocking/grabbing and reflexively kicking. It also introduces the principle of constantly changing angles and counter attacking from the sides. This Yakusoku Kumite V video study is a quick breakdown and analysis of the fifth 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 V 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 Defend Against and use Kicks – Step-by-Step Breakdown

The following Yakusoku Kumite V 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 V-1: Yoi

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.

Notes: We started this set on an angle so that the end kick would be visible on camera. Otherwise my back would be toward the camera at the end and the kick would not be visible.


2) Initial Defense: Gyaku-zuki – Reverse Hand Chudan-uke

Yakusoku Kumite V-2: Gyaku-zuki - Chudan-uke

Attacker steps in left into zenkutsu-dachi and throws a right punch to the solar plexus (gyaku-zuki).

Defender steps offline at an angle to the left into left zenkutsu-dachi (or naname zenkutsu-dachi) while using a right chest [middle] block (chudan-uke) to deflect the incoming punch.

Notes: By shifting offline the defender removes the target from the original target area. Use the reverse chest block to deflect the punch harmlessly to the side. Depending on how hard the defender strikes and which part of the hand/arm is used, it can deaden and disable the punching arm. So be careful not to injure your partner.


3) Kick Defense: Mae-geri – Gedan-barai-uke

How to Defend Against and use Kicks – Yakusoku Kumite V-3: Mae-geri - Gedan-barai-uke

Attacker throws front kick at defender (mae-geri).

Defender pulls right leg away from the kick into a hook stance (kosa-dachi) while using a right low block (gedan-barai-uke) to deflect the kick to the side.

Notes: This step shows the first part of how to defend against and use kicks. It shows blocking a low front kick with a deflecting low block. When blocking kicks don’t try to stop the kick with your arm. A kicking leg is usually stronger than your arm. So if you try to stop it with force on force you may end up injuring your arm. Instead use your low block to deflect the incoming kick to the side so that it travels past you, rather than trying to stop it. The force of this block spins the attacker counter-clockwise and the recoil is used to let the defender start turning counter-clockwise as well.


4) Spin Around: Back to Back Counter-Clockwise

Yakusoku Kumite V-4: Turn Back to Back

Attacker follows the direction his kicking leg has been deflected and lands in right zenkutsu-dachi while continuing to turn around counter-clockwise to his left, back toward defender, looking in the direction he’s turning – left.

Defender steps right rear foot forward as he also turns around counter-clockwise to his left, back toward attacker, looking in the direction he’s turning – left.

Notes: When researching videos of others doing this set through the ages you’ll find examples of both attacker/defender turning clockwise, face-to-face, such as in the Matsubayashi-ryu DVD. You’ll see some where both turn counter-clockwise, back-to-back, as Takyoshi Nagamine turns in this video. And there’s even a version where the defender turns counter-clockwise and the attacker turns clockwise, face-to-back. So it can be practiced in many different ways, and it’s useful to be able to do it different ways because you never know which way you may need to turn in a real defense situation. Here we both turned counter-clockwise, back-to-back as shown in photo #4 on page 261 of the book.


5) Re-engage: Face Off

Yakusoku Kumite V-5: Shuto Face Off

Attacker finishes turning around counter-clockwise facing defender and takes up a ready stance with attacking fists up in a left neko-ashi-dachi.

Defender finishes turning around counter-clockwise facing attacker and takes up a ready stance with double shutos up, also in a left neko-ashi dachi.


6) Final Defense: Oi-zuki – Torite-uke/Mae-geri

How to Defend Against and use Kicks – Yakusoku Kumite V-6: Shuto-uchi & Grab

Attacker lunges forward into right zenkutsu-dachi throwing right punch to the solar plexus (oi-zuki).

Defender side-steps left turning right into right neko-ashi-dachi toward attacker’s side. Defender blocks incoming punch with right grasping-hand block (torite-uke) which grabs the punching arm. Defender simultaneously fires a mae-geri.

Notes: Side-stepping gets the defender off-line to the incoming punch while also allowing the defender to counter-attack the attacker from a more advantageous angle off to the side.


7) Final Counter Attack: Mae-geri

How to Defend Against and use Kicks – Yakusoku Kumite V-7:Mae-geri

Defender pulls attacker into his front kick to the ribs (mae-geri).

Notes: Pulling the attacker into the kick magnifies the power of the kick, stretches the attacker out exposing the vulnerable ribs, and breaks the attacker’s balance. Be careful to pull your kick a little so as not to injure your partner. The ribs are a vulnerable area.


This is a more detailed look at one set showing how to defend against and use kicks. 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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