How to Intercept an Attack with a Strike – Yakusoku Kumite I Video Study

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Yakusoku Kumite I shows how to intercept an attack with a strike and introduces the principle of intercepting an attack with your own attack. This simple principle became well known as the foundation of Bruce Lee’s fighting style, Jeet Kune Do, The Way of the Intercepting Fist. In Jeet Kune Do one uses a counter attack as both a block and strike in one single move. This intercepts the incoming attack, and attacker as he is moving in to attempt to attack. He is hit first, before he can complete his attack. This same principle is featured in the first set of Shoshin Nagamine’s Yakusoku Kumite. This Yakusoku Kumite I video study is a quick breakdown and analysis of the first set of the Yakusoku Kumite fighting drill. 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.


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 I 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 Intercept an Attack with a Strike – Step-by-Step Breakdown

The following Yakusoku Kumite I 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 I-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.

2) Initial Defense: Jodan-zuki – Jodan-uke

How to Intercept an Attack with a Strike - Yakusoku Kumite I-2: Jodan-uke

Attacker steps forward right and throws right high punch to the face.

Defender steps back right and blocks the punch with left high block (jodan-uke).

Notes: We used deeper zenkutsu-dachi stances here due to the intensity of the attack. Depending on the intensity and distance to the attacker, higher stances may be sufficient. The photos in the book show a higher shizentai-dachi for this move. Depending on how hard you snap the high block smashing into the incoming punching forearm, this move can deaden and disable the punching arm. But don’t smash your partner too hard!

3) Initial Counter Attack: Oi-zuki – Gedan-barai Uke

How to Intercept an Attack with a Strike - Yakusoku Kumite I-3: Oi-zuki

Defender counter attacks stepping forward right into an angled jigotai-dachi throwing a right punch (oi-zuki) to the solar plexus.

Attacker steps back right into angled jigotai-dachi and blocks the incoming punch with a left low block (gedan-barai uke).

4) Final Counter Attack: Gyaku-zuki – Gyaku-zuki

How to Intercept an Attack with a Strike - Yakusoku Kumite Video Breakdown

Attacker throws a right outside punch (gyaku-zuki) to the face.

Defender shifts forward into a zenkutsu-dachi and throws a well-timed left punch (gyaku-zuki) to the face, beating the attacker’s punch on the inside. Defender’s arm blocks the attacker’s punch.

Notes: This move demonstrates the principle of using a counter attack to beat and block an incoming attack. The defender throws the counter-punch as soon as he sees the attacker start their punch and beats them to it on the inside. When performing this final counter punch we duck our chin behind the raised shoulder for extra protection. The defender can even slide further in toward and past the attacker to keep their head out of the track of the punch and use a shortened punch more to the side of their head.

This is a more detailed look at one set 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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