Sai Combinations (Blocks & Strikes) Step-by-Step Breakdown

How to Learn Sai Kihon (Basics) Drill, Sai Combinations (Blocks & Strikes), with Step by Step Breakdown

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In this post we’ll go through the step-by-step breakdown of the previous Sai Kihon (Basics) drill video, Sai Combinations (Blocks & Strikes). This breakdown uses a series of freeze-frames from the practice video to show each of the specific moves in the Sai drill along with descriptions and tips. It also includes a step-by-step PDF reference sheet that you may download and print. Along with the previous practice video, this step-by-step breakdown should greatly help you learn and practice this Sai Kihon (Basics) drill as a supplement to your local instruction.

[Note: The photos below are freeze frames from the live action practice video, so they are not as perfect as if they were specifically posed photos for each move.] 

Sai Combinations Freeze-Frame Step-by-Step Breakdown

Sai Combinations is a kobudo Sai Kihon drill which focuses on three sets (low, middle, high) of Sai block and strike combinations. There are five low block/strike combinations, four middle block/strike combinations and three high block/strike combinations. The stances are all Zenkutsu-dachi (front leaning stance), stepping forward slightly offline and then striking back to the center. The Sai combinations are practiced on both the right and left sides with four repetitions of each block/strike combo. Only the first of each repetition is shown below but all four are shown in the practice video.

Opening Sequence

A) Kiotsuke (attention): Stand at attention in Musubi-dachi with both Sai closed in L hand.
B) Rei (bow).
C) Yoi (ready position): Bring Sai in front of you. Take one closed in each hand. Bring hands down to the sides and step out to L Soto Hachiji-dachi (like Pinan kata).

5 Low Blocks

1A) Block: Closed low block with front-hand. (Sai facing out to side)
1B) Strike: Closed reverse strike with back-hand to solar plexus.
2A) Block: Open low block with front-hand.
2B) Strike: Open over head down strike with same front-hand, down center.
3A) Block: Double closed low split blocks with palms out, backs touching, knuckles down.
3B) Strike: Double closed mid/low strikes, front-hand low, palm up, back-hand higher, palm down. (Like end of FK II)
4A) Block: Closed outside low block, front-hand. Scoop in.
4B) Block: Arc up/out to closed chest block.
4C) Strike: Same front-hand closed strike to solar plexus.
5A) Block: Double open low cross blocks. Front hand Sai on top.
5B) Strike: Double open swinging down strikes. Swing back, up, over and strike down to both collar bones.

4 Middle Blocks

6A) Block: Closed chest block with front-hand. (Sai outside)
6B) Strike: Closed reverse strike with back-hand to solar plexus.
7A) Block: Closed outside chest block with back hand. (Out to in, keep Sai in)
7B) Strike: Closed strike with front-hand to solar plexus.
8A) Block: Open chest block, hitting down with front-hand. (Flip sai out)
8B) Strike: Open middle stab to stomach with same front-hand.
9A) Block: Cross arms, front-hand in front.
9B) Block: Separate into double closed chest blocks. (Sai outsides)
9C) Strike: Double closed strikes to solar plexus (Both palms down)

3 High Blocks

10A) Block: Closed high block with front-hand. (Sai on top of arm)
10B) Strike: Reverse closed strike with back-hand to solar plexus.
11A) Block: Open high “roof” block with front hand. (Sai point down to the side)
11B) Strike: Open diagonal down strike with with same front-hand. (Around head to collar bone)
12A) Block: Cross arms by forehead, front-hand forward.
12B) Block: Separate into double closed high blocks.
12C) Strike: Double closed blunt strikes. (Front-hand low, palm up, back-hand higher, palm down) (Like end of FK II)

Closing Sequence

A) Yoi (ready position).
B) L step in to Musubi-dachi while taking both Sai closed in L hand.
C) Kiotsuke (attention). Both Sai closed in L hand down by side.
D) Rei (bow).

Sai Combinations (Blocks & Strikes) PDF Reference Sheet

The following PDF reference sheet is a distillation of all the moves in the drill to use as reference while learning and practicing the Sai drill. It is useful to help you remember what all the moves are until they are committed to muscle memory or for review to remember them after returning to the drill if it hasn’t been practiced in a while. I had created this reference sheet when I was first learning the drill myself. I hope it helps you as much as it helped me.

Download Sai Combinations (Blocks & Strikes) Drill PDF Reference Sheet


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

Shoshin Nagamine's book The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do Matsubayashi Ryu

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