Sai Uchi (Strikes) Step-by-Step Breakdown

How to Learn Sai Kihon (Basics) Drill, Sai Uchi (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 Uchi (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 Uchi Freeze-Frame Step-by-Step Breakdown

Sai Uchi is a kobudo Sai Kihon drill which focuses on four simple sets of basic Sai strikes including Reverse Front Strikes, Reverse Open Down Strikes, Double Strikes and Double Swinging Strikes.

Each strike is done four times, alternating Right and Left hands, returning to Yoi position between each strike. Only the first strike with the Right hand (stepping forward Left into Zenkutsu-dachi) is shown in the below freeze frames for reference, but all four repetitions 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).

Reverse Front Strikes

1) Closed reverse blunt strike to sternum. (Snap rotate hand just like punch.)
2) Open reverse stab to stomach.

Reverse Open Down Strikes

3/4/5A) Open reverse low across body.
The following three open Reverse down strikes begin the same way. Bring Sai down across body and switch from the closed grip to an open grip. Be sure to complete the grip transition before beginning to swing into the strike. Then swing the Sai arcing up and back down to each of the next three targets; opponent’s collar bone on your front foot side, down to the top of the opponent’s head, or around your head down to the collar bone on your back foot side.
3) After open reverse low across body, swing Sai up and arc Sai diagonally down to strike forward foot collar bone.
4) After open reverse low across body, swing Sai up and arc down center to strike top of head.
5A) After open reverse low across body, swing Sai up around head to the back foot side.
5B) Continue arcing the Sai diagonally down to strike the collar bone.

Double Strikes

6) Double closed front blunt strikes to ribs. (Rotate hands just like double punches.)
7) Double closed blunt strikes, front-hand low, palm up, back-hand higher, palm down. (Like FK II)
8) Angled Shiko-dachi. Striking closed butts together, palms in, smashing sides of bent over head.
9) Double open front stabs to both sides of stomach.

Double Swinging Strikes

10A) Double open down.
10B) Swing sai back, up and over.
10C) Strike down to both collar bones.
11A) Cross open in front of face.
11B) Swing Sai over and around head.
11C) Strike sides of head.
12A) Cross open in front of face.
12B) Swing Sai over and around head.
12C) Strike sides of ribs.

Closing Sequence

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

Sai Uchi (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 Uchi (Strikes) Drill PDF Reference Sheet


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-Renshi Mike Scaramozzino

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

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