How to Practice a Basic Bo Form – Kata Fuso

I shot a few more videos over the weekend practicing kobudo out in the fresh air. Here’s another of the videos, practicing a Basic Bo form – Kata Fuso. This basic bo kata uses a few basic moves with the bo including thrusts, sweeps, foot poke, fuso blocks, and six strike combinations.

Practicing on video like this as a great way to find all the little glitches and areas that could use more polish and refinement. Especially to help knock the rust off of older material. So these video exercises are as much about helping me find all those areas to improve as well as sharing them for others who may also be working on the same material. So they are not intended as perfect examples but rather works in progress and snapshots in time.

In this particular kata performance I was focusing on blending moves together into bursts of sequences rather than performing it single step like a metronome. That’s something I’m currently working on across the board of all my karate/kobudo kata. This resulted in my losing some of the individual moves as I was moving into the next move. So I should finish and punctuate some of the moves better, even when blended. For a cleaner reference of the individual moves refer to 10 Bo Basic Strikes and 14 Bo Basic Blocks. Here are a few of the specific glitches I noticed to further refine, with references to the breakdown step numbers below. In #2B the left hand should come back to the side of the thigh. A couple of the fuso blocks got a bit lost blending into the subsequent strikes, particularly in #8A and #10A, they should all be higher like #11 and centered like #12A. Also the area I’m practicing in has a few big roots which I had to step around making a few of the stances not as clean/crisp as they should be, especially the shiko-dachi (Jigotai-dachi) in #7 and #9. I also lost most of the c-step in #8A.

So if you video your own practice sessions you can later analyze them in this same way to find areas for further improvement. This is especially useful when returning to older material that you may not have practiced as much recently. Often things you don’t notice when practicing will show up clearly when put on video. When I have a chance to circle back to this kata again I’ll video a new version and compare the improvements. Stay tuned!


Kata Fuso Step-by-Step Breakdown

[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.] 

1A) Yoi. Musubi-dachi, bo on right behind hand/arm.
1B) Bow.
2A) Open. Reach L-hand over to bo grasping it with palm forward and thumb down. Unwind the bo into a fuso right, vertical at side with thumbs down, as you step out left into a Hachiji-dachi. Foot should touch down just as the bo finishes the unwind.
2B) Return to Musubi-dachi as left hand drops to left side. Announce: Kata Fuso. (Note: Bring left hand in to touch left thigh.)
3A) Grasp bo with L-hand again thumb down, palm forward, chest level.
3B) Raise L-leg. Stomp out left
into a Shiko-dachi, unwind down strike with front/right of bo.
3) Thrust high. Then pull bo back.
4) Turn left (West) drawing back to Neko ashi-dachi, Back side sweeping low block.
5A) Shuffle forward (West) into L-Neko ashi-dachi and fish (foot) poke.
5B) Then shuffle back to previous position, still in L-Neko ashi-dachi.
6) R-Step forward (West) into R-Zenkutsu-dachi and down strike with bo front/right.
7) L-Step forward into Shiko-dachi (Face N, Look W), L-low block with bo back/left.
8A) Turn right (East) into R-Zenkutsu-dachi (bring right foot back together as turning, like a c- step, then extend out to new stance), Fuso block over head. (Note: Hit fuso block higher than seen in the freeze frame.)
8B) Down strike back then front.
9) L-Step forward (East) into Shiko-dachi (Face S). Low block left with bo back/left.
10A) R-Step forward (East) into Zenkutsu-dachi. Fuso block over head. Then flow into 6 strike combination.
10-1) Back down strike.
10-2) Front down strike.
10-3) Back up strike same side.
10-4) Front down strike.
10-5) Back row strike.
10-6) Front row strike.
11) Turn Left (North) (C step) with hand switch into L-Zenkutsu-dachi. Fuso block over head.
12A) R-Step forward (North) hand switch into R-Zenkutsu-dachi. Fuso block. Then flow into six strikes.
12-1) Back down strike.
12-2) Front down strike.
12-3) Back up strike same side.
12-4) Front down strike.
12-5) Back row strike.
12-6) Front row strike.
13A) R-Step forward (North) into 30° shiko-dachi. Soto uke (Circular up block).
13B) Shuffle thrust, kiai.
14) Turn Left 180° in position (South) with hand switch into L-Zenkutsu-dachi. Fuso block.
15A) R-Step forward (South) with hand switch to R-Zenkutsu-dachi. Fuso block.
15B) Six strike combination. Same as in 10/12.
16A) R-Step forward (S) into 30° shiko-dachi. Soto uke (Circular up block).
16B) Shuffle thrust, kiai.
17A) Turn Left 180° (N) with hand switch into L-Zenkutsu-dachi. Fuso block.
17B) Six strike combination. Same as in 10/12.
18) L-Step forward (North) into 30° shiko-dachi, slow reset into soto uke (Circular upward block).
19) L-Step backward into Musubi-dachi rotating bo back to yoi position.

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-Renshi Mike Scaramozzino

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

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