Above is a Yakusoku Kumite I-VII video study of us practicing this Okinawan fighting drill in our backyard. First I take the defending side with a relatively traditional/formal version. Then MJ takes the defending side with a more natural/less formal variation. For more information about Yakusoku Kumite including historical background information and video examples of other variations of the drill see our main Yakusoku Kumite category page.
It can be quite useful to video practice sessions of kata and kumite. Analyzing the video is a great way to see things you may be doing without realizing it. You can break down the video and find areas and details for improvement. So in this video study we took freeze frame snapshots at the same key points as the photos in Shoshin Nagamine’s book The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do. This enables us to see where we may have drifted from the book and what to continue refining.
Please keep in mind is that these are freeze frames from the live video of the full practice session rather than posed photographs. So the freeze frames are not as clean as they would have been if we had shot specifically posed photographs for a step-by-step teaching breakdown.
Yakusoku Kumite Opening Bows
Yakusoku Kumite I Video Breakdown
When fighting with intent we tend to use lower stances and end up in zenkutsu-dachi in the initial jodan-zuki/jodan-uke of this set, where the book shows a higher shizentai-dachi. We also duck our head behind the shoulder in the final counter punch where the book shows a more vertical posture.
For a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of Yakusoku Kumite #1 with two versions in both full speed and slow motion see our Yakusoku Kumite I Video Study.
Yakusoku Kumite II Video Breakdown
When stepping backward in the first two moves of this set, step back to zenkutsu-dachi distance and slide the front foot backward as necessary to adjust to the distance of the incoming attacker. If the attacker comes in deeply enough you’ll end up in a higher walking stance as seen in the book.
For a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of Yakusoku Kumite #2 with two versions in both full speed and slow motion see our Yakusoku Kumite II Video Study.
Yakusoku Kumite III Video Breakdown
This set appeared to be pretty close to the book.
For a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of Yakusoku Kumite #3 with two versions in both full speed and slow motion see our Yakusoku Kumite III Video Study.
Yakusoku Kumite IV Video Breakdown
At the end of this set we used deeper fighting stances closer to zenkutsu-dachi than the shizentai-dachi that are seen in the book.
For a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of Yakusoku Kumite #4 with two versions in both full speed and slow motion see our Yakusoku Kumite IV Video Study
Yakusoku Kumite V Video Breakdown
We started this set at an angle so that the camera could see the final kick, otherwise my back was to the camera on that move. While there are a few different variations of the way the attacker and defender turn in Yakusoku V, we both turn counter-clockwise, back-to-back, as in the book.
For a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of Yakusoku Kumite #5 with two versions in both full speed and slow motion see our Yakusoku Kumite V Video Study
Yakusoku Kumite VI Video Breakdown
On the initial slap down of the incoming punch I slapped it down a bit too hard with my right hand. So I missed the grab with my left hand during the right uraken (which I intentionally pulled a bit short so I wouldn’t accidentally hit MJ in the face).
There are a few different variations of how the attacker and defender step in Yakusoku Kumite VI. We stepped left and then back right, similar to the description in the book. The important thing though is for the defender just to mirror the attacker and be ready to defend/counter whenever the attacker happens to attack, rather than memorizing literal stepping patterns. We only do so here for historical interest in analyzing the book.
For a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of Yakusoku Kumite #6 with two versions in both full speed and slow motion see our Yakusoku Kumite VI Video Study
Yakusoku Kumite VII Video Breakdown
In this final set we also tended to use slightly deeper stances than seen in the book.
For a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of Yakusoku Kumite #7 with two versions in both full speed and slow motion see our Yakusoku Kumite VII Video Study
Yakusoku Kumite Closing Bows
After practicing the kata and kumite for many years it’s always a good idea to go back to the book periodically to see if you’ve drifted away from any of the details. A video breakdown like this Yakusoku Kumite I-VII Video Study can be a good way to compare what you think you’re doing to what you’re actually doing. It’s also fascinating and useful to view multiple versions of the material from readily available videos and compare variations in timing and emphasis.
While there are variations from dojo to dojo, always pay respect and deference to your qualified local instructor and learn the material the way they teach it. You can always expand upon your knowledge later, but first learn what they have to teach you, with an empty cup.
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-Renshi Mike Scaramozzino
This drill is based on Yakusoku Kumite as described in The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do.