Yakusoku Kumite IV Video Study

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Yakusoku Kumite IV introduces how to defend against an attack from behind using the principle of simultaneously blocking and counter striking. This is after first trapping the attacker’s grabbing hand while turning to face the attacker. This Yakusoku Kumite IV video study is a quick breakdown and analysis of the fourth set of the full Yakusoku Kumite I-IV fighting drill series. 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.

!!PLEASE READ DISCLAIMER!!

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 IV

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 IV 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 Defend Against an Attack from Behind – 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 photographs would be.

1) Start Position: Yoi

Yakusoku Kumite IV-1: Yoi

The yoi or ready position for all the Yakusoku Kumite sets is the same as in the Pinan Kata. In Yakusoku Kumite IV the defender turns around with his back to the attacker and both stand 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) Walking: Right Step

Yakusoku Kumite IV-2: Right Step

Defender steps right in a natural stance (shizentai-dachi).

Attacker follows, stepping right in a natural stance (shizentai-dachi).

Notes: Walk naturally as if simply walking down the street and attacker follows behind.


3) Walking: Left Step

Yakusoku Kumite IV-3: Left Step

Defender steps left in a natural stance (shizentai-dachi).

Attacker follows, stepping left in a natural stance (shizentai-dachi).

Notes: Walk naturally as if simply walking down the street and attacker follows behind.


4) Attack Entry: Attacker Grabs Shoulder

How to Defend Against an Attack from Behind - Yakusoku Kumite IV-4: Shoulder Grab

Defender steps right in a natural stance (shizentai-dachi).

Attacker follows, stepping right in a natural stance (shizentai-dachi). Attacker grabs left shoulder with right hand getting ready to pull the defender around and punch with left hand.


5) Defense Entry: Trap & Turn

How to Defend Against an Attack from Behind - Yakusoku Kumite IV-5: Trap & Turn

Defender traps grabbing hand with right hand and turns around by stepping right foot across to the left, pivoting offline on left foot. While turning around defender prepares to throw high block because most likely target is the face.

Notes: Trapping the grabbing hand is the first step in how to defend against an attack from behind. Trapping the hand on the shoulder lets the defender know where that hand is. The attacker can’t attack with his right hand if it’s on the defender’s shoulder. We turn by pivoting on the left foot and stepping the right foot across to the left in order to move our body slightly offline as we turn. This moves our head (the most likely target) away from the original target position while allowing us to counter strike from a slightly off angle. The first thing the defender does while turning is look behind him to asses the potential threat.


6) Initial Defense: Jodan Gyaku-zuki – Jodan-uke

Yakusoku Kumite IV-6: Jodan-zuki, Jodan-uke

Attacker throws left high punch to the face (jodan-zuki).

Defender finishes turning to face attacker and blocks incoming punch with left hand high block (jodan-uke) and preparing right hand for counter punch.

Notes: Defender keeps right hip cocked back while performing the left high block. This preps the right hand to follow up with a right punch. Depending on how hard you drive the high block into the incoming punching arm, this move can deaden and disable the punching arm. But don’t bash your partner too hard!


7) Final Counter Attack: Oi-zuki – Gedan-barai & Gyaku-zuki

Yakusoku Kumite IV-7: Jodan-uke/Gyaku-zuki

Attacker throws a right punch to the solar plexus (chudan-zuki) from the same stance.

Defender drops left hand down into a left low block to block the incoming punch (gedan-barai-uke). Defender simultaneously throws a right punch to the solar plexus (gyaku-zuki).

Notes: When doing the simultaneous left low block and right punch use the hips/core to drive the power for both simultaneously. We tend to use slightly deeper stances than those seen in the book during the attack/defense portion of this set. Depending on how hard you drop the low block into the incoming punching arm, this move can deaden and disable the punching arm. But don’t bash your partner too hard and be sure to pull your solar plexus punch so as not to injure your partner.


This is a more detailed look at one set from a longer live action practice video, Yakusoku Kumite I-VII Video Study, 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. Karate is always a work in progress!

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-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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