This is a Yakusoku Kumite video breakdown of me and MJ practicing in our backyard during the COVID shutdown. It’s a followup to yesterday’s post, Yakusoku Kumite I-VII Video Research Study, to analyze a more current video of us because the video of us in that post was over five years old. 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.
It can be very useful to video yourself practicing kata and kumite. Analyzing the video can be 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 breakdown we are using snapshots at the same key points that we can compare to the photos in Shoshin Nagamine’s book The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do to see where we may have drifted from the book and what to continue working on. One thing to keep in mind is that these are just freeze frames from the live video rather than posed positions, so they aren’t as clean as they would be if we had done them specifically 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 see: How to Intercept an Attack with a Strike – 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 see: How to Yield to Set Up Attacker for Counter Strike – 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 see: How to Immobilize an Attacker’s Arms – 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 see: How to Defend Against an Attack from Behind – 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.
When researching videos of others doing this set through the ages you’ll find examples of both attacker/defender turning clockwise, face-to-face. You’ll see some where both turn counter-clockwise, back-to-back. And there’s even a version where the defender turns counter-clockwise and the attacker turns clockwise, face-to-back. So it can be practiced either way, and it’s useful to be able to do it both ways. Takyoshi Nagamine turns back-to-back in this video. But Takyoshi’s DVD shows them both turning face-to-face in this video.
Here we both turned counter-clockwise, back-to-back as in the book. If you carefully analyze photo #4, here and on page 261 of the book, the only way to take that photo is if both are turning counter-clockwise, back-to-back. Both are looking in the direction that they are turning. So to honor the historical version from the book we usually practice it this way.
For a more detailed step-by-step breakdown see: How to Defend Against and use Kicks – 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).
We tend to first move left, then right and then attack/defend. The book mentions and shows moving left, then right, then back before the attack/defense. The book also shows both attacker/defender keep their left hand/foot forward. So we do it that way. Looking at Takayoshi’s video however shows them both stay pretty much in line and just switch back and forth between right and left hand/foot.
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 see: How to Bait an Attacker with a False Target – 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 see: How to Control, Block & Counter Strike a Grab – 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 can be a good way to compare what you think you’re doing to what you’re really doing. It’s also fascinating and useful to compare multiple versions of the material from readily available videos with the book for historical interest.
But in any case, 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