Sunday, March 25, 2018

16: Yoo-Sin/Chul-Gi waving kicks

Source: Shotokankataman
Recently I came across the kata interpretations of a Mr. Nathan J. Johnson. Johnson holds that most karate kata were originally for weapons, not unarmed fighting. While I don't agree with this perspective, Johnson makes an exception for Naihanchi, also called Tekki Shodan or (in Korean) Chul-Gi. He claims this pattern is a series of police control/arrest drills, originally meant for Ming dynasty Chinese police. In his view, the point of Naihanchi is to wrestle a suspect to the ground, meaning that you are behind your opponent for most of the kata. I've analyzed Naihanchi using this theory and it works surprisingly well.

One of the sets from Naihanchi appears in the ITF pattern Yoo-Sin. In this post I will provide a police arrest interpretation of the set.

We start with the front backfist strike, which represents a control tactic demonstrated by George Vranos in the gif below.
Source: George Vranos
The "primary" vertical arm underhooks one of the opponent's arms (getting a half nelson), whereas the "secondary" horizontal arm overhooks their other arm. This provides control over the suspect. Notice how Mr. Vranos then grabs the back of the opponent's neck after the underhook. This turns the front backfist strike into the outer-forearm block performed next in the pattern.
Source: George Vranos
What's missing in the gif is the waving kicks. These are used to kick in the back of the suspect's legs. Combined with the head push in the opposite direction, the intent is to knock the suspect to the ground. We first kick in their right leg and push their head right (outer-forearm block). If this doesn't work for whatever reason, we kick in their left leg and push them left.


Just because this may be the intended application of the set in Naihanchi/Chul-Gi, doesn't mean it's what the creators of Yoo-Sin had in mind. As Mr. Johnson points out, the Okinawans who imported the pattern from China did not know its original meaning, and so came up with their own interpretations. They thought that Naihanchi was either a fighting pattern or reactive self-defense pattern, not a proactive police arrest pattern. If you search for "Naihanchi applications" online, you will find all sorts of other interpretations. Taekwondoin likely came up with their own interpretations as well.

This means that in order to understand the set's purpose in Yoo-Sin, we must analyze the rest of Yoo-Sin, which I haven't done. But I thought the above interpretation was neat and despite Mr. Johnson's theory being a good one, I haven't seen the "police arrest" interpretations of Naihanchi online.

I am still working on the Sam-Il E-book, by the way. I'll post an update within the next two weeks.

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