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    Itsutsu no Kata by Shiro Yamamoto - Kodokan 2009


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    Post by budoitaly Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:36 am

    Shiro Yamamoto Sensei 9° dan explain Itsutsu no Kata during Kodokan Kata Seminar july 2009


    Last edited by Jonesy on Sat Jul 27, 2013 10:20 pm; edited 5 times in total (Reason for editing : edited to properly embed video)

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    Post by nomoremondays Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:49 am

    Using this post to springboard into this quote from the sticky. Would have liked to ask this there but it was locked unfortunately.

    The Itsutsu-no-kata was established in 1887 and is a "higher" theoretical kata that forms the basis of Kodokan Judo. ...the Itsutsu-no-kata comprises all the fundamental principles of Kodokan Judo

    My question, as someone who has never done this, if this is so fundamental to this art why is it not taught in the beginning stages?

    Of course, if there are places where it is taught to beginners I stand corrected and would like to know where?

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    Post by Hanon Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:12 am

    nomoremondays wrote:Using this post to springboard into this quote from the sticky. Would have liked to ask this there but it was locked unfortunately.

    The Itsutsu-no-kata was established in 1887 and is a "higher" theoretical kata that forms the basis of Kodokan Judo. ...the Itsutsu-no-kata comprises all the fundamental principles of Kodokan Judo

    My question, as someone who has never done this, if this is so fundamental to this art why is it not taught in the beginning stages?

    Of course, if there are places where it is taught to beginners I stand corrected and would like to know where?

    Gosh, being away from forum judo for some time I had forgotten just how difficult some of the questions are to answer.
    Your question is of logic, the answer is enrolled in a massive tangle of difficult if not impossible theories and principles to write on.

    This is one of those kata that is studied after many many years of judo practice. I understand your reading of fundamental principles as those basic...yes, fundamental to judo, they are but one cant relate to these principles unless one partakes in years of practical study and practice of judo on a tatami. I dare to write most of us will never be able to execute this kata correctly, sure we may well understand its pervading principles but to take this theory into practice is something entirely different.

    Please don't look at this kata as 5 simple actions, they are but trying to make achieve any form of true harmony and true reaction to an action is so very demanding and complicated.

    THE problem with this kata is it looks so simple. There is a video on youtube of some children in Italy performing this kata and it is so difficult to asses or pass any comment apart from . Inappropriate instruction and practice for children and beginners...

    This kata is an endless debate on when to sort its practice, after all is it ever to early to practice something? Sooner the better as mastery comes easier to the young. Not the case in this instance.

    I wrote at length about this kata on both the other judo forum. If a member here can copy these posts and place them here it may save me hours and hours of work in further explanation.

    I am not trying to avoid passing an answer its truly a book though.


    Not a good reply lets see if a copy of my previous posts on this subject can be placed here for you to read, that would better answer your question.

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    Post by nomoremondays Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:51 am

    Fair enough I understand your trepidation if you've already undertaken such a task. I don't know how to navigate the other place so maybe somebody else can take it up or port something over. Will watch out for it.

    I think I understand the ethos of how true harmony and true reaction are not just physical movements but involve coordination of breathing, of spirit,of mind etc. Is something along those lines what you speak of? In which case I can see how rank adult beginners, leave aside children, may not get it.

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    Post by Hanon Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:42 am

    I will try and copy-paste my post on Itsutsu no kata here below;

    Here are the five actions of Itsutsu-no-Kata written by Hanon compiled from several posts.

    First motion and movement;
    Uke and tori have made their regisaho, I wont sport with you on this you already know it. Uke and tori spend a moment to collect their thoughts and then empty their minds of those thoughts. The body should be relaxed, flexible yet alert.

    Tori advances toward Uke. As he closes the space between the two Tori starts to raise his Right hand, palm facing Uke. This rise starts from tori's hip area, the hara and collects the spirit of himself and concentrates this force in a controlled manner into his Right hand. The rise should NOT start to soon but with correct timing for when tori arrives at Uke his hand is pointing upward, palm toward Uke with his fingers out straight and thump out to the side. Contact is made at the sternum where tori's hand is placed flat on the chest of Uke.
    Now the crap hits the fan. FOR ME. Explaining this.........There is the physical then there is what cannot be seen. I have to now, in my VERY limited way, combine both and try to make sense of something that I cannot yet perform myself. Try that............Okay.

    The principle behind what is going to take place is this (perhaps?); There are only two principles Dr Kano applied in his kodokan judo one of them is 'maximum force with minimum effort'. In this first motion and action we have an Uke standing untouched and on balance in front of tori who is going to project that Uke backward applying this principle and a lot more besides.

    Tori starts to slightly apply pressure starting with his thumb then blade of the Right hand in alternating frequency. This action starts a small reaction. The small action eventually becomes amplified and ends with the total destruction of Uke. Action and reaction through Hazumi, controlled and quantified and unique to each pair who perform this motion.

    So, tori starts to apply this pressure from his hara using the correct amount of energy and ki to achieve his goal. Too much energy or if you push Uke would step back to regain his balance. The skill here is to use just enough not to threaten Uke so he doesn't move until you want him to and then when he does start to move it should be only in proportional reaction to the action of your Right hand. I am avoiding the word PUSH as their is no push.
    As Uke starts to make the small reactions to tori's small actions Uke steps back in small steps, Tori moves forward on his Left foot and Uke retracts his Right foot, its not a step but a slight stager, these 'steps' are commensurate in size and reaction to the amount of controlled ki tori uses to achieve the reaction of Uke.....Crap, this this is MUCH worse than I thought it was going to be. Plod on.

    The building of action in tori's hand and the changing direction from the thumb to blade causes a rocking and twisting action in Uke that cannot be seen but only felt. Now Tori performs this action until he has achieved the destruction of uke's balance without Uke knowing this has happened. When this point of no return occurs the controlled ki and body and mind of tori extends the arm and causes Uke, who cannot regain his posture or balance, tori's last step forward is on his Right foot, to crash backward like a log in a stiff manner, If tori pushes then Uke should and must regain his posture and balance by stepping backward. This is not theatre but real use of mind, body and mechanics.
    So many people push and some even master the ki but overuse this. It is easy to push Uke with ki and push him off the tatami? This is so wrong as we should only be using the amount of ki necessary to achieve the principle of 'maximum efficiency with minimum effort'. I have never achieved this in a single performance of this Kata. I end up making the action too big and it is not correct. In other words I push.

    Regarding the correct foot to step forward on in terms of tori and the retracting foot of Uke. I have written what I was taught. I have also been taught the complete opposite. Tori attacks Uke starting on his RIGHT foot and Uke steps back on his LEFT foot. Though this may seem significant and it may well be in terms of the shu in this Kata look beyond this as Mifune does and make the Kata alive and achieve the goals. Perfection in movement is useless without the Ha and ri in this Kata, conversely perfection in Ha and ri is useless if the Shu is not correct. Oh dear........HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP

    And so onto the second action;

    Uke lands flat on his back taking his stretched-straight legs into the air and making a rearward ukemi with both arms. No sooner has Uke hit the tatami with his arms than his legs go down and his trunk comes up with both hands on this legs. Tori is standing facing Uke in silent composure and alertness in ready for any further action.

    Uke starts to raise up with his Right knee left on the floor and his Left foot placed onto the tatami, on no account should Uke have his feet or legs less than shizenhontai distance apart but maintain balance at all times. Uke makes a spear hand, I THINK this is called shuto? Now we again begin with some difficulties. It is possible for Uke to keep his pointed hand at 90 degrees of possible 45 degrees. Will this detract from his presumed ending, I am unsure?
    As Uke raises he starts to make a forward thrust with shuto aiming at the solar plexus of tori. The attack is realistic and with spirit.

    Tori has options. He can stay in the path of this attack and be either hit or he could block. Instead with split second timing tori will not reject this force but accept it and direct it to the defeat again of an attacking Uke.
    I need to add a pointer here about distance. If Uke and tori are far away then tori when making taisabaki may enter toward Uke with his Left foot forward thus closing the distance. If the original distance is close then Uke may drop straight back onto his Left knee.

    Some principles, some background; Dr Kano wrote, in perfect copper placate English, that one of the core physical principles in judo was not to resist force. He explained that if we award Uke 10 units of strength-force and Uke 7 then if both come together in the centre of a ring and start to push each other the person with 10 units of force-strength, will win. Dr Kano then said that if Uke yielded to this force upon being pushed and redirected that force the force from Uke could be nullified. Furthermore if Uke added his 7 units of strength to the 10 of Uke, Uke could be thrown with 17 units of force.........correct.........INCORRECT.
    Uke should only make use of the units he has to make the throw functional thus keeping in reserve further units for perhaps another attacker, this may be only one unit from tori? Maximum efficiency minimum effort. Much like the way we don't use a hammer to crack open a boiled egg, well thats unless you eat one my wife has boiled! Looks over shoulder to see where the said lady is? (the man may be 10th dan, the wife is ALWAYS one ahead!)

    Now in applying above principle to the second action tori must wait and wait until the exact moment uke's is about to pierce tori. To make any action on tori's part too early may allow Uke to change direction or rethink.
    We now have an Uke coming toward us with great force and determination to hit us. Tori makes tai sabaki and continues the force of that shuto attack then 'throws 'with Uki otoshi ('Hiki-otoshi' is more correct than not uki-otoshi. Uki-otoshi did not yet exist when Itsutsu-no-kata was created, and the two, while similar, are not identical. ) In certain actions of defence in judo is it acceptable to redirect the course of the attack to a given end. In this action is is straightforward action-reaction and the correct use of force to nullify the action of an attacking Uke.

    Tori drops into uki otoshi kneeling on his Left knee. Now the contact point between Uke and tori is that tori's Left hand will catch the attacking Right arm of Uke at wrist level, tori's Right hand also adds direction to this movement by clasping uke's Right arm, thumb up at uke's forearm level, There is no grip taken on the gi.

    Now the relation to pull and guiding a force into neutrality, this is part the point in this exercises. Too little attack and Uke MAY need to revert to some pull. If Uke attacks with gusto tori should continue the force 'line' of that attack and allow it to spend itself by neutralising it and reverting it into a throw. No pull necessary on tori's part.

    Principle. Action-reaction. Maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Not opposing force with force but using that force against the attacker. Simple in concept but so difficult to perform with the correct balance of redistribution of force.

    As Uke attacks he should breath out and as tori makes his taisabki he should also breath out. Tori must not lean backward but maintain good upright posture at all times especially when in the kneeling posture. The toes of tori's Left foot must be placed into the tatami and not left flat upon the tatami. Tai sabaki must be performed with split second timing so as not to warn Uke of any attempt at a diversion.

    As I have written, the action of tori in terms of pull of guidance only will depend on the force and intent of his Uke. Tis brings us to the old debate that is Uke thrown or does he throw himself with his own force.

    Tori may look at the head of Uke and not the hand. This may be to give Uke the confidence that his attacking hand is not of notice or significance. In terms of tori is he looks or concentrates on the attacking hand of Uke it COULD be a bluff. Tori must show a level of awayness that he can expect and deal with the unexpected. Nothing is taken for granted. One could write that though this is a Kata it must always be performed as it where the first time and tori does not know what Uke is going to do.

    to be continued

    Action three;

    Think mud on tyres! You park your car in some mud and drive of to the sound of mud hitting the inside wheel arches or your car and general sods law also sends that mud swishing down the side of the car.

    The principle behind this, the third action, is centripetal and centrifugal force. To spin of a rotating object.

    Uke raises from his previous action with his Left knee on the floor and Right knee raised he is not in the same posture as tori. Simultaneously then lean forward from the hara and start to spread their arms out to the side at 90 degree's to the body both parties then rise up and breathing in start to walk in an anticlockwise direction circling each other. This is performed until they start to decrease the circumference of that circle and this decrease brings them eventually together facing each other. Tori's Right hand and arm is below Uke's Left arm and Tori's Left arm is above uke's Right the rotation continues until the velocity has been reached and the tori,acting as a vortice,will spin Uke off sending his across the body of tori in a yoko wakare position.

    Sounds simple enough. Here are some of the buts. Timing and knowledge of just when tori must drop and take the advantage of the action to down his partner is the key here. Speed is increased until Uke can no longer hold that centre of tori and is redirected away from the vortice that is tori into another direction, Uke is spun off. There can be no break in the action, not even a hint or the action would cease.

    The arms are used to direct the action not force it but INFLUENCE it, guide it and give it a new direction.

    You will see in the video clip that Mifune Sensei allows his Uke to be thrown from the middle of Tori's legs, from in between the legs. We have to accept that once a person masters judo in the shu sense he surpasses these things and may concentrate on the elements of ha and ri. Mifune Sensei is able to perform this action without losing focus to the physical but going past that and into the ri of the action. In general both legs of tori should be, for us mortals, outside of the legs of Uke.

    The forth action;

    Uke is now standing in front of tori some 3 meters away, can be 2 can be 4. Not the point. I think?

    Now this action is going to be a pig to explain and it is, for ME, the most complex to perform. We will each have our strong points and weak points and though I love this particular action again I have never got it right.

    Water, waves crashing on a beach. The wave is formed by the draw back and undercurrent of the previous wave. The new wave will be full of energy and will role, gathering speed and velocity, and break when it hits the beach flowing out and spending itself as it trickles up to the top of its life. After this there is the draw back of water and the action is again repeated.

    Uke stands with his back to tori. Tori 'starts' to take a deep breath and starts to run toward Uke veering (unsure if thats the right word?) slightly to the left of Uke. Tori, before moving of, will take his arms outstretched and full of tingling power back and down to his Left corner. A sway, if you will, where the energy is born. As tori moves toward Uke his arms flow upward until they touch the ceiling corners of the dojo. As tori pases Uke by about 18" tori will come up onto tip toe and leaning forward (body straight) and WITHOUT PAUSE will then set himself back down and onto his feet and move backward taking his Left arm to his Left side and his right arm stays at 90 degrees to his body. Contact is made with Uke who will then, by the reversing action of Tori's 'complete body' and the arm contact, begin to step backward. At a time only known to tori he will drop onto his Left knee and this drop takes Uke backward into an ushiro ukemi. Splat. Flat.

    The principle at work here is that of the wave on the beach and its power in withdrawal. as that wave retreats back to its source it takes all in its path with it. Suction. filling a void made by its spent force and to be used again by building the next wave.

    Some Sensei teach that after the initial run up toward Uke Tori's arms should be only stretched out to the side 90 degrees to the body of Uke. Some will also teach a pause. Ever seen a wave make a pregnant pause? There is no pause BUT there is that delicate slowing down and final lick at that beach as if the wave had a tongue and was trying to catch a fly just out of reach. No pause just a slow retreat that gathers pace then taking with it all left on the beach. Almost as if the wave is angry its tongue missed that fly!

    At what point does tori take Uke back, only they can tell you that, this is where feeling and action are joined at the hip and cannot be separated into 'tori will step back with three steps and then Uke will fall backward making a ushiro ukemi' It it takes one or two or five steps back to feel that power and posture break in Uke then so be it. PLEASE don't go back onto your Left knee pushing Uke back with some weak weedy power from your Right arm. This is not the done thing. The wave acts as one body and so must tori it is the action of the drop that takes Uke aback and the Right arm of Uke is the point of contact, the arm is not the object that throws!

    Breathing in this action is so important. As tori starts to build his wave, his action he breaths in not only from the chest but using the bellows of the hara to push his tummy out and relay fill those lungs with air and power and life and controlled vigour and vitality.
    As he moves off from his starting point and the arms start to rise he is still breathing in. Only after going onto tip toe and moving back does he breath out, take note tori does not hold his breath but gradually fills his lungs as he moves toward Uke.

    The most difficult part for me is after passing Uke one needs to spend the force and go up onto tip toe then when that force has ended start a reforce in the action backward. This is two clear actions the rushing toward the Uke (the wave breaking and rushing up the shore) then that time when things appear calm but then comes the rush back down the beach and home to mama (filling the void).

    I have no idea where this kata action comes from but it is with good reason it is held as the supreme learning of kodokan kata. Distance is so important yet it doesn't mean a thing, one cannot write Uke must be here and tori must be there and use a tape measure. This is one baby that needs to be experienced and felt and even then it may still be a mechanical action rather than a live encounter with natures forces being truly mimicked.

    I have NEVER had the privilege of practising any kata with a partner equal size and weight This has been a very strong point for me in the end as it truly taught me to adapt to a lot of different situations in randori.

    It is the achievement that we need to look at and not only how it is achieved. The extended Right arm of Uke may be placed across uke's body from shoulder to hip in required as long as the hand of Uke is palm down, and the back nor front of the hand is used to push. I pray you are not going to suggest what I have seen in the past and that is tori may bend his Right arm and drop his elbow to his Right hip thus lowering his Right forearm? The falsehood of doing such a thing would be to have the energy from the hara exit from the elbow at the bend and not flow down the arm giving the arm purpose from shoulder to to the tip of the fingers.

    To address one point, the correct time to drop onto the knee and make the final action in the destruction of Uke IS the point of this action. I cannot tell you, it is only felt and for me to say you should drop after one step or two steps or three etc or when Uke is breathing out or in, or when Uke head is back.........ALL these come to to play and the most I ever achieve is a theatre action where Uke does me the favour of going down and 'playing his part'. This is wrong and pointless but I may one day catch an Uke?

    In the real world of self defence would Uke take a big step back or tai sabaki, of course he would and not tori would ever run past an Uke placing his back to an Uke, suicide. This is not the point of this kata but is the point of the Kime and goshinjutsu kata. The INK is an elevated kata that combines shu-ha,ri and this is the goal of the INK. Can it be achieved, I guess so but it is not always a good thing to get what we want, perhaps the real lessons in this kata are about learning to strive for perfection in movement, shu, and then developing our ha and finally the ri?

    I will re-explain the first few seconds of the action.

    Uke stands well in front of tori. Distance will depend on several things mainly the size of the pair. Tori will stand collecting his thoughts and placing them away making his mind concentrate without trying to concentrate on the action ahead. Tori bends to his left corner taking his arms back to his left side. This is a very interesting part of the action as it represents two actions in one, the death of the previous wave and the birth of a new one. Tori breaths out as his arms sway backward representing the void from that previous unseen wave. Tori will then take both his arms forward and taking steps toward Uke will start to trot toward Uke raising both those arms collecting as he runs all the energy possible to break on the shore ahead. Tori's arm should stretch and hands should tingle with the stretching and controlled inward breathing.
    Tori, as he passes Uke, will have his arms raised out and up toward the corners of the dojo. I have been taught to actually take my arms up to touch the ceiling, I don't use this manner but take my arms out to my side at shoulder height and point them at corner level so it is a compromise between touching the ceiling in a vertical sense and the other way of keeping the arms out to the side in a parallel fashion.

    I have seen the head of tori bow down to the floor at the initial take of and birth of that action, I was taught and practise to take my head back with my arms but keep my Head up and not allow my posture to break. Having a rubber body would help ans this is the action of water and a wave, powerful yet soft, hard yet supple, fast but controlling, controlling but smooth. A step with the left foot should be taken back at the initial start off. I have seen a step forward with the right though.

    The Fifth and Final action;

    After the completion of the previous action Uke and tori walk to the edge of the shiaijo to prepare for the last action.
    As tori reaches that point he takes a step forward on his right foot spreading his arms out and dropping his COG by a few inches, turning around to his Left and directly facing his Uke they rush toward each other. Just as the collision is about to happen tori will drop like a stone right in front of Uke into the posture of yoko wakare and without touching Uke 'throw' Uke, using uke's mind, across his body.

    Sounds crazy eh. Cleaver stuff in this one.

    Ever had your arms full and tried to walk down a flight of stairs with your vision impaired? You think there are 10 steps only to find there are 9, what happens you nearly fall on your chops over a step that IS NOT THERE. How is this done?
    It is the mind that is throw and not the physical body. Uke is expecting to collied with his tori who without warning makes that void, as in the non missing step, and Uke will lose his own balance and sail over what he finds 'not there'. A void.

    Timing is the key of this action and like all the previous actions no one can truly teach this action. It is a feeling, a sense.
    Tori needs to make the circumstances where his Uke will take a fall. This sounds simple enough, we can all do this with ogoshi. In this last action we need to achieve the same result without even touching the Uke, we need to throw Uke by using HIS mind. At what point should tori drop. I have seen a pair nearly touch and this is difficult . Tori needs to drop just as Uke makes a step forward but has not yet placed the said foot on the floor and is this in mid balance. When tori drops his Uke will become mentally unbalanced which will lead to his physical balance being destroyed.
    The drooping action of tori also adds direction to Uke who will see this drop and look toward it thus truly losing control and sailing over tori.

    There is no jump or false chugeri in this action. This is just as it is, true Ju that leads to the downfall of an Uke even without kumi. A physical action on the part of tori that throws his Uke.

    Well this brings to an end for me the brief and incomplete description of these five actions. I have tried to give examples that we can all understand even though transferring those principles into the kata will be a life's work.
    Can those who thought that this kata was simple now identify that what the eye sees is not always reality.
    I can see why so many of my peers think of this kata as a game and of no value but just some theatre act. Today it is as it is the height of ones judo to achieve such a kata performance as the INK. The best we can hope for is some mastery in the initial physical sense, the greater harmony and blending of two judoka to demonstrate the real actions are near impossible, though possible.
    In pr acting this kata have some patience with ones self. Think how many 10th, 9th and 8th dans there have been in the history of judo, so few and this kata is in their realm of expertise.
    There is no snobbery in this kata it is 'simply' five principles that are placed into a frame of physical and emotional action reaction.
    I think it very wise to learn several of the other kata before starting on this one don't you? Perhaps I should just speak for myself?


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    Post by nomoremondays Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:14 am

    ^^^ Wow! Great post. I am glad I drew it out of you because I have not seen such an explanation before :-) Will take my time to chomp through this now.


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    Post by GregW Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:00 am

    Excellent reading! I appreciate these insights so much!

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