The image, above, comes from Page 204 of Konishi Yasuhiro’s book, Karate Nyumon. I was inspired to go back and look at this publication by Victor Smith Sensei, who wrote an article on another section of the book. This book, in its original Japanese, along with many others, have been made available for free by Charles Goodin Sensei and the University of Hawaii. Unfortunately, I cannot read Japanese, so I can really only make use of the illustrations and photographs in these books. There are many images in Konishi’s Karate Nyumon that depict techniques and kata applications that I have learned, and several of them are from a training session with reknowned karate fighter, Motobu Choki. This page, though, caught my attention more than the rest, and I felt the need to share it.
If you look closely, you can see that there is an awful lot going on in these two photos. For example, in the top photo, you can see that Konishi is applying an elbow lock (blue) while deflecting Motobu’s second punch (green) and disrupting his balance with his stance (red/orange). For a book called “nyumon” (lit. “introduction,” or “primer”), this technique is pretty complex. Ulf Karlsson Sensei actually taught a very similar technique during his stay here, as an application for the haito-uke (ridge-hand receiver) motion in Naihanchi. The picture above, to me, looks like what happens if you are too slow in applying the technique that KishimotoDi teaches.
The second photo is a pretty clear continuation from the first, which should result in Motobu being thrown backward over Konishi’s leg. The action of Konishi’s right hand–in this case, seemingly striking at Motobu’s bladder with a shuto-uchi (sword hand strike)–can only be done by twisting the torso (yellow). This twist forces Konishi’s left shoulder back, pushing Motobu even further off balance. The strike to the bladder would also cause Motobu’s hips to sink, pushing his center of gravity even further backward. These are the same concepts that I use to execute this throw from the morote-tsuki (double thrust) motion in Naihanchi, although his arm positions look like the tekko/meotode-gamae (steel turtle/married hands posture) in Naihanchi, which also has a throwing application. On top of that, he has trapped Motobu’s right hand in a wrist lock with his upper arm (blue). That may simply have been a coincidence, but I have noticed that many of the locks found in ti fall into place without looking for them. Even if the wrist isn’t being locked, the hand would still be stuck between Konishi’s arm and body.
To me, these photographs actually encapsulate the methods of old Okinawan ti/te better than just about any other example I’ve seen (so far) from any of the karate books of the time. Even though it doesn’t show the entry that Konishi used to get to the position shown in the first photo (it was on an earlier page in the book), you still get to see how both hands are employed to do more than one action at once, how the stance is used to affect the opponent’s balance, and how twisting at the waist powers the technique. In addition, it shows that you can move from one movement in a kata to another, without following the prescribed sequence. These are the kinds of things, in my opinion, that we should look for when we are analyzing our kata. The Okinawan proverb, On-Ko-Chi-Shin (Examine the Old to Understand the New), supports the idea that the past holds the keys to the future, and for Okinawan martial artists, that is certainly true.