|Motobu Choki (right) teaching women’s self defense|
I recently wrote about the importance (or lack thereof) of hand formations in kata and, in that article, I specifically mentioned the use of haishu (backhand) versus haito (ridgehand) in Naihanchi Shodan. Now, for the sake of clarity, I wanted to illustrate the points I made in that article a little bit more explicitly. You can see in the photograph, above, that one of the applications that Motobu Choki taught for the haishu-uke/uchi (backhand receiver/strike) movement in Naihanchi was a strike to the face. This works very well! It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s relatively safe for the person doing it.
|Uehara Seikichi teaching haishu-uchi (backhand strike)|
We can assume that this application is one Motobu Choki picked up through his elder brother, Motobu Choyu. This is because we also find the very same technique in Motobu Udundi, as taught by Uehara Seikichi. Once again, the back of the open hand is used to strike the attacker’s face. The only difference between these two images is that Motobu is teaching the technique from a defensive position, and Uehara is teaching it from an offensive position. You can see the difference in the right hand (being gripped in Motobu’s photo vs. gripping in Uehara’s) and in the distance between the tori (person performing the technique) and uke (person receiving the technique).
None of this addresses the use of haito-uke/uchi (ridgehand receiver/strike), however. In the animated GIF, above, you can see an instructor of Xingyi teaching a technique to deal with an opponent who has grabbed your arm. The instructor breaks the grip, controls the arm, and enters with a throw that utilizes a haito hand position, in order to better fit the arm beneath the chin. He then goes on to show that the same movement can be done as a backhanded strike to the face–the very same technique taught by Motobu and Uehara. In the full video, he shows that these techniques are both applications for the same movement in one of Xingyi’s forms.
Of course, the movement can also be used for throwing, locking, and receiving, but in this instance we are looking only at the striking applications. Clearly, the Xingyi example is showing how the same movement can be used for throwing, as well as striking, but does not show striking with both hand positions. In the video, above, I show how the same movement can be used to strike with either haishu, or haito, depending on the target. In my opinion, haishu-uchi is best suited to striking the face, while haito-uchi is best suited to striking the neck. If you strike to the neck with haishu, you’ll have a hard time getting it beneath the chin, and the impact will be distributed across the entire height of the throat. If you strike to the face with haito, you run the risk of your hand going into your opponent’s mouth, where teeth can cut you, or they can purposefully bite you. During Motobu’s time, antibiotics weren’t really available–Penicillin wasn’t even discovered until 1928–so a infections were deadly, and getting bitten is a very good way to get an infection.