Kusanku Dai Oyo Bunkai – Kuchiki-Taoshi

Most Suidi/Shuri-Te lineage karate contains at least one version of the kata, Kusanku. This kata was, supposedly, developed to record the techniques brought to Okinawa by a Chinese envoy of the same name, as described in the Oshima Hikki. Patrick McCarthy has written about this in several books, and Jesse Enkamp posted this article about it, a while back. Itosu simplified and modernized the version that he knew, and called it Kusanku Sho. In this article, we will be looking at Kusanku Dai, which is generally considered to be “less altered” than Kusanku Sho. Even so, there are many versions of Kusanku, and they all do things differently. The one I know is the version passed on by Chibana Chosin to Nakazato Shugoro, as seen in the video, above.

Me, demonstrating Kusanku Dai

One of the more obscure sequences in this kata is the simultaneous right jodan-uke (high receiver) and left gedan-tsuki (low thrust), followed by morote-soto-ude-uke (double outside-of-the-forearm receiver), done in a forward-leaning zenkutsu-dachi (front stance). You can see me perform this sequence, along with the movement before and after, in the GIF, above. This posture is sometimes called ura-gamae (back posture). Some styles do this section of the kata differently, so the application that I’m going to discuss may not fit for everyone, but it’s still a useful technique.

Kuchiki-Taoshi (Dead Wood Drop)

My preferred application for this sequence is one that judoka might recognize as kuchiki-taoshi (dead wood drop). It is, essentially, the judo version of a Western wrestling knee pick. If you look at the middle illustration (b) in the series of images, above, you will see that it actually matches the kata quite closely. Just like the kata, tori (the person doing the technique) is lunging forward with their right leg, their right arm is bent and above their head, and their left hand is extended down below them. This technique grabs the opponent’s leg just below the knee, which fits the kata, but if you were to go lower, you could also grab the back of their heel. This would be called kibisu-gaeshi (heel reversal) in judo, which is their version of a Western wrestling ankle pick. Personally, I find it difficult to reach that low, but someone shorter than I am may not have such an issue.

Once your opponent has fallen, you still have their leg in your hand. At this point, the morote-soto-ude-uke may be applied as a joint destruction technique. In the kata, the left hand turns over and curls upward, which can wrap your opponent’s leg with your arm, pinning it to your body. Your right hand crashes down, which would hyper-extend the knee joint. This is a technique that cannot be done slowly, as a submission technique, as you will not have the strength in your arms to overcome the strength of your opponent’s leg. Instead, this should be done as soon as they hit the ground, and with great force. Even a short jolt, when your partner isn’t expecting it, can be quite painful.

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About Noah

I began training in karate (Shuri-Ryu) in the Summer of 2006. Subsequently, I started training in judo, kobudo, and iaijutsu within the next 6 months. During my training there, I earned the rank of Sankyu (3rd Degree Brown Belt) in Shuri-Ryu, Gokyu (Green Belt) in judo, a certification in the use of the bo, and passed proficiency tests for the four tachigata of Shinkage-Ryu iaijutsu. I moved to Arizona in the Summer of 2008, and continued training and researching karate at home. I continued regular training in judo at a local club until 2010, when I was able to start training in Shorin-Ryu with Sensei Richard Poage. I have been training with him ever since, and currently hold the rank of Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in Shorin-Ryu under him. In addition, I began studying KishimotoDi under Sensei Ulf Karlsson in 2014.