Recently, an online friend of mine, who studies and teaches the Shinjinbukan system, has been posting video clips from Onaga Yoshimitsu Sensei’s trip through Europe. The most recent video (at the time of writing this post) is the one, above. At about 1:14, you can see Onaga Sensei demonstrate an application for a movement in Passai. We actually teach the same leg reap application for that sukui-uke (scooping receiver) movement in our dojo. This isn’t terribly surprising, for two reasons. One is that Onaga Sensei’s kata curriculum is the same as ours, minus the kata added by Nakazato Shugoro Sensei, so we are bound to have techniques in common. The other is that the movement is one of the few WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) movements in kata. I have seen everyone from practical bunkai experts, to karate masters of the early 1900’s, to purist Shotokan instructors demonstrate this application. The real differences are typically in the entry and the follow-up.
In our kata, this sukui-uke actually shows up several times, in a few different variations. The sequence that Onaga Sensei is demonstrating can be seen in the GIF, above. This is from our Passai Dai (Tawada Passai). It starts from a right-side-forward meotode-gamae (married hands posture) in neko-ashi-dachi (cat stance), then steps back to shiko-dachi (sumo/horse stance) and goes through the scooping motion, which continues into a jodan-uke (high level receiver) position. Following that, you step through with your left leg into neko-ashi-dachi and perform a simultaneous osae-uke (pressing receiver) and age-ura-tsuki (rising reverse thrust) to end in a left-side-forward meotode-gamae. This sequence also exists in Passai Sho (Itosu Passai), and while the entry and follow-up are different, they are really just simplified representations of what is being done in Passai Dai.
You can also see the sukui-uke movement in our Kusanku Dai, as well, but with a different entry and follow-up. You start from yama-gamae (mountain posture) in a right-side-forward neko-ashi dachi, then step forward into shiko-dachi to do the scooping motion, with the left arm extended toward the ground and the right held upright like supporting a box on your shoulder, then the right hand is thrust down so that it crosses the left at the wrist. Following that, the hands open and rise, together, to form an open-handed juji-uke (crossed receiver).
In my opinion, when you boil it down, you really have the same technique done in two different ways. For those familiar with judo, they are basically variations of te-guruma (hand wheel). In the context of the kata, one is a leg reap that steps back and lifts, and the other is a leg reap that steps forward and drops. In the video, above, I demonstrate the way I interpret these techniques. Both techniques have some subtleties to them that make them work better, but they are difficult to show in short video clips. It also isn’t necessary to use this technique against a kick–that is just the easiest to illustrate in a video. In actuality, you can use the same technique pretty much any time your opponent’s leg is within reach. They could be kicking you, kneeing you, trying to sweep you, or they could simply be off-balance enough for you to grab their leg and pick it up.