Thursday, December 29, 2011

Continuing thoughts on Jion

I’m going to conclude my 2011 projects with another pass at Chromo Hanshio’s presentation of Jion Kata in the 1938 Nakasone Genwa text the “Karate-Do Taikan”.

I presented some comments earlier this year on blog at I don’t practice the kata, it’s not in the Isshinryu tradition, nor do I know anyone in the Kyudokan tradition which does so, but I think if I draw upon the insights from Nakasone’s text and Mutsu Mizhuo’s 1933 “KempoKarate” I can make some headway towards understanding Hanshiro’s comment “Budo is a living thing; naturally there are thousands of different applications and variations for each technique."

Before I go further let’s look at a Kyudokan presentation of Jion, seen from a different angle than the other video’s I’ve shared.

I have to admit when I first saw this form in the “Karate-Do Taikan” it didn’t do much for me. I saw it as a simple exercise in large techniques. Now I have a very different opinion.

Among the first things I see now are the form as a study in basic techniques for Karate Ni Sente Nashi. The kata using Mutsu’s concepts of Reactive Defense (such as blocks/parries while leaning away from the attacker) and Preemptive Striking (they strike first but your counter-strike hits before they strike you. Especially with the countering strikes being to the head not the center of the attackers body. Strikes to end a confrontation quickly with a head shot.

Take these two principles together and they’re designed to counter a multiple strike attack where the attacker intends a double tap to take you out. Leaning away with the block/parry creates a vacuum to pull the attacker towards you for their second strike. As they move into the space you created you enter that space too with your counter-strike.

You can review these principles with my earlier post on ‘There is no first strike in karate’ at

Yet I feel this only touches the surface of the thousands of applications Hanshiro mentioned.

I think it’s obvious that in addition to considering that these techniques can be used against any type of attack, there are innumerable add-on techniques for what is shows in the kata.

Consider the lunge strike to the head followed with a high block/strike. If you struck someone in the head what is the high block for? You might suggest that you’re using that block to clear away their strike. I would suggest that the missing technique would then be descending strike, an add-on to the movement not found in the kata. This would be a consistent study such as those also presented in Nakasone’s text by Shiroma Shimpan.

I’ve presented some discussion of Shiroma Shimpan on a previous post at

Such study might be the first step towards the thousands of answers Hanshiro suggested. I’ve touched similar answers with several of my friends arts.

I believe with this version of Jion Kata, we’re seeing older Okinawan traditions. As it was Itosu’s students who shared so much information in the past, it is logically consistent to draw upon those sources in our quest to understand earlier karate.

I’ve previously discussed some of these concepts in the following posts.

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