Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bubishi Self Defense Technique No. 8

Bubishi Self Defense Technique No. 8

A study by victor smith

May 2006

The concept of the Bubishi has always been fascinating. A text in older Chinese that several Okinawan senior instructors possessed at the turn of century, 1900.

The text covered many topics, Chinese martial history, Medical issues and martial theories and techniques.  It may have had an important impact on the developing Okinawn arts, it may have had slight impact on those arts, or it may have had absolutely no impact and was just something left on the shelf.

Today there are several public sources of information on the Bubishi’s contents and interpretations available for public review.

But except as something to possess there is little sign that any public attempt is being made to use this material as core training concepts in a system of training.

Out of my own curiosity, I have been able to translate some material in several French works concerning the Bubishi, as well as review some of my findings with a friend with considerable experience in several Chinese arts.

Yet I have been little different from the rest, and have not explored much of what I’ve translated.

Recently I began to reverse this and started working on some of the application potential of the Bubish 48 self defense techniques, using Roland Habsetzer’s suggested application potential as a guideline for study.

This analysis starts with a friend, Romney Taylor, and his analysis of the Habsetzer translation of technique number 8, from an Isshinryu karate perspective, and from there my own observations on Habsetzer’s application potential.

But to allow my friends, with whom I’ll share this brief analysis, to make up their own minds, I’m adding all of the Bubishi material I possess on this technique, so they can fairly make up their own opinions.

II.  The Principal Teachings Of The Bubushi
     Commentary of the 48 Figures of Close Combat of the Bubishi

Figure 8 : Page 68
In the course of a fight in which the opponent attempts to hit you on the head, block the blow, trap his arms and place a key to the elbow for overcoming them (20: has left). Commentary page 168 and page preceding.
Figure 8’

The drawing illustrates the initial lock suggested.

Certain copies of the Bubishi illustrate more evidently in a manner that the resumed form parries from the bottom up (age-uke) right arm reinforced by a seizure of the left hand to the wrist (21). The body is ¾ full-face to profile. Uke obtains easily a key [Perhaps a controlling lock] from the joint to the elbow of Tori, in other words while coming from underneath with the right hand (22) also while applying the left hand on top (23), classical kansetsu-waza in Ju-Jitsu.
See equally the photos 39 and 40.

Bubishi - The Bible Of Arts Of The “Empty Hand’ by Roland Habsetzer

The Bubishi Self Defense Technique No. 8

Habsetzer’s ‘Buishi’ is a free translation of parts of Tadahiko Ohtsuka’s ‘Bubishi’, especially the chapter about the 48 figures, however, the personal interpretations of Habsetzer about these figures doesn’t follow the interpretation of Ohtsuka himself.  (Fernando)

‘The present work has for its base the document that was confided to me by Ohtsuka Sensei at last after the public publication of a non-Japanese (4) version.  …. This is why I have preferred to presenter only the 48 figure (in while risking some personal interpretations), the Kata Hakufa of the White Crane, at last the Kata Happoren.”
By Roland Habsetzer

(1)    “Okinawa-den Bubishi”, publication of Gojukensha of Tokyo, Ohtsuka Tadhiko, 1975-1978.
(2)    “The Bubishi: an analytical journey”, Patrick McCarthy, International Ryu8kyu Karate Research Society, Tokyo 1994.
(3)    I have had for 20 years, access to another exemplary copy of the Bubishi preserved by Ogura Tsuneyoshi Sensei to the Gembukan Kofu. The American George Alexander has published his proper study based on this copy

Figure 08 Notes from Romney Taylor R.T. ^..^ - ( friend in Isshinryu and Gojuryu)

Greetings - Victor san,  another technique that I commonly teach, Of course this can be derived from the movements in the Isshin-ryu version of Seisan kata, (as well as others ) where both arms rise in this blocking motion .  I actually do use this tie up and the turn in seisan to take the person off his feet, but, do not like to teach this as bunkai for this movement, as it does not follow the kata closely enough.

Interesting perhaps , that I was taught that this same  movement can be used against a wrist grab, and this is the reason of lowering the arms before they rise .
http://www.isshinryu.com/new/Seisan_Illustrations_1.asp   photo 12 , 13. I do the movement a little differently then Donnelly sensei). This  movement of lowering  the hands and then rising quickly, is a variation of how the elbow strikes may be used (to the front) in Seiuchin kata.

Basically if Tori seizes your right wrist with his right hand you place your left forearm under his wrist and then raise both arms , pushing the left forearm forward as it raises
and pulling the right slightly behind , (a variation of the side squat block found later in the kata)  this movement can be used to apply pressure against the wrist or elbow of tori
(as the left hand forces the arm up and slides forward, and the right rises put pulls back a little).

You can also break Tori's grip, wrap the left arm around his right in a circular motion and strike to the face as demonstrated in the Bubishi explanation.

I think a better example of this technique can be found in the Goju-ryu version of Seisan kata,  If you start the kata to the north this technique is done turning west, The left hand does a circular intercepting movement that wraps around the opponents arm as done in the photo,  the Right hand seizes the throat , and the fist closes into Phoenix eye posture .
(seizing vital points)

A similar movement can be found in the IR version of Wansu kata, except in true IR fashion, the right hand strikes with a fist, just change the timing a little so the block and strike are closer together or  simultaneous.  http://www.isshinryu.com/wansu2.htm  photo 25

Photo 24 is the block, (could be done with two hands), in photo 25 the left arm circles around Tori's arm and moves to the inside , pressuring Tori's elbow from underneath,  the right hand strikes,  or seizes , see illustration 22  of the Bubishi technique 08.

Anyway,  just some thoughts.

Comments by Victor Smith

I’ve recently been exploring the application for the Self Defense diagram 08 in Habsetzer’s Principle Teachings of the Bubishi.

On the whole I concur with Romney’s links to the Isshinryu kata usage.

I would use the augmented right punch in Isshinryu’s Seiunchin kata as my source movement for this section.

When the left hand clenches the right wrist there are a number of factors taking place.

  1. The joining of the arms creates a stronger body alignment increasing the power behind the technique in the process.
  2. Where the simplest use for the movement section is just to strike out with the right punch, against a boxing style right jab, left cross attack, I readily use the rising two hands in a rising counter-clockwise clearing motion for interior defense using the forearms of the technique, opening the attacker for the strike.  I find this to be a very powerful use of the movement.
  3. My next choice would be to simply drive into the attacker’s throat with either the left forearm of a rising two hand strike, or with the right forearm of a rising two hand strike. Striking directly into the throat with the augmented forearm is a very powerful strike in its own right.
  4. Habsetzer shows two different extension applications (figures 22 and 23) of the Bubishi figure 8.
  5. What I observe, however, is that if you combine the two movements in the order 23 then 22, another extension application appears, and I think this does follow the intent of the Bubishi text for the initial posture, into a locking movement, clearly too. I would describe this technique demonstrates a tap/wrap/slap flow that is more subtle than the drawings allow.


If the two hands rise in an augmented clearing movement, the first motion of an open backhand tap on the opponent’s biceps tendon, drops the attackers arm. Then stepping in with the right and wrapping their arm with a clockwise over and under movement literally rolls their arm into hyper extension. But at the same time the wrap is taking place, a simultaneous slap across their head with the open backhand completes the movement.

The wrap portion of the movement, can both engulf the arm, and use the motion to roll their arm inner elbow joint up, to hyper extend the arm. That may be sufficient to control the attacker. Of course if they’re aware and release their knees at the time of the wrap, they can evaporate the lock’s use readily.

But if the wrap, rolling their arm into hyper-extension is accompanied with the right arm then beginning to chamber, it draws the attacker forward directly into the slap motion. This shortens the distance, increasing the speed of the simultaneous execution.

Accompany all of this with a rolling center of alignment as the movements progress, and a knee release on the chambering of the wrapping arm accompanying the slap, there are increased power utilization within the technique series.

It should be obvious that the grasping wrist, the rolling center and the knee release all function as force multipliers, in this case multiple ones.

Care must be taken to inform the student of the subtle uses of technique execution to make this work efficiently. New students to the technique tend to overpower the sections in execution, changing the shape of the attack, and really making the complete flow unworkable.

By Patrick McCarthy

By Alexander and Penland

Histoire Du Karate-Do  - Kenji Tokitsu – translation Victor Smith

P – 169    The 48 techniques of the Art of Combat of the Naked Hand

I present the continuation of this document with drawings and  translation of the comments. These drawings were those interpreted by Tadahiko Otsuka from one of his books on the Bubishi, because the drawings of the old document are showing rudimentary techniques, missing precision and don’t correspond to all the texts explanations.  T. Otsuka made new drawings so they are a unit of the text.

This book is brand new, 319 pages in length, was written by Ohtsuka Tadahiko, and was published in 1998. This book's title is Chugoku Ryukyu Bugeshi. I believe this is titled 'Bugeshi' because this is how early karate masters referred to the text. In this book, the author borrows portions of the Bubishi and shows how these original Bubishi teachings were incorporated into Okinawa karate. So how is this book layed out? Well, a bubishi teaching is presented that shows an original bubishi drawing along with the explanation written in Chinese. Underneath this sketch, there is a translation of the Chinese into Japanese. Luckily, for all of the kanji, small kana symbols are written above the characters. This is a good thing for some of us foreigners who are not so sufficient in reading kanji (like myself). On the opposite page, there are a series of 3 to 6 photographs that show how this bubishi teaching is incorporated into Okinawa karate techniques. 90% of the book is layed out in this fashion. For those of you who don't read Japanese, don't worry. The photographs found throughout this book are very easy to look at and understand what is being taught. This is a 'must-have' for any Okinawa karate library.

 From Mabuni Seipai No Kata 1934

  1. Acknowledgements

In the course of my investigations on the Bubishi I must first thank a small group of individuals who have shared information and their thoughts as I work to make this text more comprehensible as the years have passed.

They are Joseph Charles Swift (Japan), Patrick McCarthy (Australia), Fernando P. Camara Brazil), Ernest Rothrock (Pennsylvania, USA), Toby Reed (USA)  and Doctor Paul Harper (Derry, New Hampshire USA).


1. Bubishi, the Bible of Karate   translated by Patrick McCarthy  Tuttle Press
2. Bubishi, Martial Art Spirit     translated by Ken Penland  edited by George Alexander Yamazato PublicationsBubishi material based on the copy of the Bubishi preserved by Ogura Tsuneyoushi of the Gembukan Kofu.
3. Bubishi, Encyclopedie des Arts Martiaux  by Roland Habersetzer, translated by Victor Smith, Amphora  - Bubishi material based on parts of Tadahiko Ohtsuka’s “Okinawa-den Bubishi” publication of Gojukensha of Tokyo
4. Histoire du Karate-Do      written by Kenji Tokitsu translations by Victor Smith, Editions SEM – Bubishi material  - Bubishi material based on another work on the Bubishi by Tadahiko Otsuka with new drawings that Otsuka believed were more faithful to the text.
5. Chugoku Ryukyu Bugeshi              written by Ohtsuka Tadahiko
6. Seipai No Kata      published by Mabuni Kenwa