Shito-Ryu´s Five Method´s of Defence

Master Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-Ryu, defined five principles of blocking. They are RAKKA (pulling or moving the attack downward); RYUSUI (moving the attack to the side); TEN'I (body shifting away from the attack); KUSSHIN (lowering the center of gravity); HANGEKI (meeting the attack with a counterattack)


RAKKA: (Blossoms fall from a shaking tree)

Analogous to a tremor of the earth that shakes a tree with such tremendous force as to knock the blossoms from its branches.

Primarily hard blocking techniques applying sudden maximum power with a twisting action of the arm to literally stop the opponent's attack and destroy his/her confidence. Examples include Age Uke, Yoko Uke, Yoko Uchi and Harai Uke.

RYUSUI: : (Two rivers join in harmony)

Analogous to the greeting of two rivers that ultimately create a force greater than each alone although doing so with little or no turbulence.

Primarily softer blocking techniques that absorb an attack and redirect it using circular or deflecting blocks or parries in a continuous and flowing movement. Examples include Ura Uke, Shuto Uke, Kakete and Sukui Dome.

TEN'I: (A Willow sways in the wind)

Analogous to the branches of a willow tree that sway to and fro in the wind allowing its tremendous force to pass seemingly effortlessly.

General concept of body shifting (taisabaki) or turning away from an attack to avoid the direct force of the attack, often utilized with Ryusui defense (i.e. evasive maneuvers with a soft deflecting block).

KUSSHIN: (The Lion crouches low in the grass)

Analogous to a Lion that crouches unnoticeably in the grass with its body coiled for an attack on its prey.

General concept of disguising one's stance with the ability to either shift quickly out of one stance and into another or reflexively darting away and then back (typically at an angle) momentarily disappearing from the attacker.

HANGEKI: (A Flower greets the morning sun)

Analogous to a flower that opens its petals early in the morning to accept the rays of the sun for nourishment.

Advanced concept of reading an opponent's body actions to determine his/her intent prior to the opponent taking action. Response can be to greet the attack with a counter-attack (Go-No-Sen) or to precede the attack with a neutralizing action to defeat the opponent's aggression (Sen-No-Sen).

These five elements should be combined for practical use. Whether you use a hard block (Rakka), a gentler deflecting block (Ryusui), or a counter-attack (Hangeki), always move yourself into a safer and more advantageous position without wasting movement or energy using Kusshin and Teni.

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Courtesy of Sensei A. Tanzadeh - Shito-Kai

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