View Full Version : Yari from Otsuka Sensei

len mccoy
27th June 2014, 02:33
The following is a quote from Otsuka Sensei founder of Wado Ryu karate. In his book Wado Ryu Karate pages 60 and 61. "All attacks increase their force of impact in accordance with how quickly they are withdrawn from their attack. I will explain later on. When stabbing with a spear it is said, "Stab at 30%, withdraw the spear at 70%." These are words to remember."
Anyone classical spear people care to comment? Things of interest in particular would include if the quote is widespread or limited to teaching of a particular school.
Thanks in advance for any wisdom.
Len McCoy

Ellis Amdur
27th June 2014, 04:45
Len - I'm trying to think it through. Basic physics would contradict this. Pulling out after the thrust is complete will not be additive to what went before. There are two possible things to consider:
1. The real teaching is something different. The point being that people tend to relax after victory, but on a battlefield, you stab one guy, and you have to fight another. How about if he grabs the shaft of the spear upon being stabbed, or the armor is punched inwards and then upon withdrawal, it "resists" the attempt to pull out. So it's a caution that the withdrawal is tremendously important to do correctly.
2. You may miss. And you'd better get back into position fast.
3. Sojutsu is not poking and pulling. Done properly, you uses the body in a particular way, sort of like a yin-yang sign, where there's a white dot (yang) in the Yin (dark) area and a black dot (yin) in the light area. Sojutsu is a whole body activity, where the feet, the hips, the tandem, and the core muscles are all integrated, where, for example, one can deflect the enemy with the body (through the spear) when they try to pin you down. Etc.
It's very possible that the meaning of the teaching encompasses all of these. Don't know if any or all are what Otsuka meant, but this is the kind of considerations of sojutsu itself.
As for the specific phrase, that's not in either of the two koryu I practice. Nor would we phrase things that way. Rather, I'm trying to apply what I know about sojutsu and see if I can make sense of the phrase in that context.

27th June 2014, 14:19
Maybe he is just saying its a bad idea to leave your weapon out/embedded. (which EA already pointed out)

Presumably you might need to be stabbing other people and leaving your weapon in someone's body for any length of time might not be a good idea. (Which EA already pointed out)

Might, MIGHT, also have something to do with armor. Might be considerably harder to withdraw a spear from deep in a human body AND the armor around it. The "in" thrust might be easier for several reasons. Don't know enough about Japanese armor but some forms of "western" armor tend to "grip" the blades/etc. Not hard at all to get the weapon "hung up"--depending on the weapon and the armor.

In terms of karate---maybe its similar---can't figure out why the retraction would add power to the strike. But getting the striking limb back asap would:

A-Allow you to strike again as fast as possible.

B-Less chance to be grabbed/grappled.

C-"Posing" your strikes is a really bad idea

Brian Owens
27th June 2014, 19:15
I have never practiced sojutsu, but in the jodo I studied it was emphasized not to try to "force" the tip of the jo to strike your target with speed and power, which would negatively impact accuracy and -- paradoxically -- speed and power, but to "let" the tip strike the target with speed and power. The 30%/70% notion was one I was taught in that regard.

Our jodo was an auxiliary art to Aikido, and it should be noted that Ohtsuka Sensei was a long-time friend of Ueshiba Morihei, as well as an expert in jujutsu, and so there may have been a lot of back and forth dialog about such things between the two, resulting in a shared meme on some aspects of movement and ways of describing them.

This is all speculation on my part, of course.

Chris Hellman
28th June 2014, 02:37
I have heard exactly the same thing, (70/30) and in the context of using a spear, too.

As I remember it, it was both to do with promoting body stability (awareness of returning to the original position means one is less likely to over extend for example), and with speed. With regard to the latter, I believe that the theory is that having students concentrate on withdrawing rather than striking produces a thrust that engages the correct body mechanics and tends to prevent people over-muscling the action by relying too much on arms and legs (much as Brian said). Having observed it in others, I must say that it does appear to produce a perceptible increase in the speed of the thrust.

Having said that, I heard it (from my teacher) as a saying of the 'old masters said' type genre, which is not quite the same as 'my teacher told me'; nonetheless, it was mentioned while a student's spear thrust was being corrected, and thus was, implicitly, an instruction of the 'you should do this' type. Reading between the lines, I imagine this was fairly common knowledge in the immediate pre-war period, possibly repeated in bayonet instruction etc.Whether it can be pinned down to any particular teaching or not, I don't know.

Chris Hellman

len mccoy
28th June 2014, 13:01
Thank you all for the food for thought.
I don't think there can be any rational argument with what Ellis said that what happens after the strike cannot really affect the impact itself. On the other hand I suppose preparing for the pull back can effect the body structure going into the strike, which of course can effect the impact. Way beyond my understanding if this is the case.

I always wondered about Japanese bayonet training. Would it have been like what I was taught in USMC. "Sink the blade (usually going in with blade parallel to the deck so can better fit between ribs), twist (so as to maximize injury and aid in getting blade out) and pull (as rightly pointed out so you are ready for next opponent or strike again if a miss)". Is there a twisting pulling motion in sojutsu?

I don't really see this kind of motion when I watch Jukendo on youtube. Then again if it is a refined smaller motion I wouldn't notice it would I.
Anyway, thank you everyone.
Len McCoy

Chris Hellman
28th June 2014, 15:44
There is indeed a twisting/drilling motion in the sojutsu I have seen.

As far as bayonet use goes, I don't have any first hand experience, but I have a feeling that jukendo as it is practiced sportively, doesn't really imagine penetration. However, from what I have heard, modifications were sometimes made to standard bayonet training in the combat theatre to make it more practical, simplifying it terms of both techniques and tactics. This seems to have been done on an ad hoc basis, presumably by officers/veterans in individual units, but at least in the cases I heard about (both of which involved troops in China) this made it significantly different from the jukendo I have seen on youtube.

Chris Hellman

Ellis Amdur
29th June 2014, 02:09
Chris - actually, it's the other way around. The men who created jukendo were, unlike those of other sportive martial arts, combat veterans of WWII, many of them sergeants. They used to teach jukenjutsu, which included the typical appalling techniques of war, in addition to the twist of the blade, butt strokes, etc. This was explicitly and formally taught, and as many probably know, practiced on Chinese bound captives.

The five top jukendo teachers alive in the 1970's, presented to the Japan Martial Arts Society, and told us that they deliberately "deblooded" much of jukenjutsu. In essence, they said that there was certainly much to be learned from jukenjutsu in their conversion to jukendo, but that they, personally, were sick of war and violence, and wished to permutate what they knew into something explicitly for character development.

The five of them were collectively and individually, the finest budo men I met in Japan. . . .better, the finest men I met in Japan.

Ellis Amdur

Chris Hellman
29th June 2014, 13:24
Thanks Ellis.

What I meant to say was that I have heard a couple of people talk about how they personally changed (or the person teaching them changed) the way they were taught in basic training (i.e. basic jukenjutsu) to suit the circumstances they found themselves in the field. In their opinion, this was quite different from what they were originally taught.

Chris Hellman