View Full Version : R / L - dominance

Benjamin Peters
6th September 2001, 07:26
Dear members,

I have a query I would like to share with you all.

During training of techniques, either from your tradition's curriculum or other (ie self defence), do you practice dominating one side ?

I realize that 'kata' as such retains it's character ie maybe practiced only on one side for various reasons - what I am interested in is if kihon-waza or self defense techniques are trained on both sides or one; what is favoured by practitioners, dojos, instructors.....thoughts ?


joe yang
8th September 2001, 00:02
Just a note in re drills. I'm starting to notice it is sometime easier to learn/pattern new movements on my weak side. Maybe because that side of my brain is less "rigid" in it's behaviour. Regardless, I always train 50/50 left side, right side.

8th September 2001, 00:51
Shodokan Aikido Randori no kata is practiced both left and right.

I heard this two sided practice is what allowed young Kano and his boys to take on the cops and win.

However, in Shodokan Aikido there are several other kata sets (ie. Koryu Goshin no Kata) where each component waza is practiced one side only. There is, as I understand it, no particular reason why one waza is done to the left while the other is done to the right.

8th September 2001, 05:47
I have always trained throws on one side. Punches, blocks and locks both sides. Having said that i have injured my knees in judo and now do left sided throws. It?s refreshing and a completely new experience.

9th September 2001, 14:37
Much of traditional ju jutsu centers around the use of the sword. Left handed swordsmen were unheard of. Consequently, traditional katas are usually performed right foot forward, right hand dominant.

In Western society, the "traditional" fighting stance is left foot forward. The tendency is to lead with the left hand and follow with the right hand. As a result, many western ju jutuka stand left foot forward, left hand forward, waiting for the right-handed hit. The left-foot forward stance allows the defender to deflect a right handed attack and provides a shorter path for getting in behind the attacker.

One of the basic principles of Tsutsumi Ryu ju jutsu is that the initial body movement and hand work for any defence is exactly the same, whether it's a right handed attack or a left handed attack. For example, if the attacker delivers a right handed low punch, the defender can perform entering body movement, catching block, and minor outer reaping (ko soto gari). If the attacker punches with the left hand, the defender performs entering body movement, catching block and minor inner reaping (ko uchi gari). The movement is the same. You just don't have time to change from a right handed stance to a left handed stance once the attacker commits the attack. This principle also gives you the versatility required to contend with two or more attackers. It allows you to defend against the first atttacker without turning your back on the second.

Therefore I think it's necessary to train not just two sides, but at least sixteen, ie:
- right hand forward / left hand forward
- right foot forward / left foot forward
- inside attacks and outside attacks
- for the defender / for the attacker

Brian G Barnes
10th September 2001, 20:41
I am one of those who attempt to proliferate Hontai Yoshin Ryu in the United States. That having been said, the HYR system is designed almost entirely for the right-handed. That is not to say that lefties can't do it or have some difficulty with learning. Rather, the idea is to defend against attacks from the right hand or side of the body, and the waza themselves rely on leading the technique with the right side. Exceptions do exist within even the basic sets, and there is no difficulty translating this right-handed propensity within the waza to the opposite side.

In other Koryu which I have trained (and these will remain nameless, since I do not wish to officially represent them here), I have found a similar propensity. Most of those with which I have been involved, and this includes HYR, do not stress training on the opposing side to any important degree. It is only fair to note that there have been some Koryu in which it seems to me that both sides are stressed equally, although I don't recall a great deal of discussion about the issue in those schools. It just seemed to be taken for granted that some techniques initiated one way, and others came from another side.

I have found, on the other hand, that newer (yet equally "serious") systems like Aikido and Judo stress working on both sides equally for well-roundedness, better body awareness, improved balance, and increased ability to use the non-dominant side in application, to name just a few reasons.

I noticed in the poll above that the vast majority of voters indicated that they train both sides regularly and believe that this important. While I voted that way, also, I did so for a semantic reason.

In my experience, to train both sides in Koryu equally is nearly impossible since the right side is usually vastly dominant. While training both sides with seniors, teachers, or senior students is a very fun and interesting thing to do, there is never even enough time to master the actual "kata" themselves, the ones that are done in demos, competitions, and testing. To train both sides equally would, while improving me as a martial artist, cause detriment to the transmission of my art. I feel that I have a responsibility to attempt the perfection and transmission of the waza the school expounds, not merely what would be the best for me.

That final comment, of course, is dealt with regulary in this forum, and I'm sure it marks me as a more "conservative" practicitioner. My father would laugh if he knew that I bear such a label!

Please understand, though, that I do feel training on both sides is important for reasons referred to above. I wish the poll would have contained the option: "I train on one side most of the time, but I feel that training on both sides is important." Get right on that, will you, Neil? :D

So, my two cents are entered. I hope they help the discussion.

Brian Barnes

Brently Keen
10th September 2001, 21:18
In Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu we train both sides pretty much equally.

One interesting side note is that Sokaku Takeda was said to have been equally proficient at wielding a sword in either his right or left hand. While Sokaku studied several prominent sword schools he taught Ono-ha Itto-ryu (as well as Daito-ryu), but his own sword style was known to be highly unorthodox. I believe this was the result of an emphasis contained within part of Daito-ryu's curriculum known as "Aiki Nito-ryu" which apparently contains methods for using two long swords, as well as (or opposed to) the traditional daisho.

I'm not sure whether they they actually trained to use both (as I've never heard of any references to actually carrying around two long swords), but my guess is that it may have been specifically for training in the use of a sword in both or either hand(s). At any rate this approach may be generally reflected in Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu unarmed techniques as well as armed techniques being generally practiced on both sides. When wearing a sword in the obi or holding a sword in both hands however, it was always wielded or done so in the standard right handed manner.

Brently Keen

Dan Harden
11th September 2001, 01:13
sent privately


Neil Hawkins
11th September 2001, 06:15
Brian, ask and you shall recieve. :D

I really try and practice both sides as much as possible. I also try and practice from many different angles, so rather than being right in front of the attacker, he comes from the side, or behind, or anywhere else for that matter.

So really there is a three dimensional area extending out from us and the attack could come from anywhere in it, sabaki has to be versatile enough to allow you to get off the line of attack and defend (or counter-attack) effectively at any angle.

I'll see Steve's 16 and raise it to infinity. :)



16th September 2001, 16:01
FWIW: In my own training I try to practice all basic (foundation) techniques on both the left and right. In the last couple of years I have been caught out because of my being too one-sided in (one especially of) these basics.

However, I have also noticed the apparent one-sidedness of sections of empty-hand forms (kata), be they from Japanese or Chinese styles. My own take on the reason includes a consideration of our asymmetrical anatomy.

An amusing addition to Neil's post, regarding differing angles of attack. I was training a couple of years ago with a fellow aikidoka who had always (only) practised techniques from hanmi stance. When it came to his turn to attack jun katate dori and I stood in shizentai facing him he continually tried to walk around to my side. He had trained so much in a standardised way that he was very uncomfortable with my front-on stance.

17th September 2001, 05:22
People use their right side for certain techinques and left side for others.

For example, many people stand left hand, left foot forward when demonstrating tekubi hineri (kote gaeshi) from a right-handed middle punch. However, if asked to demonstrate o goshi against the same attack, they will usually change to right foot, right hand fvorwards.

The same applies to falling techniques. People generally practise falling on their right hand side. When they get thrown by a right handed defender, the fall is almost always a left handed fall.;)

17th September 2001, 05:34
Hi Ross.

Let me speak for the Chinese MA side here.

Yes, there are a lot of Forms/styles that "appear" to train one-sided, but what is often not shown that the same form is trained a second time with sides reversed. Yang Kwang Ping Tai Chi is one of those.

In my Style we have 8 unarmed forms, but nearly all movements are reversed within those 8 Forms.

Also a lot of Chinese MA have "Movement Training", where you repeat a single move like "Whip the Horse's Mane" to the left/right/left/right/left/...
to get the movement right and maintain the "smoothness" of flow.

The same counts for "Push Hands" training where we also train for the left/right side as well as left/right foot forward stances.

Single Weapon Forms are often one sided, as sometimes a small shield tied to the forearm was used.
But the Chinese Artsare also full of 2 Weapon Forms.

Hope this helps.

17th September 2001, 09:54

Thanks for your reply. I had noticed that many movements are reversed within the standard forms, but had in mind just a few specific movements that are not.

The very little exposure I have had to practitioners of Chinese styles suggested that practicing forms in "reversed direction" was more of a novelty than routine. Maybe it is a problem associated with available time. It's always nice to broaden my knowledge/experience.


(Third paragraph) Was it SO obvious? :cry:

Off to hockey, then some study. Must do more rolling practice before showing my face in Perth again.

17th September 2001, 10:51
Hi Ross.

I think it depends where and which style you study.

If you study one of the shortened Goverment styles, than your assessment is correct.
Those were created to be easy to be learned and be taught to the masses.
The same counts for a lot of the Competition styles.

Unfortunately there appear to be few schools that still focus on the Martial aspect.

18th September 2001, 04:06
Ross, any fall you can get up from is a good fall. :laugh:

Neil Hawkins
18th September 2001, 09:06
Ross, especially when it's Steve that's throwing you! :D