Wednesday 1 February 2017

抜塞大: Bassai Dai

Bassai Dai (抜塞大) Kata is characterized by its advancing strength which essentially practices to suppress the opponents attack. This characteristic appears in the very first movement right through to the 42nd and final action. The name Bassai (‘Penetrate the fortress’ or ‘Storm the castle’) derives from this overarching theme. In this article I'd like to focus on some critical points of this kata and conclude with an overview.
Andre Bertel - Hidari seiken jodan kizami-zuki - February 6th, 2017.
Change from tateshuto to seiryuto: Recently, the current JKA (Japan Karate Association) Chief Instructor—Ueki Masaaki Sensei—stressed that movement nine of Bassai-Dai (previously Hidari tate shuto chudan uke in Hachiji dachi), unlike Kanku Dai, should now be applied as seiryuto instead of tateshuto; thereby, being consistent with the overarching theme of the kata.

Greater martial arts thematic consistency: Such a small variation may seem insignificant, nevertheless, I appreciate this change. Indeed, as kata are inherently martial arts templates—primarily existing to enhance ones unarmed self protection skills—any greater thematic consistency within them, in my opinion, is a very good thing.

Koshi no kaiten and chakugan: Probably the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Bassai Dai is koshi no kaiten (the rotation of the hips). Shomen, hanmi and gyaku-hanmi in Bassai Dai must be extreme. In doing this, one must keep the eyes, head and neck fixed to achieve proper chakugan. This is an essential skill but, for some including myself, very challenging.

Winding up: Another very important lesson from Bassai Dai, which I personally stress in my dojo, is the high emphasis on loading/chambering (or winding up) of techniques. This point is probably most obvious when executing the changing blocks. It is via theses switching actions, one learns to maximize tai no shinshuku (compression and expansion) from the core/centre; hence, avoiding “…rushing to the completion of techniques”, which merely results in ‘aesthetic strength’. I should add here that most people only focus on the chudan-uke switching actions, however, this lesson is found throughout the kata. For example, movements 38 and 39 (switching from migi to hidari gedan sukui whilst transferring from hidari to migi hiza kutsu) and movements 40-42 (the conclusive and unique shuto-uke sequence).

Moderation of tachikata: Moderation of tachikata (stances) is another aspect of Bassai Dai that one must face head on. In particular, stance width and length are primarily determined by: (a) hip and ankle flexibility (and joint health, and muscle strength); (b) the ability to maintain level hips and what I refer to as good 'three tier posture'; and (c) the optimization of the techniques being employed in regards to generating power from the entire body and, indeed, movements/transitions of COG (centre of gravity). Furthermore, just like techniques, not only incorrect positioning must be avoided but also superfluous positioning/actions must be eradicated.

Kakato chushin: Indeed on the subject of tachikata—for many karateka in Japan—Bassai Dai is seen as the kata where kakato chushin is taken to the next level. Turning with various ukewaza vividly elucidates this point. The heel-toe relationship in the various transitions found through Bassai Dai are extremely important and need to constantly be honed to develop, and maintain, optimum impact power. Needless to say, this brings to mind the importance of te-ashi onaji, which due to my time constraints, I will not specifically address today. However, if your interest is stimulated, please use the search function at the top left corner; moreover, you can reference my YOUTUBE CHANNEL:

Conclusive remarks: The late Chief Instructor of the JKA, Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei, stated that “Bassai Dai is a bright jewel among the Shotokan kata”. I believe this is case largely due to the aforementioned points I’ve mentioned today: especially in regards to its applicative theme. Lastly, I will wrap with a complete outline of Bassai Dai Kata. All the best from chilly Oita City, Japan. — André


·         Rei (Musubi dachi)

·         Yoi (Sasho uken kafukabu mae, Heisoku dachi)

1.      Sasho soede migi chudan uchi uke (Migi ashi mae kosa dachi)

2.      Hidari chudan uchi uke (Hidari zenkutsu dachi)

3.      Migi chudan uchi uke (Hidari zenkutsu dachi)

4.      Hidari chudan soto uke (Migi zenkutsu dachi)

5.      Migi chudan uchi uke (Migi zenkutsu dachi)

6.      Migi gedan sukui uke kara migi chudan soto uke (Migi zenkutsu dachi)

7.      Hidari chudan uchi uke (Migi zenkutsu dachi)

8.      Ryoken migi koshi kamae (Hachiji dachi)

9.      Hidari tate seiryuto chudan uke (Hachiji dachi)

10.  Uken chudan choku zuki (Hachiji dachi)

11.  Migi chudan uchi uke (Hidari hiza kutsu)

12.  Saken chudan choku zuki (Hachiji dachi)

13.  Hidari chudan uchi uke (Migi hiza kutsu)

14.  Migi shuto uke (Hidari kokutsu dachi)

15.  Hidari shuto uke (Migi kokutsu dachi)

16.  Migi shuto uke (Hidari kokutsu dachi)

17.  Hidari shuto uke (Migi kokutsu dachi)

18.  Ryo sho chudan tsukami uke (Hidari ashi zenkutsu)

19.  Ryo sho tsukami yose/Migi sokuto gedan kekomi (Hidari ashi dachi): KIAI

20.  Hidari shuto uke (Migi kokutsu dachi)

21.  Migi shuto uke (Hidari kokutsu dachi)

22.  Morote jodan age uke (Heisoku dachi)

23.  Ryo kentsui chudan hasami uchi (Migi ashi mae fudo dachi)

24.    Uken chudan zuki (Yori ashi—Migi zenkutsu dachi)

25.  Sasho jodan nagashi uke/Migi shuto gedan uchikomi kara Migi sokumen jodan uchi uke/Hidari sokumen gedan barai (Heisoku dachi)

26.    Migi sokumen gedan barai (Kiba dachi)

27.  Hidari tekubi hidari sokumen kake uke (Kiba dachi)

28.  Sasho ni migi chudan mikazuki geri kara sasho ni migi mae enpi (Hidari ashi dachi kara Kiba dachi)

29.  Migi gedan uke/Hidari zenwan mune mae kamae (Kiba dachi)

30.  Hidari gedan uke/Migi zenwan mune mae kamae (Kiba dachi)

31.  Migi gedan uke/Hidari zenwan mune mae kamae (Kiba dachi)

32.  Ryo ken hidari koshi kamae (Migi ashi zenkutsu)

33.  Saken jodan uken gedan yama zuki (Migi ashi zenkutsu)

34.  Ryo ken migi koshi kamae (Heisoku dachi)

35.  Uken jodan  saken gedan yama zuki  (Hidari ashi zenkutsu)

36.  Ryo ken hidari koshi kamae (Migi ashi zenkutsu)

37.  Saken jodan uken gedan yama zuki (Migi ashi zenkutsu)

38.  Migi gedan sukui uke (Hidari hiza kutsu)

39.  Hidari gedan sukui uke (Migi hiza kutsu)

40.  Migi chudan shuto uke (Hidari kokutsu dachi)

41.  Migi te migi ashi uho e

42.  Hidari chudan shuto uke (Migi kokutsu dachi): KIAI

·         Naore (Sasho uken kafukabu mae, Heisoku dachi)

·         Rei (Musubi dachi)

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2017).

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