Thursday 4 November 2021

抜塞小 (Bassai Sho)

 Bassai Sho (抜塞小) Kata, in contrast with the overtly powerful Bassai Dai, is more subtle in its use of strength; furthermore, Bassai Sho utilizes smaller scale waza to undermine one’s opponent. Mindful of these points, the name Bassai (‘Penetrate the fortress’ or ‘Storm the castle’) should be understood—via the contrasting uses of power and scales of waza—within the two Shotokan versions of Bassai.

In the process of completing RYOSHO CHUDAN TSUKAMI-UKE.

Certainly, bo-jutsu cannot be overlooked when analyzing Bassai Sho, Kanku Sho, Meikyo, Jitte and, indeed, other kata featuring various ‘bo uke’. In saying that, more often than not, the waza in these kata are primarily empty handed applications against an unarmed assailant. That being said, many of the waza work more efficiently with executed with the feeling of holding a staff; in particular, when applying the various joint locks. This is a major commonality between the teachings of Kase Taiji Sensei and Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei. But I will not go into that topic here today.


In all of these regards what’s most interesting is the difference between bunkai and oyo. When learning the ‘kata movements’ the understanding of correct actions (trajectories and positions), in Bassai Sho, are most readily learned using a bo. This is BUNKAI in Shotokan. It’s not realistic, and realism is not the purpose. The aim is ‘correct movements and positions when learning the kata’. Please think of Nakayama Sensei’s books and videos here. Do you really think he believed that the bunkai demonstrated in these publications would be effective in the real world? Those who think so, are really stupid. Just image two guys attacking you at the same time, one from the front with a chudan mae-geri and the other from the rear with jodan oi-zuki—“oh, yes, (you think), a perfect opportunity to use my manji-uke”…


Of course, after learning the kata, bunkai (as termed in Shotokan) has no purpose. The focus then turns to OYO (actual 'APPLICATION'): this is the actual fighting techniques and principles to be derived from the kata—for real world self-defense.


I hope that this post on Bassai Sho clarifies these points.


In sum, we have a very ‘directly applicable style’ that is second to none: via the power from our kihon, which literally remains unsurpassed.

Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei fine tuning my sokuto gedan-kekomi. 

These points aside, I would now like to move on to each of the 27 movements of Bassai Sho.



Rei: Musubi dachi


Yoi: Heisoku dachi — Hidari shuto migi haito kafukubu mae


1. Ryosho juji jodan awase uke (Migi ashi mae kosa dachi).


2. Ryosho jodan bo uke (Migi kokutsu dachi).


3. Migi haito gedan sukui uke kara migi gedan barai (Heisoku dachi).


4. Ryosho jodan bo uke (Migi kokutsu dachi).


5. Saken migi haishu hidari koshi kamae (Ryo hiza kutsu—Heisoku dachi).


6. Migi sokuto chudan yoko geri keage doji ni haito jodan uchimawashi uchi (Hidari sagi ashi dachi).


7. Hidari tateshuto chudan uke (Kiba dachi).


8. Migi choku zuki (Kiba dachi).


9. Hidari choku zuki (Kiba dachi).


10. Hidari manji kamae (Migi kokutsu dachi).


11. Migi manji kamae  (Hidari kokutsu dachi).


12. Migi shuto chudan uke (Hidari kokutsu dachi).


13. Hidari shuto chudan uke (Migi kokutsu dachi).


14. Migi shuto chudan uke (Hidari kokutsu dachi).


15. Ippo sagatte hidari shuto chudan uke (Migi kokutsu dachi).


16. Ryo sho tsukami uke (Hidari ashi zenkutsu).


17.  Migi sokuto gedan yoko kekomi doji ni ryosho tsukami yose (Hidari sagi ashi dachi) —KIAI.


18. Ryoken chudan kakiwake uke (Migi kokutsu dachi).


19. Yori ashi ryoken jodan ura zuki (Migi kokutsu dachi).


20. Migi jodan soto uke kara ryoken hidari koshi soshite migi sokumen chudan morote zuki (Hidari sagi ashi dachi kara migi deashi barai soshite kiba dachi).


21. Hidari kentsui chudan uchimawashi uchi (Kiba dachi).


22. Migi chudan oi zuki (Migi zenkutsu dachi)—KIAI.


23. Migi jodan soto uke kara ryoken hidari koshi soshite migi sokumen chudan morote zuki (Hidari sagi ashi dachi kara migi deashi barai soshite kiba dachi).


24. Hidari jodan soto uke kara ryoken migi koshi soshite hidari sokumen chudan morote zuki (Migi sagi ashi dachi kara hidari deashi barai soshite kiba dachi).


25. Migi jodan soto uke kara ryoken hidari koshi soshite migi sokumen chudan morote zuki (Hidari sagi ashi dachi kara migi deashi barai soshite kiba dachi).


26. Ryosho chudan tsukami uke (Hidari ashi mae nekoashi dachi).


27. Ryosho chudan tsukami uke (Migi ashi mae nekoashi dachi). 

Naore: Heisoku dachi — Hidari shuto migi haito kafukubu mae

Rei: Musubi dachi


Catching up with Mr.Bassai Sho: Abe Keigo Sensei.

I was asked to comment on the conclusive movements of Bassai Sho, as taught by the late Kanazawa Hirokazu Sensei, which are more dramatic, via greater extension of the sweeping leg. For me personally, both ways are equal. More than just movement I advise all karateka to test each waza in jiyu kumite. If one method is obviously superior for that individual, use that. Likewise, if both fine, but one is more natural, use that one. A special point for me was relearning Bassai Sho from the late Abe Keigo Sensei, who insisted teaching all of the Shotokan kata exactly as Nakayama Sensei did. Of course, you will know that Abe Sensei demonstrated Bassai Sho in ‘Best Karate 9’. What's interesting about that is that Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei taught me quite differently, and Abe Sensei could tell what I was doing was from Master Asai, which actually impressed me a lot.

In my dojo, as long as the movements are effective, I do not correct technical differences; rather, I respect them! Likewise and accordingly, when testing karateka, I don’t mind the variation of form. The main point is form for functionality, which I always check and strongly encourage others to focus on as well. The key point, in this regard, as I said earlier, is that each karateka tests their waza for optimal effect as opposed to ‘inactively learning’.

Asai Sensei's Bassai Sho. as always unique and not to be copied; yet, to be emulated.

"What is the purpose of kihon and kata? The purpose is JISSEN KUMITE". - T. Asai.

To wrap up specifically, on Bassai Sho, and in relation to pragmatic functionality, ‘chikara no kyojaku’ (the use of power) cannot be overlooked. In fact, Bassai Sho provides an excellent template for perfecting lightness and relaxation for speed, smoothness, and accuracy. For me personally, besides fighting application, this is the most valuable technical gain from this kata.

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2021).

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