No level scroll
Kamae : 構え (Posture)
Kamae is perhaps one of the most misunderstood principles in ninjutsu. Their purpose is to teach the body how to move naturally and appropriately, maintaining proper bone alignment, balance, and stability. As such, these postures are not static but rather dynamic and transitional. They flow from one to another seamlessly in the course of the body’s movement. They are broken down and taught in a static form only so they can be analyzed and studied, however, in practice they are only instances in time. A good analogy to use in order to understand kamae is a straight line. A line is made up of an infinite number of individual points. We don’t recognize each individual point since they blend into one another to form the line. In the same sense, our “line” is made from the time we begin our movement to the time our motion stops. Kamae represents each individual point on that line. When we stop to examine a point in time in our motion, we are examining a particular kamae. Kamae is useful in giving you various checkpoints with which to gauge your movements. If you move through proper kamae, your movement will be balanced, stable, and natural. If your kamae is weak, you will find yourself off balance and moving in ways contrary to the way your body was designed to work. This will lead to a feeling of awkwardness as opposed to the comfort and efficiency of moving naturally through proper kamae.
Seiza no Kamae: 正座
(Correct Seated Posture)
Seiza is a typical seated or kneeling posture. This posture is used for two primary purposes. The first is while bowing, such as bowing to begin or end class, and the second is for meditation purposes. As one advances in training, however, more uses for this kamae become apparent. One such example is during ground fighting. The “mount” position is essentially seiza no kamae while on top of your uke. Seiza no kamae is attained by kneeling on both knees with your body weight resting on the back of your heels. Your hips should be above your knees and your spine, neck, and head should be erect. Traditionally, your knees are two fist widths apart; however, you will find you will need to increase or decrease that distance in certain circumstances. Your hands should rest comfortably on your thighs. Your toes may be curled, which enables greater mobility, or they may rest flat, which increases stability. Left view Front view Right view
Rest weight on heels Knees are lower than waist Spine erect
Shizen no Kamae: 自然 (Natural Posture)
Shizen is a natural standing posture. The neutral nature of this posture makes it superb to begin many conflict scenarios. Shizen is typically used to illustrate the elemental attitude of earth, which is stable and confident. While it is true that the balanced nature of this posture lends itself to stability and power generated through the use of downward body weight, no kamae should be limited in spectrum to a particular elemental form. Shizen no kamae is attained by standing erect with the feet a comfortable distance apart from one another. This is typically between hip or shoulder width apart. The body weight is evenly distributed on both legs and the arms rest naturally down at the side of the body. Front view
Feet approximately shoulder width apart Knees slightly bent Spine erect
Kamae: 武者 (Warrior Posture)
Musha is a fundamental fighting posture. This posture has excellent offensive as well as defensive capabilities. Musha’s primary purpose is to provide flexibility in tactics while providing proper mobility for adaptation. Basic boxing principles were combined with solid taijutsu footwork to adapt this kamae to modern attacks. Musha no kamae can be broken into two parts: the upper body and the lower body. The upper body is bladed towards the attacker as to limit the amount of surface area that can be attacked. Your strong hand is held in a fist along the side of your face. An important note is to keep the fist in contact with the face, do not allow any space between the two. The weak hand is also held in a fist and held out at a comfortable distance from the body; with the elbow tucked. The lower body uses natural bone alignment to provide both stability and mobility. The weak side leg is forward with the toes pointed directly toward the attacker. The rear foot is positioned roughly shoulder width apart and behind the forward leg. The toes on the rear foot pointed forward as well. The weight of the body rests on the balls of the feet to provide maximum maneuverability. Make sure that the knees consistently stay over the toes while leaning in for an attack or while leaning back for a retreat. Front view Toes pointed toward opponent Knees over the toes Weight on the balls of the feet Use natural bone alignment Weak hand held out Strong hand guards
Kumi Uchi no Kamae: 組み打ち (Close Combat Posture)
Kumi Uchi is a grappling position found in most martial art systems. This kamae is primarily designed to grapple with someone wearing thick or heavy clothing such as a gi, coat, or long-sleeved shirt. The kamae can be adapted to those without this heavy clothing, but the application of the kamae is somewhat changed. One distinct advantage of this kamae is the ease in which it can be applied and then adapted for such situations. Kumi Uchi no Kamae is attained by placing on hand on your opponent’s lapel and your other hand on your opponent’s elbow, each hand grabbing hold of the clothing. The leg corresponding to the hand on the opponent’s lapel is forward while the leg corresponding to the hand on the opponent’s elbow is back. If your opponent is not wearing upper body clothing, simply move your lapel hand to the back of your opponent’s neck. Your other hand stays at the opponent’s elbow; however, the grip must be modified in some manner. The most common modification is to cup your hand on top of the opponent’s elbow and bring the opponent’s arm in close to your body. Some other adaptations include simply grabbing flesh instead of cloth, or using a “lobster claw” grip just above the opponent’s elbow for greater control. Generally, your weight is pressing forward into your opponent, however, kumi uchi may be used to either push or pull on your opponent to effect balance and aid in throwing.
Left view w/ gi
Right view w/gi
One hand grabs opponent’s lapel (Gi) / Cup back of opponent’s neck (No Gi) Other hand grabs opponent’s elbow (Gi) / Cup inside of opponent’s elbow (No Gi) Forward leg corresponds to lapel grab Rear leg corresponds to elbow grab Bend knees for stability Spine erect
Left view w/o gi Right view w/o gi
Taihenjutsu: 体変術 (Body Changing Methods)
Zenpo: 前方 (Forward)
Kaiten: 回転 (Rolling)
Zenpo Kaiten is the foundation from which all rolls, break-falls, and other means of “receiving” the ground are built. The principles learned by performing zenpo kaiten correctly should be applied to all tumbling techniques. The most basic principle to learn is to keep your rolling as quiet as possible. This serves a two-fold purpose. The first is that it aids in stealth. The second purpose is one of simple pragmatics. Noise made by rolling is generally caused by striking the ground hard or by hard parts of the body hitting the ground as the roll is performed. Reducing or eliminating these factors will protect the practitioner from harm, which is the primary purpose for rolling. Another basic principle with kaiten is to allow the energy to continually flow through the entire roll. This is in contrast to break-falling whereas one typically “slaps” the ground to dissipate the energy from the fall or throw. Zenpo Kaiten should be one smooth motion and the practitioner should roll as if he/she has no corners on the body. Finally, one should get as low to the ground as possible before beginning the roll. Not only does this protect you from the effects of gravity and the sudden impact of the ground, but it also allows you to take greater control of the direction, speed, and distance of the roll. Breathing here is a must! Make sure to breathe out as you lower yourself to the ground and throughout the roll. Breathe in once the roll is completed. This prevents the ground from “knocking the wind out of you” as well as allows you to get smaller and thereby roll more effectively. Proper breathing will also help prevent you from getting dizzy after the roll. There are two basic ways of starting a zenpo kaiten, and two ways of ending. First, you may go over both shoulders. This method places the weight of your body on both shoulders equally and you simply roll over your back. To do this, you start in shizen no kamae and lower yourself with your knees as low as possible. Next, place your hands in front of you on the ground a little wider than shoulder width apart. Jump slightly so that you do not hit your head on the ground. Use your arms to slowly guide your weight onto both shoulder and simply roll. Be sure to stay in a tight ball until the roll is complete. The other way to begin zenpo kaiten is to go over one shoulder. To do this, start from shizen no kamae and take a step forward. Lower yourself as much as possible to the ground. The leg that you place forward will be the shoulder that you roll over. Place the same side hand on the ground with the fingers pointed back at your rear foot. Look over the opposite shoulder with respect to the shoulder you will be rolling across. This will keep your head from hitting the ground. Simply lean forward and extend your arm as if you are trying to grab your rear foot. Your momentum should cause you to roll onto your shoulder and across your back. Again, be sure to stay in a tight ball once you start the roll and until it is finished. Be sure that you do not land directly on any boney areas of the body. In each case, you should land on the muscles around the shoulders and not on the bone. Also, be sure not to hit the ground with your knees as this may cause pain or damage on hard surfaces. The first method of finishing the roll is to end in a gedan (low-level) posture. This is usually the easiest and quietest method of finishing a roll. Simply end with one leg in front of your body with the other leg under your buttocks or hips. A more complicated end is to finish with both feet under your hips or buttocks at the same time. This ending enables greater mobility after the roll. Fundamentals:
Point toes in the direction you wish to roll Get as low to the ground as possible bending at the knees Look over free shoulder Stay in a tight ball throughout roll Breathe out during roll Keep roll as quiet as possible
Rolling forward with zenpo kaiten:
Rolling 45 degrees to the left with zenpo kaiten:
*Note: I start next to the banister on my right side and roll to the banister on my left side. I begin the roll facing forward and end the roll facing forward.
Rolling 45 degrees to the right with zenpo kaiten:
*Note: I start next to the banister on my left side and roll to the banister on my right side. I begin the roll facing forward and end the roll facing forward.