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The ‘Kihon’ of Uchikomi and Kiriotoshi

"In Shintō Musō-ryū Jō, Hikiotoshi is one of the secret techniques, and when I first came to understand it I felt that Kiriotoshi of Kenjutsu is also a secret technique" – Nishioka Tsuneo shihan







Commentary by Ishida Hiroaki shihan:

It's said that in anything there's “no secret techniques better than Kihon”, and this is the same in Shintō Musō-ryū Jō.

Nishioka sensei also always mentioned this, and amongst all Kihon, he especially placed importance on Uchikomi in Jō.

As I have said many times, it is not to hit the tachi that was placed in front of you, but it is the training to win against the tachi cutting at you in motion using Go-no-sen. This is the foundation of Shintō-ryū Kenjutsu and a secret technique.

No, not only in Shintō-ryū Kenjutsu but it is a secret technique that is common in Shinkage-ryū and Ittō-ryū, and others that have Shintō-ryū as the originating ryū. Furthermore, it is a secret technique in Tenshin Shōden ・ Tenshin Hyōhō that are the origin of Shintō ryū.

As an example, I will explain Nishioka-shihan's movements in Hikiotoshi-uchi.

First of all, Uchikomi. The importance of Uchikomi was always explained by Nishioka sensei and as this suggests, Uchikomi forms the basis of all waza.

If done without this Uchikomi; Honte-uchi, Gyakute-uchi and Hikiotoshi-uchi all become a mere hit.

The strike that breaks the opponent's Ki (spirit; mind), Ken (sword) and Tai (body) simultaneously, this is Uchikomi and the strike of Shintō Musō-ryū Jō.




This shows that upon raising the Jō from Hikiotoshi-no-kamae, the body is squared and the left hand is on the centre-line (almost at the height of the breast).

The Jō is raised, roughly at a 45 degree angle to the body, having the left hand in the centre; this is the most important point. If one holds the Jō upright here it will not be possible to shield with the Jō to strike, and the action becomes a mere hit.

From here, leave everything as it is and strike through, cutting down at 45 degrees.

It is important to make sure that the tip of the Jō passes by the tip of the opponent's nose.

The body becomes 45 degrees leftward to Hanmi and the Jō strikes in to the opponent at about a 30 degree angle. At this point, the tip of the Jō is threatening the Seigan (between the eyebrows) while our own body is shielded behind the Jō.

It is then possible to sweep the opponent's sword, collapse the opponent's posture, and jolt and distort their intent, all the while protecting oneself with the Jō. This is called Sankujiki, a point when all three are broken simultaneously and where the exquisiteness of the Jō's lies.

This same riai (underlying rationale) is found in Shinkage-ryū's Gasshi-uchi and in Ittō-ryū's Ichimonji-no-uchi*. At this point the opponent's Ki (spirit; mind), Ken (sword) and Tai (body) have been completely broken.

* Kiriotoshi

Without changing anything cut down in a continuation of the above movement.

Afterwards, step out with the right foot, return the Jō back along the line it has just travelled in order to assume Migi-honte-ni-kamae.


Technically, the secret is that all techniques are performed by opening and closing the chest and shoulders / elbows, and Nishioka sensei put this into practice superbly. Honte-uchi, Gyakute-uchi, Hikiotoshi-uchi, Kuritsuke, Kurihanashi, etc. are all based on this opening and closing, if you look at them carefully.

Shintō Musō-ryū Jō starts with Tachiotoshi*, the first kata in Omote, and ends with Aun, the last in Oku. "Aun" is written in Kanji as "阿吽" and means opening and closing.

After all, the names of the kata in Koryū ought to teach us something through their names.


* For those that maybe interested, there's also a related and pertinent translation of Ishida sensei's thoughts on Tachiotoshi within the main timeline on our Facebook page.

Note: In SMR Jō, Uchikomi can refer to the Kihon set of hasuji practice drills, however, Ishida sensei's abovementioned use is emphasising the principle of Uchikomi within waza. Also, Uchikomi is a wide-ranging term used across various Japanese martial art disciplines, and in Japanese is represented by either 打込 (打ち込み) or 内込. The former is typcially used in Weapons-based disciplines and the latter in Yawara/Taijutsu, like Jūdō. They're different words with separate meanings.


Text and Images ©2006-2017 Ishida Hiroaki & Kobudōkai Australia.
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