Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to Perform Tatsumaki in Ninjutsu

Contrary to popular opinion, the ninja warrior of Japan was not the invincible machine that the media paints him to be. A ninja was primarily an espionist, a spy, and at times an assassin. He was a warrior primarily in the sense that he fought to win political disputes by different means. His place was not on the battlefield, but in the city, observing and reporting back to the masters of his clan. All the necessary skills which were required to make an effective spy are taught under the name Ninjutsu, or Ninpo. They stressed stealth over visibility and brains over brawn. Combat was not focused on as a ninja would only need to fight if his presence had been discovered by those he was spying on, which was ultimately an indication of failure. As a result the Ninjutsu training regimen mostly included defensive techniques in which the combatant reacts to an attack and floors his opponent as quickly, quietly, and safely as possible. This gives the ninja operative time to escape as he would only be fighting if he were discovered. One such technique is known as Tatsumaki. This is an alternative to a failed attempt at a Kata-Ho. The Kata-Ho is a simple arm bend and throw in reaction to a series of straight punches. Should the attacker manage to foil the Kata-Ho, the Tatsumaki is the immediate follow up.

Performing Tatsumaki
Step 1:
Stand naturally at least three feet from your opponent. This is an actual stance known as Kammai. It is used in order to prevent an enemy from knowing you are ready to react to an attack. Only subtle changes in posture are used. Edge your feet apart slowly and put your weight up near your toes so you can push off quickly if you need to. Keep your hands open and by your sides, but be ready to bring them up immediately. Your opponent will adopt an aggressive combat stance known as ichimonji. He will sink low on his knees while keeping his back straight. His left hand will be out in front of him at full extension with the hand forming a vertical blade pointed at you. The right fist will be balled and held horizontally at waist level. Your left hand should be extended in a manner mirroring your opponent, but keep your elbow bent slightly.

Step 2:
Sidestep to the right and back immediately as your attacker lunges with a straight punch from the right fist. Hold the right fist directly against the chest and raise the left fist, forming a bar with the lower forearm held out horizontally with the ground. As the left arm bar rises it will push your opponent’s punch up. Snap the lower arm from horizontal to vertical to shove the opponent’s arm out to the side.

Step 3:
Attempt to go into the beginning of a Kata-Ho by latching onto the wrist of your opponent’s still extended right arm with your left hand. Step in to attempt to wrap your right elbow over the top of your opponent’s elbow. Make sure to keep an eye on your opponent as you do so as this is the point where the Kata-Ho can fail. Your opponent may attempt to strike you in the right side with a punch from his remaining left arm.

Step 4:
Step back to get outside of your opponent’s range while keeping hold of his right hand with your left. Extend your right arm and swing it outward to catch against the elbow of your opponent’s left arm, stopping the punch cold. You will have to hit hard to achieve this effect and may suffer some bruising from it later.

Step 5:
Twist hard counterclockwise at the waist, swinging your right arm. The back of your fist should skim along the top of your opponent’s arm, over the shoulder to let the bottom of the fist slam as hard as you can directly into the side of the neck. This strike is effective at knocking an opponent to the ground as it temporarily pinches the spinal cord in the neck. This momentarily cuts any control your opponent has on his body below the neck, dropping him instantly.

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