Mittsu Mae Undō no Karatedō
Mittsu-Mae Undō no Karatedō (“Third Exercise of the Empty-Hand Way”) expands upon the previous lessons to include additional fundamentals, like downward-fist blocks, shutō strikes, kicking, and a unique variant of a double-leg takedown. Mittsu-Mae also emphasizes deceptive footwork and the synchronization of breathing and technique.
[video of Mittsu Mae, performed fast and slow, viewed from cameras at #1, 3, 7, 5. Be sure that you take up the whole frame. A lot of our old kata videos are from too far away, and it hides some detail. ]
- Goshin-Jutsu bow, and snap into a ready stance facing #1.
- Quickly turn your head to look towards #3. Step your right foot to #8, briefly entering a transitional right front stance facing #1, with your left palm covering your right ear, and your right palm just under your left elbow, covering your floating ribs. Snap your hips, and twist into right back stance facing #3, with a left downward-fist block.
- Shift into a left front stance and reverse punch.
- Step your right foot to #2, entering a right front stance facing #3, with a right cross-body block. Execute a left reverse punch.
- Pull your left foot up to #3, entering a right cat stance facing #3, with both fists on your right hip (with your left fist on top). Look over your right shoulder to #7.
- Step your left foot back to #8, and twist into a right back stance facing #7, with a left downward-fist block.
- Shift into a left front stance and reverse punch.
- Step your right foot to #6, entering a right front stance facing #7, with a right cross-body block. Execute a left reverse punch.
- Pull your right foot up into a left cat stance facing #7, with your hands on the left hip (right fist on top). Look over your right shoulder to #5.
- Step your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance, facing #5, with a right rising block. Shift forward into a right walking crane stance with a Kūsankū left cross-body block and a left front kick to #5.
- Upon rechambering, slide your left foot out to #6, entering a left front stance facing #5, with a right hassō-shutō uchi to #5.
- Step your right foot out to #3, and slowly shift into a right front stance facing #4, with a right downward-fist block and ibuki breathing. Synchronize the block, stance transition, and ibuki breathing to all finish at the same time.
- Step your left foot out to #7, and slowly shift into a left front stance facing #6, with a left downward-fist block and ibuki breathing. Synchronize the block, stance transition, and ibuki breathing to all finish at the same time.
- Pull your right leg up into a left cat stance, facing #6, with your fists on your left hip (right fist on top). Look over your left shoulder to #2.
- Step your right foot back to #3, twisting into a right front stance facing #2, with a right downward-fist block. Left pursuit punch.
- Shift into a right back stance, then pull your right foot back into a transitional right cat stance facing #3, with your left palm covering your right ear, and your right palm just under your left elbow, covering your floating ribs. Immediately step your left foot back to #8, twisting into a right back stance facing #7, with a left downward-fist block.
- Shift, and slide the lead leg forward into a deep left front stance, with double rising ridgehand strikes to the opponent’s groin muscles (facing inside on the top of the thigh). Turn your hands so they are palms-up and grab the opponent’s pants by the inseam. Immediately pull back into a right cat stance facing #7, with your hands on your hips. (This is a "Mittsu-Mae Takedown")
- Left outside crescent kick. Upon rechambering, set the left foot down by your right foot, so that your heels touch, but your left toes point towards #1. Immediately execute a right stomp kick to #1, ending in an attention stance facing #1.
- Bend your knees with a groin-level double punch to #1. Without re-chambering, execute double cross-body blocks (with the left arm inside the right arm), with ibuki breathing.
- Goshin-Jutsu bow.
The front stance in Movement 17 needs to be extra low for the Mitsu-Mae takedown to work; your center needs to be below your opponent’s center. To accomplish this, you need to be in a longer-than-normal front stance , and you may need to slide your front foot out further to accommodate this.
Typically, we use the term “groin” as a polite way to refer to testicles, since involuntary genital mutilation is frowned upon by many soccer moms, school administrators, etc. However, Movement 17 of this kata is the exception to the rule; we are legitimately attacking the muscles inside the top of the thigh.
Movements 1-8 describe the same situation, repeated twice. You avoid a front kick, and counter with a reverse punch. The opponent counters with a punch, which you block and counterpunch. For homework, verify that this combination works equally well against a variety of kicks and counterstrikes, delivered from either side.
Movements 9-11 can describe a defense against the classic “1-2” jab-cross combination. You deflect a left jab with a rising block, then immediately deflect the opponent’s right punch with a cross-body block, and kicking their genitals while they are preoccupied with trying to hit you. As the opponent doubles-over with pain, capitalize upon their forward momentum, breaking their left collarbone with a hassō-shutō.
Movement 12 is a takedown, a variant of kokyūhō. You step behind the injured attacker, and use the downward-fist block to sweep them over your knee. Movement 13 can be thought of as a repeating the takedown of Movement 12, if the attacker tries to get back up. Alternately, this move can be interpreted as a low-level outside hammerfist strike to their temple as they try to get up.
Alternately, Movement 12 could be blocking another opponent's kick, while Movement 13 knocks them down with a kokyūhō variant.
Movements 14-15 describe how to defend against a kick from the rear. Immediately upon noticing the attacker, spin around and deflect their kick and counterpunch, stepping forward to topple the opponent while they are off-balanced from failing to rechamber their kick.
Movements 16-18 provide a second, more brutal defense against a kick from behind. Immediately upon noticing the attacker, you spin around and deflect their kick. Then, when they are off-balanced, you reach out, sink low, and strike the inside of both of their thighs with rising ridgehand strikes, spreading their legs and, ideally, giving them Charlie Horses. Grabbing the inseam of their pants, pull the opponent's legs out from under them, dumping them onto their back (and possibly, pulling their pants down). This technique is a “Mittsu-Mae Takedown.” The left crescent kick isn’t a kick, per se; it hooks the opponent’s left leg to, turn them over onto their stomach. Finally, you finish the opponent off by stomping their tailbone or lower spine.
Movements 19-20 is a defense a front choke or two-handed lapel grab. Distract the opponent and weaken their grip by double punching their genitals, then use the blocks to knock their arms aside. Reach behind the opponent’s head with the left hand to pull them into a backhanded smack with the right hand, before pushing them away.
[bunkai compilation video]