Tsuken Shitahaku no Sai

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Tsuken Shitahaku no Sai (“The sai of Shitahaku, from Tsuken”) is one of the five classical saijutsu kata (along with Matsu Higa no Sai, Tawada no Sai, Chatan Yara no Sai, and Hamahiga no Sai). While there are many sai kata in the modern era, they are all remixes made from samples of these five.

Tsuken Shitahaku no Sai is one of the kobudō kata created by Oyakata Shitahaku, the magistrate of Tsuken Island, and later (c. 1682 CE) the administrator of the Chinese embassy in Naha. This kata was a compilation his favorite saijutsu techniques.

Tsuken Shitahaku no Sai is an extremely long and complex kata, so it is reserved for black belts.

Directions

[video of Tsuken Shitahaku no Sai, 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. ]

  1. Drop into a left cat stance facing #1, extending the sai and crossing them in an “X” in front of your face.
  2. Slide your right foot to #8, entering a right front stance facing #1, with a double strike to both of the opponent’s temples with the sai’s tips.
  3. Slide your right foot back into a left cat stance facing #1, while retracting the sai with vertical flips. Pull your elbows in, with your palms facing you. Each sai is tilted 45° outside, so their tips meet at your solar plexus. (This movement will now be referred to as a Tsuken Shitahaku pierce.)
  4. Invert into a right cat stance facing #1. Slide your left foot to #4, entering a left front stance facing #3, with a left downward block. Immediately execute a left rising block, and a right pursuit punch.
  5. Extend the right sai in a horizontal strike. Retract the right sai and perform a right downward block. Left pursuit punch.
  6. Extend the left sai in a horizontal strike. Retract the right sai, then execute a left downward block.
  7. Pull your right leg in, so that your feet are together, facing #3 with a kūsankū left punch and right sweeping block; the right hand ends in the left armpit. Immediately slide your right foot out to #2, entering a right front stance facing #3, extending the right sai with a downward smash to the opponent’s collarbone.
  8. Execute a right nami-ashi, and turn the right sai, so the tip points to #1, for an outside parry. Slip your right thumb into the right sai’s inside prong, and spin the sai into a right downward smash to the opponent’s collarbone.
  9. Return your right foot to #2, entering a rightfront stance facing #3, retracting the sai and performing a right downward block. Execute a reverse punch, and a front-foot punch.
  10. Pull your left foot up to a right cat stance, facing #3, with a right side guard.
  11. Slide your left foot to #8, entering a left front stance facing #7, with a left downward block. Immediately execute a left rising block, and a right pursuit punch.
  12. Extend the right sai in a horizontal strike. Retract the right sai and perform a right downward block. Left pursuit punch.
  13. Extend the left sai in a horizontal strike. Retract the right sai, then execute a left downward block.
  14. Pull your right leg in, so that your feet are together, facing #7 with a kūsankū left punch and right sweeping block. The right hand ends in the left armpit. Immediately slide your right foot out to #6, entering a right front stance facing #7 with a right downward collarbone smash.
  15. Right nami-ashi, as your turn the right sai, so the tip points to #5, for an outside parry. Slip your right thumb into the right sai’s inside prong, and spin the sai into a right downward collarbone smash.
  16. Return your right foot to #6, entering a right front stance facing #7, retracting the sai and performing a right downward block. Execute a reverse punch, and a front-foot punch.
  17. Pull your left foot up to a right cat stance, facing #3, with a right side guard.
  18. Pull your right leg into a left cat stance facing #5, with a kūsankū left punch and right sweeping block. The right hand ends in the left armpit. Immediately slide your right foot out to #4, entering a right front stance facing #5 with a right downward collarbone smash.
  19. Right nami-ashi, as your turn the right sai, so the tip points to #3, for an outside parry. Slip your right thumb into the right sai’s inside prong, and spin the sai into a right downward collarbonesmash. Return your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance facing #5, retracting the sai and performing a right downward block. Execute a reverse punch, and a front-foot punch.
  20. Pull your left foot up to a right cat stance, facing #5, with a right side guard.
  21. Slide your left foot to #2, entering a left front stance facing #1, with a left downward block. Immediately execute a left rising block, and a right pursuit punch.
  22. Extend the right sai in a horizontal strike. Retract the right sai and perform a right downward block. Left pursuit punch.
  23. Extend the left sai in a horizontal strike. Retract the right sai, then execute a left downward block.
  24. Pull your right leg in, so that your feet are together, facing #1 with a kūsankū left punch and right sweeping block. The right hand ends in the left armpit. Immediately slide your right foot out to #8, entering a right front stance facing #1 with a right downward collarbone smash.
  25. Right nami-ashi, as your turn the right sai, so the tip points to #5, for an outside parry. Slip your right thumb into the right sai’s inside prong, and spin the sai into a right downward collarbone smash.
  26. Return your right foot to #8, entering a right front stance facing #1, retracting the sai and performing a right downward block. Execute a reverse punch, and a front-foot punch.
  27. Slide back to a left cat stance facing #1, with a kakiwake uke.
  28. Slide your right foot to #8, entering a right front stance, facing #1 and double punch to the opponent’s groin.
  29. Slide back to a left cat stance facing #1, pulling the sai to your hips.
  30. Slide your right foot to #8, entering a right front stance, facing #1 and double punch to the opponent’s eyes.
  31. Slide back to a left cat stance facing #1, extending the sai and crossing them in an “X” in front of your face.
  32. Slide your right foot to #8, entering a right front stance facing #1, with a double strike to both of the opponent’s temples with the tips of the sai.
  33. Slide your right foot back into a left cat stance facing #1, retracting the sai with vertical flips into a Tsuken Shitahaku pierce.
  34. Invert cat stance, and quickly look over your left shoulder to #5.
  35. Step your left foot to #6, entering a left front stance facing #5 with a left downward block, than a left rising block.
  36. Quickly look to #3. Pull your right leg into a left cat stance facing #3, with a kūsankū left punch and right sweeping block. The right hand ends in the left armpit. Immediately slide your right foot out to #2, entering a right front stance facing #3 with a right downward collarbone smash.
  37. Right nami-ashi, as your turn the right sai, so the tip points to #1, for an outside parry. Slip your right thumb into the right sai’s inside prong, and spin the sai into a right downward collarbone smash.
  38. Return your right foot to #2, entering a right front stance facing #3, retracting the sai and performing a right downward block. Execute a reverse punch, and a front-foot punch.
  39. Without rechambering your last punch, pull your left foot up into an attention stance facing #5, with left punch to #7. (You should look like a capital-T.)
  40. Quickly look to #3. Pull your right leg into a left cat stance facing #7, with a kūsankū left punch and right sweeping block. The right hand ends in the left armpit. Immediately slide your right foot out to #6, entering a right front stance facing #7 with a right downward collarbone smash.
  41. Left nami-ashi, as your turn the left sai, so the tip points to #1, for an outside parry. Slip your left thumb into the right sai’s inside prong, and spin the sai into a right downward collarbone smash.
  42. Return your left foot to #8, entering a left front stance facing #7, retracting the sai and performing a left downward block. Execute a reverse punch, and a front-foot punch.
  43. Quickly look to #5. Pull your right leg into a left cat stance facing #5, with a kūsankū left punch and a right sweeping block. The right hand ends in the left armpit. Immediately slide your right foot out to #4, entering a right front stance facing #5 and extending the right sai into a horizontal strike.
  44. Retract the right sai, and pull your left right leg into a left cat stance facing #5, with a kūsankū right punch and a left sweeping block. The left hand ends in the right armpit. Immediately slide your left foot out to #6, entering a left front stance facing #5 and extending the left sai into a horizontal strike.
  45. Retract the right sai, and pull your right leg into a left cat stance facing #5, with a kūsankū left punch and a right sweeping block. The right hand ends in the left armpit. Immediately slide your right foot out to #4, entering a right front stance facing #5 and extending the right sai into a horizontal strike.
  46. Right nami-ashi, as your turn the right sai, so the tip points to #3, for an outside parry. Slip your right thumb into the right sai’s inside prong, and spin the sai into a right downward collarbone smash.
  47. Return your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance facing #5, retracting the sai and performing a right downward block. Execute a reverse punch, and a front-foot punch.
  48. Slide back to a left cat stance facing #5, with a kakiwake uke.
  49. Slide your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance, facing #5 and double punch to the opponent’s groin.
  50. Slide back to a left cat stance facing #5, pulling the sai to your hips.
  51. Slide your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance, facing #5 with a double punch to the opponent’s eyes.
  52. Slide back to a left cat stance facing #5, extending the sai, and crossing them in an “X” in front of your face.
  53. Slide your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance facing #5, with a double strike to both of the opponent’s temples with the tips of the sai.
  54. Slide your right foot back into a left cat stance facing #5, retracting the sai with vertical flips into a Tsuken Shitahaku pierce.
  55. Quickly look over your left shoulder to #1, and invert your cat stance. Slide your left foot out to #2, entering a left front stance facing #1 with a left downward block. Execute a left rising block.
  56. Right nami-ashi, stepping your right foot out to #1, entering a horse stance facing #3 with simultaneous outside elbow strikes to #1 and #5.
  57. Pull your right foot back into an attention stance, facing #3, with a Tsuken Shitahaku pierce.
  58. Slide your right foot out to #1, entering a horse stance facing #3, simultaneously extending both sai with vertical flips to #1 and to #5.
  59. Slide your right foot back to #6. Kneel on your right knee, facing #2, and retract the sai and cross their handles for a downward X-block.
  60. Rise up and pull your right leg into a left cat stance facing #2, with a kūsankū left punch and a right sweeping block. The right hand ends in the left armpit. Immediately slide your right foot out to #1, entering a right front stance facing #2 and extending the right sai into a horizontal strike.
  61. Right nami-ashi, as your turn the right sai, so the tip points to #8, for an outside parry. Slip your right thumb into the right sai’s inside prong, and spin the sai into a right downward collarbone smash.
  62. Return your right foot to #1, entering a right front stance facing #2, retracting the sai and performing a right downward block. Execute a reverse punch, and a front-foot punch.
  63. Slide your left foot up into a right cat stance facing #2 with a left side guard.
  64. Quickly look over left shoulder to #5. Slide your left foot to #6, entering a left front stance facing #5 with a left downward block. Left rising block.
  65. Right pursuit punch, left pursuit punch.
  66. Slide your right foot to #5, entering a horse stance facing #7, with a right tate tsuki to #5.
  67. Extend the right sai with vertical flip to #5. Quickly look to #1. Without rechambering, extend the left sai with a vertical flip to #1.
  68. Twist into a right cat stance facing #1, with double downward stabs that end with the backs of your wrists touching.
  69. Invert your cat stance and step your right foot to #3, entering a left back stance facing #8. Rotate your shoulders in a clockwise circle and a left guard.
  70. Shift your weight onto your right leg. Pull your left foot in before sliding it out to #7, entering a right back stance facing #8. Rotate your shoulders in a counter-clockwise circle and enter a right guard.
  71. Left nami-ashi, and step your left foot to #5, entering a horse stance facing #3, retract the sai with vertical flips, and executing a right cross-body block and a left downward block.
  72. Quickly look to #1. Pull your right foot up into a left sleeping crane stance with a left cross-body block and a right downward block.
  73. Right nami-ashi, and bring both hands to their shoulders with your palms facing out #1. Step your right foot to #7, entering a horse stance facing #1. Simultaneously rotate both forearms outside, in a full-circle into a double cross-body block, with long ibuki breathing. Your elbows remain stationary throughout this movement. (This is similar to the opening of Ichi no Hebi).
  74. Rise up, and rotate your forearms to the inside, nearly rubbing your sai handles together and entering an extended ready stance with your knuckles facing #1.
  75. Attention stance, bow.

Notes

Bunkai