Heian Yodan Bō

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Heian Yodan Bō (“Peaceful Mind, Fourth Level, Staff [Version]”) is a reimagining of the popular empty-hand kata Heian Yodan (Pinan Yodan), as a kobudō form. Along with fundamentals, this kata emphasizes controlling the centerline, coordination of the upper and lower body, and ibuki breathing.

Directions

[video of Heian 4 Bo, 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. ]

Points of Harmony.png
  1. Quickly look to #3. Take a small step with your right foot to #8, with the bō held horizontally on your right hip. Twist into a right extended cat stance facing #3, with a vertical block (right hand on top). While extending the block, use ibuki breathing, and pull your left foot into a regular cat stance.
  2. Quickly look over your right shoulder to #7. Take a small step with your left foot to #2, with the bō held horizontally on your left hip. Twist into a left extended cat stance facing #7, with a vertical block (left hand on top). While extending the block, use ibuki breathing, and pull your right foot into a regular cat stance.
  3. Quickly look to #1, and invert your cat stance. Step your left foot out to #2, entering a left front stance facing #1 with a downward block.
  4. Execute a horizontal strike to the right, and to the left.
  5. Quickly look to #3, and pull your right foot up into attention stance, facing #1 with the bō in a ready position.
  6. Enter a right walking crane stance facing #1, raising the bō to neck level. Execute a simultaneous left side kick and face-level bō thrust to #3.
  7. Upon re-chambering, slide your left foot to #4, entering a left front stance facing #3 with a downward diagonal strike to the left
  8. Quickly look to #7, and pull your right foot up into attention stance, facing #1 with the bō in a ready position.
  9. Enter a left walking crane stance facing #1, raising the bō to neck level. Execute a simultaneous right side kick and face-level bō thrust to #7.
  10. Upon re-chambering, slide your right foot to #6, entering a right front stance facing #7 with a downward diagonal strike to the right
  11. Quickly look to #1. Shift to a right back stance facing #1, with a rising block.
  12. Shift into a left front stance facing #1, with a downward block. Execute a horizontal strike to your left.
  13. Slide your right foot out to #8, and pull your left leg into a right hook stance, facing #3, as you execute a left side block, a right side block, and a downward diagonal strike to the left.
  14. Quickly look over your left shoulder to #6. Step your left foot to #7, entering a right back stance facing #6 with a vertical block (right hand on top). While extending the block, use ibuki breathing, and pull your left foot in to a regular cat stance.
  15. Invert your cat stance and step your right foot to #5, entering a right front stance facing #6, with a horizontal strike to the right, and to the left.
  16. Quickly look over your left shoulder to #4, and draw your right foot in, twisting into a left cat stance facing #4, with the bō held horizontally on your left hip.
  17. Step your right foot to #7, entering a left back stance facing #4 with a vertical block (left hand on top). While extending the block, use ibuki breathing, and pull your right foot into a regular cat stance.
  18. Invert your cat stance and step your left foot to #5, entering a left front stance facing #6, with a horizontal strike to the left, and to the right.
  19. Twist into a right extended cat stance facing #5, with the bō held horizontally on your right hip. Execute a vertical block (right hand on top). While extending the block, use ibuki breathing, and pull your left foot into a regular cat stance.
  20. With the bō held horizontally on your left hip, use a walking cat movement to enter a left extended cat stance facing #5, with the bō held horizontally on your left hip. Execute a vertical block (left hand on top). While extending the block, use ibuki breathing, and pull your right foot into a regular cat stance.
  21. With the bō held horizontally on your right hip, use a walking cat movement to enter a right extended cat stance facing #5, with the bō held horizontally on your right hip. Execute a vertical block (right hand on top). While extending the block, use ibuki breathing, and pull your left foot into a regular cat stance.
  22. Step your left foot to #6, entering a left front stance facing #5. Reach over the opponent’s head, and us the bō to pull the opponent by the neck into a right knee kick.
  23. Without re-chambering, pull the bō back over the opponent’s head, placing it across their collarbones. Simultaneously push the opponent down and away, while smashing their knee with a right stomp kick.
  24. Upon re-chambering, place the bō held horizontally on your right hip, and step your right foot to #6, twisting into a right extended cat stance, facing #1. Execute a vertical block (right hand on top). While extending the block, use ibuki breathing, and pull your left foot into a regular cat stance.
  25. Attention stance. Bow.

Notes

This kata makes extensive use of vertical blocks, which exploit the wedge technique. It is imperative that the bō overlaps your centerline on these blocks, or they will fail. By maintaining control of the centerline, to bō acts as very small shield, and moving the bō forward or backward will causes it to act as a wedge, diverting attacks to your centerline either the left or the right. On Movements 6 and 9, it is helpful to imagine that there is a rope tied around the bō and your knee, like the strings controlling a marionette. This reduces two movements (lifting the bō and entering crane stance) to one movement, making the kata that much smoother.

In Movement 13, the upper body and lower body must be synchronized, as to finish at the same time for an effective strike. To make this easier, some students will make a “kayaking” motion instead of full side blocks. Do not do this. If you do not learn to block, you will be injured; it’s that simple.

Bunkai

While practicing your vertical blocks one day (Movements 1-2), you are accosted by an opponent from #1, who attacks you with a thrust to your solar plexus. You block their attack (Movement 3) and break their floating ribs (Movement 4).

Another attacker approaches from #3, intent on swinging a club or knife with their right hand. Quickly, you side kick them in the groin or abdomen, and as they double-over from the blow, you capitalize on their forward moment to augment your thrust to their face (Movement 5-6). Then, you finish them off with a downward diagonal smash to their left temple (Movement 7). Another attacker approaches from #7, and mirrors this series (Movements 8-10).

The attacker from #1 has recovered somewhat and attacks with a downward strike, followed by a rising strike to your groin, but you block both attacks and counter with a strike the opponent’s left floating ribs (Movements 11-12). The opponent blocks your attack, and counters with horizontal strikes to your left and right as they retreat. However, you block these attacks, before finishing them off with a downward diagonal smash to their left temple (Movement 13).

Another opponent tries to sneak up on you from #6, but you spin around and deflect their attack (Movement 14) and counter with horizontal strikes (Movement 15). You notice another attacker approaching from #4 (Movement 16), and the series repeats (Movements 17-18).

A belligerent attacks approaches from #5, attacking with a series of three strikes or thrusts, all of which you deflect as you close in (Movements 19-21). By being extremely close, neither of you have room to maneuver, and are both unable to use a bō in a conventional way. While the opponent is effectively stunned while trying to think of a clever solution, reach over their head and hook their neck, pulling them down into a knee kick (Movement 22). Then, stomp on their knee, and punch them away, so they don’t fall on top of you (Movement 23).

Having vanquished all of the attackers, you can now safely resume your vertical block practice (Movement 24).