Katachi no Hajimete no Kama

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Katachi no Hajimite no Kama (“Beginning Sickle Form”) is the Goshin-Jutsu kamajutsu kata. Because of the inherent risk involved in working with bladed weapons, this kata is reserved for black belts. While blunted or wooden kama are acceptable training tools, practice with sharpened (“live”) blades is also critical; if you can do that, you can do anything -- and that extreme self-confidence will carry over to all your endeavors. If you can remain calm and in control with razor-sharp blades whipping around your body, drunks and bullies will suddenly seem quaint.

This form requires absolute 100% concentration; if a student feels even slightly tired or distracted, they must immediately stop. There is no shame in stopping; safety is paramount.

Directions

[video of Katachi no Hajimite no Kama, 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. ]

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  1. Begin in a ready stance with the kama in a retracted position, with the blades at your side, facing outward.
  2. Quickly look to #2. Take a small step with your right leg to #6, pulling yourself into a right cat stance with a left naifu-kinniku, running the left kama blade along the top of your right forearm.
  3. Quickly look to #8. Take a small step with your left leg to #4, pulling yourself into a left cat stance with a right naifu-kinniku, running the right kama blade along the top of your left forearm.
  4. Quickly look to #2. Invert your cat stance, crossing the kama handles over your right hip. Step your left foot out to #3, entering a left front stance to #2 with a left naifu-kinniku, running the left kama blade along your right forearm.
  5. Execute a right rising block, and extend the kama while spinning it around your head, into a right forward strike.
  6. Turn your right wrist to the outside, until the kama is parallel to the floor. Then then roll the kama over your wrist, and into another forward strike.
  7. Rotate the right blade 90°, so it points inside, and retract kama with a horizontal spin to the inside. Execute a front-foot punch, reverse punch, right front kick, and another front-foot punch.
  8. Quickly look to #8, and shift into a right front stance to #8 with a right naifu-kinniku, running the right kama blade along your left forearm.
  9. Execute a left rising block, and extend the kama while spinning around your head, into a left forward strike.
  10. Turn your left wrist to the outside, until the kama is parallel to the floor. Then then roll the kama over your wrist, and into another forward strike.
  11. Rotate the left blade 90°, so it points inside, and retract kama with a horizontal spin to the inside. Execute a front-foot punch, reverse punch, right front kick, and another front-foot punch.
  12. Quickly look to #3. Shift into a full-side-facing to #1, with the kama handles crossed on your right hip. Pull your left hand to your left hip, and execute a right inside crescent kick to #3.
  13. Without rechambering, immediately execute a right side thrust kick, to #3. Rechamber into a left walking crane stance facing #3.
  14. Extend both kama with vertical flips as you slide your right foot to #8, entering a left cat stance facing #1, using the kama blades as a kakiwake-uke.
  15. Hook both blades behind the opponent’s neck, and pull them into a right knee kick.
  16. Step your right foot out to #8, entering a right front stance facing #1, with dual forward strikes.
  17. Execute a left nami ashi, then step your left foot to #3, entering a horse stance facing #1. Rotate your shoulders in outside-to-inside circles, into dual upward strikes to the inner thigh.
  18. Reverse direction, rotating your shoulders in inside-to-outside circles, for a double downward arcing slash. The blades nearly touch when they reach at chest level, and they continue their arc until they reach the sides of your knee.
  19. Slide your right foot to #4, entering a left hook stance facing #1, with a left rising block. Simultaneously raise right your right arm (so the kama is by your right ear, in what superficially resembles a cross-body block), double-check the the blade's angle, and execute a downward slash, outside of your right leg, to calf-level.
  20. Twist into a left cat stance, facing #5. Using ibuki breathing, enter a guard position with the left kama vertical against your chest, and the right kama extended and tilted 45° forward.
  21. Rotate the right kama around your head as you step your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance facing #5, with a right forward strike.
  22. Retract the kama by letting them drop, and step your left foot to #6, entering a left front stance facing #5, with front-foot and reverse punches.
  23. Extend both kama with an upward flip as you slide your right foot to #7, entering a left hook stance facing #5. Hold both kama handles horizontally overhead, with their blades pointing up.
  24. Rotate your wrists 90° so their handles are parallel with the floor, with their butts facing #5, and their blades pointing up. Quickly double-check the blade angles, and execute a double downward slash outside of your legs, to calf-level.
  25. Without re-chambering the kama, execute a left front kick to #5.
  26. Upon re-chambering, slide your right foot to #5, entering a horse stance facing #7. Have the left kama pressed against the chest. Completely extend the right arm out to #5, hooking the right kama behind the opponent’s head. Pull your right elbow to your chest to draw them in.
  27. Step your left foot to #4 and enter a hook stance facing #7. Extend the right kama out to #7, and pull it back horizontally to #3, slashing the opponent’s thigh with the tip.
  28. Extent the right kama out to #7, and right nami ashi, setting your right foot down to #5, entering a horse stance facing #7. Extend the right kama out to #7, and pull it back horizontally to #3, slashing the opponent’s abdomen with the tip.
  29. Lift your heels off the ground, and turn your right wrist to the outside, until the kama is parallel to the floor. Then then roll the kama over your wrist, and drop your heels as you sink the right kama’s tip into the opponent’s neck.
  30. Step your right foot to #3, entering a left hook stance facing #1, with a left rising block (blade points up), with a simultaneous right horizontal strike to opponent’s neck (this should be similar to a tate-shutō). Execute a right front kick.
  31. Upon re-chambering, retract the kama by letting them drop, then step your right foot to #8, entering a right front stance facing #1 with front-foot and reverse punches.
  32. Pull your left foot up to your right, entering a transitional bent-knees attention stance and chamber the kama on your hips. Immediately slide your left foot out to #3, entering a horse stance facing #1. Rotate your shoulders in outside-to-inside circles, into dual upward strikes to the inner thigh.
  33. Reverse direction, rotating your shoulders in inside-to-outside circles, for a double downward strike at chest level.
  34. Pull your left foot up into a right cat stance facing #1, crossing the kama across your chest, (right kama atop the left).
  35. Quickly look to #8. Step your left foot to #1, entering a left front stance to #8, holding the right kama handle overhead, tilted 45°, for an upward block. The left kama is held vertically against your chest.
  36. Raise your left elbow, so the left kama blade rests edge-up on your right shoulder; your shoulders, arm and the handle make a square.
  37. Slide the right kama (blade pointing up) into the gap between your head and left forearm as you pull your right foot up to your left, entering a transitional bent-knees attention stance to #8. Immediately rotate your fists around your head, as you step your right foot to #3, entering a right front stance facing #8, with a double forward strike.
  38. Pull your elbows inside for a double horizontal slash to #8; the right blade slashes the throat, the left slashes the abdomen. Turn your wrists over, and repeat by pulling your elbows outward.
  39. Step your right foot to #5, entering a left hook stance facing #3, with a left rising block (blade pointing up), with a simultaneous (Kūsankū) right horizontal strike to opponent’s neck (similar to a tate-shutō). Execute a right front kick.
  40. Upon re-chambering, retract both kama by letting them drop, then slide your right foot to #2, entering a right front stance facing #3. Pull both of your hands to your left hip, slashing your opponent with a blade-enhanced left inside elbow strike.
  41. Step your left foot to #2, entering a right hook stance facing #5, and pull both of your hands to your right hip, slashing opponent with a blade-enhanced right inside elbow strike.
  42. Execute a left front kick, and upon re-chambering, step your left foot out to #6, entering a left front stance facing #5, holding the right kama handle overhead, tilted 45°, for an upward block.
  43. Retract the right kama by letting it drop, and pull both of your hands to your right hip, slashing opponent with a blade-enhanced left inside elbow strike.
  44. Execute a right front kick, and upon re-chambering, step your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance to #5 with a front-foot and a reverse punch.
  45. Pull both of your hands to your left hip, slashing your opponent with a blade-enhanced right inside elbow strike.
  46. Execute a left front kick, and upon re-chambering, step your left foot to #6, entering a left front stance facing #5, with a front-foot and a reverse punch.
  47. Extend both kama with an upward flip as you twist into a left hook stance facing #1, with a left rising block (blade pointing up), with a simultaneous right horizontal strike to the opponent’s neck (similar to a tate-shutō). Execute a right front kick.
  48. Upon re-chambering, slide your right foot to #1, entering a horse stance facing #3 with a right forward strike to #1. The left kama is pressed vertically against your chest.
  49. Execute a left nami ashi, then step your left foot to #3, entering a horse stance facing #1. Rotate your shoulders in outside-to-inside circles, into dual upward strikes to the inner thigh.
  50. Reverse direction, rotating your shoulders in inside-to-outside circles, for a double downward arcing slash. The blades nearly touch when they reach at chest level, and they continue their arc until they reach the sides of your knee.
  51. Hold the kama handles overhead together, parallel with the floor, with their blades pointing in the air, and their handle butts facing #3 &7. Then, rotate the kama 90° so they are parallel with the floor, blades pointing in the air, handle butts facing #1.
  52. Jump in the air, pulling your knees up to your chest, and execute a double downward slash, between your legs. Time your strike such they complete at the apex of your leap. Quickly pull your elbows up, so the kama blades are by your ears, as you land in a horse stance facing #1,
  53. Shift to attention stance and bow.

Notes

The kama can be manipulated from the retracted to the extended position and back by holding the shaft near (but not at) the end with youth thumb and index finger, and releasing your middle, ring, and little fingers. Then flick your wrist up, down, inside, or outside to rotate the kama about your thumb and forefinger, gripping the shaft of the kama with your bottom three fingers as soon as possible. These manipulations will take some practice; take the time to make these transitions smooth prior to performing the kata.

[Rotation video; in, out, up, and down, as shown from the front, top, and inside facing out]

Forward strikes are performed just like a tate tsuki, but keep your bottom three fingers loose, then clench your fist as the strike reaches its maximum extension. This “snaps” the technique, greatly enhancing its reach, speed, and power by whipping it in the blade into the opponent, instead of merely pushing it. Then, pull back on the handle to remove the blade; let it cut its own way out.

[striking video; as shown from the front, top, and inside facing out]

Take extreme caution when performing downward strikes along the sides of your body (as in Movements 19 and 24). Double-check the blade angle prior to striking, and swing down with the shoulder, then the elbow, and then the wrist. Failure to follow these instructions can (and has) resulted in serious injury.

Do not raise your center during Movement 29; only raise your heels.

Bunkai

Two attackers approach you from #2 and #8 (Movement 1). The attacker at #8 grabs your right wrist, but you pull them off-balance and cut their wrist, while assuming a guard position to react to the attacker at #2 (Movement 2). The attacker at #2 tries to grab your left wrist, to meet a similar response (Movement 3).

Working together, the attacker at #8 again grabs your right wrist as the attacker from #2 closes in. You pull the #8 attacker even further off-balance and cut their wrist again, while assuming a guard position to react to the attacker at #2 (Movement 4). The attacker at #2 grabs you by left lapel, to pull you into a right punch, like a hockey player. You quickly break the hold and mutilate the soft tissue in front of their right shoulder (Movement 5). The #2 attacker throws a left punch to counter, but you parry it to the side, and mutilate the soft tissue in front of their left shoulder (Movement 6), then sending them reeling with a flurry of blows (Movement 7). In a last-ditch effort, the attacker at #2 makes an attempt to pull you off balance, as an atemi for the #8 attacker. However, this just results in a mirroring of the previous defense. (Movements 8-11).

While you were finishing off the #8 attacker, the #2 attacker hobbled off and found a knife, and tries to stab you in the back with a lunging thrust while your attention was diverted. However, you quickly deflect this thrust with a crescent kick block (Movement 12), before knocking the wounded opponent back with a side thrust kick (Movement 13).

Another attacker closes in from #1, grabbing you by the lapels. You break their hold with a variation of kakiwake-uke, where the kama blades take the place of your shutō. which slits their wrists in the process (Movement 14). Hooking the kama behind their head, you pull the opponent’s head down into a knee to their chin or nose (Movement 15). You try to mutilate the soft tissue in front of both of their shoulders (Movement 16), but the attacker sidesteps. You side step as well, piercing their inner thighs so they cannot evade you (Movement 17). As they collapse in pain, you slash their biceps as well (Movement 18), and move to the side so they collapse next to you and not on top of you. In the process, you strike down with a finishing blow (Movement 19).

While you were finishing off the previous attacker, another attacker, armed with a approaches from #5. You turn around and assume a guard position to engage them (Movement 20). As they attempt to strike, you counter with a forward strike (Movement 21), and close in with punches (Movement 22), causing the opponent to backup. The opponent attacks you with a downward strike, which you block (Movement 23) and redirect to the side (Movement 24). The opponent takes small steps back to avoid your downward slashes (Movement 24) and follow-up kick (Movement 25), and attacks with a horizontal strike to your left side. However, you close in and block the attack, and hooking the kama behind their neck to pull them in to you, so they cannot retreat backwards again (Movement 26). You gash the opponent’s thigh to prevent them from escaping (Movement 27), and then slash their abdomen to get them to double-over (Movement 28) so you can drive your blade down between their collarbones (clavicles) and shoulder blades (scapula) Movement 29).

Another attacker armed with a approaches from #1, and attacks with a downward strike. You block the strike and hook the right kama behind their head, to pull them into a front kick to their groin or abdomen (Movement 30). Softening them up with some punches (Movement 31), you stab their inner thighs so they cannot evade you (Movement 32). As they collapse in pain, you drive your blades down into both of their kidneys (Movement 33).

You pull your arms and legs in (Movement 34) so you can step out to stop a new opponent, who throws a left punch from #8, which you immediately block with the shaft of your right kama (Movement 35). This opponent reaches in and grabs your right lapel, in an attempt to pull you into a right haymaker, like an ice hockey player. However, you cover you head and deflect their punch upwards, and in the process, slitting their wrist with your left kama blade (Movement 36). Slide the right kama between you left ear and left forearm and drive forward, using the kama to pull the opponent’s hand off of your lapel, and setting up a double forward strike, piercing the opponent underneath both collarbones, slashing their pectoral muscles to incapacitate their arms (Movement 37). Then, kill the opponent by simultaneously slashing their throat and eviscerating them. Then, do it again, to be thorough (Movement 38).

Another opponent attacks with a right punch or strike from #5, which you deflect upward, and you simultaneously kill them by plunging your right kama blade into the side of their neck. Do not hook the spine; it is too hard to slide through. Then, front kick the opponent in the abdomen to knock them back; in the process, the blade will tear through their windpipe, carotid arteries, and jugular veins, before exiting through the front of their neck (Movement 39). To prevent the partially-decapitated opponent from collapsing on top of you, Knock them over to the side with a low-level right hook punch (Movement 40), so they can spend their final moments beside you, and not on you, where they can peacefully gurgle from the sensation of drowning from the blood entering their lungs, until their uncontrolled hemorrhaging lulls them into an eternal dreamless sleep before the paramedics could ever hope to arrive.

Another attacker rushes in from #5, only to leap back to avoid being impaled on your blade from a kama-enhanced right inside elbow strike (Movement 41), and push sliding back to avoid your follow-up front kick. The opponent counters with a left haymaker, which you block with your right kama handle (Movement 42). Immediately counter by stabbing the opponent’s abdomen with a kama-enhanced left inside elbow strike (Movement 43). Front kick the opponent to knock them back, and in the process, pulling the blade out of their body. As they double over in pain, deliver punches to their eyes, chin, or philtrum (Movement 44). Then stab their throat with a kama-enhanced right inside elbow strike (Movement 45), and again, front kick the opponent to knock them back, to pull the blade out of their neck, and crush their face with punches as they double over in pain (Movement 46).

Another opponent tries to sneak up behind you from #1, but you quickly turn around and deflect their attack upward, as you simultaneously plunge your right kama blade into the side of their neck. Then, front kick the opponent in the abdomen to knock them back and tear their throats open (Movement 47). To prevent the opponent from collapsing on top of you, you drive in with a forward strike, to knock them back (Movement 48). However, your cuts were unfortunately too shallow to kill them outright. Turning to face the opponent, you arc your blades up into their inner thighs so they cannot evade you (Movement 49). As they collapse in pain, you reverse direction to slash their biceps as well (Movement 50). Raising the kama overhead (Movement 51), leap into the air, pulling you knees to your chest, with a double downward strike, between your legs, piercing the opponent between their collarbones (clavicles) and shoulder blades (scapula) (Movement 52).

Having defeated all who which to harm you, the kata ends (Movement 53).