Yonaka (“Midnight”) is a novice- to intermediate-level form. While Yonaka may not have everything you want, it has everything you need. Yonaka is an excellent segue from simple evade-block-counter drills into more complex situations like grabs, and skilled opponents who block your counterattack.
Yonaka is universally appreciated; we’ve never had a student who did not enjoy this form.
[video of yonaka, 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. ]
- Quickly look to #2. Take a small step to #6 with your right leg and draw your left leg into a right cat stance facing #2, with a left naifu-kinniku.
- Quickly look to #8. Take a small step with your left leg to #4, and draw your right leg into a left cat stance facing #8 with right naifu-kinniku.
- Quickly look to #2. Invert your cat stance and step your left foot to #3, entering a left front stance facing #2 with a left cross-body block.
- Reverse punch, front-foot punch, right front kick, and reverse punch.
- Quickly look to #8. Draw your right foot into a left cat stance facing #2, then immediately step your right foot to #7, entering a right front stance facing #8 with a right cross-body block.
- Reverse punch, front-foot punch, left front kick, and reverse punch.
- Quickly look to #3. Pull your left leg into a right cat stance facing #1, with your fists on your right hip (left atop right).
- Step your left foot to #4, entering left front stance facing #3 with a mountain punch (left arm high).
- Quickly look to #1. Draw your right foot into a left front stance with a kakiwake uke (with shutō hands).
- Execute a right nami-ashi. Transition into a left an |extended cat stance, then push slide into a right front stance facing #1; raise your hands to head-level in an arc, leading into double four-fingered spearhand strikes (palms facing up) to the opponent’s solar plexus at #1.
- Execute a right nami-ashi. Transition into a left an |extended cat stance, then push slide into a right front stance facing #1; raise your hands to head-level in an arc, leading into a double tate tsuki to the opponent’s solar plexus at #1.
- Quickly look over your right shoulder to #5. Pull your right foot back into a left cat stance with fists on your right hip (left atop right).
- Step your right foot to #2, twisting into a right back stance facing #5 with a left downward-fist block. Pursuit punch.
- Step your right foot to #8, entering left hook stance facing #5 with right cross-body block. Right front kick.
- Upon re-chambering slide your right foot out to #4, slapping opponent’s arm down with your right hand. Reach over and grab the opponent’s wrist with a left grasping block. Immediately pull your left foot up to a right hook stance facing #7, pulling the opponent into a right uraken uchi to #5.
This is a "slap-grab-uraken."
- |Invert your hook stance and nami-ashi bringing your right palm to your left ear, and guarding your floating ribs with your left hand. Step into a horse stancefacing #7, grabbing your opponent’s shirt with your left hand and pulling them into a right downward hammerfist strike to their groin at #5.
- Immediately follow-up with a right makkikomi-shutō to the opponent’s neck at #5.
- Quickly look to #1. Twist into a right cat stance, facing #1 with a left outside shutō block.
- Step your left foot forward and immediately pull your right foot up into a left hook stance facing #1, with a right inside hammerfist strike. Catch your right wrist with your left hand.
- Release your grip and reach over your right hand, grabbing the ball of your right wrist. Draw your right hand back to your right hip. Slide your right foot back to #5, and kneel while throwing a right hook punch.
- Attention stance, Goshin-Jutsu bow.
In Movement 5, you do not pull your hands to your hips when you pull into cat stance. The next attack comes too fast for any pause or hesitation,
Pay attention to the slap-grab-uraken combination from Movement 15, as it will occur again in later kata, and it is an excellent way to close the distance in sparring. This is combination, and its variants, are common to many martial arts. (For example, aikidōka use the slap-grab combination to setup kokyūhō.)
The directions for Movement 17 do not explicitly state to use the left hand to grab the opponent’s shirt and pull them into the makkikomi-shutō, because it is implied to be a part of every makkikomi-shutō; it goes without saying.
Movements 4-6 are mirror images of each other. These are a basic evade-block-counter combination against a punch. There is no hesitation or pause between these two attacks.
Movements 9-11 are a defense against a front choke or double lapel grab. The kakiwake uke breaks the attacker’s hold. Executing the nami-ashi will trick the attacker into thinking you offer no resistance, since you are not pushing back. As the opponent pushes forward, you assume a solid stance. The opponent will impale themselves on your oncoming strikes, giving them additional power.
Movements 13-16 describe a mini-battle with a more resilient opponent:
- The opponent initially attacks with a right punch or kick your abdomen.
- You deflect this attack with a downward-fist block, and counter with a pursuit punch. The opponent slithers back, as in Futastu-Mae, into a left back stance with a left cross-body block.
- The opponent counterattacks with a right pursuit punch.
- You evade by stepping off of the line-of attack, with a cross-body block for insurance.
- The opponent slithers back, as in Futastu-Mae, into a left back stance with a left downward-fist block.
- You immediately attack again with a backfist strike, which the opponent attempts to quickly defend with a left cross-body block. Seeing that the technique will fail, you drive it down, deflecting the opponent’s arm with a slap-grab-uraken.
- The follow-up strike to the groin causes the opponent to lurch forward, adding additional momentum to your maikkikomi-shutō for the coup-de-grâce.
Movements 17-19 describe recovering from attack that has gone wrong. When the opponent at #1 tries to sneak up on you, you attempt to smash their jaw or temple with an inside hammerfist strike. The opponent, who has recovered from the beating they took earlier in the kata, is tired of your tricks, they reach across and grab your hammerfist out of the air (this is the setup for gokyō, an ikkyō variant for defenses against attacks to the side of the head). Quickly, you reach over your hand, peel their hand off, setting up a wristlock. Kneel and throw a hook punch. The downward motion and reciprocal action will complete the takedown. If the opponent resists, they will be pulled off balance, leaving themselves open for the punch to strike their kidney.
Be mindful that this is a bunkai, not the bunkai. Other interpretations exist, and we encourage you to find some of your own; this will force you to understand how techniques work, and what their limits are.
[bunkai compilation video]