I was nearly a black belt by the time I had heard of this list. Because my sensei was not teaching juniors, it should have come as no surprise. Many dojo teach an abbreviated version of regular nage, simply leaving out balance arts or overly aggressive throws like Yama Arashi or Kani Sute. It should be even less of a surprise that a master of martial arts would have the same thoughts, and Osensei Okazaki did just that in providing to his graduates, his Yonenbu List.

Recognizing the size difference and physiological factors for my dojo requirements,  I selected (and adapted) the hand arts which seemed safest and practical for children and used Okazaki’s Yonenbu list as a take-off point for throws. I have recently titled my collection Keiki Jitsu in honor of our DZR/Hawaiian heritage. Keiki is Hawaiian for Children, and this supplement partly expands upon the Yonenbu no Kata which Okazaki listed in his Moku-Roku. The Yonenbu list is essentially identical to the Dan Zan Ryu list of Nage no Kata, only with subtraction of the more dangerous or the countering throws. The most common reaction guests have when looking at the Yonenbu List is, “Where’s ______, that one is missing!”

Not having been there myself, but having worked with kids for three decades, I can rationalize O-sensei’s reasoning for such exclusions. Even for adults or gymnastically capable junior judoka, Kani Sute and Yama Arashi can be dangerously head banging. So offering them to children who may continue riding the coordination roller coaster until early adulthood would be questionable. (In my case as a klutz, clear up to age thirty!) The counters such as Utsuri Goshi and Ushiro Goshi seem to be far too tempting for kids to avoid getting thrown, when working with a beginner. This would be negating their job as UKE {UKERU (receiving)}, that combination role of fellow student and co-instructor. It is hard enough to get some juniors to work with a partner, just getting them past simple “cootie” revulsion, let alone demanding they resist the “I am older/smarter/the best”- ornery streak. As for Uki Otoshi? That exclusion may have just been avoiding his juniors in taking a short-cut to hip throws, as well as needed degree of understanding of cooperation, mechanics and flow. From my understanding, “back then” kids were trained physically, just as stoically Spartan in the other techniques. Present day lawsuits aside, kids ARE different, physically, emotionally and mentally, even if you think they are ready, tread lightly.

Personally I have made adaptations and size/coordination accounting within the Yonenbu listed techniques throughout, as I formulated the Keiki Waza. When possible, danger factors are reduced (until higher rank is obtained) so that playground mayhem is not as much of an issue. Also included are possible (academic) prompts for primary grade students to comprehend movements or concepts. For instance, in teaching a beginning Harai Goshi, the student is obviously learning a feasible art. Accounting for dual balance over one leg, the sweeping leg can begin by just suggesting a motion of “skateboarding” the right leg (not so high) combined with a right hand “pick up that dime” or “knuckle bump” extension of the right arm. Later including “teeter totter” into the art, eventually a more mature, adult comparable, kata worthy technique can evolve.

The Keiki Waza are NOT set in stone (as the only way to be done) and their introduction for each rank may vary in your dojo, but all are offered here as a springboard into unification of techniques within the Kieki of AJJF and perhaps the whole Ohana of Dan Zan Ryu. If we practice in the true spirit and foundations of jujitsu, then we all will be open to improved arts and teachings, using the least amount of strength, with the maximum effect. Take what you can use and hopefully I can offer much of what is useful.

As a sample, here are a few techniques which can help our keiki (and adults too!):

Note: Nicknames are used for the beginners and the Japanese kata names are reserved for solid belts (yellow, orange, blue, green….)

4 Morote Hazushi – “MINE!”

Level 1- Uke Similar size -Uke grabs right wrist with both hands, thumbs on top, Tori makes a right fist  and grabs it with their left hand. Tori pushes elbow forward and pulls hand back to their left shoulder like a baby pulling away a toy (“MINE!”). Step back and away with left foot.

Level 2- Uke Slightly Larger– Tori may distract with the left hand before grabbing, as they drop body below the level the hands are held.

Level 3 – Child vs Adult– Tori precedes escape with KIAI and left snap kick to uke’s leg or groin. As the kick returns, and uke is distracted, escape as before. Complete with stance and appropriate MA-AI

11 Akushu Ude Tori – Take a Nap

Level 1- Similar size- Uke shakes hands with Tori, and begins a hand squeeze “attack”. Tori pulls the captured hand across their chest and reaches over with the left hand (“Look over there!”). Reaching over the arm, with trapped hand thumb up, Tori circles the arm above the elbow and grips their own lapel. To apply the arm-bar, Tori makes a capital J motion with the right hand, until Uke taps out.

Level 2- Uke slightly Larger– Tori pulls the arm across and outward, with Uke’s palm up. As Uke is off balanced slightly, Tori reaches under the tricep of the arm and grabs Uke on the right shoulder (or grip lapel). Beginning with both arms flexed, Tori applies the armbar by straightening both arms, until Uke taps out.

Level 3-  Child vs Adult– Tori grips Uke’s hand and wrist in both hands. Raising the arm up and out from Uke’s body, Tori steps under the arm. As Tori turns under the rotating arm, they put their head upon the up-turned elbow, in a “take-a-nap” position. Slowly applying the arm-bar, Tori pulls the arm into their body and presses their head down onto the joint, until Uke taps out. [For most small beginners, this is easiest and empowers them to control an adult sized uke.]

1 Deashi Harai – Penny Sweep

BEGINNER- Tori practices sweeping a penny on the floor. This acts as a preventative measure, so that the foot alone is the contact point of the throw, and thus future Ukes’ shins are safer. Once the Tori has mastered the low sweep, practicing with an uke by doing a tick-tock rocking motion. Each partner shifts back onto their left foot and raises their right foot slightly, while the other advances onto their right foot and partly sweeps with their left. As they both are able to take the side fall, they take turns completing the sweep and pairing that with an upper body turn to the left. The motion is described as like  “driving a big truck”, which keeps the uke turning over the swept foot and tori from twisting faster than their arms. Unity of motion, moving in one piece, helps use body mechanics to accomplish which strength alone could not (especially for juniors).

INTERMEDIATE- Finer details can be added such as the inward turn of the right foot, “pigeon toed”. This makes Tori turn the hips/body. Tori may also try walking forward, and then (later) backwards. The forward throw is more difficult to master, yet like driving a clutch vehicle, it makes other variants of the throw easier.

ADVANCED- Demonstrating an attack from a sword strike can illustrate the historical roots of the throw. Timing perfection comes in execution before Uke places full weight onto the advancing right foot, preventing the proper execution of the overhead sword attack. The pigeon toe step takes Tori off the line of attack, as well as the body mechanics for the throw. Tori can also look to use the bending of the left knee and low sweeping foot to move the uke’s right foot easier,, rather than the extended leg sweep favored by many judoka. Such a body position and extension of the leg, while power-useful to like sized uke, prove less reliable for Tori of smaller stature, especially children on adult.

** Personally, this throw is quintessential to introducing the GENTLE and timing aspects of jujitsu. For the most part, kids come pre-programmed in how to kick an ankle, foot or leg. I truly believe that it is one of the sensei’s jobs – to re-program them into the subtle perfection of Deashi Harai.

13 HANE  GOSHI – Doggie on Fire Hydrant

**BEST ADVICE I WISH I EVER GOT*Begin with the hip, finish with the leg.**

BEGINNER- Begin the classical pivot similar to Harai Goshi, stepping with the left foot. Tori should enter with hips lowered, so Uke’s belt is higher. Tori should stop the pivot so that they are standing 90 degrees to Uke, with their right hip into Uke’s center line, below the belt knot. Beginners may “set” so the right foot is next to the left, and both feet are on the ground. The throw is initiated by picking uke up with the legs and hip lift, which is followed by raising the bent right leg, so it goes across both Uke’s legs at about the knee. The kazushi of the left hand comes across Tori’s chest so Uke is brought along by the whole body movement. The leg raise is sharp (like a pancake flip) to cast off Uke’s legs (“Get off me!”) and brought up to a balance position and looks like a dog on a fire hydrant. The back is arched and the leg accompanied by the hip serves as a shelf for Uke to fall off.

INTERMEDIATE- The right foot pivot places the foot between Uke’s toes as before. The entry should be with lowered hips and scoop Uke’s hips up, to uproot them. As the left foot comes in, Tori “switches heels”. The left heel takes the place of the right heel, in acquiring the balance point, and the left leg takes on the combined weight.

ADVANCED- The throw can be applied as a follow-up from a bear hug escape.

So you want to teach juniors? Please do! Your sensei will appreciate the relief and the improvement of your own techniques.

Back to Kiai Echo March 2018 – February 2019