This article describes a more advanced technique referred to as hikidasu to create an opportunity to strike an opponent. It is organized as follows.
- What is hikidasu?
- Video Examples
- Examples of hikidasu with kaeshi-do
- Examples of hikidasu with de-kote
- Examples of hikidasu in Shinsa
- What Makes hikidasu So Effective?
- Closing Notes
Acknowledgement: I would like to acknowledge the teachings of [Fuku] [KendoNotes_Fuku] that first opened my eyes to this technique, Katsushi Chinen Sensei for introducing me to the term and concept of “hikidasu”, discussions with fellow dojo members and finally the articles and videos cited below which helped improve my understanding of this technique.
Updates: Oct 26, 2017 – Added two videos demonstrating hikidasu with a de-kote by Katsuhiko Tani (8 Dan). Oct 16, 2018 – Added videos showing hikidasu in shinsa. Nov 7, 2018 – Added an additional reason for the the value of hikidasu for those in jodan.
What is hikidasu?
The word hikidasu in Japanese means “to pull, take or draw out” according to jisho.org. In the context of kendo, Geoffrey Salmon (Kyoshi 7th Dan) describes hikidasu as “pulling your opponent in” [Salmon13]. For example, hikidasu could be subtle with a sasoi (誘い) [Danno13_Slow] which translates to “inviting” or “luring” an opponent to come in. An approach perhaps less obvious to the opponent. Or, not-so-subtle by “provoking” or “triggering” the opponent to come in. A more obvious approach.
Either way, if the opponent does come in to strike, then one has effectively created an opportunity to strike the opponent [Fisher_Kikai] [KendoNotes IpponChance] [Kendo-Guide_3Opportunities]. Where the opponent is no longer able to block or evade an attack as described in [KendoNotes_Fuku] and, perhaps counter-intuitively, is vulnerable to attack.
It is probably best described with examples.
To illustrate the technique, I searched for and found a number of videos listed below which show hikidasu in matches and instructional demonstrations. These examples show the not-so-subtle approach. Common to these particular examples are the following several stages. First, an “initiator” applies seme and moves forward as if to attack the opponent. This may include taking a small step forward with the right foot (seme-ashi) as is the case for these examples. The goal of this first stage is to draw out the opponent – the technique of hikidasu. Second, the opponent takes the bait and initiates (or is about to initiate) a men strike. Third, in anticipation of the men, the initiator executes a strike: a kaeshi-do, debana-kote or debana-men.
There are three sets of videos: hikidasu with kaeshi-do, hikidasu with de-kote and hikidasu in shinsa which includes examples of hikidasu with debana-men. The video speeds are noted as normal or slow.
It should be pointed out that examples of the more subtle “sasoi” approach to entice the opponent are shown in [Danno13_Slow] at the 1:23, 2:15, 3:00 and 3:49 min marks.
Examples of Hikdasu with Kaeshi-Do
In the first set of examples, the initiator executes a kaeshi-do as the opponent is drawn out to strike men.
- Here’s the technique executed by Masahiro Shoudai (6th Dan) at normal and slow speeds:
- Here’s the technique executed by Toru Kamei (Hanshi 8th Dan) at a normal speed (but poor viewing angle) and at a slow speed (with a much clearer angle):
- [Marugameissinkai-KaeshiDo] with clear examples in an instructional context.
- [Danno13_Slow, from 2:56 to 3:13 min].
- [Suzuki1501_Slow, starting from 0:33 min] where the right foot seme-ashi advances to lure the opponent in.
- Here’s the technique executed by Isato Matsuda (Hanshi 8th Dan) at both speeds:
Hikidasu with De-Kote
In the second set of examples, the initiator executes a de-kote as the opponent is drawn out to strike men.
- [ZNKF10_KF_Normal] from 0:21 min to 0:36 min where Takao Fujiwara (Hanshi 8th Dan) moves in at about the 0:31min mark to draw out Kamei Sensei.
- [ZNKF15_TaniVsMatsumoto_Normal] from 9:37min where Katsuhiko Tani (8 Dan) moves in while dipping the shinai to draw out Masashi Matsumoto (8 Dan).
- [ZNKF15_TaniVsKurita_Normal] from 8:00min where Katsuhiko Tani (8 Dan) seems to perform the same technique to draw out Waichiro Kurita (8 Dan).
- Here’s the technique executed by Koji Kasamura (Hanshi 8th Dan) at both speeds:
- [Marugameissinkai-Kote] with clear examples in an instructional context.
- There is a DVD which contains a brief section where Takao Fujiwara Sensei (Hanshi 8th Dan) teaches the technique and exercises to develop it [DVD08].
- The section is located in the 2nd of two DVDs in [DVD08] in the teaching section for the third group of 5th Dan candidates entitled “藤原範士、相手を引き出す、右足の攻め入り方、（五段受審の部、第三組 ）.”
Hikidasu in Shinsa
Here’s a couple of videos showing hikidasu in shinsa. Note that it helps to slow down the video speed to, for example, 0.25 to clearly see the initial seme-ashi and/or the slight forward body motion as if to strike followed by the subsequent “real” strike.
- 2011.11.23 祝！一発合格！六段審査まん八っぁん (6th dan shinsa) (2:33mins).
- The candidate on the right, who passes, seems to perform a number of small seme-ashi advances to lure the opponent to move-in and strike throughout his two matches. Here’s two examples at 0:53 (kaeshi-do) and 1:52 (men).
- 2018 AUSKF High Rank Kendo Shinsa: 5Dan – Match from 0:00 to 1:07 mins.
- The candidate on the right, who passes, performs hikidasu at, for example, 0:08 (men), 0:17 (de-kote) and 0:29 (men).
What Makes Hikidasu So Effective?
The above video examples should clearly demonstrate the value of this technique to strike an ippon. There are a number of reasons for its effectiveness.
First, as mentioned at the beginning and explained in [Fuku] (in Japanese) and the English description in [KendoNotes_Fuku], if one were to strike without drawing out the opponent, the opponent could potentially evade or block the strike. However, by drawing out the opponent, since the opponent would focus on striking instead, the opponent would be unable (or less able) to evade or block.
Second, control of the timing or trigger to strike shifts from the opponent to the person applying hikidasu. As described by Salmon sensei in [Salmon1510]:
Sueno [Eiji Sueno (Hanshi 8th Dan)] sensei also talked about the preparation for ojiwaza and compared the difficulty of waiting and trying to counter your opponents timing rather than using seme and hikidasu to make him attack at a time when you are ready for him.
Third, as explained in more detail in [Fuku] [KendoNotes_Fuku], it can be faster to strike the opponent. Basically, the opponent has to take a big fumikomi to reach the initiator of hikidasu. In contrast, however, since the opponent comes in closer, the initiator can take a small fumikomi which takes less time.
The fourth reason is related to the third. As explained in [Kumagorou,その 1] (in Japanese), it is physically easier to strike the opponent. Since the opponent is coming in, one can take a smaller step to strike the opponent. Effectively, the opponent is coming in to get hit. This is particularly important for older kenshi [Kumagorou,その 1].
The fifth reason is related to the first. As described in the comment by “dream_so_real_1008さん” on 2013/10/31 in [Chiebukuro] (in Japanese), this can be an effective tactic against an opponent (A) in “waiting” mode – waiting for one to come in to strike. If, for example, one moves to strike men (with no hikidasu), A may be able to strike kaeshi-do or dekote for example. However, if one pressures A with the right foot, one may be able to detect the “trap”, eventually scare A to strike and create an opportunity to strike A.
The sixth reason pertains to those in jodan. As explained to me by Katsumi Chinen sensei, it’s highly desirable, from jodan, to strike an area near or on the target (e.g. the shoulder or men). This is to ensure a natural recoil of the shinai and minimize the burden on the left arm to return to jodan and “reload.” If the opponent moves out of the way or deflects the shinai, a large amount of arm power may be required to stop and reload the shinai. Hence, the desirability for those in jodan to make sure that the opponent is coming in forward to strike – rather than blocking or stepping out of harm’s way.
For further information on this subject in English, there are three articles by Salmon sensei [Salmon13] [Salmon1509] [Salmon1510] – the only articles in English with information on hikidasu that I could find. There are many Japanese articles including [Kumagorou] [Yokota] [Yomuken]. As noted therein, seme and the ability to read an opponent are other important aspects associated with this technique. For example, this technique may be more effective when there is a build-up of pressure (that could be released at any moment) and/or when the opponent seems inclined or primed to strike.
In addition to the two instructional videos cited above, there is a video showing similar exercises for hikidasu 癒しの剣道 基本稽古 (22:39mins) e.g. at the 11:40, 10:42 and 16:42 marks, respectively, for de-kote, debana-men and kaeshi-men. For these videos, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s more to hikidasu than simply taking a small step forward. It requires, for example, a sense of the opponent (his/her patterns, mental state or intentions), a complete readiness to strike and many other points related to seme as summarized in Quotes on Seme (攻め). As noted by Lorenzo Zago (Renshi 7th Dan) in [Zago]:
Often, we tend to over simplify by associating seme with its physical manifestation, such as a small step forward with the kensen dominating the opponent’s centre. However, this is just the superficial aspect.
Also can found at: 剣道の基本 1.合い面1 (Basics of Kendo 1. ai-men 1) 4:56 mins by moketo mokomoko (not sure which is the original).
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