This article describes a more advanced technique referred to as hikidasu 引き出す* (or hikidashi 引き出し) to create an opportunity to strike an opponent.
Learning about this technique was a major revelation for me. It led me to a firmer grasp of seme (攻め), provided another approach to applying it and helped me recognize when a person used this technique to create an opportunity to strike. It amounts to causing an opponent to react and come in to strike. And, in the process, leaving him or her temporarily open and defenseless. This may sound counter-intuitive and is expanded upon below. Incidentally, the opponent could also freeze, flinch or move to block rather than initiate an attack. Such a reaction, though providing an opportunity to strike as well, is not addressed here.
The article 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. Oct 6, 2019 – Updated most of the video links to play at the cited time stamps, replaced the link to the [Danno13] video (as the original had been deleted) and added some minor edits. Sept 4. 2020 – Edits for clarity. Feb 7, 2021 – Edits in “What is hikidasu?” July 19, 2022 – Added a description of an excellent video [Hyakusyu_Seme3] describing hikidashi in depth.
* hikidasu is the verb and hikidashi, the noun.
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]. The approach can be subtle or not-so-subtle. In the former, also referred to as sasoi (誘い), one covertly “invites” or “lures” the opponent to come in to attack [Danno13_Slow]. The opponent may think he or she is in control and initiates the attack deliberately, intentionally and consciously. In the latter, one overtly “provokes” or “triggers” the opponent to come in. The opponent may not feel in control and initiates the attack as more of an unplanned, unintentional and unconscious reaction.
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]. This is the key. Whereas previously the opponent, while in kamae and in a “ready” state, could have either blocked or evaded an attack, now the opponent can no longer do so. Why? Because the opponent has committed to executing a strike and to the process of starting or delivering a strike. His or her attention is wholly focused on the delivery of the strike for a brief period of time. No longer on observing or seeing the opponent from the ready state nor able to defend him or herself. Thus, during this brief window of opportunity, the opponent becomes vulnerable to attack – as also described in slightly more detail in [KendoNotes_Fuku].
Hikidasu is probably best described with visual 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. As shown in the examples,
This can be done in a number of ways. You can slightly raise the point of your shinai, or move your right foot forward (Editor’s note: also referred to as seme-ashi), or just slightly bend your right knee. You can also use any of these in combination [KendoInfo_Ahead].
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 some 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 to strike the target or a place near the target (e.g. shoulder) from jodan. This is to ensure a natural recoil of the shinai after a strike and minimize the burden on the left arm to return to jodan and “reload.” Otherwise, if the opponent moves out of the way or deflects the shinai, there is no recoil and 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.
- A video in Japanese explaining hikidasu in colorful detail [Hyakusyu_Seme3] with closed captioning in Japanese and Korean (and in most languages if you are familiar with YouTube’s Auto-Translate feature) – that I highly recommend watching to understand hikidasu in more depath.
- The main takeaway for me is the story of the giant and momo-taro illustrating the smart release of tension at a moment of high tension to lure the other in (kinchou-to-kaihou 緊張と解放).
For the set of videos showing examples of hikidasu, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s more to hikidasu than, for example, simply taking a small step forward. It requires a sense of the opponent (his/her patterns, mental state or intentions), a complete readiness and ability to strike and many other points related to seme as summarized in Quotes on Seme (攻め) and Resources 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.
Finally, as you can probably imagine, hikidasu is a strategy in war as well – as exemplified by Napoleon in the Battle of Austerlitz.
May this technique enrich your kendo as it has for me!
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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Keywords: utsukikai (打つ機会), datotsukikai (打突機会).