A Study of Hikidasu 引き出す- Drawing out the Opponent

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
  • References

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 shinsaNov 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.

Video 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. 

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.

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.

Closing Notes

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!


[Chiebukuro] 知恵袋,[剣道 待ち剣の相手を引き出す方法] (Chiebukuro thread on “How to draw out an opponent with a waiting sword approach”), Oct 31, 2013.

[Danno13_Slow] Hiroyuki Danno, 「剣道攻め足研究」 The study of the foot to attack Kendo.100106, (6:27 mins), Feb 27, 2013.

[DVD08] 「剣道模擬審査 四・五段編」 DVD, スキージャナル株式会社 (Ski Journal, Japan), ISBN 978-4-7899-5535-5、2008 (in Japanese with no subtitles).

[Fisher_Kikai] Andrew Fisher, “It’s All About Opportunity – Datotsu no Kikai,” KendoStar Blog, June 14, 2018.

[Fuku] FUKU先生, 「面打ちたい?勝つために。。。」(You want to strike men?  In order to win…”) Posted on “Kendo – Iaido – Munyukan 剣道 居合道 無入館” (10:41 mins), Nov 17, 2015.

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).

[Hyakusyu_Seme3]【剣道 Kendo】 <攻めでお困りの方へ3/3> 相手の引き出し方。 How to pull out the opponent 【百秀武道具店 Hyakusyu Kendo, Oct. 18, 2018 (13:23 mins)

[Kendo-Guide_3Opportunities] Hiro Masafuji, “Three Opportunities to Strike,” Kendo-Guide.com

[KendoInfo_Ahead] Geoff Salmon, “Ahead only,” KendoInfo.net, Aug 12, 2013.

[KendoNotes_Fuku] On “You Want to Strike Men? In Order to Win…” (面打ちたい?勝つために。。。) – A Video by Fuku-Sensei, KendoNotes.com May 19, 2016.

[KendoNotes_IpponChance] “How to See the Chance for an Ippon (Translation of 一本を取るチャンスの見つけ方 by こごろ一様)”, Kendonotes.com.

[Kumagorou] くまごろうの日記帳、「癒しの剣道」.

[Marugameissinkai-KaeshiDo] 亀武道館一心会 稽古用動画:面返し胴   (48 secs), Oct 15, 2011.

[Marugameissinkai-Kote] 丸亀武道館一心会 稽古用動画:出小手 (51 secs), Oct 21, 2011.

[Salmon13] Geoffrey Salmon (7th Dan), “Passing 6th and 7th dan”, kendoinfo.net, Oct. 21, 2013.

[Salmon1509] Geoffrey Salmon (7th Dan), “Making opportunity,” kendoinfo.net, Sept 13, 2015.

[Salmon1510] Geoffrey Salmon (7th Dan), “Up and down,” kendoinfo.net, Oct. 5, 2015.

[Suzuki1501_Slow] Naoto Suzuki,【機会・打ち方研究】 無理をせず相手を引き出して返し胴  (Study of How and When to Strike – Draw Out the Opponent and Do Kaeshi-Do without Overdoing Things), Jan 12, 2015.

[Suzuki1508_Slow]  Naoto Suzuki,【機会・打ち方研究】我慢して、引き出して返し胴スロー (Study of How and When to Strike – Be Patient, Do Hikidasu and Kaeshi-Do – Slow Motion), Feb 18, 2015.

[Yokota] 横田英行七段審査を振り返って (Looking Back to My 7th Dan Shinsa), Kyushu Electric Power Kendo Club.

[Yomuken] 読むだけで強くなれる剣道ブログ, 出小手は「引き出して打つ」。極めれば勝見洋介, May 26, 2016.

[Zago] Lorenzo Zago (Renshi 7th Dan), “About the meaning of Seme and Tame – Seme? Tame?,” (Translated by Emmanuele Levi).

[ZNKF10_KF_Normal] 全日本剣道連盟, 「第8回全日本選抜剣道八段優勝大会3回戦 藤原―亀井 ダイジェスト」, (Fujiwara vs Kamei, 8th All Japan Kendo 8-dan Tournament 2010 third round), (3:10 mins), April 2010.

[ZNKF11_HK_Normal] 全日本剣道連盟, 9th All Japan Kendo 8-dan Tournament 2011 first round Ust_16, April 2011.

[ZNKF11_HK_Slow] 全日本剣道連盟, Kamei vs Hatakeyama – 9th All Japan Kendo 8-dan Tournament 2011 first round Slow motion (1:09 mins), April, 2011.

[ZNKF15_SS_Normal] 全日本剣道連盟, Kota SASAI -eD Masahiro SHODAI – 63rd All Japan KENDO Championship – Third round 53, Nov 2015.

[ZNKF15_SS_Slow] 全日本剣道連盟, SlowMotion – SHODAI’s D (vs SASAI) – 63rd All Japan KENDO Championship – Third round, Nov. 2015.

[ZNKF15_TaniVsMatsumoto_Normal] Masashi MATSUMOTO -1K Katsuhiko TANI – 15th Japan 8dan KENDO Championship – Third round 25, Apr 16, 2017.

[ZNKF15_TaniVsKurita_Normal] Katsuhiko TANI KM- Waichiro KURITA – 15th Japan 8dan KENDO Championship – Semi final 29.

[ZNKF16_IM_Normal] 全日本剣道連盟, Masahiro INADOMI -1D Isato MATSUDA – 14th Japan 8dan KENDO Championship – Third round 25 v April 2016.

[ZNKF16_IM_Slow] 全日本剣道連盟, SlowMotion – MATSUDA’s D (vs INADOMI) – 14th Japan 8dan KENDO Championship – Third round, April 2016.

[ZNKF16_KS_Normal] 全日本剣道連盟, Hideharu SAKATA -eK Koji KASAMURA – 14th Japan 8dan KENDO Championship – Second round 19, April 2016.

[ZNKF16_KS_Slow] 全日本剣道連盟, SlowMotion – KASAMURA’s K (vs SAKATA) – 14th Japan 8dan KENDO Championship – Second round 19, April 2016.

Copyright 2016 KendoNotes.com

Keywords:  utsukikai (打つ機会), datotsukikai  (打突機会).


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