Mar 15

Learning Wansu: Focusing on Shuto

Last night, Metamora Martial Arts students learned (or reviewed) shuto, an edge-of-hand strike or block.

Shutos are seen in so many places in karate. In Shuri-ryu, we see them in all of our wazas – ippons, taezus, kihons – as well as a number of our katas. It’s an incredibly versatile technique.

In order to get to last night’s recap, I need to explain a new teaching methodology I am experimenting with.

A New Way of Teaching

After much discussion with my instructor, Mr. Hawkey, I have elected to teach kata differently than I ever learned or have taught in the past. Previously, I’d started out working kata as the full series. I’d start out somewhat sloppy, working on the full pattern of movement, and then refining my techniques as I progressed. However, I wasn’t satisfied in this approach any longer both in my experience as a student and as an instructor. As a result, I am reversing the process of teaching kata.

Think Small

Instead of teaching a full form right away, I am starting small. Students will begin learning kata first with learning the individual techniques of the kata. Once they demonstrate understanding of the technique, I will begin to have them incorporate it into a short combination of movements. From there, we’ll progress to working a series. Once each student can perform the entire series using each new technique, I’ll move them along to the full kata.

In our requirements, you’ll notice that for a first stripe, I only require knowledge of the techniques. At second stripe, I’ll look for the students to have a firm understanding of the series. Only when they put these series together into a full kata will they be eligible for promotion.

Edge of Hand – Shuto

As mentioned above, the shuto can be used in a number of ways. In fact, Master Robert Trias describes in the Pinnacle of Okinawan Karate that the hand can strike from five sides and can be used to block in at least three ways.

This video by bunkai (application) expert Iain Abernethy demonstrates a number of drills that can be done with shuto.

(Side note: I’m excited to attend an Iain Abernethy seminar in Chicago next month.)

You can form the shuto using these steps:

  1. Place the thumb so it’s about 3/4 of an inch away from the little finger.
  2. Keep the four fingers solid together  – you should see very little light between the fingers.

How the Shuto is Used in Wansu

The shuto that appears in Wansu is technically an augmented shuto that blocks an incoming strike. Both the hands are cast as a shuto. One is out in front while the other guards the solar plexus. I will be introducing this to class soon.

As students progress, I will introduce more ways they can use the shuto.

New Class Times Next Week

As announced in class last night, I am going to experiment with some new class times next week. Basic class will be 6-6:45. Advanced class will be 6:45-7:30.

I’ve noticed that a half hour is just not enough time to cover off on the material I want to cover.

Want to learn more about the shuto?

Tell me what drills you’d like to practice in class. How about the drills in Mr. Abernethy’s video above? Maybe you’ve got additional information you want me to cover about the edge-of-strike, or if you a story about using this technique in a sparring match or a super cool break.

Leave a comment below and tell us all about it!

Adam Bockler

Sensei Adam Bockler is a 2nd-degree black belt in karate and the owner of Metamora Martial Arts. He's been in the martial arts since 2003, and has received instruction in tai chi chuan, Hsing-i chuan, judo, tae kwon do and XMA. Sensei Bockler was inducted into the 2014 USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame as Karate Black Belt of the Year. He is the communications manager for Float Mobile Learning.

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