Koppōjutsu Kurai Dori 骨法術位取
taking position, distancing, sizing-up
Kurai Dori means, “To take proper distance”. Not all Kamae are used to initiate a fight sequence. Some Kamae are used to create the required distance between you and your opponent. Therefore, in such a case as this you really need to become aware of the background for each Kamae.
All Kamae became Kage from Shizen Tai no Kamae 自然体 (Kokoro no Kamae1) & with Yoko Aruki.
illustrations from the densho of koppo jutsu
right to left: Migi Seigan - Hidari Seigan - Hira Ichimonji - Hoko - Bobi
"Kurai Dori" literally means to take a position, but this only hints at its full meaning - attitude
"Kurai Dori" is all these things and much more! Is your environment composed of only physical components?
What about your emotional environment? Is your boss pleased or agitated?
Is your spouse happy or sad?
What is the emotional state of your opponent?
Is he enraged? Cool and detached? Frantic?
What is my emotional state relative to them?
How does that affect things? This also is "Kurai Dori".
What about your spiritual environment?
Do you have a pure and benevolent heart or are you spiritually hollow?
Is your spirit strong? What about those around you?
What is the nature of their spirit?
Good, bad, weak, strong?
What effect does their spirit have on your spirit and yours on theirs?
Yes, "Kurai Dori" is taking a position, but it is doing it with a complete awareness of your environment on every level. "Kurai Dori" is the awareness and understanding that lays the foundation for "Koppo”.
The Five Kurai Dori are called GOHO. The crossed – foot pattern is related to the YOKOBASHIRI 横走り(side running) by the Ninja or shinobi aruki 忍歩き.
位取 Kurai dori & Context
位取 Kurai dori in the simplest sense means to take position. In Kotō ryū the kurai dori can easily be seen as the five kamae – migi seigan, hidari seigan, hira ichimonji, hōkō and bōbi.
Kurai dori though is much more than kamae, it means to take an appropriate position in the physical as well as mental sense. Physical position can be the relative distance to the opponent or opponents, the proximity of objects, hazards, avenues of escape. Beyond this kurai dori is the awareness of the entirety of the surrounding environment and the nature of the people therein. Are you actually being attacked, are there hidden opponents, what is the aggressor hoping to achieve, how will the weather impact on the situation?
Now understand the above as ‘context’. Context is vitally important in the spoken and written word. Taken out of context the meaning of words can be warped, twisted, misconstrued and misused leading to misunderstanding, confusion and the promulgation of falsehoods. Context is kurai dori for the written word – what situation is the author writing about, what are the aims or motivations of the author, what is the author’s background, what assumptions do you have about the author or subject matter, is the text a translation, has the translator embellished?
One example that comes to mind from Hatsumi Sensei “Don’t use strength”. This doesn’t mean “be weak” or “be lazy”… Similarly when speaking of “distance” or “distancing” this should not be polarized to close or distant, near or far, it is every distance from 0 to infinity. In a fight the appropriate distance changes in an instant 一閃.
Remember context and kurai dori any time you read articles and quotes about budō – including the ones I have written here. Hatsumi Sōke quotes Takamatsu Sensei in the unarmed fighting techniques book “Things that are written are composed after the event – these are not so important, they are a past matter. The importance lies in the immediacy of the warriors heart”
と書くごとく、骨法術の構は、虎倒流、義鑑流、玉心流、 雲隠流 おのおの位取りから構える姿精を大秘としている。口伝
It is written that, Kotō-Ryū, Gikan-Ryū, Gyokushin-Ryū, and Kumogakure-Ryū; from each of these the spiritual posture2 [Shisei] of Kurai Dori3 is taken, Kuden.
右正眼之構 Migi Seigan no Kamae
Stand facing the opponent. Keep the legs separated with the right hand out straight. and the left-hand shuto at the right shoulder. The right hand is in a fist! ken, making the kamae.
左正眼之構 Hidari Seigan no Kamae
Stand facing the opponent. Keep the legs separated and the hips lowered with the left hand out straight. The right-hand shuto is at the left shoulder, making the kamae.
平一文字之構 Hira Ichimonji no Kamae
This kamae is standing straight up, both hands in the form of a shuto straight out to either side, in a straight-line kamae.
抱囲之構 Hōkō no Kamae
Drop the hips and open both hands at the height of the face. This becomes the posture of jumping in with both hands and both feet.
防備之構 Bōbi no Kamae
Standing upright with the right shuto extended out to the front and the left hand at the hip.
この図ごとき五つ位取りを法いう。構えよ蟹く横に定む則ち Ⅹ 字形に足をぶちが えた形 を速心早法といつて、忍術家の横走りし使っで、この練習によると普通歩き方一日十里く者は安々六七がきるし、また狭道でも心やすく通り抜けらと同時に敵の斬込み対体が転じやすく、また飛び込みいとうのである。
The five Kurai Dori of this image are called Goho4. From these Kamae you would move sideways like a crab. This way of moving be crossing the legs in the form of an “X” is called sokushin sokuho5, and was used by Ninjutsu practitioners as a method for running sideways.
By practicing this walk, someone who was normally able to walk 10 ri6 in a day would be able to walk 16 or 17 ri.
This method makes walking along narrow paths much easier, and at the same time allows your body to react smoothly and to jump easily in against an enemy’s attack. This requires good, hard training.
- Migi Seigan is the Kyo kamae. The weight should be over the left leg. Watch as the opponent comes in, and if you are able to lightly shift the weight over to the right leg, the opponent will continue by and not hit you.
- Hidari Seigan is said to become a kamae of the fist and leg and the like striking.
- Hira Ichimonji no Kamae is showing the opponent your openings at any time you are in position to extend fists or fingers into the opponent’s head / eyes.
- In Hoko no Kamae [Hisei No Kamae] the hips are dropped low and both hands open at height of the face. This becomes the posture for jumping in with both hands and feet.
- Bobi no kamae [Iko no Kamae] is done calmly, the opponent can come in at any time, and you use a non-hostile posture with only the right fist. This becomes a Kamae of expressing dignity.
Phantom martial tradition of Gikan-Ryū and Kurai Dori
1. Shizen no kamae 自然之構 (Posture of Spontaneity)
2. Ichimonji no Kamae 一文字之構 (Posture of the Straight Line)
3. Shiten no Kamae 四天之構 (Posture of the Four Heavens)
4. Hachiku no Kamae 破竹之構 (Posture of Breaking Bamboo)
5. Hira ichimonji no kamae 平一文字之構 (flat one line posture)
Sanshin no Kamae 三心之構 or Sanposhin no Kamae 三寶神之構 (Posture of Three Minds)
- Tenchi Uchū no Kamae天地宇宙之構 (Posture of Heaven, Earth, and the Universe)
- Fūten Goshin no Kamae風天護身之構 (Posture of Self Defense with Vayu)
- Hannō Bon-itsu no Kamae反應汎溢之構 (Posture of Defiance and then overflowing)
Please study the attitude and equilibrium of your body position to discover the attitude and equilibrium of your soul!