Methods of Striking in Naginata
There are five methods of striking in Naginata:
- Furiage: the most basic method of striking. In furiage, you lift the Naginata up while keeping it in line with the center of your body. Commonly, you use furiage to hit men, kote, and sune.
- Mochikae: is very representative of Naginata movements. In mochikae, you exchange the grips of each hand on the Naginata, and twist your body around using hiraki-ashi to strike soku-men, men, sune, or do.
- Furi-kaeshi: you twist your wrist and bring the kissaki of the Naginata back and around your back and over your head in a large arc. Commonly, you use furi-kaeshi to hit men, kote, and sune.
- Choku-tsuki and 5. Kuri-komi-tsuki : these are the most frightening techniques in Naginata. In each, you thrust at the throat of the opponent. In choku-tsuki you step in to thrust, using either the kissaki or the ishizuki of the Naginata. In kuri-komi-tsuki you pull your Naginata back and then thrust using the kissaki.
- state of mind in which your “mind doesn’t move.”
- mental strength that allows you to overcome fear, surprise, doubt, and confusion when faced with an opponent
- regardless of the situation, you maintain a placid state of mind
- when you are calm and collected you clearly see when and how your opponent is attacking
Chances for striking in Naginata
- Debana - When the opponent is about to strike
- Pulling back: During an exchange of strikes, when trying to regain ma-ai, or when you have beaten your opponent spiritually or with technique, and they are pulling back.
- After the opponent has failed a strike: when the opponent is on the defensive
- When the opponent has stopped moving: when the opponent is perplexed or too tired to attack.
- During mochi-kae: when the opponent is changing grip or kamae
- Breathing out: when the opponent is breathing out.
Importance of uchi-kaeshi
- comprehensive exercise that involves the use of all the basics such as correct breathing, grip, ma-ai, footwork, and body movement
- develops correct striking and body coordination
- allows beginners and advanced practioners to practice together since the striking points and order is fixed
- exercise is helpful for both the attacker and receiver
- an important basic exercise for all levels of Naginata
Order of uchi-kaeshi strikes
The strikes are made going forward; however more advanced practitioners can repeat the same order going backwards as well. The attacker (Uchikata) should continue striking as accurately as possible without stopping, preferably doing one sequence in one breath. The receiver (Ukekata) is responsible for maintaining correct distance (ma-ai), and must encourage and help the attacker to strike vigorously and effectively. The receiver moves back when the attacker is advancing, and moves forward when the attacker is retreating.
Uchikaeshi is an exercise which is designed not only benefit the attacker, but also the receiver. Ukekata is not just providing the targets for uchikata to hit, but must also consider and master many of the fundamentals of naginata in order to receive the attacks properly. It is a learning experience for both sides, and cooperation is essential for safety and advancement.
- “mental alertness” after making a strike
- You must not show any carelessness after striking
- if you are careless, you will leave yourself open for a counterattack from your opponent
- it is important to maintain careful concentration and preparedness both mentally and physically at all times while practicing naginata
Mental & Physical Benefits Gained through Training in Naginata
- naturally builds strength, flexibility, and stamina
- practitioner feels a boost in energy and vitality
- long practice of naginata will build a good posture and fluidity of motion that provides an air of elegance and grace
- emphasis on manners makes the practitioner naturally more courteous
- practice partners fosters a feeling of humility, gratitude and cooperation
- quest to master naginata requires patience, resilience, determination, discipline, concentration, analysis, vigor, and insight
- rigor of training is an effective way of relieving stress
- allows practioners to overcome personal weakness (surprise, fear, doubt, and confusion)
Characteristics of Naginata
- Manners and etiquette are remembered as a matter of course, as this is stressed in every practice.
- Naginata helps develop elegant movements through its characteristic manipulation of the weapon, such as using both the left and right sides, changing grips fluidly, sliding the Naginata in and out effortlessly, etc.
- Naginata helps develop alertness, flexibility, and rational body movement through its use of linear and circular motions, and varying speeds.
- Naginata helps develop insight and endurance.
- Naginata is a physical form of training which can be done regardless of age.
- refers to the distance between two people facing each other
- distance between two people is the same for each of them, but the goal of ‘taking ma-ai’ is to get a distance between you and your opponent that is more advantageous for you, thus putting your opponent at a disadvantage
- kinds of ma-ai are uchi-ma, to-ma, and chika-ma, but the exact distances for the different ma-ai depend on each individual
Uchi-ma is (1) the distance which enables you to take one step and strike, and also one step back to avoid your opponent’s strikes; and (2) Uchi-ma is the most basic ma-ai.
To-ma is a (1) safe distance where even if your opponent takes one step in to strike, they cannot reach you; (2) however, you will also not be able to reach them in a single step.
Chika-ma is (1) a very close distance where you do not have to extend forward to strike, and you have to move back a long way to avoid being struck; (2) this distance has a lot less room for movement than uchi-ma, and is very dangerous for both people.
- The distance between two people is obviously the same for both, but depending on the kamae and movement of the kissaki, it is possible and important to make the distance advantageous for your needs.
- An old teaching states that “Ma-ai should be far for your opponent, and close for you.” If the kissaki of your opponent’s Naginata moves, you need to do what you can to profit, and use their movement to your advantage.
- When taking ma-ai, it is important to take note of your opponent’s physical appearance, movement, skill, spirit, kamae, and their preferred ma-ai
- To do this, you must train hard and be able to make instant judgments, and be able to read the situation well.
Valid Point (yoku datotsu) in Nagainata
Yuko datotsu is defined as:
- the accurate striking or thrusting
- made onto legitimate targets
- with the naginata’s datotsu-bu edge,
- in high spirits,
- with correct posture,
- while at the same time shouting out the name of the target being aimed at, and
- demonstrating zanshin.
- The targets that can be hit with only the ha-bu, 15-20 cm from the kissaki,
- include men, kote, and do.
- Sune may be hit with the ha-bu as above but also with the e-bu 20-25cm from the ishizuki.
- Inko (tsuki) may be hit with the kissaki and, in the US only, with the ishizuki.
- However, tsuki may not be executed on those under age 18.
The Shodan questions may also be asked.