Tachikata of Matsubayashi Ryu

In this third installment we will look to translate the Tachikata (立ち方), or Methods of Standing, presented by Nagamine Shoshin Sensei in The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do. He has broken these down into ten subcategories:

  1. Shizentai-dachi
  2. Jun shizentai-dachi
  3. Jigotai-dachi
  4. Naihanchi-dachi
  5. Zenkutsu-dachi
  6. Naname zenkutsu-dachi
  7. Kokutsu-dachi
  8. Kosa-dachi
  9. Ippon-ashi-dachi
  10. Iaigoshi-dachi

This first one, Shizentai-dachi (自然体立ち), was covered in the last installment. However, continuing the theme of making no assumptions of previous knowledge, lets reestablish what this means. Tachi (立ち) is our general term for Stance/ Stances and when used as a suffix it becomes -dachi (~立ち), due to a process known as Sequential Voicing or Rendaku (連濁). Shizentai (自然体) is a compound word consisting of Natural (自然) and Body (体). However, due to nuances between Japanese and English, we would usually say Neutral rather than Natural. Thusly Shizentai-dachi (自然体立ち) is a Natural Body Stance, Neutral Body Stance, which often gets shortened in English by removing the term “body.”

Nagamine lists three specific Shizentai-dachi:
1. Soto-hachiji Shizentai-dachi
2. Migi-ashi-mae Shizentai-dachi
3. Hidari-ashi-mae Shizentai-dachi

Next we get to Jun shizentai-dachi, (準自然体立ち). This should be relatively easy to translate as it only has one additional kanji, 準. Jun (準) is the Japanese prefix comparable to the english semi- or quasi-. Thusly Jun shizentai-dachi (準自然体立ち) are Semi-Natural Stances.

Nagamine lists three specific Jun shizentai-dachi:
1. Chokuritsu-fudo-dachi
2. Heisoku-dachi
3. Nekoashi-dachi

(The following eight are all specific stances in their own right.)

Jigotai-dachi uses the kanji, 自護体立ち. This one was a bit of a pain to find, as it seems to be an antiquated/ obscure term, in two ways. In Jigotai (自護体), Jigo (自護) is an odd term for “Self Protection,” and Tai (体) again refers to the Body. Those with previous knowledge about Japanese Martial Arts, probably know that “Self Protection” in the Japanese language is Goshin (護身), and that the more common name for this stance is Shiko-dachi (四股立ち). However both of those are Standard Japanese terms, whereas it seems Jigotai-dachi isn’t.

For example, Shiko-dachi (四股立ち) refers to the stance used by Sumo wrestlers, and the term comes from Sumo. In Sumo, Shiko (四股) is the ceremonial raising and stomping of the legs at the beginning of a Sumo match. Furthermore a Sumo wrestler’s ring name is referred to as Shikona (四股名).

Naihanchi-dachi is a pretty simple one, as it doesn’t need to be fully translated. Naihanchi-dachi is simply called such because it is the main stance used in the Naihanchi kata. As Naihanchi is a proper noun, a translation is not needed. Furthermore, while many people over the years have attempted to assign kanji to Naihanchi (including the translator of The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do), it is my professional opinion that it is best to stick with kana in this case. As such Naihanchi-dachi is just ナイハンチ立ち, and simply translates to Naihanchi Stance.

Zenkutsu-dachi is going to need a bit more work than that, though still pretty straight forward. The kanji are 前屈立ち. Zen (前) is In Front. Kutsu (屈) has several translations but in this context it is Bending (especially when referring to the knee). Followed by our dear suffix -dachi (~立ち). Thusly Zenkutsu-dachi is a Front Bending Stance, which often gets shortened in English to simply Front Stance.

Naname zenkutsu-dachi only adds one more kanji (斜め) which literally means Slanted or Diagonal. So Naname zenkutsu-dachi (斜め前屈立ち) is a Slanged/ Diagonal Front Bending Stance.

If we have a Front Bending Stance (前屈立ち), than it kind of makes sense that we would have a Back Bending Stance. Kokutsu-dachi (後屈立ち), is that Back Bending Stance. Remember when we talk about kutsu (屈), in this context, there is a nuanced implication that we are referring to which knee is bending.

Kosa-dachi is also quite easy to translate. Kosa (交差) is another compound that is best taken as a whole, and means Crossing or Intersecting. Thus Kosa-dachi (交差立ち) is a Crossed Stance. Many people will specify it as a Crossed Legged Stance in English.

Second to last we have Ippon-ashi-dachi (一本足立ち). While in some of the other stances when we say the name in English we will superimpose the word foot or leg, Ippon-ashi-dachi already has this in the Japanese name. Ippon (一本) is the number 1 (一), combined with the general Japanese counter for objects (本). While 本 has many meanings, it is important to note that here it is just a general counter. Ashi (足) is the Japanese term for both Foot and Leg. Ending again with our suffix -dachi (立ち). Thusly Ippon-ashi-dachi (一本足立ち) is a One Legged Stance.

Our last entry for this installment is Iaigoshi-dachi (居合腰立ち). This one probably has the most nuance even though the translation is relatively simple. The kanji for Iaigoshi is 居合腰. This combines Iai (居合) and -goshi (~腰). This is the same Iai as in Iaido (居合道), the art of drawing a sword, and Iai translates roughly to Be Prepared. Here -goshi (~腰) is the word for Hip, Koshi (腰) in Japanese, used as a suffix. In fact the name for this stance comes from Japanese swordsmanship, where Iaigoshi (居合腰) is a one legged kneeling position that allows for both stability and freedom of movement.

This is all we have for the Tachikata (立ち方), The Methods of Standing. Next time we will take a linguistic delve into what Nagamine Sensei describes as Semekata (攻め方), Methods of Attacking.

Published by mattskaratecorner

A martial arts student and instructor. A school teacher and researcher. A curmudgeon with a lot on his mind.

One thought on “Tachikata of Matsubayashi Ryu

  1. Have you ever heard of Suegoshi-dachi? I’m sure the spelling is i wrong. It’s between Zenkutsu-dachi and Kokutsu-dachi.


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