Kerikata of Matsubayashi Ryu

Rounding out the basic movements of Matsubayashi Ryu, as discussed by Nagamine Shoshin Sensei in The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do, are the Kerikata (蹴り方) or Methods of Kicking. Note that the actual word for kick in Japanese is Keri (蹴り) and not Geri. It is due to the process of Rendaku (連濁), or Sequential Voicing, that when Keri gets used as a suffix the initial K sound is softened to a g. This is the only time the Japanese word for Kick is pronounced -geri (~蹴り). It is important to note this because the Japanese word Geri actually means diarrhea, and we (or at least the author, along with most instructors) do not want people practicing such while Kicking. As I’m sure Nagamine Sensei would have agreed.

Speaking of Nagamine Sensei, he has divided the Kerikata into five main subcategories:
1. Kyobu-geri
2. Fukubu-geri
3. Kinteki-geri
4. Sokuto-geri
5. Nidan-geri

Again our goal here is to look at the literal, and nuanced, translation of these Japanese terms, making no assumptions of previous knowledge.

Starting right off with Kyobu-geri (胸部蹴り). Before translating Kyobu lets establish that the phonetics for this word きょうぶ has an extended O sound, represented by the character う here. As far as the meaning of 胸部, taken seperarely Kyo (胸) is Chest or Breast and Bu (部) means Part. In English we don’t feel the need to say “Chest Part,” so simply “Chest” will do. Kyobu-geri are kicks targeting the chest.

In this section, of The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do, instead of listing individual techniques, Nagamine Sensei, lists the part of the foot that makes contact whilst kicking. Here he lists the Josokutei (上足底). Again we should not that there is an extended O sound in Jo (じょう). Jo (上) refers to the “upper part of…,” and Sokutei (足底) is the sole of your foot, comprised of the kanji for Foot (足) and Base (底).

Moving down the body we get to Fukubu-geri (腹部蹴り). Fuku (腹) is the abdomen and again Bu (部) is Part. Again in English there is no need to say “Abdomen Part,” so “Abdomen” will suffice nicely. Thusly Fukubu-geri are kicks targeting the abdomen.

According to Nagamine Sensei the Tips of the Toe, or Tsumasaki (爪先). In a previous installment we discussed Tsumasaki-geri, but as we are making no assumptions of previous knowledge: Tsuma (爪) are Nails or Claws and Saki means Precede. As such “Tips of the Toes” is a pretty decent loose translation of Tsumasaki.

Again, headed farther down the body we get to Kinteki-geri (金的蹴り). Kinteki (金的) is a bit of a slang term, in that the nuanced translation doesn’t exactly match a literal translation. Separately Kin (金) means Gold and Teki (的) means Bullseye or Target. It just so happens that the Golden Target this term refers to is the Male Groin, which in this case Nagamine explains it also includes the upper-inside of the thigh. In Japanese you will also see this term referred to as Kintama-geri (金玉蹴り) or Golden Ball Kick, which usually doesn’t include the upper-inside of the thigh. It is further worth mentioning, kin is pronounced like the English word Keen.

Nagamine Sensei suggests that the Sokko (足甲) be used for this. It is worth mentioning that the O in -ko is extended. Also this is a relatively obscure pronunciation combining “soku” plus “ko” to get Sokko, this same word would usually be written 足の甲 and pronounced “Ashi no Ko” in Standard Japanese. Soku (足) is again an alternative pronounciation for the word Foot, and Ko (甲) in this context refers to the Instep. Thusly Sokko is the Instep of the Foot, or just the Instep.

This next Kerikata (蹴り方) switches things up and refers to the part of the foot used, rather than the part of the body which is targeted, Sokuto-geri (足刀蹴り). Soku (足) is again the Foot. To (刀), with an extended O sound, refers to a Blade. So Sokuto (足刀) is the Foot’s Blade. Though we will usually see this translated to Foot’s Edge.

Finally we get to Nidan-geri (二段蹴り). While this is often seen translated as Flying Front Kick, the literal translation is not nearly as sensational. Nidan (二段) can be taken in one of two ways, both of which are contextually correct: Two Steps or Two Levels. Both are linguistically correct and both match the context of what the practitioner is doing when they execute Nidan-geri.

That is all for the five major categories of techniques laid out in The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do used in Matsubayashi Ryu as well as their major subcategories. While it is tempting for me to move right along to the Intermediate Techiques, we will instead go deeper to the individual techniques within Tachikata (立ち方), Semekata (攻め方) and Ukekata (受け方). Then once we have completed all that, we shall move on to the Intermediate Techniques.

Published by mattskaratecorner

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

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