Nick Ushin Lowry recently wrote a vague history of the practice he has pieced together.
"First -- the name-- as a name "Hanasu no kata" probably goes back to someone stateside (Merritt?? Geis??-- i dont know specifically) -- I am told that Ms. Miyake didnt name it Hanasu no Kata nor did she consider it a " formal kata" as such and was surprised to see it referred to in that way -- a little research reveals that we can find similar/ and near identical forms which are named (i think arguably more accurately) "shichihon no kuzushi" (seven forms of balance break--comprising the first seven of yon kata but without throws) and "musubi renshu" (connection practice-- emphasizing kuzushi and control mechanics) -- i like these other names because the term hanasu -- "to break free or to release" is a pretty limited context for all what goes on in these exercises -- also to delineate it as a kata rather than an informal practice form or exercise was probably a misstep somewhere along the way that took on a life of its own as such things sometimes do."
"As a form of practice i think historically what we see in the eight releases is pretty close to the first section of koryu dai yon and also to the "dynamic 11," a warm up exercise that Tomiki used at Waseda in the 50's and 60's that is like the "8 releases" with a few waza added but all of them terminating with falls -- i suspect that the "dynamic 11" was Tomiki's invention and it probably gave rise to both the early part of yon kata and the eight releases -- the codification of 8 waza or practice forms that came to be called Hanasu no Kata may be an adaptation of those exercises originating from either Mr. Kogure or Ms. Miyake most likely"
In all the Tomiki based organizations I have been involved in (3 of 'em) the initial balance break always moves directly to the outside. In a flash of inspiration I decided to start working the opposite. My initial movements go directly inside - to the dangerous zone. If done correctly this causes the opponent to spin in a wheeling back step.
After working these releases I would like to say that these are not the best answers for this situation of getting the hand clasped. I do find however that this response here is superior angle leading into many counter after a technique is already getting locked onto you.
Really I believe in order to master this kata you have to work it a 1000 differenct ways until all the principles are generalized, not merely worked in a very tight structured form.
And yes Jeff, I know you hate it. Jeffery hates making circle.