Monday, September 13, 2010

History of Owaza Ju Pon, The Big 10

The Owaza Ju Pon is an interesting two man practice kata coming from the Tomiki lineage of aikido. According to Yoji Kondo Sensei the kata was introduced sometime in the 1950s by Hiroaki(Riki)Kogure Sensei.

Hiroaki Kogure - 8th dan

It seems that much of the basic training coming from Waseda University was a kihon version of kata. This is typically exercised with a static uke. In an attempt to create a more dynamic situation Kogure pieced together some techniques that demanded more movement.

Another of the angles this kata originally attempted to address was people coming in from a more distant ma-ai. In this way the kata also helped to teach students to deal with multiple attack situations. Many of the old timers I have seen perform this kata practice it with the attack as a straight armed run towards tori. Also, as a personal observation I see some more Ueshiba like techniques in this kata that were left out of Tomiki's curriculum such as a classical tenkan irimi nage and shizumi otoshi.

I personally have not seen evidence of this kata practiced by any Japanese or British dojos. From my casual observations this kata seems to largely be present mostly in American lineages of Tomiki Aikido. I believe this may be largely due to Kogure Sensei teaching in the United States from 1970-1975. In many schools in American Tomiki lineage branches it is required for shodan and nidan (1st and 2nd black) grading demonstrations. Typically the first five is demonstrated for shodan. The entire kata is often demoed for nidan.

So the original intention of the kata seems to have been to get attackers moving more dynamically when giving energy. Eventually the majority of kata practice grew to have a more committed attack, so practicing many of the techniques that were already in the 17 kata became somewhat redundant.

Some organizations dropped the redundant techniques and added others from aikido or judo. In other organizations the meaning of the kata began to morph in the 1970s and 1980s. Eventually the kata started being practiced with a go-no-sen timing. This gave it a new life and gave purpose to the techniques in the kata again. While the techniques of the 17 were often practiced sen-no-sen timing, the Big 10 started being practiced as the late timing kata. Other teachers saw this as a separating centers kata, as opposed to the 17 kata which were often closing centers. I have even attended lessons from teachers that teach the redundant techniques as henka, or variation from the standard kata taught. One organization now often refers to the kata as Ura waza - reversal techniques.

Needless to say the kata changed either techniques or fundamental intention to suit the various teachers, schools and organizations as the kata aged.

Owaza Ju Pon - The Big 10

1. Kubi-guruma - neck wheel
2. Kata-otoshi - shoulder drop
3. Ude-guruma - arm wheel
4. Hiji-guruma - elbow wheel
5. Aiki-nage - fitting in throw (Aigamae Ate)
6. Shiho-nage - four corner (all directions) throw
7. Ushiro-ate - behind (from the rear) strike
8. Kote-gaeshi - wrist turn
9. Ushiro-kubi-gatame - hold from behind (the rear)
10. Shizumi-otoshi - sinking body drop

Here is a demo by Nick Ushin Lowry of the KazeUtaBudoKai. He does a separation version here, very different from the late timing version I learned. He switched around the first two techniques, I am not sure if by accident or if he rearranged the kata around his own understanding.

Go here to see Lowry Sensei lecturing on the techniques.

Kaze Uta Budo Kai lessons

Here are two gentlemen performing the first 5 of the Big 10. This often is a requirement for shodan.


  1. I've never gotten Kata Otoshi to work well for me. Furthermore, I've never been convincingly thrown by it. In our club, we block the shoulder to keep uke turned sideways to their direction of motion. This seldom really makes uke fall unless they're all out sprinting. If you actually push through on the shoulder you can start to turn uke around and make them fall, but that is not our kata. I really like to throw in an ankle block with this technique making it a sasai tsuri komi ashi. This is just way more powerful.

    By the way, our version of the big ten is quite a bit different.

  2. Interesting essay, Eric, and interesting comment, Mark.

    I too, have always seen kataotoshi as more of an exercise or demonstration of a principle. it just seemed _too_ simple. But it is actually one of the few techniques that I have used to sail a live, resistant opponent outside the dojo.

    Also, one of my near-shodan students came up to me a year or two ago and told me that he'd gotten some confirmation of kataotoshi in an altercation.

    Ask Eric - I can get kataotoshi to work in randori too ;-)

  3. It is my understanding that Kata Otoshi is actually the first technique of the Owaza Ju Pon, but Kubi Garuma is taught first because it is easier to learn, especially when working on timing and footwork. Sensei Kyle Sloan (Windsong Dojo) explained that the first 4 techniques are essentially the same except for timing. Tori's timing on Kata Otoshi was earlier than the timing on Kubi Garuma. The same goes for the succession of the next 2 techniques (timing is better for 1 than 2, better for 2 than 3, better for 3 than 4). Tori's timing gets a little slower and/or Tori gets caught a little more "off guard".

  4. Jason,

    historically as far as I have been led to believe kubi guruma is first. Even on the WindSong dojo website Kubi Guruma is listed first. Please make fun of Kyle for messing up a generation of students with this negligence.

    See my take on the logic is neck, shoulder, arm, elbow..... moving down the body.


    I don't remember you getting any techniques on me! Ok I might have fallen for you once or twice so you wouldn't look bad in front of your students. ;)

  5. Does anyone have Yoji Kondo's modified list of OwazaJuPon techniques?? I might as well post it to have a complete reference of the kata and it's derivations.

  6. When I started in the mid-70's kubi guruma was first and kata otoshi was second. The idea discussed at that time was that the otoshi motion had already been explored with Shomanate out of the 17 so the neck guruma was considered "a possible" failure as in entering for Shomanate and then having to pull out and separate by going 90 degrees to the original line of attack. For a time Sensei had us start Shomanate/otoshi and then go into the guruma. Then to understand the relationship, we would start the guruma and then after uke resisted the 90 degreee throw, we'd throw straight down the line.

    Ergo; the otoshi and the guruma had a clear relationship and in a sense each was the failure for the other.

    I would assume that with the guruma first in the Big 10 the otoshi was placed as second waza to firm that concept up guruma to otoshi to guruma, etc....a concept called "criss-crossing lines of off balance"

    I looked at Nick's video and he and I throw it pretty much the same. When I first began training tho' I worked with many senior ranks who had been students of Kogure during his Friday night classes and the guruma were thrown with more of a "judo-esque" flavor, e.g. tori moves in, "almost" plants the feet and then "almost" throws uke over the hip like the guruma's out of the judo curriculum.

    I'll add one last piece for consumption. The neck guruma was originally thrown with an open hand to uke's face and not hooked behind the head .... "almost" like the shomanate in the last 5 waza from Go Kata. It was changed due to the proclivity of some people to rock uke's world so-to-speak with too much of an atemi to uke's head.

    Nice piece Eric. As an FYI I was also told that Kogure did the double releases and also what became known as Kogure's Crazy Kata. Miyake Sensei was given credit for the walking and the 8 releases (although I cannot confirm so that I'd be interested what you can find out in that area).

  7. RE: Yoji Kondo's modification...

    As I understood it, HE replaces #6, 7, and 8 (shihonage, ushiroate, and kotegaeshi)


    osotogari, and
    ushirodori makikomi

    I liked that as an interesting idea in mixing aikido and judo and reducing repetitiveness. But I didn't like it because those three didn't seem to fit with the riai of the kata (regardless of who you listen to). osotogari is not really any different from udeguruma, so that is still repetitious, makikomi is a gonosen, separating, guruma, but it requires a different setup from the rest of the thing. and osotogari doesn't seem to really fit either (though I _could_ make a guruma version of it...

    Anyway. it was interesting but I didn't incorporate that change.

    1. Pardon, as I am "Technically" challenged,, I do not see where to respond to the original text comments noted above,, so I grabbed this spot,, I trust it will suffice,,, so,, First, let me say Thank You for posting this video,, as it is a kata limited in usage, it is of course then limited to find a video of it,,, May I make a few comments, basically I agree and am happy to see all of the comments. I agree with Patrick, that most of the reports I have heard re: confrontations on the street were addressed using the big 10,,, there is one interesting thing they NO ONE has pointed out,, and as it was originally explained to me, was the MOST important distinction,,, and that is simply the footing,,, The entire first piece of work thru Sho dan is based on working on the opposite foot,, and then,, entering into the Big 10 is all based on the same foot,,,, one can also see the similar training of course in Judo,,, all the best,,, Winston

  8. My impression was that Kogure sensei developed the Big Ten in Houston in the 1970s, to get tori to move.

  9. The arrangement of putting Kata-otoshi first is a progression of maai, rather than physical location on the body. I was taught kubi, kata, ude, hiji.

  10. At Dr. Kondo's schools, we practice the same first 5 techniques. 6 begins like aiki nage, but instead of reversing directions, we lever the neck back and throw uke backwards--we don't use a japanese name for the technique. 7 is a version of gedanate in which we drop below the attack, turning to the side with our leg stretched out to trip uke. If uke is caught off guard, they sail over into a roll. If not, we rise up apply the gedanate. 8 is Yokomenuchi O Soto Gari. 9 is Yokemunuchi Ippon Seoini Nage. 10 is Yokomenuchi O Maki Komi. I doubt Dr. Kondo made these changes himself as he is big on tradition. Dr. Kondo's club has been practicing the techniques this way for nearly 30 years.

    We also practice the techniques with way more energy than Lowry Sensei demonstrates, with uke nearly running. This means your timing has to be very good, and you have to step into uke substantially to counter balance their motion. In a seminar we had, Shishida Shihan said "occupy their occupation". He meant that you should physically change places with uke when doing O Waza Jupon. We also applied the techniques with substantially more force than Lowry demonstrates. For shodan we demonstrate the Junana Hon Kata, the whole O Waza Jupon doing each technique on both sides, 8 suwari waza, tando randori, and group attack. It makes for a long demonstration.

  11. This is one of the more satisfying conversations that has sparked up here lately. At last, budo academia!

    Mark - I am pretty positive that Kondo Sensei changed the kata. Would you be kind enough to have him review this history and make and comment and any mistakes or add anything.

    Jack - I specifically asked Kondo Sensei the dates question in June when I attended the OWazaJuPon seminar. Perhaps Mark can skim some more information from my original source.

    Jack - again I am going with Kond Sensei's reports. But it makes since, when you see the JAA guys doing the 17 kihon. Only Tori is moving! I could be entirely wrong, which is why I love this dicussion to root out all the rumors and legends from the words of the most credible sources. If we don't figure out the history soon our chances of putting the pieces tigether will soon vanish.

  12. I agree, Eric, This is a great thread on Owaza... Some great info coming up - some of it surprising...

    RE: the chicken or the egg question... I was taught kubiguruma first then kataotoshi. Mac explained it to us as a variation in tori'a angle of entry into the throw. (the angle gets progressively smaller as the kata progresses until you have to enter quite sharply for #4guruma.

    I currently teach kataotoshi first because it is _way_easier than kubiguruma and it seems to illustrate the earlier-otoshi,later-guruma idea better that way.

    I'd never thought about LF's point that the guruma-otoshi-guruma arrangement serves to illustrate that each follows the other. I'd always seen this kata illustrating the idea that otoshi is the early (on time) timing and guruma is a touch later than that. But arranged the old way that we learned it, it actually shows that failed otoshi becomes guruma ANd failed guruma becomes otoshi.

    That's kinda cool!

  13. Oh man .... long week but taking a break to clear my head.

    I'll try to make this concise so I don't get lost in the verbiage.

    Uke stands in right posture and attacks with r/hand & foot. At the exact moment in time when the front/right foot hits the ground the very first exposure to a throw possible is perpendicular to the line between uke's ankles ... not the otoshi ... if for no other reason than at that moment the center is exactly between uke's 2 feet and uke has 50/50 weight on both the R & L foot, but only for a moment.

    At this point two throws are possible; shomanate backwards or a guruma forwards. The 17 explores this first exposure w/shomanate and the big 10 explores this exposure w/kubi guruma. This is why in the 17 Shomanate is 1st and in the Big 10 Kubi Guruma is first.

    In the 17 if tori misses this first pop on uke then uke's r/front foot is on the floor, the back/left foot begins to move forward, uke's center moves forward with it and tori then may use shomanate to lead uke's center over the front foot (before the back foot may fully recover) and this is known as "otoshi".

    So an early timing on shomanate results in a throw backwards perpendicular to uke's feet but if this is missed, tori guides uke forward and takes a more forward directed/otoshi version of shomanate.

    In the Big 10, the first opportunity is perpendicular to uke's feet but forward instead. This becomes kubi guruma .... the corollary to Shomanate which is why it was originally done with a hand to uke's face and NOT by hooking behind uke's head. In this way the 17/big 10 ... shomanate/kubi guruma relationship was made more clear.

    If the perpendicular/kubi guruma is missed (as uke's left foot moves to recover and as uke's center moves forward) then you are back at the otoshi (kata otoshi).

    The idea taught by so many that a guruma results because tori grabs uke and spins him on his front foot and then pulls his upper body backwards in a twisted spine condition CAN AND DOES occur. But, I consider it the second choice and actually the second opportunity (or bite of the apple). Ergo, first pop is the guruma (forwards or backwards, kubi guruma or shomanate) and second pop is the otoshi (same direction whether as a forward/directed Shomanate or a kata otoshi.

    This is why the guruma must be first in the Big 10 and why the otoshi must be second ..... the guruma is the first chance tori has at uke and the otoshi is the second. This IMHO should be the structure of good kata (why put the 2nd or 3rd opportunity as the first waza in the set?).

    Please note however; in order to hit either of these perpendicular to the feet throws, tori must go sen-no-sen and not ato-no-sen. The notion that the Big 10 is purely ato-no-sen is entirely too limiting and for the record ..... the 17 ain't called the 17 attack movements for nothing.

    This perpendicular to the feet-forward/backward should be really easy for you Judo guys; possibly not so for pure Aikido players at first (so if you try don't give up, just work it slow until it flows).

    Oh and Eric .... you had asked but I'm way busy these days .... one of my students found a reference in Tomiki's book where he refers to the 17 as "attack movements". I'll get the book name and page for you once I can pin him down (to the mat).

    Have fun in class tonight. ;-)

  14. Thanks for the awesome contributions to this Wilkenson Sensei.

    I practice this kata different says but the pure go no sen version is my favorite. When I learned it we were told not to move until we felt the attack move our beard hairs.
    We should all get some films posted sometime so we can visually compare ideas.

    Another topic that should need to discuss is ukes role.


  15. Thanks Eric: I try to offer something of value. I would say however that I have found over time that taking a kata (such as Owaza Ju Pon or the 17) and just playing with sen-no-sen or ato-no-sen and having uke do slightly different things as part of his role as attacker can illuminate a different light bulb, so-to-speak. While I'm firm believer in starting with the original/traditional forms (as much as any of us can know them since time changes things), I encourage experimentation in my Yudansha to they can learn to adjust and create on the fly.

    Have a great weekend.

  16. Eric asked me to comment on the order of the waza in the big ten --
    i'm not really stuck on a particular order-- when i learned them a while back it was as it is posted above-- in the demo from a while back that is posted up there i do a different order by switching the first two

    lately i have prefered
    linking the ideas this way:

    1 kata otoshi and shizumiotoshi
    2 ushiroate, aikinage(iriminage), and ushio kubi gatame
    3 kubi garuma, ude garuma, hiji garuma,
    4 kotegaeshi and shihonage (tenkai kotegaeshi)

    there is a big section on our youtube stuff of me going over these links and rambling on and such from our clinic last June here:

  17. There you go Eric, finally a comment section that is definitely thought provoking and leaning towards productive.

    L.F. That was an interesting Bit of information on linking the kubi-garuma to a failed shomen-ate... I will have to play with this in class tonight, to see what all comes up..

  18. Eric:

    The Principles and Practice of Aikido by Senta Yamada & Alex Macintosh - W. Foulsham & Co. Ltd. Bucks, England, 1966

    starting w/pg 58 first 3 waza referred to as "attack blows"

    Elsewhere in book the description of kuzushi, tsukuri, kake ......... kake referred to as "attack".

    Assumption likely is that tori takes kuzushi (off-balance or postural break & control), then tsukuri (entry and positioning) followed by "attack" for termination of tori/uke relationship.

    I think I've got one or two more and as I clean out my garage and files boxes I'll get them to you.

  19. I have only just tripped over this kata and this site. I started Tomiki Aikido in 1974 in London and have never heard of this kata. I can see though that it was probably confined to America. In my time as a beginner a group of my Senseis were concerned about Uke & Tori being too static at the start of each of the 17 Randori No Kata. To correct this they introduced a set of 6 techniques as a Kata that had Uke attack so that Tori had something to react too. Many years later I was introduced to Shodokan style by Nariyama Shihan and saw the many Kihon 'drills' that had been introduced by Tomiki Shihan and I then understood that these Kihon exercises feed life into the Aikido of Shodokan. A basic premise in Shodokan style is that Uke does not give their momentum and sacrifice their balance to the advantage of Tori. Tori must overcome the inertial resistance of a static, well balanced Uke The Kihon of Shodokan style provide the skills to move Uke and overcome his static inertia.

    I can see though that there is also a valuable skill to be gained in dealing with an Uke on the move and catching the right moment to apply a technique. I can see that Owaza Jo Pon has a strong role to play in gaining that skill.

    Regards Dave Miller