JUTTE: a weaponless weapon kata? – Elmar T. Schmeisser

Jutte has always been a problematical kata. In general it has been ignored and/or despised for tournaments as it is neither spectacular nor does it appear to make any kind of combative sense. Its postures are Kabuki-like, its movements counterintuitive and any attempt to apply it as a "defense" against a staff will inevitably result in broken fingers.

I propose an alternative – that this kata is not a defense against a staff, but instead is a kata demonstrating attacks with the staff, while hiding the fact (by omission) that it is actually a staff kata and not an empty hand kata at all. In fact, Nakayama states in Best Karate - #1 Comprehensive (M.Nakayama ©1977) p.109: Jitte - " The movements in this kata are numerous, bold and grave and may be performed with a staff in hands. It is appropriate for learning effective use of the hips and for blocking with a staff. The performance line is cross shaped , the number of moves is 24, and time required is about one minute."

I give here the kata sequence in two parallel series: with and without the staff. In every frame, one can overlap almost exactly the body images. The staff methods follow reasonably well those of the Taira lineage staff basics, but not the Matayoshi or Rueiryu methods.


Start out in natural stance, the staff in the right hand.


Simply bring the staff up in front of you, put its butt on the ground and cover the fist with the left hand.


As you begin the drop into front stance, strike with the bottom end of the staff.


Drop down into the stance and strike with the top of the staff.



Turn the hand over, completing an inside block movement to kamae.


Turn left and begin the double palm heels, beginning an end-for-end rotation of the staff.


Again, perform an inside scooping block to end in kamae.


Turn to the right and flip the staff again end-for-end


Perform a mid-level thrust with the staff while sliding in.


Set up a side strike while bringing the left foot in a half step.


Use the palm heel to complete the side strike while stepping into side stance. In general, one would of course actually grip the staff with the lead hand, but the point here is that the palm heel is actually powering the strike (I managed to slip, proving Murphy’s Law).

Step in with the left foot, and perform the second side strike.


Perform the third side strike. The inset shows the same from the side camera angle, which will be used for the next movements.


Cross the right foot moving back down the embusen, release the left hand and use the right to spin the staff clockwise up (hand to hand transfer).


Release the right hand, complete the vertical spin, regrasp the staff and thrust.


Close up the feet, release the right hand, spin the staff counterclockwise to regrip with the right hand. This is half the next vertical spin.


Release the left, continue the vertical spin with the right hand and regrip the left, ending with a high level thrust.


Perform a crescent kick, touching the end of the staff with the sole before the upper body rotation.


Step down, completing the stance and the horizontal spin, staying under the staff.


Repeat with the other foot and rotation direction.


Complete the step down and staff turn.


Start the third repeat of the technique set.


Complete the stance and position (camera angle will shift for the next pictures).


Rotate the staff clockwise over the head before tucking it under the arm into a down block, releasing the left hand.


Lift the right hand and stand the staff up.


Slide the right hand down, and grasp the staff with the left.


Rotate the palms. On the staff, do them sequentially left-right (i.e. do not let go entirely).


Draw the right hand up, scoop with the lead end and begin an augmented block with the foot.


Complete the scoop, draw, lift and pull motion.


Advance and execute a forward strike.


Again, sequentially rotate the palms on the staff, reaching with the lower end.


Repeat the sequence with the other foot and stance.


Complete the technique as before.


Again, execute a vertical strike.


Turn counterclockwise and set the staff up for the next movement. Note that the next pictures will reverse the camera angle again.


Assume a slanted overhead guard following the rotational whip of the staff.


Repeat the setup and staff rotation into the guard position on the other side.


Setup for the advancing rising/rotational strikes.


Execute the first strike in the series.


Then execute the second strike.


Turn with the left foot, and execute the second strike.


Step forward, and execute the third strike.


Turn counterclockwise by pulling the left foot in, and return to the starting posture.

While this demonstration may not be "perfect" (the staff could be prettier and more perfectly vertical in some places, etc. etc.), but I think it gives an idea of what the hypothesis is: weapons kata can be hidden from view "in the open" and so practiced without annoying or unduly alarming the local constabulary. While this is in no sense a complete method of training the weapon, it must be admitted that some training is always better than no training. In all cases, if you want to learn how to hit with a stick, you have to hit things with that stick. The same applies for the empty hand techniques in the kata – if they don’t work, then you are seeing them wrongly. Changing their shape to conform to a predetermined idea of what they are (perhaps defined by their common labels of "block," "punch" and so on) has only a small chance of teaching the student anything new.


Elmar T. Schmeisser

www.isok.org www.atama.org



Acknowledgements: Bill Bly (http://billbly.com/ and http://americansamurai.com) took the pictures for me. All rights reserved. © Elmar T. Schmeisser, 2002.