Sentai & Sengi

Sentai is a class of Taido techniques that make use of a spinning motion.

For the most part, they are executed with the body upright and consist of a spin with an attached strike or kick. Of all the sotai, sen– is probably the easiest to conceptualize, but still mechanically-complex.

Since Sen- is the first hokei most Taido students learn, we tend to take it for granted and stop practicing it, but there’s a lot of fun to be had with sentai.

As an example, here’s a creative interpretation I came up with for the Kansai regional tourney a few years back:

Doko Go (5) Kai for Sentai

Each technique class in Taido is defined by a set of characteristics describing its proper execution, called Doko Go Kai.

Here’s the key points for executing sengi:

  1. Sentai furin – Think of wind swirling between trees. You should feel like a leaf being carried by a spinning wind. Sentai spins forward and down, using the spin and gravity for power.
  2. Kihatsu seiken – Be careful of your shoulders. By slowing or stopping your shoulders, your opponent can end your sentai. To prevent this, do not begin turning your shoulders too soon. Hold your spin until you can complete it in one quick motion.
  3. Daen koka – Sentai spins like the coil of a spring. as you rotate about your body’s axis, your hips descend, achieving their lowest position at the moment of contact with your opponent. You must remain upright when you spin. Otherwise, you will be prone to losing your balance.
  4. Sando ittai – It is important to initiate motion in your feet, hips, and arms at the same moment to begin the technique. Timing is a crucial element of an effective technique.
  5. Ganka sokketsu – Target for sentai is the ganka. It is located a little below either nipple.

Examples of Sentai Techniques (Sengi)

Sentai as a turning motion is not unique to Taido, but its application is fairly unorthodox when compared to other arts. Here are some examples of sengi (Sentai techniques):

  • Sentaizuki (sentai no tsuki) – The most basic sengi steps and spins towards the opponent, ending in ejizuki (a punch executed from ejidachi – a stance taking its name from the Japanese letter え).
  • Sentai enpi / tecchu ate – Like sentaizuki, except the strike is with the elbow.
  • Sentai shutto – Like sentaizuki, except the strike is with the shutto – knife hand.
  • Sentai haimendori – Since grabbing the opponent is not allowed in jissen, this rear grab (haimendori literally means “taking the back”) is very rarely seen or practiced.
  • Sentai gyakusenate – This is another rare one. After spinning, the elbow strikes to the rear from fudodachi.
  • Sentai shajogeri – This is simply a shajogeri executed from a Sentai spinning motion. The rotational and downward momentum of the sen movement transitions into the change of body axis to initiate the kick.
  • Kaijogeri – Similar to sentai shajogeri, Kaijo (literally “spinning condition of body”) is a roundhouse-style kick executed immediately after a spin.
Sentai no Tsuki
Example of sentaizuki provided by Tampere Taido club in Finland.

 

Sen Hokei

There are two sen hokei in Taido:

  • Sentai no hokei
  • Senin no hokei

Here’s a reference animation of Sentai Hokei created by one of my teachers:

And here’s the Kitasato University team performing Senin Hokei at the All-Japan students’ tourney in 2012:

 

Untai & Ungi

Untai si a class of Taido techniques that includes jumping and lunging movements.

Since they tend to move in a direct path, they are probably the simplest to perform from a mechanical standpoint.

One important point to understand is that untai is characterized technically by vertical displacement – not necessarily by jumping. So a “drop” could just as easily be ungi as a jump. In essence, untai techniques operate by making use of the force of gravity to execute strikes, kicks, and throws.

Doko Go (5) Kai for Untai

Each technique class in Taido is defined by a set of characteristics describing its proper execution, called Doko Go Kai.

Here’s the key points for executing ungi:

  1. Untai gekiro – Become as a wave crashing onto the shore. You should feel as if you are being swept up by a wave and thrown onto your opponent. Use the power of gravity behind your hips to knock your opponent down.
  2. Kihatsu seisoku – Watch out for your back knee or foot. If your opponent can slow or stop your kamae’s back knee, your momentum will be destroyed. Instead, lift the knee high for protection. Then bring it back down quickly.
  3. Soko tottetsu – As your rear foot comes down, strike with your foot on the bones of your opponent’s front foot.
  4. Sansetsu ittai – Your two arms and rear leg should move simultaneously as if they were one joint. This timing is essential for the power of your technique.
  5. Kangen sokketsu – Your target is the kangen, a pressure point just below the navel. This is where the nerves connecting your arms and legs cross. Striking the kangen can break an oncoming attack.

Examples of Untai Techniques (Ungi)

Ungi (Untai techniques) are pretty common in jissen, especially as defensive maneuvers. The following are examples of ungi:

  • Untaizuki (untai no tsuki) – The basic lunge forward to ejizuki punch.
  • Untai keri tsuki – Similar to untaizuki, except that the rear leg kicks shomengeri before coming down into the lunge.
  • Fujogeri – A flying kick to the rear, executed alternately as a side, rear, or ebigeri-like kick in mid-air.
  • Nidangeri – Flying double front kick.
  • Kesageri – Flying side kick.
  • Hienzuki – A jumping punch, or a punch executed during the landing from a jump. Most often used as a counterattack.
  • Oshi kuzushi – A combination of tripping the front leg and pushing the opponent’s body to knock him over.
  • Gyaku ashidori – This is performed by grabbing the opponent’s kicking leg and knocking him down.
taido karate
Untaigeri, courtesy of the Finnish Taido Association‘s Facebook page

Un Hokei

There are two un hokei in Taido:

  • Untai no hokei
  • Unin no hokei

Here’s a reference animation of Untai Hokei created by one of my teachers:

And here’s Unin:

In the US, students practice an older version of Untai no Hokei that resembles Unin.

Nentai & Nengi

Nentai is a class of techniques in Taido employing a twisting movement of the body. Nentai movement is characterized by the body axis being tilted to near horizontal while twisting about that axis in order to strike, kick, or “scissor” the opponent.

Most nengi often flow best as combinations from other techniques and have a wide range of possible targets. The most common nentai techniques (nengi) are hangetsuate and ashigarami.

Nengi can be a little difficult to visualize, so here’s a video of a friend of mine doing one of the best nentai dogarami I’ve ever seen:

 

Doko Go (5) Kai for Nentai

Each technique class in Taido is defined by a set of characteristics describing its proper execution, called Doko Go Kai.

Here’s the key points for executing nengi:

  1. Nentai kasho – Imagine being in a whirlpool. Your body is twisted and turned in either direction. Grip your opponent and twist him to the ground or use the twisting motion to kick from an unexpected direction.
  2. Kihatsu seihai – Your back, chest, and hips are vulnerable. By grabbing any of these points to prevent you from twisting, your opponent can prevent you from executing any nengi.
  3. Kokan sokuhatsu – If you touch your hip to the opponent’s body before twisting, you can ensure proper distance for kicking or create more leverage with which to force him to move in a “scissor” technique.
  4. Ryotai koyatsu – You must use your entire body. It is necessary to commit yourself to the execution of nengi. If you do not move decisively and with power, your technique will be ineffective.
  5. Techi sokketsu – Target the head or legs. Many nengi work best if thrown at or above the neck or at or below the waist. While it is possible it execute a nentai technique on the body, it is easier to twist against your opponent’s joints to bring him down.

Examples of Nentai Techniques (Nengi)

Nengi (Nentai techniques) are seen in quite a few martial arts, especially grappling arts like Judo and Sambo. In Taido, the following are examples of nengi:

  • Hangetsuate – “Half-moon” kick, traditionally executed from fukuteki
  • Ashigarami– “Leg scissors,” though karami translates as “entangle,” the scissor image is effective
  • Dogarami – Scissoring technique applied at the waist or body
  • Kubigarami – Scissor applied to the neck
  • Nentaigeri – Any unspecified nengi with the feet
  • Nentaizuki – Any nentai punch
  • Kaiten shajogeri – “Rolling” shajogeri, typically executed after a previous shajo
nentai hangetsuate - Taido
Nentai Hangetsuate performed during jissen at the 2008 Asia-Pacific Games in Australia

Nen Hokei

There are two nen hokei in Taido:

  • nentai no hokei
  • nenin no hokei

Here’s a video of Congi showing the basic Nentai Hokei:

…I’d love to include a video of Nenin Hokei, but I haven’t seen a good one, so if you know of one out there somewhere, please let me know.

 

Hentai & Hengi

Hentai is a class of techniques in Taido characterized by tilting the body axis. Since most hengi are kicks, it’s usually a case of “head goes down; leg goes up,” though there’s no rule that the technique must be a kick (in fact, there are non-kicking examples listed below).

Lexical Note: Hentai (変態) can also refer to a pervert in Japanese. In Taido, 変体 – “changing body.” They are homophones but unrelated.

Hengi are the classic taido techniques, defending and countering simultaneously by changing the orientation of the body axis.

Doko Go (5) Kai for Hentai

Each technique class in Taido is defined by a set of characteristics describing its proper execution, called Doko Go Kai.

Here’s the key points for executing hengi:

  1. Hentai unpu – Imagine clouds changing direction. Feel your head being pushed toward the ground, pivoting about your hips.
  2. Kihatsu seiko – The back thigh or heel is your weak point. Either one of these points can be used to misdirect or defeat a hentai technique.
  3. Ohen fubi – The body axis topples over. maintaining tension in your lower back, keep your body axis straight. As your head moves toward the floor, your leg must rise toward the target. Pivot your body axis around your hips.
  4. Santei kyogo – Both hands and the stationary foot should form an equilateral triangle. In order to push the kick towards the target, place your hands close to your foot.
  5. Kikai sokketsu – Target is the kikai, just above the navel. This is the knock-the-wind-out-of-you spot.

Examples of Hentai Techniques (Hengi)

Hengi (Hentai techniques) are probably the defining movement class in Taido, combining defense and attack with a single motion. The following are examples of hengi:

  • Gyakujogeri – Body goes back; foot extends upward. Possibly the least-esed kick in Taido.
  • Kaeshigeri – “Returning kick,” executed along the return path after a manji/shajogeri.
  • Moroashigeri – Kick with both legs, usually executed similarly to ebigeri.
  • Suiheigeri – Suihei means “horizontal,” which is the angle the body makes to the floor in the Taido version of a sidekick. 
  • Ebigeri – Taido’s archetypal “shrimp kick.”
  • Shajogeri – Shajo means “angular condition” and refers to the tilted nature of this roundhouse variant.
  • Senjogeri – Senjo refers to spinning (as in Sentai).
  • Harai kuzushiHarai is a sweep. Kuzushi is a takedown. Harai kuzushi refers to any kind of sweep in Taido.
  • Kake kuzushi – OK, this is even less common than gyakujogeri… Basically, you reach out with your foot and hook the opponent’s leg to pull him down.
  • Nage kuzushi – Nagewaza are throwing techniques, and in Taido, they tend to fall under the Hentai classification.
  • Fukuteki – This is a set of ducking escapes, but we use them to set up attacks as well, so I’ve listed it as a technical movement.
Taido Ebigeri
One of the best ebigeri I’ve ever seen, performed by my first sensei, Mits Uchida

Hen Hokei

There are two nen hokei in Taido:

  • Hentai no hokei
  • Henin no hokei

Here’s a reference animation of Hentai Hokei created by one of my teachers:

And here’s the lovely ladies of Tokyo Medical & Dental University practicing Henin Hokei for a tournament:

 

Tentai & Tengi

Tentai is a class of Taido techniques based on gymnastic-style tumbling and aerial movement.

Though closely related to unshin, the difference is that unshin is transportation, while tengi include integral strikes or other techniques. The most difficult obstacle to executing tengi is the tendency to perform them as a tumble-then-technique. Ideally, it should be a seamless transition.

Doko Go (5) Kai for Tentai

Each technique class in Taido is defined by a set of characteristics describing its proper execution, called Doko Go Kai.

Here’s the key points for execution of tengi:

  1. Tentai raido – Imagine lightning breaking a rock. Your body should rotate very quickly.
  2. Kihatsu seiyo – Do not allow your opponent to catch your waist. You must also strike immediately upon completion of your revolution. The time between a roll or flip and the adjoined technique is especially vulnerable to attack. Be careful that the opponent does not block the momentum of your hips at this time.
  3. Oten raika – Move with speed and power so that you can add force to your technique.
  4. Sankyoku dosetsu – Use your knees, back and head to form a tight ball.
  5. Maai sokketsu – Be sure to gauge your distance. You must watch your opponent carefully and choose the best technique to execute without hesitation.

Examples of Tentai Techniques (Tengi)

In most martial arts, flips and gymnastics are used to show off. To be honest, that’s mostly what we use them for in Taido, but ideally, they should be useful as attack and defense movements as well.

  • Zentenzuki – A forward roll ending with a punch in ejizuki.
  • Sokutengeri – A cartwheel in which the front foot kicks before finally coming to the ground.
  • Bakuten ebigeri – A back handspring that ends with ebigeri.
  • Shazenten hangetsuate – Shazenten is a shoulder roll (literally, “angular front roll”). In this case, the rotation is transferred into a twist for hangetsuate.
  • Koten karami – Koten (or Hai Kotenhai means your back) is a backward roll. In this case, the roll transitions into ashigarami or dogarami – leg or body scissors.
  • Bakuchugeri – Back flip kick.
  • Tomoenage – This is an old Judo-style throw in which you grab the opponent and roll backward as you brace your foot against his center of mass.
bakuchigeri nakano
Here’s Testsuji Nakano demonstrating bakuchugeri

 

Ten Hokei

There are two ten hokei in Taido:

  • Tentai no hokei
  • Tenin no hokei

Here’s a great performance of Tentai Hokei from the Sakura Matsuri tournament a few years ago in Aomori:

And here’s some practice footage of Tokyo Medical & Dental Uni students working on Tenin: