Yuimaru Hakken Seminar 2019 – Training With Yagi Isao Sensei

DOJO Okinawa’s Yuimaru Hakken Seminar features three intensive training days with three different sensei. In 2019 the second segment of training for our attendees was in Nanjo with Yagi Isao sensei, 9th dan Motobu-ryu Ryukyu Bujutsu Moudi.

Motobu-ryū is one of the oldest Okinawan arts, once referred to as ushu-ganashi-mē no bugei, or “his majesty’s martial art.”.
Very different than karate-do as we know it, with none of the stops and starts that characterize karate kata and practice.

There is no uke, defense and attack are simultaneous and happen through evasive irimi movement.

Much of the training involved kawashi waza – moving off the line of attack and in practice would have a strike or multiple strikes simultaneously. Stances are high and narrow, almost exclusively on the balls of the feet. A dojo rule is to remain on the balls of one’s feet the entire time on the dojo floor, even when inactive and listening to instruction.

Yagi sensei is utterly unassuming. Diminutive in stature but without the wiry toughness that so many of the smaller Okinawan karateka have. A round face, often smiling and almost silly in his demeanor I daresay.

Then you see him move. Unarmed at full speed against a live bladed weapon, or wielding two nunchaku, a bo, or kama. Effortless and swift, almost dance like in his motions (something he referenced quite a bit) with no question in an observers mind of the lethality of his actions.

Time with Yagi sensei was truly unique and Motobu-ryū has a unique and special place in the martial traditions of Okinawa. Motobu-ryū is a battlefield art as we were consistently reminded that we could be surrounded by enemies on all sides. Yagi sensei performed a spectacular demonstration of himself versus five senior students armed with knives, spear and sword; completely unscripted and ridiculously dangerous it was perhaps the most impressive demonstration of its’ kind I’ve witnessed.

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