Kata Matsu: Solo form and two man flow drill

Kicki Holm demonstrating the final move of Matsu

Kicki Holm demonstrating the final move of Matsu

The Kata “Matsu” is unique to Bushinkai, being taught as a representative kata of Hakuda Kempo Toshu Jutsu.

It has two versions, a paired form and a solo kata. On this page is a short video of the forms that were quickly shot at our Manchester Dojo. The solo form (Matsu) is performed by Kicki Holm, and the two man form (Tegumi Renzoku Geiko) is demonstrated by Dan Sanchez and myself. The kata is designed to allow practice of close quarter combat techniques like headbutts, knees, elbows, barges, groin kicks – while at the same time allowing to work on postural and balancing techniques. The solo kata is designed to move and feel like a traditional Karate kata, taking influences from all major branches.

Paired form (Tegumi Renzoku Geiko):

Solo form (Matsu kata):

Explanation of the form:

  • The first sequence is three palm heel strikes (done on both sides) these are actually used for checking/receiving close quarter elbow strikes.
  • Next we execute the three elbow strikes themselves so we have gone from playing the roll of the defender to playing the role of the attacker.
  • The two-man drill also goes through these movements twice, as the defender we are checking elbow strikes, as the attacker the bunkai of our elbow movements is of Chin Na locks
  • Next we execute a grab and knee strike (as in the end of Heian Yondan) but when we land we land as in the start of Kanku Dai
  • The two man drill demonstrates this as a clinch, knee strikes and then the defender breaks the grip with the “Kanku Dai block” and this position is then used to receive a headbutt
  • In the form we do a double tension block followed by a double crane style block, stylistically these are representative of the Sanchin forms
  • The two man form’s bunkai for these is actually a double Kote Gaeshi and subsequent kick.
  • Both the form and the drill then follow what is clearly a shoulder strike. Stylistically the shoulder strike was borrowed from Tai Chi (the 42 form I believe)
  • We then use a Fumikomi type kick which is also like a committed roundhouse kick
  • In the drill as we go in with a roundhouse kick the defended move the leg causing us to turn so we retaliate with…
  • The final backfist. The two-man drill then changes over so the Tori-Uke rolls are reversed.

Solo form from another angle:

Simon teaching the two man form at the UKBF Masters course celebrating 50 years of  British Karate) in 2006

Simon teaching the two man form at the UKBF Masters course celebrating 50 years of British Karate) in 2006

Bushinkai instructor Simon with world renowned Bubishi expert Hanshi Patrick McCarthy

Bushinkai instructor Simon with world renowned Bubishi expert Hanshi Patrick McCarthy

I did not invent this kata. I was taught a two man kata many years ago by my friend Steve Brennan which I believe he had learnt from Hanshi Patrick McCarthy (in turn a student of Kinjo Hiroshi, and he of Hanashiro Chomo the senior student of Anko Itosu). This is not my lineage, merely to show where the nucleus of the form came from.

For years I taught the two man form and even had chance to meet with Hanshi Patrick McCarthy  – who pioneered the study of two man grappling drills in Karate – for pointers and he kindly corrected some of my postures. Hanshi has always been very kind and patient with me in terms of offering advice on Karate and this form could not have been developed without his expertise. I cannot call him one of my teachers as I have barely been on the mat with him but his studies have helped shape my understanding.

From this two man kata Tegumi Renzoku Geiko, I extrapolated a solo kata to be taught alongside it. So instead of learning a kata and then the bunkai, students of this form learn both hand in hand. The solo kata is called MATSU.

Patrick McCarthy: only met him in person the once but have been a huge fan of his work for over 15 years

Patrick McCarthy showing me Tegumi Renzoku Geiko

Levels of the form

When learning the form students can concentrate on any particular aspect of it. You can go through slowly, honing Kuzushi, you can go through quickly for a good tiring workout, you can pull out bits in isolation and drill them on pads or you can concentrate on structure and posture.

The advantage of Matsu is that it allows students to give and receive percussive techniques like headbutts, knee strikes, elbows, shoulder barges in a safe drill but with impact. It also shows students the relationship between kata and bunkai in a simple to remember drill that is also fun and demanding.

Dan and Joe practicing the grab and kneestrike portion of the drill

Dan and Joe practicing the grab and kneestrike portion of the drill


Miyagi and Miyazato

Matsu Kata is a form unique to the Sakugawa Ryu tradition of Toshu Jutsu and only taught within Bushinkai.

Matsu is evocative of Shuri Te, Naha Te and Tomari Te:



Name: Matsu (Sho) meaning Pine. Commonly used throughout Karate history for example Matsumura, Matsumora, Matsubayashi Ryu, Shobayashi Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Shoto Ryu, Shotokan, Matsukaze

The form: Matsu is a fairly short kata. It begins with palm heel strikes reminiscent of forms like Jutte and then has a sequence of elbows that brings to mind forms like Gekisai. The kneestrike and following hand movements are evocative of Heian Yondan and Kanku Dai. Next the form uses double tension blocks like Sanchin and then like Hakutsuru and finally finishes with a powerful Uraken in Shikko Dachi that brings to mind Suparimpei.

Bunkai and Oyo: Unlike many kata, Matsu is taught with a prescribed Bunkai/Oyo which is revealed to the student in a two man repetition (Renzoku Geiko) exercise which reveals the grappling (Tegumi) aspects of Toshu Jutsu.

Theme: As well as evoking the name of Karate masters like Matsumura and ‘Shoto’, Matsu is also named for Matsu Kinjo, a half Okinawan-half Swedish Karate master who was one of the first to travel to China to bring the internal martial arts back to Okinawa.

Transmission: The two man form (referred to as a Tegumi Renzoku Geiko) was taught to Simon Keegan by the headteacher of the Seiki Juku Shoshin Ryu, who had passed it on as he had been taught it in Koryu Uchinadi. The one man version of the form (Matsu) was extracted from the existing Uchinadi form.

Toshu Jutsu is traditionally taught in terms of the content of its kata, bunkai, weapons and drills. It is a complete Karate system that we like to think is very much in keeping with the Karate practiced by the art’s original pioneers in Okinawa.

What makes Toshu Jutsu different however is that as well as being true to the art’s heritage it is also true to the realities of self defence.

The Bushinkai Method is fiercely pragmatic and combat orientated and students are taught the realities of self protection from day one.

Manchester Karate and Jujutsu class

Thursday 8pm-9:30pm
Top Floor Van Dang Martial Arts
12 Newton Street


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