Common Passai Kata Sequences

There are several movement sequences that are found across multiple Passai Kata, including many other versions of these Kata that we do not study. Each common sequence warrants discussion, which we provide in the following sections. In order to be as succinct as possible in our Kata movement descriptions we will use the names associated with these movements instead of providing a detailed description of the movement each time it occurs in a Kata.

Migi Jodan Morote Otoshi Uraken Tsuki

This is a back knuckle strike perhaps focused directly into the face of an opponent. The front hand is closed and striking while the back hand is open and pressed into the side of the front hand to lend additional support and to keep the strike centered. This is often considered a signature movement of the Passai Kata and the quick movement and ferocity of this strike provides much of the aura surrounding the “penetrate the fortress” mentality surrounding this form.

You might use this movement to strike directly at someone in front of you. The stepping pattern commonly associated with this strike might be used to avoid an incoming strike. This is a commonly cited Bunkai for this movement.

This movement might also be thought of as using the front forearm to press in incoming Oi Tsuki off the line of attack while concurrently forcing the opponent to rotate. The close fist might then be used to strike to the opponent’s unprotected face or head. You might note this will work regardless of which hand the opponent has elected to use. The strike might utilize Ura Tsuki, Uraken Tsuki, or possibly Tettsui Uchi.

But the movement could also be used to restructure an opponent or simply block a strike. In the various Passai forms this movement is usually followed by a turn or rotation of center, often turning to face octagon angle two. This might be thought of as Nage where the forearm of the front hand strikes at the shoulder with the closed fist then pressing into the neck or head to facilitate a throw. If you think back you may recall similar movements in Pinan Yondan and Pinan Godan. The Bunkai you considered for those Kata may also apply to Passai forms as well.

Reinforced Shuto

In this movement the open front hand performs a vertically-oriented Shuto forward along the center line and at Chudan level. The open back hand is concurrently placed such that the finger tips rest against the inside of the front forearm.

Depending on your Bunkai you might think of this as a strike, a reinforced block, a parry, or some form of manipulation. The use is largely up to your interpretation of what you are doing at that moment in the Kata. Be creative; find as many possible uses for this sequence as possible.

Dual Shuto

This action involves striking with a Shuto using both the front and back hands concurrently. Both hands are striking independently and both palms are generally oriented so they face one another. The front hand strikes at a higher level than the back hand. The front hand will generally be oriented palm down, while the back hand is oriented with the palm facing upward.

As an example of this movement, the front hand might strike at the left side of the opponent’s neck while the back hand strikes at the left side of the opponent’s rib cage. This is only an example of how these strikes might be employed. Again, you will want to be as creative as possible when considering Bunkai for this sequence.

Generally speaking both strikes move toward the target from the same angle. For example, if the left hand is the front hand then both strikes would move inward toward the opponent beginning on your right side.

Down Shuto

This is essentially a Gedan Barai with an open front hand. The palm faces downward. Usually the open back hand concurrently moves up to a supporting position at the inside of the front elbow. The palm of the back hand faces upward. Sometimes you will practitioners place the back hand at mid-chest level instead of at the elbow of the front hand.

This sequence is usually done as a series of three identical sequences on alternating sides. While it could be thought of as three separate downward blocks against kicks, you might, with a little inventiveness, find other uses for this sequence.

In some versions of the various Passai Kata this sequence of multiple Down Shuto is done as Reinforced Shuto instead. Some styles (particularly Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo) do this multiple movement sequence as a Reinforced Shuto, then double Shuto, then another Reinforced Shuto. Each sequence would have its own unique applications and potential Bunkai. It would be a useful endeavor to understand which circumstances would best be met by the movements in each type of Shuto sequence. The Passai Kata, and the tremendous variety of versions, offer a great opportunity for learning. You would do well to take advantage of every learning opportunity these Kata afford.

Gedan Barai – Ura Chudan Uke Combination

This concurrent sequence of movements has the front arm performing a Gedan Barai (toward local angle one) while the back arm is performing a Chudan level Ura Chudan Uke. At the completion of this blocking combination the front hand will be forward and at Gedan Level while the back hand will be up and just behind the ear on the same side as the Ura Chudan Uke. Usually both hands are closed. Pinan Godan has a similar movement near the end of that Kata.

Think through the Bunkai for this movement carefully. It is not always used as a blocking combination.

Jo Grab

A common explanation for some of the movements in the Passai Kata is that you are defending yourself against or otherwise battling an opponent who is wielding a Jo or similar weapon. In the written Kata procedures we will use the term “Jo Grab” to define this sequence of actions, but you should understand this is not the only use for these movements.

Here is the sequence:

  • The front open hand rises upward along our center line, moving roughly from thigh or hip level up to Chudan level. The palm faces upward throughout the movement.
  • Concurrently, the back open hand moves back and down until it is located at or just below the back hip. The hand remains open with the palm facing downward.

This is often interpreted as you grabbing an opponent’s Jo and then performing some form of manipulation. You will see movements immediately before or after this specific sequence in various Kata that would offer support to such an interpretation.

But the movement could also be used for other purposes. For example, the back hand might be pulling an opponent’s arm inward and down, forcing the opponent to lean forward such that the rising front hand might strike them in the throat, eyes, or some other soft target area.

It could also be the case that the back hand is pulling the opponent’s extended arm straight and positioning the opponent’s elbow downward such that the rising front palm might strike at the opponent’s elbow joint from below.

When describing this action in Kata we will use the term “Migi Jo Grab” to indicate this sequence when the right hand is forward and “Hidari Jo Grab” to indicate this sequence when the left hand is forward.

Knee to Stomp

In this sequence both hands typically move down and inward at waist level and then one of your knees rises up between your hands. The knee then descends quickly causing the foot to stomp down forcefully. The back leg then slides forward to shift your structure into the opponent as you rotate your front hip slightly inward. The phrase “Migi Knee to Stomp” will define this sequence when the right knee is employed, and “Hidari Knee to Stomp” will define this sequence when the left knee is employed.

The use of this sequence in these Kata provides some useful opportunities for considering Bunkai alternatives. Here is one potential Bunkai you might consider. Assume your two arms grasp an opponent’s wrist and elbow (or perhaps the forearm and upper arm). Now the rising knee might be employed as an arm break. The stomping action might then be used to break the arch of the opponent’s foot. Pressing your structure forward into the opponent would then represent Nage since the opponent’s foot is now rooted.

An alternate Bunkai might be that the arms are used to grasp the opponent and pull him or her forward and off balance over his or her front leg. The rising knee is then used only to facilitate a stomp into the opponent’s hip joint, thigh, or knee, causing damage and likely loss of structure. Your descending leg might then be placed inside the opponent’s front leg so that pressing your structure forward would prevent the opponent from stepping back to maintain balance. The result might be Nage or stumbling imbalance.

Yet another scenario might be that the rising knee provides a Mae Sune Uke as defense against a Yoko Geri or similar kick. Your hands then hold the opponent’s leg aloft as your descending leg crashes into the back of the opponent’s supporting calf. The forward slide and slight rotation of your structure then helps to further manipulate the opponent’s supporting leg resulting in an injury and/or Nage.


As you can see each of these (and the many other) sequences in the Passai forms provide you with innumerable opportunities to explore alternate uses for movement sequences. As an increasingly senior practitioner you want to ensure you are flexible and adaptive and not focused on any single way to do anything. Be physically and mentally malleable. Learn to see new opportunities rather than simply repetitive, reflexive, or habitual ways of handling a situation. The Passai Forms should provide you with ample opportunity to consider alternatives. We suggest you take every advantage of these opportunities and press yourself to find new opportunities at every turn to a new octagon angle.

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