72 Bunkai to Juji-uke

Today I decided it would be time for yet another post consisting of ridiculously many different pictures of ‘bunkai movements’ to a chosen technique.

I’ve done this twice before, here and here.

The purpose of this post is not to tell you “this is the best application for this technique”, but rather to show you the almost endless possibilities that you have when interpreting the movements of kata.

Anyway, the technique of this post is Juji-uke, meaning: “figure ten block” in Japanese. The name is quite simple to understand when you know that the Japanese sign for the number ten (10) looks like this:

It’s simply a cross.

And that’s how we do when we block. We cross our arms, in this fashion:

The block is done sometimes with open hands, and sometimes with closed hands. Sometimes up, sometimes down.

But what is the purpose of the block?

Well, ask almost anybody and this is what they will show you, right here (demonstrated by my loyal slaves “colleagues” Viktor and Jesper):

A knife defense!

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this, but it’s faaaar too many.

And if the block is down, they do this:

Does anybody really fall for that?

Personally, interpretations (I don’t even want to call them ‘bunkai’) like these make me sick.

Not only are you doing a completely unrealistic technique (practically offering your arteries to the blade of the knife) but you are also endangering other peoples lives if you teach this, should they ever attempt this move with a sharp knife.

Like I said in the beginning, there are almost endless possibilities when exploring the world of bunkai-jutsu, but some moves simply don’t work, and they need to be discarded.

We’ve tried to keep it real below.

What looks like a cross block can easily be used as a takedown, joint lock, strike, choke, throw, hold/pin, groin grab and much more, as you will see.

So, I present to you, 72 bunkai to Juji-uke.

Some crap, some pure awesomeness.

(Click any image for a larger version.)

Like I’ve said in the previous bunkai posts, the hard part is not posing in a position, like above.

That’s easy (except if you’re the victim)!

The hard part is trying to recreate one of the above scenarios, and asking yourself “How did I get here?”. “From which attack did I defend myself to get to this position (juji-uke)?”. Then you just need some reverse engineering, and you have your complete bunkai.

Finally, find a kata where it fits, and you’re done.

That’s how I do.

What’s left is just practise, practise and more practise.

And leave the knife stuff to action movies, okay?


  • Igor
    Finally! Someone who is realistic about knives! People just need to face it, knife defence (which I seem to have misspelled) is almost impossible without a weapon (all hail kobudo!), not counting the high adrenalin war situations when you are able to catch the live blade with you bare hands (and not feel any pain of fear until the fight is over). And on the next bunkai I wanna see the big guy kicked around... He reminds me of my big brother...::) And awesome thread, once again. Cheers!
    • Ryan Hurley
      No, defence should always be spelled with a C, not S. No matter what Grammarly says.
  • Buddy
    Nice. Great to see someone who's bunkai also consists of Tuite. We (the people I study with) interpret a lot of the bunkai the same way as you do.
  • Jesper
    I agree with Igor, next time it's the "big guy" turn to fly ;)
  • Viktor
    I disagree;)
    • You'll simply have to fight about it guys :P And no knives allowed.
  • Igor
    Actually knifes would be cool ::) No really, about knife defence, am I totally wrong? I know that there are some good techniques, like dodging, misleading and some others which I do not know how to translate, but still to create a mind to use them against a knife attacker... Plus I'm talking about people who know how to use it at least a bit, not some drunk half dead guy just charging...
  • jaybee
    I agree with Igor, Finally! Someone who is realistic about knives! If you encounter someone who knows how to attack with a knife, they tend to hide the knife (even if you know its there) and can fatally attack you within a split second. you wouldn't even see it coming. Evasion is the most sensible defense!
  • I agree with the need to teach more bunkai than the simple knife defense, but I disagree with discarding it altogether. Thing is, not every would-be attacker is an expert with knives, and there are people who are stupid enough to use a knife that way. If they attacked a Marine like this, he/she would respond the same way. I believe we shoulds prepare for any and all situations, no matter how ridiculous it may be. Anything's possible on the street, and the person who doesn't know what he's doing can be just as dangerous as the expert fighter, if not more. Just my two cents. But I thoroughly agree that there should be more than a handful of bunkai for any technique.
  • That's some nice jiu-jitsu you're doing there.... Or so some people would say. It's great to see karate being trained practically.
  • Chris
    I trained in jui-jitsu briefly when I was young. I remember one week we had a guest instructor who came in to do a street self-defence workshop. He brought a load of rubber knives and rubber bricks. The first thing he did was litter the rubber bricks around the floor. He then gave the rubber knife to one of our instructors and said, "Right, this is the best way to defend yourself if someone is coming to attack you with a knife". Our instructor started advancing towards him brandishing the knife and the guest instructor picked up a rubber brick off the floor, hurled it at our instructor and then turned around and ran away. It made us all laugh, but it also made a good point.
  • Very fine work indeed! Thank you for a great post! Cheers, Colin
  • Nekonik
    To bad I don't see the application of Juji-uke I use in kosokun dai or jion....
  • Adam
    The low juji-uke against a knife thrust is actually something I've seen taught by pretty well-respected combatives experts like Kelly McCann, and by military Krav Maga guys as well as traditional jujutsu practitioners. The thing is, they do it with the backs of the forearms turned forwards (to reduce likelihood of slashing the blood vessels), scoot the hips and legs backwards away from the blade, and drive forwards immediately to prevent the attacker from retracting their arm and thrusting again. That gets both their hands onto the attacker's knife arm so they've got control of it, and they then control the wrist with one hand and slide the top hand one up to the attacker's elbow or shoulder to effect a joint lock (Kimura, hammerlock, straight armbar/waki-gatame, etc.) or throw (e.g. kaiten-nage variants) and control/disarm/cripple the attacker.

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