By Pertti Ruha
Shinden Kohyō no Hikan (secret transmission of the divine tiger transformation scroll; 神伝虎変の秘巻) describes five kamae; five aspects of an inner attitude which spontaneously grows within us in an emergency.
- Fukko No Kamae (Crouching Tiger; 伏虎之構)
- Bōko No Kamae (Violent Tiger; 暴虎之構)
- Uko no kamae (Starving Tiger; 飢虎之構)
- Komochi Tora no Kamae (Tiger Cub; 子持虎の構え)
- Gōko no Kamae (Resounding Tiger; 轟虎の構え)
These structures are collectively called Koteki ryuda Juppō sesshō no Jutsu (虎的竜打十方折衝之術) and defines the art’s oldest and most original forms or kata.
In a chronicle, Kusshyo Ratsugi no maki (詳辣技之巻), which is from the year 4 BC, described “Sesshō no Jutsu” as a method for defeating enemies, and it explains the concepts gyaku waza, nage waza and atemi waza .
Juppō (Ten Directions; 十方) is a term to define everything that exists around us, in a spherical direction. Koteki ryuda (Battle of the Dragon and Tiger; 虎的竜打) is a multifaceted concept that includes the mythological battle between Tiger on earth, and the dragon in heaven. It can be equated with what we term as Kihon Happo.
Regardless of the outward form we assume in the event of an acute emergency situation, and whatever happens around us, it has very little to do with what is happening within us.
The five tiger kamae is a way to describe these internal events;
Fukko no kamae is a structure in which one observes the enemy, and then switch to a ferocious tiger fighting. Bōko no kamae is a structure that whips up a mood and then fights. Uko no kamae is an intimidating structure, struggling in the state of sutemi; it is about “eat or be eaten,” feeling in the depths of himself the sacrifice that awaits (the evidential death so others can live). Such sits in his eyes, no matter what happens thereafter. Komochi Tora no kamae is a desperate structure, which is to protect a third party at any price. Gōko no kamae is to bombard at many points against a strong enemy with rain, lightning, and thunder.
These five tigers form the foundation for what is usually called the “combative mindset“.