Hiki-waza, creating the chance.

Hiki-waza, attacking your opponent from tsubazeriai and immediately propelling your self backwards away from your opponent. 

In this post I'll talk about some ways to create the opening for hiki-waza.

This type of waza can be tricky to execute, starting from tsubazeriai (swords crossed at close distance) you have to make the opening, strike, and withdraw quickly while moving backwards at pace and more often than not being chased by your opponent.

I talked in another post about watching your opponent for the moment he breaks his concentration or stops his attack after making tsubazeriai

While studying today I came across a paragraph in my kendo book detailing how to create openings for hiki-waza. It talks about reading your opponents kamae during tsubazeriai, is it strong and centred or is it flexible. Depending on the type of kamae we vary the way we make openings.

How to strike Hiki-kote. From 強くなる剣道入れ入門 (Kendo Manual)

Continue reading after the break!

The first type is those with strong kamae, those who keep their hands strong and in the centre.

When we push their hands, they will immediately push back to try retake the centre. We should use this to our advantage.

Hiki-men: push your hands forwards, in the moment your opponent pushes back you have an opportunity to strike men (his hands are extended beyond his normal kamae).

Hiki-kote: using your tsuba push your opponents hands down slightly. When your opponent pushes back quickly strike kote. You can also push your opponents hands slightly to the left of centre, as he pushes back you have the chance to cut kote.

Hiki-dou: push your opponents hands down hard, more than for kote. As your opponent pushes back, use this power to raise your shinai and quickly strike dou.

For opponents with flexible kamae, preferring to keep their hands light and flexible in tsubazeriai. 

When we push their hands, they won't push back, they will absorb the push and keep their hands fluid, so we need to move their hands aggressively and attack. 
For hiki-men and hiki-kote we can use a combination of quick wrists and good footwork to create and opening.

While in tsubazeriai, step quickly to the left, leading with your left foot. At the same time roll your left fist up and use it to push down on your opponents right fist. You should now be at a 45 degree angle to your opponent, from there strike men or kote.

For hiki-kote and hiki-dou we can simply push the opponents hands up to make the opening.

Hiki-kote: push your opponents hands up towards their face and strike kote while stepping back.

Hiki-dou: using your left fist sharply push your opponents hands up over his shoulders and strike do while stepping back.

It's important to read your opponents kamae in order to figure what type waza to use. I think that many people try to use hiki-waza without creating propper openings, or as a way to escape tsubazeriai, where many people are unsure of what to do. If we try and make our hiki-waza effective we can take advantage of opponents who break their concentration or break off their attack and reset once they reach tsubazeriai.

Question, Do you use hiki-waza in keiko or shiai, is it effective for you?

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post! I have included a picture of the original paragraph for Japanese speakers to read themselves.
Original text this article is based on. From 強くなる剣道入れ入門 (Kendo Manual)



  1. I think creating chances while in tsubazeriai can be tricky for most people including myself. It's to the point where we try to avoid it as much as we can. Many times during shiai I've faced opponents where we mutually nod and agree to come out of tsuberiai and back into issoku-itto-no-maai. A bad habit I'm trying to break.

  2. Thanks for your comment!

    I too have a lot of difficulty with scoring from hiki-waza, I've lately been trying to watch my opponent for the moment they switch off during tsubazeriai, and trying to strike then. Hopefully I can get better at it and take ippon in future!