Mizu-do meant "the way of the water", and was a martial art developed by Crane artisans. It was also known as Umi-do, "the way of the sea".

Creation Edit

Mizu-do 3


It was created in order to show some realistic fighting in the dramatic performances of Kabuki and other plays, [1] a training technique for artisans to make plays more realistic and an amusing pastime for courtiers. [2]

Katas Edit

The artform focused on defensive kata that were used by courtiers and artisans to defend themselves, and even sometimes used as routines in plays. The first Mizu-do sensei Kakita Merao once said; "The softest thing in the world overcomes the hardest; a thing without substance enters where there is no room. The stiff and unbending is the disciple of death - the gentle and yielding is the disciple of life." On both mental and physical levels Mizu-do was and art, focusing on throws and joint locks with inspirations from kenjutsu. It did not incorporate kicking or punching, but rather using their own opponents energy against them. When performing Mizu-do as an exibition the movements were exaggerated, and the performers were taught special rolls to avoid taking any serious damage. [1]

Teaching Edit

Most samurai schools had little or no respect for the practicioners of Mizu-do, and the Crane had never tried to popularize the art. Teaching involved no weapons training, as the student was expeced to rely on himself rather than his equipment. The techniques had almost no foot techniques other than sweeps and general movement, as the discipline focused on the use of hands. The two main techniques of Mizu-do were the joint locks and the throws. The joint lock could be used by a small man to restrain even the largest samurai, although the application of the technique did not injure the target it could cause injuries if the target struggled against the lock. Mizu-do techniques were rarely taught to anyone but Crane. [3]

Changing the Style Edit

Flaws Edit

Mizu-do was excellent at repelling rash or hasty attacks, but a canny, patient, or persistent opponent would eventually break through. Additionally Crane samurai needed to protect themselves in situations where weapons were unavailable. So it was unavoidable that Crane artisans and samurai alike to develop new offensive techniques with which to complement the existing maneuvers of Mizu-do. [2] Another distinguishing feature of Mizu-do was the ability to fight multiple opponents. [4]

Style Edit

The style that emphasized beauty and form changed in focus to a more viable system of combat, but it was still breathtaking to watch. Mizu-do was about directing, controlling, and restricting mobility. Throws and joint locks restricted the ability of opponents to inflict damage upon the user, and combined circular motions to deflect and linear motions to intercept incoming attacks. Agile parries, dodges, and tumbles out of harm's way were more common. The direct strikes that had been added to Mizu-do followed this model, with backhands, spinning kicks, and sweeps. [5]

Purpose and Training Edit

Mizu-do 2


Students were taught exercises that improved flexibility and were conditioned to relax when struck or thrown instead of resisting the strike. [4] Despite its evolution, it was still primarily considered a demonstration art. Demonstration and competitions of Mizu-do were held at many Crane courts and events. Training in Miozu-do was extremely exclusive, so prospective students had far more success petitioning the Kakita Artisans for tutelage. [5]

  • A novice Mizu-do student learned how to avoid an evade attacks by directing both his motion and that of his opponent.
  • An intermediate student learned to capitalize upon openings that were created when an opponent attacked him.
  • An advanced student learned how to quickly manoeuver out of the path of even the most expert strikes
  • An expert learned how to turn the momentum of a battle in his favor, quickly throwing an aggressive opponent into a crippling hold.
  • A master of Mizu-do was a living example of beauty and grace. Few could breach the flawless defenses or evade the seamless assaults or to escape the deadly embrace of a master's applied locks.

Mizu-do Techniques Edit

Bend Like a Reed Edit

Bend Like a Reed

Bend Like a Reed

The Bend Like a Reed technique was a form of feint which could be used to escape a direct attack from a sword or staff weapon. [3]

Catch the Shadow Edit

The Catch the Shadow technique was commonly used to escape other hand-to-hand grappling attempts. It was difficult, but could be done successfully if practiced alot and the practitioner had sharp reflexes. [3]

Dragon Claw Edit

The Dragon Claw technique was one of the joint lock techniques of Mizu-do. It was a nerve hold which relied on the sensitive nerve positions on a persons body. It caused them pain and prevented further attacks. [6]

The Farther You Fall Edit

The Farther You Fall technique was a throw technique was one of the most effective of the Mizu-do school. It used the force of the opponent to hurl them a sizable distance from the practitioner. [6]

Flight of Dragons Edit

The Flight of Dragons technique was a throw designed to shift the position of the opponents body so they would trip over their own momentum. [6]

Hammer of Earth Edit

The Hammer of Earth technique was one of the more dangerous throws. It had the greatest chance of success, but left the practitioner open for a possible attack from the opponent. [6]

Thumb Wrench Edit

The Thumb Wrench technique was a painful and suppressive joint lock that used the opponents strength against them to force them into a motionless position. A skillful practitioner of Mizu-do could hold even the strongest samurai with a minimum amount of effort. [6]

Competitions Edit

Mizu-do competitions rose somewhat in popularity during the late 11th century, becoming a common feature of Imperial and Crane Winter Courts, and continued until the Clan Wars. In a tournament competitors entered a ring and faced one another, beginning their match in close quarters. The goal was to throw or topple the opponent, but there were no trophies or awards. The name of the winner was added to an ancient scroll containing the names of all previous champions, to be displayed in prominent areas of the sponsoring dojo. [7]

See also Edit

External Links Edit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Way of the Crane, p. 112
  2. 2.0 2.1 Way of the Open Hand, p. 63
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Way of the Crane, p. 113
  4. 4.0 4.1 Book of Water, p. 36
  5. 5.0 5.1 Way of the Open Hand, p. 64
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Way of the Crane, p. 114
  7. Book of Water, p. 37

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