Ishi Tobashi (石飛ばし) – Skipping stones in water

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Ishi Tobashi (石飛ばし)- Skipping stones in water
Spring is a terrific time in Australia, during swimming with my 7yr old son the other day he took a pebble and threw it to make it skip on water, he didn’t manage any skips the first time. Shocked that I caught him doing it, I asked him to do it again, after a few more attempts he managed to get 3 skips before it hit the tiles, realizing that it was damaging my tiles I told him to stop after that. It made me think of Ishi tobashi (1) and the notes I took from last year during my trips to the hombu. I thought I would write about it and share some insight on Ishi Tobashi or skipping stones in water.

From late 2014 Soke has been using the concept of Ishi Tobashi when talking to the jugo dans in class. In a fight be like a “stone skipping in water” this concept can be difficult to comprehend although superficially it can seem like it is easy to understand. When the uke attacks this is when the principle of ishi tobashi occurs, we must adapt to what is coming to us and be like the stone that skips on water. This is the concept in its most basic form.

We can also move from kukan (空間) to kukan (2) when an uke attacks. This might seem counterproductive to some who look at ending the altercation immediately however, depending on the nature of the initial attack the most effective kukan might not present itself until the 3rd movement by the uke which could be a strike/grab/grapple etc (3rd skip of the stone), it is then that you will have control of the opponent. But remember we are doing this all without thought, just like a child throwing stones in water.
However the uke can also be like that stone if they have that attitude in mind, this is when we must then be like water (水) and stop the stone from skipping.

Linking the concept of Ishi tobashi during class soke talked about not becoming entangled with the opponent as this will limit the chances for victory, and by sacrificing yourself you have the chance to survive.

See Picture (Takagi-Ryu Chugokui Mokuroku from 1844


There is a saying in the Takagi Ryu “training is crucial: a thousand or 10 thousand methods are linked to a single method”. With this we can begin to see how from an attack made by the uke that our movements no matter how advanced are all linked back to the kihon (基本)

Here we see Soke perfectly executing Ishi Tobashi (石飛ばし)against me as uke 1st picture the attack; 2nd picture soke without thinking finds kukan, 3rd uke moves the rear hand, soke then finds kukan again uke hand is straight and now with balance broken, 4th with the final skip of the stone, soke moves and the uke has the balance totally broken.


To understand Ishi Tobashi is to understand the nature of a confrontation against opponents who might be skilled or unpredictable, where fights are almost never finished with the first blow. There is a saying by many Eskrima grandmasters of “tulo ko bunal, tapas ikaw patay”- If I hit three times, you die. This is an understanding that compound attacks are necessary to attain victory especially against the strongest opponents.

The concept of Ishi Tobashi is advanced and not easy to comprehend, each shihan might take something differently from what soke imparts. It is important to keep an open mind in training and remember that there is no substitute to training itself. The Takagi-Ryu Chugokui Mokuroku from 1844 says “Training is crucial”.

Always enjoy your training.
Terry Lollback
Yushu Shihan
Bujinkan Dojo

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