Sunday, August 16, 2020

Karate Techniques - Uke versus Uchi

In Karate, Uke Waza translates to mean a "receiving technique". Uchi Waza translates to mean "striking technique". So techniques like Shuto can have both Uke and Uchi connotations. So the Uchi is easy to understand, strike just as you would with any other strike. If you have studied Karate for a while you shouldn't need much instruction on this part. However, Uke is a technique that is frequently misunderstood. 

In most schools, an Uke is called a blocking technique. But block has a tendency to stop motion and is usually force on force. Want to see a good example of this issue, look up videos on Thai-style kick and where the two fighters strike shin to shin. There are a few videos that show a complete Tibia and Fibula (the two bones in the lower leg) break. Ring fights are a controlled environment and incidents such as this are not uncommon. There are some technique taught as a hard force on force impact, styles like Uechi Ryu or Kenpo teach techniques where this is the intent. However, the term "receive" has to be intentional. The Japanese seem to be rarely accidental with their use of language. If that is true then the technique should be referred to differently. In my experience the receiving part of the technique is in the chambered position.   

So, when we first learn an Uke technique in Karate, it has been my experience that it is learned in a two or three part sequence. We will use a Age Uke, (normally called a "Rising Block" in English) as our example technique. The first stage of the technique is called the chambered or ready position. Some schools outline how to get into that position and some are not terribly specific. In a school I have been attending recently, the instructor is very good about making sure the chambered position was exact. Getting into the correct first position can be important because the movement of getting into the first position can be used to redirect the force of an attack. 

By examining Kata we see that Uke techniques are commonly used in conjunction movements that usually include footwork and/or body rotation. The footwork, when used, is always in an effort to close the gap between the two combatants and the body movement of Uke techniques is usually into a angled position. The bodies angle is part of Tai Sabaki (evasion with the body) and the footwork can be used as a means to deliver force or Ashi Sabaki (evasion using footwork).  

Putting this all together. We move into a chambered position with Age Uke. This is the point where the chambered position provides us with cover and force redirection before we begin to move into the "blocking" action. This is also where the Hikite (which is explained in another post) can begin to control or clear obstacles in the way of the next step. As the attack coming in is redirected, Hikite is in motion, the defender moves forward into a forward stance (Zenkutsu Dachi) and the lead arm rises into a forearm strike to the attackers body or head, depending on the position of both people.  


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