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WadoBen
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Inner block in kata

To clarify I'm talking about inner block uchi uki, starts from up high and crosses the body. I say this as I know uchi uki and soto uki are interchangeable between styles.

so I study and teach wado ryu and in that katas we practice there isn't a single inner block. I was wondering if anyone has katas that do have inner blocks and also why it isn't found in many kata?

Oerjan Nilsen
Oerjan Nilsen's picture

WadoBen wrote:
 I was wondering if anyone has katas that do have inner blocks and also why it isn't found in many kata?

I am not aware of seeing it much in Karate Kata (Shotokan Bassai Dai have a few if I am not mistaken) but the block you describe is very popular in the Kukkiwon Taekwondo Poomsae (if you go youtubing and search for Taegeuk 1 Jang you will see it in the middle part, Taegeuk 2 Jang has a few more).

As for why it is not more popular in Karate Kata? No idea I am afraid but I am looking forward to read this thread as more people join in.

Just to clarify it is a block like this right?:

WadoBen
WadoBen's picture

Yes that is the block I mean and yes your right it is in basai, I'd forgotten that. Just seems strange that it isn't used more often in kata but is usually taught to every beginner when they start learning karate. 

rafanapa
rafanapa's picture

From what I know of the pinan kata, a lot of the places where the heian kata have chudan uchi-uke, the pinans have jodan. The block/kick/punch sequence in the second half of pinan shodan has a jodan block, where it is chudan gyaku uchi uke in the heian nidan. The opening of heian godan has chudan uchi uke as well.

I train in goju-ryu these days, and the uchi uke is the default chudan block in the same was that soto uke is the default in shotokan. Uchi uke is in both gekisai katas, which are the "basic" ones.

A lot of morote ukes in kata are effectively uchi uke, but the intent can be buried in a lot of waffle.

As to why some styles prefer one or another, or if one is "better" in any way... that's for someone wiser than me :)

WadoBen
WadoBen's picture

rafanapa wrote:

From what I know of the pinan kata, a lot of the places where the heian kata have chudan uchi-uke, the pinans have jodan. The block/kick/punch sequence in the second half of pinan shodan has a jodan block, where it is chudan gyaku uchi uke in the heian nidan. The opening of heian godan has chudan uchi uke as well.

I train in goju-ryu these days, and the uchi uke is the default chudan block in the same was that soto uke is the default in shotokan. Uchi uke is in both gekisai katas, which are the "basic" ones.

A lot of morote ukes in kata are effectively uchi uke, but the intent can be buried in a lot of waffle.

As to why some styles prefer one or another, or if one is "better" in any way... that's for someone wiser than me :)

I think you may have done what I thought might happen, which is switch uchi and soto uki around as I know some styles call them the same. Moroto uki is what I call a soto uki style block that goes out from your body and uchi uki goes across your body. The terms are interchangeable because some styles name it for the direction the block moves to and some the direction it moves from. All very confusing know. 

Tau
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First, get Iain's Naihanchi DVD which deals with some applications.

Secondly, consider this video ... specifcally from about 03:10

munteanu radu
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Hello

In Shotokan we refer as uchi uke to the block from inside to outside and as soto uke to the block from outside to inside.

I found a good explanation in "Shotokan Mysteries" (Kousaku Yokota):

"Let us go back to what we were discussing; uke and heian kata. Itosu, the creator of Pinan  obviously believed uchi uke is more important and necessary than soto uke. Chudan uchi ude uke and chudan shuto uke are difficult to use especially when you retreat straight back. All you have to do is to try these techniques in sanbon kumite and you will see. These difficult blocks; shuto uke and uchi ude uke finally work well once you start to body shift in angles in your kumite. So we realize now that some of uchi uke works better when we move in angles. But you will ask why the outside blocks are ignored or unused in kata. As I studied further into  bunkai I came up with two good reasons. A hint is that Okinawa masters were the hard core martial artists. The first reason is that they despised the techniques that would expose their vital points of the body. This was the very reason why they did not include mawashi geri and yoko ke-age when they created the kata. Those kicks obviously would expose the groin area which must be completely avoided. The other vital areas are the solar plexus in chudan level and eyes, temples, throat, etc. in jodan level. If you understand this concept then it is easy to see that the masters believed it was almost a suicidal move to swing an arm way outside of the body line to prepare for a block. We were taught in our training some 50 years ago always to “hide” the vital points that are mostly lined through the center or chushinsen or seichusen, an imaginary line between the top of the head and the tail bone...."

I hope this is somehow helpfull.

Th0mas
Th0mas's picture

I am not sure I entirely agree with Yokota... allthough the stepping back thing may explain why ippon, sanbon and gobon kumite focus on Soto-uke (shotokan Outside-to-Insight block) as part of the shotokan tradition rather than uchi uke. However 50 years ago, would make it 1960's in Japan - I don't believe that generation of instructors would actually recognise the close range bunkai interpretations we now subscribe to the kata originators - "a block is a block, a kick is a kick" would have been the Shotokan 1960's instructors interpretation I think.

In my opinion the reason you don't see it (outside to inside block) as practiced in Kihon, is that the motion is transitionary in kata whilst it is shown as a single technique in Kihon.

The actual motion of an outside to inside block can be interpreted as a number of functions, the most obvious is a throw or arm lock - and the form for each of those applications can be represented in many ways. So think about the sequences in Pinan/Heian Godan after the first "Upper x-block" or the opening movement in Nijushiho or the first step to the left in Tekki SHodan or nihanchi...

DaveB
DaveB's picture

I think Yakota is dead on. You almost never see the inner forearm block (Soto) in southern Chinese systems, and certainly not as such an open technique. If we assume a confrontation is occurring your hands should already be up in front of you; many southern styles use a twin outward palm guard that looks quite defensive and unassuming as a fence. If an attack comes as a surprise while our hands are down it is in flinching that we get any defense up. In both cases the hand/forearms need only lift and rotate from the elbow to make a solid defensive movement whose finished position is a strong and stable platform from which to launch a counter. If the attack lies dead on your centre line, from either neutral position you have to move your arm further to reach and then clear the attack. Though minuscule the difference could cost you. Also with the uchi uke (outer forearm) if you power the block by rotating into it then you can simultaneously strike with the other hand. You need two separate rotations to power both soto block and counter strike Though there is no doubt that there was a knowledge gap, but what the first and second generation of Japanese instructors had was access to tidbits of info, technical foibols that by now havebeen ironed out iof the teaching, but give indications and details of old style karate. I've lost count of the odd little rumours or technicalities that made no sense and were not commonly discussed but which years later reappeared in some old letter by Motobu or in an archaic shuri-te teaching.

munteanu radu
munteanu radu's picture

Hello Dave

I'm not sure if you agree with Yakota or not. Basicaly you two say the same think: in a real fight is not a good idea to open yourself by doing a "large" outside-to-inside block.

In the beginer's kata (Heian/Pinan) we have 3 examples of outside-to-inside blocks: second move in pinan shodan (outside-to-inside block with the front hand - kind of), the elbow-block in Pinan Sandan and the "nagashi" uke - gedan nukite combination in Pinan godan. But all 3 are done with a small arm movement, so it's not kihon-like tehnics.

All the best

Radu

DaveB
DaveB's picture
Hi Radu I do agree with Yokota, but I don't consider any of those movements the same as the soto uke technique; I see the defensive element in those movements as a parry with the palm or in the case of sandan, just plain different. I think the reasons for the preference are largely ideological, but also like Thomas I think that more often than not, the odd occasion that we do see Soto uke it's intended to be more of a control/manipulation technique.
Dod
Dod's picture

I think that the two step outside to inside uke (shotokan soto uke)  does not make sense for blocking a punch.  If someone is throwing a punch at you in a real situation I think there is a growing consensus that you would be lucky to block it at all except by a flinch type movement.   Certainly not by taking your blocking hand back past your ear whilst opeining your mid section then bringing it forward in time to meet the punch.

This mentioned in few posts above but it is worth emphasising because clubs (like mine) still teach it.

I think the movement was taken to kihon from Kata like Bassai dai where it was never intended as block of a punch (for the first one in Bassai the hand is only back by your ear because you body has turned 180 degrees and the hand follows?)

One other reason that the in-to-out (shotokan uchi uke)  may be more practical for a block is because it contains a flinch-type crossing of the arms as a first step that could be considered the real block, and the second movement is clearing or grabbing his limb

Th0mas
Th0mas's picture

Hi Dod

I agree with the flinch interpretation for uchi uke - in fact the vast majority of so called "blocks" start with arm crossing - a common reaction to clearing flailing arms and then finishing with the block as a strike. I would so far as say that age-uke and uchi-uke (shotokan inside to outside) have the same function and only through formalisation of styles, reductionism for the purposes of instructuion and tradition etc is now represented in all the major karate styles as two separate Kihon techniques. I believe you see the same with the kicks (kikomi, kieagi and stamp orginally being the same kick).

Th0mas
Th0mas's picture

munteanu radu wrote:

Hello

In Shotokan we refer as uchi uke to the block from inside to outside and as soto uke to the block from outside to inside.

I found a good explanation in "Shotokan Mysteries" (Kousaku Yokota):

"<snip> ...But you will ask why the outside blocks are ignored or unused in kata. As I studied further into  bunkai I came up with two good reasons. A hint is that Okinawa masters were the hard core martial artists. The first reason is that they despised the techniques that would expose their vital points of the body. This was the very reason why they did not include mawashi geri and yoko ke-age when they created the kata. <snip>

This is why I have a problem with Yokota's explanation - Mawashi Geri jodan and ke-age jodan are certainly problematic from a self-protection perspective, but I don't believe Ke-age or Mawashi geri existed in the form, we would recognise, in Okinawa in the late 19th Centrury when Itosu devised the Pinan Kata's...

Also I believe ke-age and kikomi are just evolved forms of the same stamp kick to the leg, but targetted at long range and at waist height and above. I understood that it was Gigo F, who developed the mawashi Geri as we understand the kick nowadays and that would have been in the 1930's-40's before he died. 

... please could someone correct me if I am wrong.

DaveB
DaveB's picture

I agree about the flinch element of the block preparation. I have hheard it said that it is one of the key factors in Tomari te based karate that the cross-block interception that is the preparation of all the kihon blocks is the only blocking technique and the subsequent kihon movement is a counter or control of some description. Itosu's primary teacher was from Tomari so it makes sense that this is incorporated into the art as it descends from him.

That being said the prevalence of the ude uke movement (forearm blocking motion regardless of prep) is common across forms and styles all over China, many of which use little or no prep before executing the blocking movement. With this in mind i don't think this local variation alone can account fully for an international preference.

Also as a side note I would answer Dod's post by suggesting that when viewed as a pure blocking techniques, the preparation movements are just mechanical practice and only the forearm deflection that you need execute in application.
Dod wrote:

I think that the two step outside to inside uke (shotokan soto uke)  does not make sense for blocking a punch.  If someone is throwing a punch at you in a real situation I think there is a growing consensus that you would be lucky to block it at all except by a flinch type movement.   Certainly not by taking your blocking hand back past your ear whilst opeining your mid section then bringing it forward in time to meet the punch.

This mentioned in few posts above but it is worth emphasising because clubs (like mine) still teach it.

I think the movement was taken to kihon from Kata like Bassai dai where it was never intended as block of a punch (for the first one in Bassai the hand is only back by your ear because you body has turned 180 degrees and the hand follows?)

One other reason that the in-to-out (shotokan uchi uke)  may be more practical for a block is because it contains a flinch-type crossing of the arms as a first step that could be considered the real block, and the second movement is clearing or grabbing his limb

Dod
Dod's picture

DaveB,  Interesting that you have heard it said that the crosssing hands is key in the Tomari te line.  A couple more observations:

It seems relevant in the to the push-pull principle of many grappling techniques as well ie the starting position 

Also if you imagine the initial hand crossing of the in-to-out left side uchi uke,  move both hands slightly to the left and open the palms I think you have the "twin outward palm guard" that you descrbed in a previous post above

Damian Laszuk
Damian Laszuk's picture



Here is some of our bunkai for the uchi uke block. It is the other version than asked about in the topic, because I had it done for other purposes. I will be posting the one that Wado Ben wanted on saturday.

Grow strong and have fun! ;)

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Damian Laszuk wrote:
Here is some of our bunkai for the uchi uke block. It is the other version than asked about in the topic, because I had it done for other purposes. I will be posting the one that Wado Ben wanted on saturday.

I really like this! Great addition to the site and thanks so much for sharing … and in English too :-)

Thank you Damian!

All the best,

Iain

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

munteanu radu wrote:

Hello Dave

I'm not sure if you agree with Yakota or not. Basicaly you two say the same think: in a real fight is not a good idea to open yourself by doing a "large" outside-to-inside block.

In the beginer's kata (Heian/Pinan) we have 3 examples of outside-to-inside blocks: second move in pinan shodan (outside-to-inside block with the front hand - kind of), the elbow-block in Pinan Sandan and the "nagashi" uke - gedan nukite combination in Pinan godan. But all 3 are done with a small arm movement, so it's not kihon-like tehnics.

All the best

Radu

In Shito-Ryu, none of those blocks are Uchi Uke.  Pinan Shodan, the second move would be a Wa uchi, in Pinan Sandan, the elbow block is Ni No Ude Uke, while it moves in the same manner, it is not the same, and in Pinan Godan, no Uchi Uke at all.

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

As for Uchi Uke, we do have plenty of Kata with them.  All variants of Bassai, and Naihanchin, Seienchin, Anan, Juroku, Ken Shu, to name a few off the top of my head.

Damian Laszuk
Damian Laszuk's picture

Our view on Uchi uke [soto uke in kyokushin]

Marc
Marc's picture

Hi everybody,

I contemplated the same question recently. "Why are there almost no out-to-in-ukes in the 25ish kata I know? And why are they a well established part of karate curricula nonetheless?" Sadly, I did not find any reliable information anywhere. So I was left to my own hunches.

First to the question of why they are not in the kata:

The kata represent collections of self-defense techniques and principles that have worked well for experienced martial arts masters. Almost none of them included a full out-to-in-uke (i.e. including the "preparation" move of both arms). Obviously, the specific motion in question did not come up to represent a practical method or priciple. In other words, the practical application of our out-to-in-uke, if it has any, is probably in there, but is being represented by other kata moves, that the old masters did include.

The short and provocative conclusion: The out-to-in-uke does not provide us with a practical self-defense technique or principle. - Yeah, chew on that one! devil

Of course, we can make very practical use of the out-to-in-uke, like a throw/takedown or an arm-bar. But the kata represent those with other moves.

Next to the question of how we arrived at having this move in the first place. This is my current working theory:

The karateka of the 1960s, categorised the karate moves they knew, like Nakayama did in his book "Dynamic Karate". If, for a moment, we assume that they interpreted age-uke (upward), uchi-ude-uke (in-to-out) and gedan-barai (downward) as simple blocks, then they might have realised that all those moves are initiated by first moving the arm to the opposite position. And that totally makes sense, doesn't it. If the arm is supposed to move downward, it initially has to be up high, right?.

And if you consider the dynamics of, e.g., gedan-barai, you will find that, by swiftly throwing your arm up to the opposite shoulder, you stretch the muscles in your upper arm, shoulder and back. The instant your swift preparation move reaches its end point, you can relax, and the streched muscles, like a rubber band, will start to quickly pull your arm back down. That's cool, you do one move and get the next move for free.

Now, with that in mind, they might have introduced the soto-ude-uke (out-to-in) for two reasons:

a) Systematically it was missing. There were down-to-up, up-to-down, in-to-out, but no out-to-in. So they might have added it just for symmetry.

b) They found it useful. And in fact it is. Think of your common guard-position with one or both of your hands up in front of your body. If your opponent attacks with a straight move (say, the infamous right hand Oi-Zuki), you can perfectly block/redirect his right arm by just touching it with your left forearm while turning your body a bit to the right. That is basically an out-to-in-block, even if it's dwarfed-down a fair bit. Now, following the rule that all the blocks first move to the opposite position, it was only logical to do the same with this blocking technique. Hence the wide-open preparation move. It streches the muscels in your upper arm, shoulder and chest, just so that they will pull the arm back in an across as intended.

Finally, I have another theory as to why this out-to-in-block is being utilised in shotokans kihon-kumite exercises (i.e. gohon-kumite, kaeshi-ippon-kumite and the like):

I mean, even all the white belts immediately realise that this block does not really work against an oi-zuki. Pythagoras tells you why. So why do they have to do it?

Maybe somebody from a non-shotokan school came up with these exercises. And they said: Let's throw a soto-uke in there because it deflects a straight punch nicely. Please note that in the non-shotokan world "soto-uke" is the in-to-out-block.

Now the shotokan people might have thought. Ah, that's a handy exercise, let's do that, too. What did they say, they used? Soto-uke? Right, soto-uke it is then. But in the shotokan-world "soto-uke" is the out-to-in-block. And that's it.

I don't know whether gohon-kumite with the out-to-in-block is being practised in other styles than shotokan in any country. If it is the case, then following my theory, it could be that that had been re-imported from shotokan.

Conclusion:

That's just some hunches. As I said, I don't have any evidence for this. But maybe it is that simple.

  1. Full in-to-out-blocks are not in kata because they a) are not blocks and b) other moves can represent the principle better.
  2. The in-to-out-blocks might have been introduced just to systematically complete the set of blocks (up, down, out, ...).
  3. It might have ended up in the kihon-kumite exercise because of a misunderstanding due to the contradictory labelling of soto-uke and uchi-uke in different styles.

Oh, and by the way, the dwarfed-down version of the out-to-in-block we find in kata all over the place, of course. Consider for example the preparation of gedan-barai, shuto-uke, etc.

Best wishes to all of you

Marc