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rafanapa's picture

Hi there,

I was wondering what people thought the applications for a shotokan-style morotre-uke was?

I started out in Shotokan, but I was never convinced by the idea of it as a block where the back arm was augmenting the block, simply because experimentation showed that unless you augment at the point of the block, all you are doign is gproviding a fulcrum, thus making the block weaker. There were other applications such as stepping past someone and throwing them to your forward, or simultaneousblock\strikes. I was never entirely convinced by them however.

I've been doing Goju-ryu for a while now, and am working a lot on Seunchin. The moote-uke there makes a lot more sense to me from an augmentation point of view.Also, I did a course with Sensei Masaji Taira recently where he showed the same hand movements being used to immediatly follow a block with a strike to the face, where the strikign hand was "hiddenW behind the block. This made a lot more sense.

I'm wondering if the shotokan morote-uke is either something overt, like a throw, that wouldn't be in the modern syllabus, or if the form has changed over the years so the natural application isn't there any more. 


dfallen's picture

Hi Steve,

i had always struggled with this concept of morote-uke being an "augmented block" too. often described as being used to provide a stable/secure block to a big heavy incoming technique

the issue i always had with this was along the lines of "...well if i can see such a technique coming in enough time to chamber it (the block) whilst leaving my head exposed and THEN effect the block, why on earth didnt i just get out of the way of that technique in the first place..."

i bought a few of Iain Sensei's dvds one of them being kata vased sparring in which he shows this block as being a way to regain the inside position(and thus relative control) in a clinch. the "augmenting" arm wedges itself inside uke's grip with the vertical arm joining it up the centre in the space created to regain the centre from which throat grabs and head control is possible.

I've done some Goju too although many years ago and i certainly envy you your experience with Taira Masaji Sensei. Regards that particular block, it certainly makes more sense from a biomechanic point of view but wether it's the seiunchin or shotokan versions, they also suggest one arm (the augmenting arm) grabbing  at the limb whilst the "blocking" arm snakes underneath and around the limb to begin effecting an arm /shoulder lock from which it's possible to completely break uke's posture and capacity to respond.

just my thoughts, hope that's of value to you.surprise


PASmith's picture

Can't remember where I saw the idea (may have been at a seminar with John Titchen?) but I quite like the concept of the blocking arm crashing in (doesn't have to be blocking anything specific but a clearing/crashing type motion) with the augmenting arm becoming a punch at the same time. So maybe in a sense the augmentation to the block is that you are hitting him too? smiley

Also the chamber being a grab and the block a dragging type throw (I think that's in Stu Anslow's TKD applications book).

mike23's picture

  also,set up for shoulder throw?

stuff and backfist/uppercut?

rear naked choke?

PASmith's picture

Rear naked choke?

Don't see how an augmented block movement could be considered an RNC at all.

Harry Mord
Harry Mord's picture

I saw a video once of a Shaolin fellow doing "Lien bu quan", which, I understand, is their "basic kata". It includes a movement which is almost identical to a "morote uke" (except they place the open palm of the rear arm under the elbow of the "blocking arm"). They even do this in their equivalent of "kokutsu dachi" too. They apply this as a grab/block with the rear arm and an "ura zuki" style punch with the front  hand.

This movement appears on its own in karate kata so it can't possibly be an "augmented block" - not according to the kata interpretation guidelines in Iain's "Bunkai Jutsu" (as well as other places) anyway. It appears three times in succession in Pinan/Heian yondan so [the actual technique that] it [encodes] must have been regarded as well worthwhile practising.

Mark B
Mark B's picture

Hi all,

Morote Uke.

Against a double/single clothing grab.

Inside forearm strike into neck wrench, left hand disrupts posture.

At extreme close quarters, control head for ''shovel hook''.

Drive opponent into solid object to apply choke or attack to throat area

Just a few quick, simple thoughts.

Iain has an immediate response to a throat grab as one of HIS ideas, but thats the point, there his ideas.

Over the last number of years Iains work has given me the information to understand how to discover  MY bunkai. There will be crossovers with others but I do think, as with the Pinan Nidan thread the thing to do is try and apply the principles with a mind on how they apply to you.

Of course we all look for inspiration from time to time, but if all we do is ask someone else for applications to this move or that then you are not really finding Bunkai that fits your personality, requirements, body-type etc. then I think the point of kata is being missed somewhat

Obviously as a lower grade guidance is required but as the understanding of principles and techniques improves, so should the desire to find your personal  way. Bunkai becomes a personal thing , so if one person sees a rear naked choke then I see no problem, so long as the application adheres to the principles the technique describes. Anyone looking at the few examples I listed may think ''Mmmm, I don't see it'', but that doesn't matter, I do, and can apply them, thats the bottom line.

All the best


Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

Morote Uke is one of my favourite techniques in kata, I think there are many many great bunkai for this that works effectively. Not only with that move on its own, but also when you use it as part of the sequences it is found in within different kata (Tekki's, Kanku Sho etc...)

In response to the RNC, It is hard to explain but if you were to apply a RNC to an opponent, then held that position and let the other person go, you would have a basic template for morote uke. (all you would have to do is straighten the arms so one is exactly horizontal and one is exactly veritcal and close the fists)

shoshinkanuk's picture

Some good Bunaki being discussed and I am sure Iain Sensei has some functional Bunkai for Moroto Uke.

Stepping back from Bunkai and considering mechanics one of Moroto Uke's lessons is around using both sides of the back via flat hip alignment, i.e reinforcing the leading hand with the rear hand - this is core in our Ryu as opposed to the Hanmi hip position (slanted/angled) of other Ryu and particulary Japanese Ryu.

We support this position by turning our rear foot in towards straight as opposed to flaring it out at 45 degrees or more, its a fundamental difference in our Ryu against most others.

Moroto Uke has a ton of striking, hidden hand and Tuite Bunkai as well as significant Kamate uses. A core movement of karate IMO.

Choki Motobu writes a fair ammount on MefuTode, which is Moroto Uke my understanding is at a basic level it is using both hands at the same time in the same direction, one just arrives before the other - again this is a core concept of our Ryu.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Lots of "bunkai" you could extract from it I think, I would favor the crash in + smash ribs, head control shovel hook, or arm wrap and forearm shiver/wedge - RNC seems like a real stretch to me.  In terms of 'augmentation', I think it often gets misunderstood with this sort of motion. Much like Shoshin is saying, it's about muscle recruitment and position of your centerline, not augmenting something with your arm. It  lends a structural strength that simply isn't there if you just do chudan uke, you can test this just by having someone push into you directly after you block the punch, with the 'augmenting' hand and the foot tracking the centerline, you will definitely have more structure against impact. I also have learned "always two hands" with uke waza, even on a base level, it only makes sense with your basic flinch reactions to simply use both, whether it ends up being block/hit, just block, crash in, whatever.

Beyond this, we could also look at it as a kamae like an old school boxers stance, what can be done if the guard is attacked with either hand, what is visible and what is not etc. Not using 'guard' in quite the same way as a ready position or something, but a point in time we have frozen to determine what our position makes the opponent likely to do, and how we can act on that.

karate10's picture

I also have the Kata Based sparring and the clnch based application that can be a Morote-uke variation, also if an attacker strikes to jodan(head level area), the supporting hand to the lower part of the elbow in Morote-Uke can deflect that strike that is attempting to strike the face and follow up with the age tsuki (uppercut)....Theres more than one way to go to Kansas as we say here in the States wink ... Shift+R improves the quality of this image. CTRL+F5 reloads the whole page.

ky0han's picture

Hi everyone,

I found the book "Shaolin Chin Na Fa: Art of Seizing and Grappling. " very usefull when it comes to older forms of application. It shows very usefull stuff that was tought at the Police Academy of Zhejiang Province in 1936.

Take a look here. The cover of the the book shows a brutal application of the morote uchi uke as it is called in Shotokan. http://static.lulu.com/browse/product_thumbnail.php?productId=965277&resolution=320

Hope that helps.

Regards Holger

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

ky0han wrote:
I found the book "Shaolin Chin Na Fa: Art of Seizing and Grappling. " very usefull when it comes to older forms of application. It shows very usefull stuff that was tought at the Police Academy of Zhejiang Province in 1936.

It a good book that and I like the quote at the start about how people are losing their way with understanding the forms and the practical applications of the art :-)

All the best,


ky0han's picture

Hi everyone,

in the book "Ji Xiao Xin Shu" by General Qi Jiguang (Ch'i Chi-kuang) he illustrates 32 fighting positions. The last one, the drum and flag position, is described by him as a throw were you shoot into frontstance into the opponent and press him with the shoulder and hip over the front knee.

Can anyone recommend a good translation of this book? I found a translation of the chapter with the weaponless postures in the book T'Ai Chi's Ancestors: The Making of an Internal Art by Douglas Wile.

Regards Holger.