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Chris R
Chris R's picture
Chin down?


So from what I have seen from observing many Karate practitioners, and from my own training in Karate, it seems as if there is little or no emphasis on keeping the chin down. I understand the reasons for this in modern basic 3K Karate, where it is best to keep good posture in kihon and kata (so your chin stays up), and in point kumite there is no need to tuck the chin either. When Karate is trained in a combative way or for self protection purposes, despite all of the training based around dealing with strikes to the head, there appears to be little or no emphasis on tucking the chin. I understand that the aim of self protection is to avoid getting into a situation where you would need to have your chin tucked (via avoidance, pre-emptives, escaping, etc), but I believe that realistic training should still include preparation for a scenario where that stuff does not work and you end up facing strikes. Personally, I would always want to have my chin down if somebody was throwing strikes towards my head. So I was wondering, if you don't advocate keeping the chin down during bunkai, padwork, and/or sparring, what is your reasoning behind this?

I would be interested to hear anyone's thoughts on this.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

I think there are times to tuck the chin in, and times where you want the head up. As with most things, saying something is universally “good” or “bad” never really holds up to scrutiny.

The advantages of chin down is that the jaw is better protected. The disadvantage is that the head being tilted forward mean you are looking “upward” and hence you have a “high line” blind spot.

Talking in general of terms, when covering up the chin is better being down. If on the attack – as we would prefer to be – then have the targets locked in your sights i.e. head up and eyes forward. Because of the need to escape we need to be scanning for the best exit. Additionally, because of the potential of multiples, we need to, as fighter pilots say, “keep our head on a swivel”. Chin down all the time limits the field of vison and ability to scan widely.

 Bottom line, chin down when it needs to be; chin up when it needs to be.

The forward tilt you see in some versions of Kushanku is an example of a chin down cover / flinch (i.e. https://youtu.be/gwCc5DOWcGU).

You can see that in application in the video below. And the drawing of “two dragons playing in the water” in the bubishi (also in the video) also shows a lean with the chin down.

All the best,


Chris R
Chris R's picture

Thank you for the response, it was helpful to hear your perspective on this and it raised some points for me to think about.