blocking


Makiwara Exercises for Skills and Variety

The makiwara, or machiwara in Uchinaguchi (lit. “Okinawa mouth,” the native language of Okinawa), is a popularly referenced, albeit often misunderstood, traditional karate training tool. It has fallen out of favor with many karateka, either because they feel it is antiquated and less-useful than modern equipment, or simply because it is uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes boring to work with. As […]

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Morote-uke (double receiver/"block")

The Parry-Pass Method – Karate’s Universal Defense

Uke-waza¬†(receiving techniques), as has been discussed before, are much more than just blocks, but they often incorporate defensive methods in their movements. While karate has a wide array of methods for defense, the most universal is probably the “parry-pass” style of blocking. Essentially, this is a method of blocking where one hand parries the attack to the side, and passes […]


Motobu Choki and Stopping Attacks with “Blocks”

“One cannot use continuous attacks against true karate. That is because the blocks of true karate make it impossible for the opponent to launch a second attack” The above quote comes from Motobu Choki, as translated by Joe Swift, and is one of many somewhat enigmatic statements from the famed Okinawan fighter about the nature of karate. Some of his […]

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Taira Masaji demonstrating Goju-Ryu techniques

Clearing the Way

  As karateka, we often look at being on the receiving end of attacks, but sometimes we can overlook dealing with the defense of our attackers. From a philosophical view, it is easy to understand why this could happen. Most serious karateka are familiar with the concept of “karate ni sente nashi,” or “there is no initiating hand in karate.” […]


Opposing Forces

Karate kata contain many movements that travel in opposite directions. Although it is quite simple, this concept of opposing forces is one of the signature methods of Okinawan karate. It can be seen in kihon practice, as well as in advanced kata, because it is extremely versatile. In application, this concept can defend, attack, clear obstructions, dislocate joints, and increase […]

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Chuck Merriman Sensei and I

2015 Brotherhood of Veteran Warriors Gasshuku

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Brotherhood of Veteran Warriors Gasshuku. The BOVW is an organization that was founded by US Military veterans with decades of martial arts experience, for the purpose of providing settings where martial artists from different backgrounds could come together to share and learn. They do not have any sort of curriculum, […]


The Limb Strikes of Karate

While karate strikes primarily target the head and body, it also includes strikes to limbs. In my recent article about cutting lines, I mentioned that those methods involve striking the limb as you attack. That is a byproduct of cutting the opponent’s line of attack or defense, but damaging the limb isn’t usually the intent. In this article, we will […]

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Funakoshi Gichin, founder of Shotokan, demonstrating Naihanchi Shodan

Compound Movements and Cutting Lines

Karate is often described as being a linear art, especially when looking at modern karate, but it is actually more circular than it gets credit for. Both linear movements, and circular movements, work together in karate to function as compound movements. These compound movements allow us to do more than we might otherwise, because they exert force in unusual ways […]