Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Underutilized Shuto Uke

Pity the poor shuto uke (shuto mawashi uke, double knife hand block).  When does it ever get put to use except in kata practice?  Forget about fighting, right?  It seems traditional martial artists only use it for getting into a fighting stance.  They'll wave their hands in the air and Presto!  I'm a karate guy!  But there's so much more to it.

I like to think of the technique as a multi functional tool.  You parry and trap your opponent's strike.  Equally important, if not more so, while parrying and trapping you to cut an angle on your opponent to get into a safe position while leaving your opponent vulnerable.  If karate is a fighting system of multiple distances, shuto mawashi uke is the technique that enables you to close the distance.  Those familiar with Wing Chun, JKD, Silat will recognize what I'm talking about.

Kyokushin karateka who remember pinan sono ichi, might wonder about the different angled shuto mawashi uke at the end of the kata.  No, they are not intended to allow you to meet additional opponents coming from different directions.  They are meant to reinforce the idea of approaching your opponent form an angle instead of straight on.

Above, Alvin Guinanao, of Open Circle Silat, demonstrates how to get close to an opponent and take him down.  Pay attention to the hand movement starting at 0:10.  Notice how he's close and outside.  For karateka, imagine what moves follow shuto mawashi uke in kata.  They are very likely close-in fighting technique.


  1. That is very cool! Since we actually do some grabs and throws we have a few Shuto techniques. Mainly in the side grab.