Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

July 31st , 2016

This week's thought is from Sensei Rick Cupoli
San Dan
Shihan West Melbourne Dojo Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA

Jodan Uke

Onegai-shimasu Hanshi, Sensei, Sempai, and all Deshi,

Our discussion this week focuses on Jodan Uke; the high block.

Jodan Uke, the high block, in my view, is the more difficult of the three most basic blocks to execute effectively. The two other basic blocks are Chudan Uke (Chest Block) and Gedan Uke (Low Block). In these two blocks the arms are wound up in a horizontal fashion while stepping. This is very natural to perform because it involves crossing the arms across the front of the body. Crossing our arms in front of the body is intuitive and lends itself readily to the application of power with the natural use of the hip when the blocks are delivered.

The vertical motion of the high block presents a greater challenge. Often the high block is executed incorrectly as follows: Starting from the left high block position, the step is performed and then the block is launched from the chamber after the step. This motion does provide for a lot of momentum, but leaves the body completely unprotected while stepping. The other two basic blocks cover their respective areas during the step. This protection is also provided when correctly executing the high block.

As with the chest and low blocks, the wind-up for the high block is accomplished while the step is occurring. The arms come forward when the step begins and will be crossed in front of the face when the step is complete. This is the critical point where power is achieved. It is at this point that the hip must be engaged. At the moment the front foot is in place and the arms are crossed in front of the face, without pause, the hip corresponding to the blocking arm is thrusted forward and the blocking arm is launched upward, while at the same time the chambering arm is thrusted backward. At the conclusion of the block the hip that was thrusted forward will rotate back into place.

Let’s try it. Start from a left high block position. The left foot is forward. The left arm is in the high block position and the right arm is in the chamber. Now, step forward with the right foot, and while stepping bring the left arm down and the right arm up to cross in front of the face. The arm movement is timed with the step. They begin moving when the step begins and will be crossed in front of the face when the step is complete. Also, with the forward right foot step, hold the right hip back while you step. At the very moment of the completed step, thrust the right hip forward to launch your arms into the right high block position. The right hip will naturally snap back into its natural position. Here tremendous power is supplied to the high block while it also protects the face and at the same time achieves its proper wind-up.
Domo Arigato,

Sensei Rick Cupoli
San Dan
Shihan West Melbourne Dojo