Posted by M M | History, Karatedo, Technique
Kanzaki Shigekazu sensei demonstrating Bechurin
Kanzaki sensei performing ura-uke from Bechurin kata.

Today I would like to talk about a common technique found in both Goju-ryu and Tou’on-ryu known as ura uke. In Goju-ryu it is found in the kata kururunfa after performing three sukui uke, while in Tou’on-ryu it is found in bechurin after performing the tomoe uke, kake uke, shuto-uchi combinations.

In both instances the performer shifts his weight onto his rear leg into a high cat stance and then performs ura uke in which the hand is dropped down in front of the body. In kururunfa the hand stops in front of the solar plexus, while in bechurin it stops in front of the groin. Like tora guchi / tomoe uke / mawashi uke, ura uke has both surface (omote) and deeper meaning (ura) and the student should bear this in mind when performing this technique.

The surface (omote) application of this technique is to lash out at an opponent’s arm or leg and then “stick” to that limb. If we look at ura uke in kururufna and bechurin, the cat stance is used to shift off-line control your attacker’s body in a limited space. I believe that the fight between Higaonna Kanryo (the fouder of Nahate) and some thugs in the English language edition of Nagamine Shoshin’s “Tales of Okinawa’s Great Karate Masters” on page 64 describes this technique. However, this translation is not quite right in my opinion as it says that, “Higaonna slid back just an inch as the fist tried to find its mark, and drove his iron-like knuckles deeply into the wrist of this opponent.”

The former translation gives the impression that Higaonna “punched” the attackers punching hand as it moved towards him. However, this encounter is better described in the original Japanese language version of the book on page 100, “寛量はサッと後退すると同時に突っ込んできた男の右拳腕骨を右手首で打ち返していた”。

In both instances the performer shifts his weight onto his rear leg into a high cat stance and then performs ura uke in which the hand is dropped down in front of the body. In kururunfa the hand stops in front of the solar plexus, while in bechurin it stops in front of the groin. Like tora guchi / tomoe uke / mawashi uke, ura uke has both surface (omote) and deeper meaning (ura) and the student should bear this in mind when performing this technique.

The surface (omote) application of this technique is to lash out at an opponent’s arm or leg and then “stick” to that limb. If we look at ura uke in kururufna and bechurin, the cat stance is used to shift off-line control your attacker’s body in a limited space. I believe that the fight between Higaonna Kanryo (the fouder of Nahate) and some thugs in the English language edition of Nagamine Shoshin’s “Tales of Okinawa’s Great Karate Masters” on page 64 describes this technique. However, this translation is not quite right in my opinion as it says that, “Higaonna slid back just an inch as the fist tried to find its mark, and drove his iron-like knuckles deeply into the wrist of this opponent.”

The former translation gives the impression that Higaonna “punched” the attackers punching hand as it moved towards him. However, this encounter is better described in the original Japanese language version of the book on page 100, “寛量はサッと後退すると同時に突っ込んできた男の右拳腕骨を右手首で打ち返していた”。

Roughly translated, “Kanryo quickly slid back as the punch came towards him and at the same time used his right wrist to strike the man’s forearm down”. The reference to using the wrist suggests to me that Higaonna actually used ura uke to defend himself with the nasty consequence of breaking the attackers wrist.

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