Orange Belt Closed Hand Strikes

In this section, we will discuss those combinations that are predominantly delivered with closed fists. These will include both Keiretsu and Morote striking combinations.

Many of the striking combinations involve strike with the Front Hand and then subsequently striking with Gyaku Tsuki. The Front Hand may strike with a Tsuki motion (such as a jab) or with a circular strike such as Shuto Uchi.

Awase Tsuki

This Morote Tsuki involves striking along your Center Line with both hands concurrently. The hands are positioned so that one is directly above the other. The vertical spacing between the hands depends entirely upon your intended targets or planned purpose. The top hand is normally positioned as a Ken Tsuki. The bottom hand is commonly positioned as either Ken Tsuki or Tate Ken Tsuki, depending on purpose and targets. In reality, either hand can be positioned as needed to accomplish your specific task.

Yama Tsuki

The Yama Tsuki (Mountain Punch or U-Punch) is a Morote strike delivered from Sochin Dachi, Kokutsu Dachi, or Zenkutsu Dachi by pressing forward at the waist while keeping your hips centered directly above your knees – this keeps your center of gravity back and directly over your legs. As you press forward in the direction of local angle 1, you will strike with a Chudan Ken Tsuki using what will be your upper (back) hand, and with a Gedan Ura Ken Tsuki with what will be your lower (front) hand. Your arms and torso form the general shape of the letter “U” lying on its side. The arms remain bent significantly, but not severely, at the elbows. The strike is commonly used to target the lower face or upper chest region and the lower abdomen. It is a powerful strike but becomes much less effective if you allow your weight to shift forward of your knees. Have a strategy for what to do after this strike as it leaves you in something of an awkward position should your opponent counter strike in some way. Always consider how a strike can also be used to destabilize an opponent to prevent a counter-attack.

In some cases, the outer edge of the upper arm might be used to block and deflect an incoming strike. In a later belt, you will learn how this same movement can be utilized as both an escape and a throwing mechanism.

The lower forearm might also be used to block when the opponent is attempting a waist grab or Gedan level strike. This brings up the point that nearly any strike can be used, in part, to function as a block during the early stages of the strike.

Do not get into the habit of leaning forward significantly when striking. Generally, maintain an upright structure. If you lean forward, your eyes will be focused downward and you will lose much of your peripheral vision. Losing peripheral vision when you are close to an opponent is not an optimal condition.  Leaning forward too severely will also provide an opportunity for your opponent to pull you down by pressing your head or either arm toward the floor.

This strike is similar to Awase Tsuki, except that the two strikes have a more circular path of delivery in Yama Tsuki, resulting in the distinctive U-shape of the arms after the strike.

Kizami Tsuki – Gyaku Tsuki

This is a Keiretsu striking combination where the Front Hand delivers a Kizami Tsuki while in a stance like Sochin Dachi and then you rotate into a Zenkutsu Dachi and deliver the Gyaku Tsuki with the back-hand. Little or no stepping occurs between the two stances. The two strikes are normally delivered in rapid succession. Two methods are utilized to help increase the power of this striking combination. The first is perhaps obvious and that is the rotation forward as the Gyaku Tsuki is being delivered. The second is more important and a little less obvious. This involves using Disproportionality to pull the Kizami Tsuki back at full speed, thus amplifying the power and delivery speed of the Gyaku Tsuki. The Kizami Tsuki is not only used to strike the opponent but to increase the power and effectiveness of the second strike which occurs as the first strike is being returned.

The Kizami Tsuki is normally directly returned to an effective guard position but may be employed for some other effective purpose. Either way, you should know exactly where this hand is located upon completion of the first strike.  Pay attention to the path this returning hand takes on the way to its final destination. The hand should not loop downward or circle outward if the intent is to have the hand move to guard position. It should proceed from its extended position directly back to guard position without any sightseeing tours.

The two strikes do not need to be delivered to the same target. For example, the Kizami Tsuki might be delivered at the Jodan level and the Gyaku Tsuki might be directed at the Chudan level.

Tettsui Uchi – Gyaku Tsuki

Starting in Sochin Dachi, use the front arm to deliver a Tettsui Uchi to perhaps the Jodan or Chudan level. Then rotate forward into a Zenkutsu Dachi to deliver a Gyaku Tsuki to the Jodan or perhaps Chudan (or even Gedan) level. The first strike is allowed to return in a much abbreviated circular manner as this both helps to increase the power of the second strike and returns the Front Hand to a guard position quickly. The Front Hand should rarely go outside of your center triangle while returning to guard position. This combination is both fast and very powerful, but you must practice this sequence to ensure you always have an effective guard in place. Watch for any potential openings or weaknesses in your guard position and strive to narrow or close these whenever possible.

As with any combination, the first strike must be returned briskly. This not only helps increase the speed of the second strike, but it reduces the chance that your opponent will be able to successfully grab your extended arm after your first strike. Grabbing an extended arm or leg is a common method of countering a strike and you should remain very aware of this possibility. And of course, a quick return means an earlier establishment of a sound guard position.

Uraken Tsuki – Gyaku Tsuki

The only significant difference between this strike and the Tettsui Uchi – Gyaku Tsuki striking combination is that an Uraken Tsuki is used as the first strike instead. The same circular benefits, return speed, and guard position comments are relevant to both of these striking combinations.

Ura Tsuki – Tettsui Uchi

This is a Keiretsu striking combination using a single arm. There are three possible alternate ways of performing this combination. In the first, after the Ura Tsuki project the elbow forward so it points to the target area. This is done by returning your fist to your opposite-side ear. This will cause the arm to be brought into a horizontal orientation. Now simply extend the Tettsui Uchi, palm down, horizontally into the target.

In the second alternate usage, your fist is returned to the same-side ear following the Ura Tsuki. This causes your elbow to point toward your local angle 3 or 4 (depending on which arm you are using). The Tettsui Uchi is then extended, palm up, horizontally, and into the target area.

The last option uses the same return as the second strike. Once the hand has returned to the same-side ear following the first strike the elbow is pointed toward angle 1. Now the fist rotates so that a Tettsui Uchi can strike downward toward angle 1.  If the Ura Tsuki has contacted under the opponent’s chin, his or her face may be forced to face upward. The descending Tettsui Uchi may then impact squarely into the front of the opponent’s face.

In all scenarios, the arm is returned briskly following the second strike to establish a guard and to reduce the chances for a counter-grab from your opponent.

Tettsui Uchi – Tate Ken Tsuki

To strike with this combination, utilize a Tettsui Uchi strike with the Front Hand and a Tate Ken Tsuki using the back-hand. Generally, the Tettsui Uchi strikes at a higher location than the Tate Ken Tsuki. This combination can be used by striking first with the Tettsui Uchi and then, in quick succession, delivering the Tate Ken Tsuki. It is also possible to strike with both hands concurrently. Both hands should return briskly to a guard position. Unlike the Tettsui Uchi – Gyaku Tsuki combination you do not (necessarily) rotate into a Zenkutsu Dachi when delivering the strike with the back-hand.

Kizami Tsuki – Mawashi Tsuki

The primary use of this combination is to find a way around an opponent’s guard hands. Both strikes are usually delivered by the Front Hand and occur in rapid succession. The Kizami Tsuki is therefore delivered directly toward the face, impacting the opponent’s guard if it is present (or the face, if it is not). Disproportionality is then used to accelerate the return of the jab and to hook it back forward again and outside of the opponent’s guard to strike with a Mawashi Tsuki, generally to the side of the face (though the ribs or other targets may be viable as well).

Morote Ura Tsuki

This combination uses dual Ura Tsuki strikes that commonly move directly up your center-line and into the assailant’s abdomen, chest, or face. Other target areas may also be viable in some situations. This combination again places your hands in a position where you do not have an effective guard (though usually, the striking hands are not far from a guard position). Perhaps the most common use for this combination (but certainly not the only one) is to interrupt an opponent’s double-handed front grab by using an outward circular blocking combination (perhaps a Morote Ura Chudan Shuto Uke) to drive the opponent’s arms out and downward. Before the assailant can recover the use of their arms you strike directly to the face by moving your hands, circularly, back into your center, and then directly up and into the opponent’s face.

Heiko Tsuki

Here is another combination that has a somewhat limited practical use, but it is worth exploring (as are all possible striking combinations). In this combination, you might stand in a stance such as Heiko Dachi or Kokutsu Dachi and then drive two Ken Tsuki directly forward and into the target area. This could be done to stop a dual handed grab or as a way to aggressively push your opponent away. Note that in some circumstances it may also serve to push you away. This can be either an advantage or disadvantage, depending on whether you had anticipated that circumstance. While this combination may at first seem to be very powerful, the potential power is significantly reduced since there are no counter-rotational forces at play as both arms extend simultaneously.

When delivering this Morote Tsuki the arms are generally straight but you want to maintain a slight bend at the elbows to reduce the possibility of injury. A greater degree of bend might be useful if you are concurrently blocking and striking with the same motion (for example, blocking a double hand grab attempt).

The arms both remain at the same distance above the floor and are parallel to one another. Both arms extend forward the same distance while the strikes are centered somewhere inside your shoulders. They might both target a small area near your Center Line or strike to opposite sides of an opponent’s sternum, so there is no set spacing or distance between the two hands when using this strike. The effectiveness of the strike decreases as both hands move outside your Center Line.

The striking method can also be used as you step forward into something like Seisan Dachi. This might be used to thwart a grab attempt or to intercept an incoming strike as it is first developing.

Uraken Tsuki – Tettsui Uchi

It is possible to employ this striking combination in several different ways. Let’s consider striking with the right-hand in our examples. You will want to practice these strikes on both sides.

If you strike to the right side of an attacker’s head with Migi Uraken Tsuki, by lowering your elbow and rotating your wrist you can strike with Tettsui Uchi to the left side of your opponent’s head. These strikes can be delivered in rapid succession.

You could alternately strike again with Uraken Tsuki to the right side of an opponent’s head, rotate the wrist only, and strike a second time to the right side of the opponent’s head or neck. There is no need to return the arm between the two consecutive strikes.

If you bend the elbow and return the first strike then it is possible to deliver the second strike to nearly any portion of the body. This would allow you, for example, to strike from the opponent’s ear side with Migi Uraken Tsuki to the abdomen followed shortly by Migi Tettsui Uchi to the face or groin.

If the Uraken Tsuki is delivered as Migi Tate Uraken Tsuki down into the opponent’s face, then a wrist turn would allow the Tettsui Uch to strike to the right side of the attacker’s face. This is another rapidly striking sequence.

This strike combination is a good example of how a modest movement of the wrist, elbow, or shoulder (or some combination thereof) can allow you to deploy a wide variety of strikes using only a few hand positions. You will use this skill extensively in the future.

Uraken Tsuki – Tate Tettsui Uchi

This combination is used to strike to the back of the neck and the kidney area in rapid succession. If your opponent is bending forward slightly then use a Front Hand Uraken Tsuki to strike in the neck area to force their head further down. Allow your center to move with this strike as you concurrently position the back-hand near your ear. Now drop suddenly into a Soft Bow Stance and use the dropping momentum from this stance transition to augment the delivery of a Tate Tettsui Uchi to the opponent’s back or possibly the furthest kidney. This combination works well if the front foot is near the opponent’s head and your back foot in located more toward his or her hips so that center is focused on the opponent. It does not work if your feet are aligned differently or are located in different positions.

You might also use this combination much like Uraken Tsuki – Tettsui Uch. Using the right arm, you might strike to the right side of an opponent’s head then drop your closed fist down onto the opponent’s right shoulder. The second strike may not feel powerful, but it could function as a check or as a way to initiate a throw. You can derive some additional power for the Tate Tettsui Uchi by circling the return from the Uraken Tsuki so it travels up slightly before descending onto the shoulder.

Hasami Tsuki

The Hasami Tsuki is a simultaneous two-hand striking combination that is similar to Heiko Tsuki. Hasami Tsuki differs from Heiko Tsuki in several ways. The first is that the hands and elbows move away from your center and outside of your shoulders. The second is that the strikes do now move forward in a parallel manner. Instead, they move inward toward the target, which is often both sides of the opponent’s rib cage.

Because the hands move from the outside and then inward this strike is frequently called the Scissors Punch (though your hands do not typically cross during this strike).

An obvious downside to this strike is that both hands are striking to the opponent’s body leaving little opportunity to guard your head. This means the strike is not practical for most combative situations. It is perhaps more effective in special cases. For example, if an opponent had attempted a bear-hug then you might use your elbows to force the opponent’s arms outward. Now you have prepositioned your arms (and incidentally, your opponent’s arms) for delivery of Hasami Tsuki.

While this strike might normally be delivered using a Ken Tsuki, there is nothing to say you couldn’t adapt it to employ Tate Ken Tsuki, Nakadaka Ken Tsuki, or Shotei Tsuki. Any of these combinations would be effective when striking to the ribs.

Another potential use for this combination is to strike to the face. When applied in this manner both hands will strike into the face from opposing angles. Explore which hand positions would work best when striking to the face. Some positions work well while others might be next to useless. You could even discover a hand position we have not previously discussed.

You might also consider the use of this strike when you are positioned on the opponent’s ear side. In that case you might benefit from positioning each hand at a different elevation. This might be useful if striking to the groin and a kidney, for example.

Yumi Tsuki

This striking combination might be thought of more as a technique instead of a specific strike. Its application can range from a simple Ken Tsuki to a complex throwing sequence. It’s also the kind of strike where the Bunkai can become extravagant quickly. We’ll try not to get too carried away.

The strike derives its name from the name for the traditional Japanese archery bow, the Yumi. If you picture someone holding the bow in one hand and pulling back the bowstring with the other, then you have a good mental picture of the posture one adopts in Yumi Tsuki. One arm is extended out and to the side while the other is pulled up so the hand is near the collar bone or chest wall on the same side of the body. For example, the right-hand might be near the right collar bone.

The hand extended out to the side might be delivering a Ken Tsuki, but it could also logically use any relevant hand position including Tate Ken Tsuki, Shotei Uchi, and many others.

This all seems like a rather bizarre striking combination until you begin to consider an application. To help explain we’ll make a few assumptions. We’ll assume the left hand is striking out from the left side and the right arm is the arm near the collar bone.

A commonly cited application is the right-hand traps or grabs one of the opponent’s arms. We’ll assume we have trapped the other person’s right arm. Our right arm now pulls the opponent’s arm inward as our left arm extends and strikes the opponent, likely in the head. The opponent is effectively pulled into the strike. That’s a simple and straightforward example.

If the strike involves a hand position such as Tate Ken Tsuki, then the strike might hit the opponent’s chin, turning the face away. Now the striking hand opens and the back of the hand presses into the side of the opponent’s face, firmly rooting the opponent on his or her heels. The opponent is likely to have severely bent knees and be leaning back significantly while struggling to retain his or her balance. A simple center rotation will now throw the opponent onto his or her back.

This might also lead to many other outcomes including broken elbows, painful holds, and crushing blows-Oh My! As I said, the Bunkai can become extravagant. It is not hard to envision sequences so elaborate that the strike is increasingly irrelevant.

For now, just remember one hand pulls the opponent inward as the other strikes the opponent as he or she moves closer from the side. That’s Yumi Tsuki. The rest is all fluff.


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