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.

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 very 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 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 in close proximity 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.

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. There is normally little or no stepping 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 it is critical that you 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 strike it is extremely important that the first strike 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 successful grab your extended arm at the completion of 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, at the conclusion of 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 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 for this combination is to find a way around an opponent’s guarding 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, in a circular fashion, back into your center and then directly up and into the opponent’s face.

Morote Ken 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 stand in a stance such as Heisoku 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 due to the parallel nature of the stance you must adopt in order to impart this combination.

The strike 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 – Tate Tettsui Uchi

This combination is used to strike to the back of the neck and to 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 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.

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