I'm just starting longsword sparring and already see application for shoulder strikes.

For instance, many fencers will let you lock or vertically press their blade, where the expected response is an attempt to roll around the other direction and cut. Advancing laterally to make that vertical press allows the shoulder strike.

Hsingyi technique is perfect for apply this strike with minimal distance and leaning. What I'm doing feels good, and has sufficient power to set up whatever comes next, whether another shoulder strike or a cut. But it's not an application I learned in hsingyi.

Since Musashi first advised this, and katana can be similar to longsword per two handed bladework, and Karate usually has the most powerful strikes and strikers, I want to know how karateka set up and execute shoulder strikes.

  • How to strike laterally with the shoulder in karate?

I'm noticing that when my posture strictly erect, it puts more pressure on lower back muscles around the spine. When I lean a little, the lower back is stronger. But the strike feels stronger with back straight, and I can repeat the strike more quickly.

My waist technique is similar to DK Yoo shoulder strike, and I'd be using it to strike the sternum for exactly the same purpose, but my stance will already be lateral by the time I can execute the strike, because the setup is to press the opponent's sword to either the left or the right side.

Also interested in other types of shoulder strikes, such as forward shoulder strikes I've seen western boxers sometimes use, but those probably wouldn't be applicable with a sword.

1 Answer 1


I've been a shotokan practitioner for 2 years now and my style is focused on going in and out quickly. As my sensei says: the essence of a single strike. However, when looking at other styles, specifically kyokushin, where they keep a shorter distance than shotokan, I see many openings for shoulder strikes, much like in muay thai when clinching. From my limited experience in jiyu-kumite (two years), and not following the traditional shotokan form but a more shotokan-kyokushin hybrid stance, I have noticed that the main use for shoulder strikes is to either create distance or unbalance your partner, although that's a side shoulder strike (or should I say, push), not a front strike. This can be useful to push them away, followed by an ashi-barai and/or a ushiro mawashi-geri (both follow ups with the leading leg). Front shoulder strikes are great if you want to be thrown or get a knee to the ribs. Instead, try combining shoulder and elbow for control and kuzushi-waza. Remember that karate is stupidly versatile and originally included many techniques used in different types of jujutsu, like aikido, judo and bjj, so having a look at different arts may be key to improving your own. I strongly recommend bjj, if you want to improve your martial "puppeteering".

If you have a partner willing to try out these control techniques, try coming up with some forms. Improvise, or try interpreting the kata. Take the last four movements in the heian yondan as an example; start lightly, create a sequence, do it a few times both attacking and being attacked (with little resistance, since you're developing your strategy) and when you're both feeling more confident about it, pressure test what you've have created. From the results you'll have feedback about how to counter and, knowing how it can be countered, you can work further on how to make it even more effective (if it works, that is).

All that said, I've practiced HEMA for a couple of years and I can say that shoulder strikes are very much a thing, but only whilst grappling (or being grappled). It's a good strategy to shorten the distance and, at the same time, keep control over your partner but obviously you can't just dash into them to perform that; you have to "lock" their weapon first (I like using the guard, with the blade pointing downwards and threatening the face with the pommel). Suffice to say that can only be done well with a one-handed or bastard sword. A katana could do the trick but the tsuba (I personally think of this more as preventing the user's hand from sliding onto the blade, rather than a guard protecting against the opponent's blade) makes this locking much harder. I'm making an assumption, as I've never used a katana before; the steel sword biting into each other may do the trick.

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