Many years ago, at a university club, an instructor said that some standards group studying the mechanics of shotokan were recommending a change in the augmented block (morote-uke). Instead of placing the knuckle surface of the supporting hand against the inner elbow of the blocking hand, one should place the hammer fist striking surface aginst the inner elbow. I have not seen this anywhere else, but both alternatives seem to help. Was discussion of this a thing at one time, and it just didn't get traction?

  • I'm guessing that the idea didn't fly, and will now try to unlearn decades of using the hammer fist striking surface to support the blocking arm. Was really hoping that more expert practitioners would offer their experienced view on the pro's and/or con's. Nov 15, 2019 at 21:10

1 Answer 1


but both alternatives seem to help

It depends on the application of the "block".

When you take a technique out of a kata, you also remove the context of its intended use. In general, I would take a look at how other styles perform the same kata; usually there is a reason that a particular body shape is used and without reference to what it's for, it's very easy to come to spurious conclusions.

My recommendation is to look at the kata you find the block in and the surrounding techniques to understand how the movement is really being used.

In short, context matters.

For example:

If you consider uchi-uke and morote-uke as arm manipulation techniques then the closed fist of the supporting hand may just be holding uke's wrist, and knuckles to elbow would more closely resemble reality.

I suspect this is why it hasn't really spread.

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    I've sometimes searched endlessly for kata interpretations, but it's a wild west. A great harm was done when kata got perpetuated without interpretation. The only people who seem to have confidence in their interpretation are those who train in other arts, but unfortunately, my time for martial arts is limited. It's all that I can do to preserve what I know about the kata, in a naive way. I'm just trying to mitigate the naivity a bit. Jan 21, 2020 at 1:04
  • It isn't quite a wild west. There are rules available to help with interpretation. The people who made kata didn't just throw them together randomly. They were structured very carefully according to some well defined conventions. When you understand the conventions they used, it makes it a lot simpler.
    – Colin
    Jan 21, 2020 at 10:50
  • I've tried, but the information is from reading forums like this, and I'm reading the various accounts without the benefit of taking other arts. Videos help, but since the interpretations aren't all the same, I really wonder about what I see sometimes. Even the ones that the viewers laud. Jan 21, 2020 at 11:44
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    Some rules which I have found useful for analysing kata which may help. 1. The head always looks at the opponent. 2. The opponent begins in front of you. 3. Kata are made up of independent sequences appended together one after another. 4. Turns at the beginning of a sequence indicate YOU moving round the opponent, not turning to face a second opponent. 5. A closed hand usually represents a grip or hold of the opponent. 6. Sequences always defeat the opponent. 7. Movements are done to completion. Meaning they may go past the point they would in reality. 8. Applications are valid across style.
    – Colin
    Jan 21, 2020 at 13:39
  • @user2153235 As someone who had his share of a number of arts (including Shorin Ryu karate) besides my main art Judo, I'd strongly suggest that the movements are indeed involving some kind of arm manipulation (most credible instructors of bunkai seem to think so as well). May be an armlock, may be a pull plus strike, may be throw. But no matter which kind of technique one chooses, there is an opposite movement of arms and the knuckles will end up at least at the side of the elbow, if not even near the side of your hip with proper hiki-te (the version I was actually taught for kihon IIRC). Jan 21, 2020 at 22:00

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