Upward rising block - the age-uke defence

A fundamental technique with devastating potential

The power of basics

It's pronounced agi~you·kee and this most 'basic' of blocks will end the fight, one way or another.

Using this technique the way it's taught to beginners, would be perilous. In this clip, Sensei Darren demonstrates real-world application.

The way Shotokan karate is taught often makes it look robotic and clunky, and the upward-rising block is a classic example.

Upward rising block - the age-uke defence

How it's taught

This clip begins with Sensei Darren showing the standard upward-rising block in front stance, followed by a gyaku-zuki counterattack. Classic Shotokan. Strong, sturdy, and not resembling any street fight, ever!

Age-uke comprises no fewer than 5 movements when executed correctly and orthodox. It is explosive and technically intricate so learning how these moving parts slot together, is vital.

Body mechanics combine to weaponise the human form, conspiring with the ground itself to create a defensive attack. Or better still, an attacking strike - discussion for another article.

How it's taught

How it's used here, to block

Less orthodox and more efficient, Sensei Darren's application of age-uke goes like this: 1) deflect the jodan attack; 2) cover his head; and 3) close distance to his opponent. The real prize though, is getting in close.

Having the presence of mind and confidence to block in this way creates an opportunity for a decisive attack from close quarters.

By completing the block and closing distance to his opponent, Darren's high elbow is poised to strike. With power and from close range, what comes next will do damage.

How it's used here, to block

Used as a strike

Think of an uppercut, using a baseball bat, held laterally. Age-uke wreaks havoc when used as a strike.

Targets are the tricep between the elbow and shoulder, or worse, where the jaw meets the neck. The first application requires good timing and no small amount of bottle. The latter is limited to the most extreme real-life threats and too dangerous for beginners to practise.

The age-uke strike perfectly demonstrates karate's true purpose: one hit ends the encounter. Some points of contact end the opponent.

Used as a strike

Applied karate-do

Comments about karate and what people imagine would work 'in the street', often miss the point that beginners learn karate differently, from the way karate is applied in real combat.

Like a branch carved into a spear, the end result has a smooth, polished and more lethal appearance, compared to its original form. The robotic-looking 'full' techniques practised in the dojo are refined, with training. Moves are condensed and made rapid. 

In true combat, these moves retain their original DNA and their brutality.

Combined with principles like body evasion, closing down the opponent and timing, karate used outside the dojo and in 'the street', is a different beast. One that looks nothing like the kihon 'basics' we practise as beginners.

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