Basic Karate Techniques Every Beginner Should Learn

KARATE TECHNIQUES – Karate is a martial art from Japan that trains our physical body to be agile in fighting and self-defense. Currently, there are four main styles in karate: Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, Shotokan and Wado-ryu.

For beginners, you need to start from the most simple techniques. It is also important to ensure you make the correct fist before punching.

Before becoming a master in karate, people need to start their journey by mastering some basic techniques in karate. There are some basic moves that you need to learn and practice. These kinds of the technique include some blocks, punches, and various kicks.

Choku Zuki: The Straight Punch

kenpo karate techniques

We start the basic karate techniques by talking about Choku Zuki, the straight punch. This kind of punch is a common move in martial art and many other martial art styles use it. Many karatekas consider this is their favorite because it is very powerful when applied properly.

Usually, Choku Zuki is done by only using arms when punching, but the fact is it’s not that efficient. Enormous power will be generated if you utilize your whole body. Here are some steps:

  • Mark the target. Notice the level of each hand and elbow. Compare and contrast the location and relation of each hand and elbow to one another on the same arm, relative to the shoulder and relative to the hip/waist. Notice the angle of the bent arm, the hips are facing forward, and the height of the front hand in relation to the shoulder.
  • This is at about halfway thru the movement. Notice the elbow location: At the sides of the body, 90 degrees bend. Hand height: Approx the same to each other. Hand on forward-moving arm: Has not turned yet. Hand on forward-moving arm: Has turned. It is vertical.
  • The punching hand has still not twisted yet. The backward moving hand continues to rotate. The hips remain pointing directly forward. The shoulder has not twisted (one shoulder is not more forward than the other shoulder).
  • This is 2/3 of the way through the movement. The punching hand has still not yet twisted.
  • The striking has finally turned. Notice the: Height of the elbow on the striking hand. The height of the striking hand. The striking hand in relation to the medial line of the body. The shoulders-the striking hand’s shoulder is more forward now. The return arm, elbow, hand, angle, height above the waist.
  • The shoulders and the hips face forward. Notice the height of the hands and their height in comparison to the elbows and shoulders, and the hand on the striking arm is oriented between the shoulder and the midline of the body. Pay attention to the height of the hand on the bent arm and how much above the waist it is.

Oi Zuki: The Lunge Punch

The second punch we are going to learn to is called Oi Zuki. It is done from our front stance, and we’re in our downward block position. With Oi Zuki, we step and punch, do it repeatedly. We are aiming for the solar plexus directly in the center of our body with our punching hand.

The same movement with the fist twists towards the end and pulls back fully maintaining our front stance. Oi Zuki can be broken down into three steps:

  1. We don’t move our hands; we just step halfway up and breathe in (hands have not moved yet)
  2. The second step would be to the three-quarter position which is kind of neutral. Our hands still haven’t moved because we need to condense our power into the final part of the punch.
  3. And then we straighten our back leg out and drive our hips forward. Ultimately, we can punch aiming to the center of our body.

We generally practice it with three different styles; slowly, half speed and full speed.

The reason why we practice it slowly is we have to focus on our breathing and technique because in karate, breathing technique is essential. Half speed is for trying to improve our accuracy of foot movement and fist position without having the pressure of full speed and full power.

When we get to full speed, we’re under the full pressure of the technique.

Mae Geri: The Front Kick

Karate is a simple martial art, actually. Why is that? It’s only about kicking and punching, isn’t it? Now, it is time to learn about the basic kicks because we’ve talked about the punches from karate.

Sometimes, a kick can be formidable because it’s about maintaining our balance while the foot is up in the air. It also leaves us vulnerable for a while and is easy for us to get attacked. After all, the kick has tremendous power because our legs are much stronger than our arms.

Mae Geri is a front kick, and it’s the easiest for maintaining our balance. It can be really snappy and quick, and it’s the simple way to make your opponent surprised with the kick.

Make sure you never strike your opponent with your toes or you could make them broken.

Maintaining your balance and stance after kicking is as crucial as the kick itself (you can’t ignore it). How to do it? Draw your foot back into the exact same position and then lower it back to the ground into the stance position.

Mawashi Geri: The Roundhouse Kick

In English Mawashi Geri means roundhouse kick. It’s a standard karate sparring kick technique due to its power and ability to strike an extensive target at different heights.

Mawashi Geri can be done for a quick attack with the front leg or rear leg (for more power).

It takes little time to learn how to use the kick properly but it’s absolutely worth it in the long run. This technique is one of three kicks that every beginner should learn.

The interesting part is it has several versions of Mawashi Geri and these are the common ones: the crossing roundhouse kick, the low roundhouse kick, the jumping roundhouse kick, the downward roundhouse kick, and the full roundhouse kick.

You will have new ones if you modify with small modifications on these kicks. Here are some steps to practice it:

  • Get ready on your fighting stance with your hands both up.
  • Shift your weight to your supporting leg (left leg) and lift your right leg.
  • Your ankle must be in a position next to your knee.
  • Pivot on the ball of the other foot to throw your kick.
  • Lengthen the leg until you reach the target you desire.
  • Pull back your foot to the floor and get back to your previous position (fighting stance)

Yoko Geri: The Side Thrust Kick

Let’s move to our fifth karate technique, Yoko Geri. It is the sidekick that has a powerful attack and defense at the same time. Your opponent won’t be able to break your defense when executed properly and done in a perfect time. The only way that your opponent can do is avoiding your excellent attack.

We are positioning our body with this technique, so it’s much easier for every learner to throw the kick.

Basically, there are two types of Yoko Geri, Yoko Geri Kekomi and Yoko Geri Keage. Yoko Geri Kikomi is a side thrust kick and the other one is a side snap kick. Those are different but a lot of karatekas end up doing the same kick for both.

There’s a big difference between a side snap and a side thrust. You can watch the video below.

Gedan Barai: Downward Block

Let’s talk about blocking techniques in karate, shall we?

In karate dojo, Gedan Barai or downward block is one of the most frequently used karate techniques.

This technique is particularly effective and used when your opponent comes in low. If you get attacks coming to your torso or head, middle and high blocks are effective. But downward block will help you from sneaky hooks to your uppercuts or abdomen.

It should be practiced in a natural stance with the feet approximately shoulder-width apart and the toes facing forward.

  • Lengthen your left arm down and out, so the back of your fist is pointing up and is located five fists length in front of your left thigh.
  • Hikite arm or your right arm should be positioned at the bottom of your ribs, elbow pulling down and palm up, with your shoulders down and relaxed.
  • Raise your right fist to your left shoulder, keep your right arm as near as possible to your body. The palm of your fist must be facing your neck.
  • Bring your left arm toward the center of your body as you begin to slide your right fist down.
  • And then begin to pull your left arm back to the left part of your body as your right fist reaches out your left elbow.

Soto Uke: Outside Block

Soto Uke is also known as outside block and it can be used for blocking or attacking (it is multipurpose).

When usud as a block, it can guard you against a forward attack heading to your face, forward attack heading your chest, forward attack to your stomach area, etc. It can target some areas in your body such as ribs, neck and head when used as a strike.

It is very effective to deflect attacks from your opponent. And it can be used with two different styles, inside out or outside in.

When blocking, you should think forward, not around!

The blocking arm must reach a straight line, from the high preparation point to completion. Don’t forget, the blocking arm is inside of the forearm, not the edge of it.

Ensure you can strain all of the arm muscles precisely at the end of blocking position. If you cannot, the blocking arm will be a bit too high, too far forward or too far across the center of your body. For the learner who learns karate at home, take the technique one step at a time and practice slowly.

Age Uke: Upward Block

A list of karate techniques for blocking would not be complete without talking about Age Uke, the upward block.

Karate is known as a defensive martial art. It doesn’t strike first. Nevertheless, it deflects attacks and does give a counterattack to finish the fight.

This technique can be used for pushing high punches upward and out of the face. It can also be used for deflecting axe kicks, hummer punches, and many other strikes coming from above. And it also works downward hummer fist attacks too.

  • Be ready in natural stance, hands in chamber and shoulders down.
  • Bring the right arm across the front of the body and keep it at about 45 degrees angle. Your forearm must be one fist away from your body as it travels upward.
  • Your forearm raises upward and rotates at the same time till it meets the striking arm and deflects the strike or pushes it away.
  • In the last position, your forearm is facing away from your forehead at 45 degrees angle to the ground and one fist away from your forehead. This is when there’s concise tension of your arm muscles when it contacts with the opposing force.

Hiza Geri: The Knee Strike

In English, Hiza Geri means knee strike, hiza (knee) and geri (strike), it’s a Japanese term.

If you fight against men opponent, what makes them hurt more than a knee strike to their groin? It depends on your flexibility. A knee attack can be used for several targets. You can attack to the stomach, rib, thigh and you can even attack the chin/face (if your opponent’s head is pulled down during grappling position).

Because of the severity of the knee attack to the opponent’s head, the probability of getting knocked out is very high.

This technique can be performed at close-range where a martial artist cannot lengthen their legs fully and grappling position where your arms are restricted or trapped. You just need to bend your leg and push your knee upwards into the desired target.

Hiza Geri can even give more destructive results if the karatekas pull their opponent towards them and at the same time throw the knee to your opponent.

Hiji Ate: The Elbow Strike

The last karate technique is Hiji Ate or the elbow strike. It’s a dangerous technique that can result in a lot of damage. It is used for close-quarter styles of karate.

The technique sounds like a fighting technique for drunken brawling, but it is actually difficult move to master. It’s a proper technique for stunning an attack but it is blocked easily if it is thrusted too slowly.

When you’re in a tournament, it is essential to keep the power of your elbow attack in moderation because a careless thrust could break your opponent’s cheekbone.

It can be a perfect move against a front tackle. As your opponent attacks by heading to your middle section to take you to the ground, you can thrust your elbow strike on his back to take him down. Your opponent will be off-balance and the pain will cease him from continuing the attack.

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