Upper Rising Block Stepping.
Stepping forward and backwards with Age Uke in Zenkutsu Dachi is one of the first basic techniques that a karateka practices in Shotokan Karate Kihon. Along with the video, we also have below, a detailed step-by-step description of how to perform this technique:
Begin by standing in Heiko Dachi (natural stance), which means your feet are shoulder-width apart, and your toes are pointing forward.
Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and arms in the yoi position.
Lift the left fist directly to the right shoulder with the palm of the fist facing the neck, at the same time the right hikite arm pushes forward and towards the centre slightly.
As you lift the left fist and push the right arm, keep the left arm close to the body as it lifts. You should have a slight feeling of both shoulders coming towards eachother, wich creates a slight contraction.
Step forward with your left leg into Zenkutsu Dachi (front stance) and block gedan barai (down block) with your left arm, as you step forward with the left leg, drive off from the right leg.
Upper Rising Block Stepping:
Your body and hip should be in the hanmi (side facing) position. Try not to look out the corner of your eyes, keep your head facing forward and shoulders down.
Initiate the step with a samll drive forward of the front knee, it’s a very small movement, so try not go too far over the toes with the knee, it just starts the movement. As the movement starts you drive with the right side of the body and leg, at the same time as you drive with the right side and start to step, your left arm shoots up into the age uke position, with the hand open and palm of the hand facing away from you.
From the half way point, as you start to step forward to block by driving off the left leg, driving the right and left side of the body forward, your body should be in the shomen (square facing) position. As you continue to step, the right arm starts to move through the age uke block. The blocking arm starts from the hikite position and travels in a straight line from the hikite position to the completed age uke position, then on completion of the age uke, your body rotates into the hanmi (side facing) position. Try and time the body rotation into hanmi with the sharp rotation of both arms, one arm on the block and the other on the completion of the hikite.
Upper Rising Block Stepping
As you step you are trying use the arms to help the body and legs move and visa versa, trying to use the body and legs to help the arms.
The step should be smooth and be performed on the same level, avoid any up and down movement throughout the step.
Breathing should be natural and focus on the leg driving from the half way point in the step.
We step in a straight line as demonstrated in the video, but we know many Dojo practice by coming feet together at the half way point. Which ever way you practice, try and make the step smooth.
The blocking arm does not stop throughout the step, it’s one continuous movement.
The main difference when practicing age uke upper rising block stepping forward and stepping backwards, is the legs.
When stepping forward, the front knee initiates the movement, then a strong drive forward off that front leg at the half way point. When stepping backwards, the first thing to happen is a sharp bend in the back legs knee, without moving the foot.
As you start the step backwards, soften that back knee and as you soften the back knee, you drive the hikite arm up and across the body in preparation for the block. From the half way position, drive backwards off the back leg, whilst at the same time driving the stepping leg back.
Once again on completion of the age uke, your body rotates into the hanmi (side facing) position. Try and time the body rotation into hanmi with the sharp rotation of both arms on the block, one arm on the block and the other on the completion of the hikite.
Even though age uke upper block stepping is classed as basic shotokan kihon, it should be practiced and studied just the same as more advanced karate techniques and combinations.