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Gedan barai lower level block stepping.

Stepping forward with Gedan Barai in Zenkutsu Dachi is one of the first basic techniques that a karateka pracices in Shotokan Karate Kihon. Along with the video, we also have below, a detailed step-by-step description of how to perform this technique:

Starting Position:

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.

Preparatory Movement:

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.

Gedan barai Lower Level 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 right arm stays close to the body and comes to the opposite shoulder, palm of the fist facing the neck.

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, my body should be in the shomen (square facing) position. As you continue to step, the back of the right blocking arm goes down the outside of the left hikite (pulling arm) arm, then on completion of the gedan barai, 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.

Gedan barai lower level block stepping

Tips

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 Gedan barai lower level 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 gedan barai, 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.

Even though Gedan barai lower level block stepping is classed as basic shotokan kihon, it should be practiced and studied just the same as more advanced karate techniques.

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