Hangetsu Step By Step Tutorial

Welcome to this step by step Hangetsu tutorial.

Many dojo have this as a black belt Kata and some Dojo have this as a brown belt kata. Kata we have. We have Hangetsu as one of our brown belt kata, but we also practice it extensively in in our black belt classes.

Hangetsu is a fantastic training kata, developing a strong spirit because of it’s a dynamic tension and breathing. Hangetsu is a very health orientated kata, with tremendous emphasise on breathing. The special breathing, which we will go through here. There are a few different ways that karateka practice Hangetsu.

The kata’s main stance is Hangetsu dachi (half moon stance) and there is a stance tutorial on this page for hangetsu dachi.

We have both feet turned in so the big toes, if I look down and forward, come to a point approximately five to six foot in front of your face. So if you are in front stance zenkutsu dachi, turn your front foot in, so both feet are pointed in slightly.

Then bend your knees naturally tightening your buttocks and inner thighs, and that’s a basic hangetsu dachi.

But I do know that a lot of dojo have their front foot turned forward now as well, which is fine, I am just going to show you the way that we practice Hangetsu.

The first two movements are repeated three times. So we’re going to be stepping forward from shizentai with the left leg first and blocking uchi ude uke with the left arm in hangetsu dachi, which means we need to do this step in a half moon movement, sweep the left leg forward in a semi circular motion.

As you start to move with this first technique, come in contract and breathe in slowly, then expand as you breathe out slowly and block uchi ude uke.

On this first move, as you contract and breathe in, your arms prepare for Uchi uke, then your left leg steps around in a semi circular movement and you block.

Is that semi-circular step, or half moon step that is an important part of Hangetsu, So make sure you come in and out, at the same time as I breathe in, I prepare the arms. So I a slow in and then a slow out after I breathe. Totally out. Pushed everything out from the bottom of the lungs, pulling the stomach in tightly. Then do a short, sharp in breath, pushing the stomach out, and then a slow breath out on the punch. So as I start to step, I breathe in, push your stomach out as you breathe in, then pull your stomach in as you breathe out.

Use the whole of the lungs rather than the chest, no shallow breathing, deep breathing from the stomach. So you’re pushing all the air out, you’re taking a full intake of air, and then you’re really forcing the air out, as you force the air out, you tighten the muscles everywhere. That’s arms, legs, stomach, body, everywhere.

So the breathing I do for the Uchi Ude Uke – Gyaku Zuki is when I start to step, It’s a slow in and slow out for the uchi uke, then a fast breath in before I punch reverse punch, so it’s a fast in and slow out on the reverse punch. So, for example, the first movement slowly in and then slowly out came breathing from the stomach. So I’m pulling my stomach in force in the air, out from the bottom of the lungs, then I do a fast intake of air as I push the stomach out this feeling and then slowly breath out on the slow reverse punch.

These slow block punch combinations are repeated three times at the start of the kata, with everything tightening on completion of the techniques, forearms, biceps, everything tightens like concrete.

With move seven, the feeling is someone’s grabbing you from behind and you’re attacking the back of their hands with a single thumb knuckle on each fist, then after the thumb nuckle strikes, you lift and push the arms forward to break the hold, but there’s lots of different applications which we’ll go through in another video.

Move 7. As you start to pull your right arm back, your elbow actually goes out, it’s what we tell everyone not to do with their hikite. So your elbow goes out. As your elbow goes out, you are going to make an ippon ken, one knuckle attack.

You have one knuckles just touching each other in the center of the body. From here, start to slowly pull the hands apart. So the left goes to the left side of the chest, the right to the right side of the chest. There’s not really a massive gap. Everything is still straight to the side. So if you look from the side, there’s no elbows sticking out behind you, if you put your back to the wall, both shoulders and both tops of the arms would be touching the wall.

So as you pull the right fist back, the left fist goes out to meet it, then both fists come back. They both go out to the sides together, then they both come into the center and then forward.

There’s lots of different ways to do Hangetsu. There’s no wrong way, as far as I’m concerned. Everyone does things differently.

Lots of ways to the top of the mountain, lots of different paths, lots of different routes. But there’s one top of the mountain, so everybody’s doing their karate differently, but with the same aim of getting better and reaching the top.

As both ippon ken go forwards i’m breathing out, but when both arms are at full extension i still have air left in the lungs and i continue breathing out on the next part of the kata.

At full extension I’m going to open my hands and cross at the wrists, with the right hand on top, both palms facing down. Now i lift both arms straight up while continuing to breath out, when both arms are directly above my head, I start to breath in and push the arms to the side with the palms facing eachother, 90 degree angle on both elbows, elbows straight out from the shoulders.

I keep breathing in as i now lift the arms back up so they are directly above my head, i then start to breath out as i move the arms down and to the side into double shuto uchi.

On the completion of these double shuto i force all of the air from my lungs by performing two or three sharp Kime or squeezes.

There’s lots of different ways to do this movement and the breathing, many Shotokan Dojo do this way different to me. But this is a really good breathing exercise. So my Sensei was really quite strict and thorough with the breathing inside Hangetsu.

Regarding the breathing throughout Hangetsu, I know some karate Dojo practice with audible breathing, but I tend to do it internally. I’m a bit more silent with the breathing, but still with the tension.

After those two or three squeezes, the final little pushes from the stomach, pushing all that air out of the lungs and then relax and keep the form.

At the end of this slow move, three tightenings or squeezing of the stomach forcing the air out. So I tighten my stomach and force the air out from the bottom of the lungs. Three times to really expel every last bit of air. As this is happening i also feel like I’m contracting.

Then to the first kiai, I expand and burst into motion quickly, this first kiai is very explosive. So I’m using that breathing out, those three sharp squeezes to also contract the body. And then I expand on the first kiai.

If you draw a line through my feet from the right foot to the left foot and carry on with the line, that’s the line I’m going to step on when I turn 180 degrees and perform the double technique and first kiai.

As i start to step, the left hand has come to the right shoulder and the right arm to just in front of the left elbow. A similar preparation to the arms at the start of Heian Sandan Kata.

Right arm is back of the hand up just in front of the elbow, pushing against the elbow. Then as I turn and land, I’m going to double block and strike, or double block, or throw and strike, etc.

So as I step through arms, prepare, and then as I land and twist and settle and my body is square, trying not to be too wide with the arms. The right hand is straight, palm facing you. This next move is a very small movement, but it represents a grab.

I know some karateka do actually form the hand grab and some do a bigger movement, but I’ve always done a small movement here with my arm. It just literally goes up a couple of inches, turns and comes back down as I breathe in and breathe out and finish with the palm facing down.

This is a very explosive move, so as I step, arms come in and then as I turn block and strike, them from here a small up and down movement with the right arm and the feeling is down with the elbow pulling towards the body, keeping rooted with the floor all times, solid with the floor, trying not to be up in the air.

on this first kiai, when you come around, try not to come up as you turn.

We now perform this same move twice more, this is where the hungetsu dachi step is fast again.

So from the first kiai, we step forward with the right leg in a fast semi-circular movement, the half moon shape, these steps are fast and explosive, with a slow controlled hand grab after each step.

As I step, the right hand comes to the left shoulder, palm towards my neck, left hand comes just in front of the right elbow palm facing down, a fast circular step, and then block strike, finishing with a slow and powerful hand grab with the left hand.

This is then repeated stepping forward with the left leg.

From here, we’re going to be performing an uchi ude uke (inside forearm block) and double punch in three directions.

There is lots of different ways to practice these. Some people stay on the spot in hungetsu-dachi and then turn, double punch to the three directions. I like to make distance on the uchi uke. So from here I reach my front foot, drive off the back left leg and the back foot slides reach my front foot as i finish the block, then double punch.

So in effect, I reach with my right foot and I block with my back leg.

Using the hips, remember, try not to just do the arms use the legs, body and hips for the blocks and punches.

Now I’m going to turn 180 degrees. So that means my left leg has to go directly behind and then to my left to get the the width in my karate stance. If I just step straight back, I’m not going to be how to rotate the body. So my left leg goes back and across to the left. Prepare the arms as you start to move the left leg, drive off the right leg and block, then double punch.

Now you move 90 degrees to your right. As I start to move the right leg, I block from the back leg, then again double punch.

The next part of hungetsu is really tricky. We used to practice this with a straight leg for training and now we just lift the knee and come round lots of different applications. Someone coming from behind to sweep your leg and you just lifting and then coming in to defend yourself and counter. That’s probably the best application you need to know about to start with.

Once again, there’s many different ways to practice this combination. This is just the way I do it.

As I bring my left leg in, I bring my right fist to the hikite position with my left fist on top. As I do that, I transfer my bodyweight onto my right leg. Totally on to my right leg, so my right leg has everything.

And then from here, I lift my knee and I come around. And then when I’m round to the front, I extend my leg slowly and drop into kokutsu dachi (back stance). While I do this, my right arm stays in the hikite position. As I lift my knee, I also lift my left my arm high and then as i settle into kokutsu dachi the arm slowly comes down uraken uchi, finishing in the same position as an inside or outside block.

So the back fist comes down slowly, there’s many applications for this strike. The feeling as you come down slowly is pulling the elbow down, don’t just think fist.

We now have the left leg in front, kokutsu dachi and a left uraken uchi.

Step slowly forward with the right leg, as you start to step, gently drive the front knee forward, the left arm stays in the uraken uchi position, step slowly forward. So the right foot is just in front of the left foot. Keep the left arm where it is.

This next move represents someone grabbing your front uraken uchi arm and you are kicking them with the front left leg. I say front leg, but now we’ve done a step. It’s the back leg. So from here, as you kick, I pull the left fist to the right shoulder, palm facing your neck, and then drive off the right leg and land in hangetsu dachi gedan barai with the left arm.

Some Dojo do this gedan barai in zenkutsu dachi (front stance).

Finish the gedan barai, then immediately punch gyaku zuki with the right arm, followed immediately with an age uke with the left arm.

This full combination is then repeated on the opposite side up to the upper rising block.

For the third time (second time on this side), I put all my body weight onto the right leg, lift my knee and arm and then the knee comes around with the arm settle into back stance.

But this third time, instead of stepping, we’re going to reach with the left hand thumb on top in the shuto position, back of the hand facing out to the left.

This stretching left arm represents a grab. So I’ve grabbed, then I’m going to come round with a mikazuki geri (crescent kick) chudan (middle level). Mika zuki geri hits with the the underside of the foot against the palm of the hand.

After the crescent kick step back into hangetsu dachi and punch gyaku zuki with the right arm.

The second kiai is on the gyaku zuki.

So this last move we’re going to do is in neko ashi dachi (cat stance)

Some karateka keep their right foot where it is and some people make a distance. We make distance on this last move, so we move back at a 45 degree angle, It’s not much of a move. It’s a small step and we follow the line of the feet.

As we settle into neko ashi dachi, we perform low block with Palm Heels together.

Then left leg comes back Yamae.

Linden Huckle

About the author

Linden Huckle has been practicing and teaching karate for over 50 years and believes first and foremost, karateka should enjoy their karate. He says 'there is nothing better than seeing a person develop into a great person through their karate practice, while at the same time enjoying karate.'

Linden Huckle