Hikite translates as pulling hand. So with the straight punch Choku tsuki, the hikite or pulling hand is the opposite hand with which you are punching with.
In basic kihon, the hikite meaning is the arm comes back to the side of the body, just under the ribs, there’s the obvious opposite reaction to the punch, stronger the pulling arm, stronger the punch, but there’s a lot more hikite meaning than just that!
My favourite way of using hikite and the meaning of hikite is controlling your opponent. So especially self defense where you're grabbing, grab their shirt, grab their jacket, grab their arm, grab their wrist, grab, grab something and pull and strike.
So in self defense, hikite is great for controlling. When I was competing, I went through a spell of grabbing and striking, unfortunately grabbing is not allowed, so I would get warned and disqualified. I would think to myself, 'why can't you grab? It's just so effective. It's just so good for controlling your opponent and pulling them onto your strike.'
Here we are going to be working on a few exercises to develop and strengthen your hikite.
Hikite Exercise 1
Relax both arms at the side of the body and just extend your right arm only, hand open and palm facing down. Now pull the right hand back sharply to the side of the body.
Grab immediately, then sharply rotate the fist quarter of a turn, as you start to pull the arm back.
Keep the elbow tucked in and shoulder down.
Then continue with the pull back and complete the arm rotation as the fist reaches the side of the body.
If your right arm is extended, when you start to pull back, also use the right hip. Pull the right arm with the right hip so initially the right hip goes back slightly.
Then as the hikite arm reaches the finishing position at the side of the body, snap the right hip forward, back to the natural position. Also feel like you are striking with a low ushiro empi (back elbow).
Now some karateka pull the arm back and come across the center line, the fist then comes to the body, then slides across to the side of the body, but for this exercise, try and come straight back, so the fist is always directly in front of the elbow.
Feel like you are grabbing, really grab, grab their arm, jacket, hair, whatever you're grabbing grab tight!
Hikite Exercise 2
Now put all this together whilst punching choku tsuki (straight punch).
Work on is this strong pulling action. But at the same time, if you are punching with the right arm, fire the right side of the hip forward first, then on completion of the right punch, snap the right side back to the square position.
Make sure the elbows stay in and don't stick out. Make sure you do that quarter of a twist immediately on the pull back.
With each punch, focus on pulling the hikite arm back sharply, use the hips and legs.
Hikite Exercise 3
From yoi (ready) shizentai (natural stance) extend both arms out, hands open, palms facing down.
Feel like you are going do a double grab as you step forward with your left leg into Zenkutsu dachi (front stance).
Try and use the arms to step forward quickly, whilst also trying to use the legs to help the arms snap back to the side of the body quickly.
Once again, keep the shoulders down and elbows tucked in throughout the move.
Come back to yoi shizentai and slow extend both arms out again then repeat on the opposite side.
Hikite Meaning In Self Defense
Here we are going to apply hikite into a self defense technique.
We are going to block, grab and strike.
Starting with the left leg in front fighting stance.
Imagine someone is punching with a right, we will keep it real simple, so we can mainly focus on the hikite.
Block to the side, with an open left hand.
Immediately reach out and grab. now pull strongly back towards your body, as you punch gyaku tsuki.
Remember, before they throw the next punch with their left, you've got to block/evade, grab and punch them.
Now when someone comes in with a wild haymaker. They're gonna come in with another haymaker immediately (Nine times out of ten). They are not just going to throw one punch, stop and say 'Did that get him?' They are going to go one, two, three, four, etc.
So you have a small window of opportunity, before the left comes around and hits you.
So you need to cover, reach, grab them, pull them on and hit them, all in a split second.
And if they do manage to fire the second punch, hopefully you have pulled them forward, so their distance is all wrong and their punch will just go around the back of your head.
Hopefully you now have control of them. So strike them again. As the right punch hits or indeed misses, grab them again with the right punching hand, then slip your body to your left, pull them strongly and strike with your left.
The first punch turns into a grab. grab whatever you can. Whether it's skin or cloth, grab and pull, pull them down and forward as you slip to the side and hit with the left.
A quick self defense combination using hikite to control your opponent.
Hikite Top Tips
Try not to have the elbow is up in the air. If your elbow is up at the back, the shoulders are up, making everythings weak. Drop the elbow down at the back, keeping the wrist straight.
Keep your elbows in.
Keep your shoulders down. Make sure your elbows are close to your body.
Feel like you are grabbing someone and pulling them towards you with every hikite.
Use your legs and hips, not just the arm.
Don't forget to immediately rotate the arm a quarter of a turn at the start of the pull back.
On completion of a basic hikite, feel like you are striking with a low ushiro empi (back elbow).
Different Sensei may use a different hikite meaning, but no Sensei will argue with the fact that hikite is such an important part of karatedo! Oss!
Hikite Meaning Video
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