Soto Ude Uke (Outside Forearm Block) Stepping

Soto ude uke, or outside forearm block is one of the basic karate moves, in the karate dojo. A tricky move to begin with because it contains both linear and circular arm movements, this karate technique should be first practiced in shizentai (natural stance), with feet approximately shoulder width apart and toes facing forward.

1. The left blocking arms elbow is approximately a fist, to a fist and a half distance from the body. There should be a 90 degree bend at the blocking arms elbow. The fist of the blocking arm is approximately shoulder height, shoulders down and relaxed, with the palm of the left fist, facing towards you.

2. The right hikite arm, should be placed at the bottom of the ribs on the right side of the body. The fist should be palm up, with the elbow pulling down slightly, both shoulders down and relaxed. Try not to let the elbow stick out, keep the elbow directly behind the fist.

3. Extend the left arm forward, so the back of the fist is pointing up, arm straight and fist directly in front of the left shoulder. This can also be done with the hand open and fingers stretching forward.

4. At the same time the left arm stretches forward, lift the right elbow straight up from the hikite position, as the elbow reaches shoulder height, lift the right forearm and fist, so as the fist is directly above the elbow, with the palm of the fist facing out to the right, now take the elbow as far behind you can, without feeling uncomfortable. In this position, the elbow should be at least shoulder height.

5. Now bring the blocking arm down and across to the center of the body, the elbow takes a straight line from the high position to the finished position. The blocking part of the arm, is the inside of the forearm, so as the blocking gets level with the right side of the body, rotate the forearm strongly, so the finished arm position is the same as explained in number 1.

6. As you perform number 5, pull the left hikite (pulling arm) strongly back. Be sure to keep the elbow on line with the side of the body, as you pull the arm back. To make sure the elbow and fist come back in a straight line, as soon as you start the pull back, rotate the left hikite arm clockwise, so the bottom of the fist faces down. As the hikite arm reaches the side of the body, finish the rotation strongly, by rotating the forearm, so the fist finishes palm up, elbow pulling down slightly and with both shoulders square and relaxed.

Soto Uke Top Tips

When you block, think forward, not around!

The blocking arm should travel in more of a straight line, from the high preparation point, to completion and not a sweeping arc.

Remember, the blocking part of the arm, is the inside of the forearm, not the edge of the arm!

In the finished blocking position, make sure you can tighten all of your arm muscles properly, if you cannot, your blocking arm will be to high, to far forward, or to far across the center of the body.

Soto Ude Uke (Outside Forearm Block) Stepping Video

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