What Is Hikite?

What is hikite?

Hikite is the pulling arm

So when you punch it’s the pulling arm, you have got to have a strong reaction, when you strike and when you block, all karateka should work strongly on the hikite arm.

How can the hikite arm be practical in a self defense scenario?

People will say, I can see how it works with karate kihon, where you are pulling and pushing, using the opposite reaction, strong pull, strong punch, everything working together, I can see how pulling this strong will help this go faster, but what about self defense?

That’s actually a great question and I will give you an example.

Many years ago when i was younger, we used to train with a guy and we used to call him Iron Grip!

He was an Okinawan karate exponent and he was a lovely guy, but….. if he grabbed hold of you, it was horrible

He wouldn’t just grab your karate suit, his fingers would go through your skin, he would grab your skin and he would not let go!

Then, when he grabbed hold of you, he would be hitting you and pulling you and you would be just like a rag doll, so we called him Iron Grip because his grip was just so strong.

We were petrified of getting grabbed by him 🙂

It didn’t matter where you were in your kumite, he would try and grab you.

He was lethal, that man would never have a problem in the street, never! Because he would just grab someone and it would be all over, he would control you with his hikite arm, his pulling arm.

I started learning from Iron Grip and I kept working on my hikite.

I can remember going into a couple of shotokan karate competitions and grabbing people and it was great because they didn’t expect it and i would grab their karate suit and pull, i remember ripping a karate suit off a guy and i got penalised and disqualified and i just thought, what the heck!

But obviously in competition you cannot grab them and punch 🙂

Hikite is very, very effective, so in self defense, grabbing and striking, basically you knock them off balance and pull them towards your technique, every time i do that movement i just think of iron grip.

I have not seen him for years but he probably still is lethal!

So thats the hikite arm, really work on your hikite arm, it is extremely important and not just in the Dojo.

There’s hikite exercises we are going to cover that develop the hikite arm.

The hikite arm, as one of my friends said, I don’t understand what hikite is and there is no practical use for it! I said, you’ve not met Iron Grip!

There really is practical applications for hikite and it’s really, really effective controlling.

Iron Grip would change arms mid strike, so he would grab you, pull you, then move to the side and grab you with the other arm, once he was close to you and grabbed you, he would just play with you.

We used to try and keep him away with kicks because he was only short, he was a little worried about our kicks, so we used to try and keep him away with our kicks, but he would always manage to get inside and it would be all over and it was just PAIN!

It wasn’t pain from the strikes that he controlled a bit, it was pain from the Iron Grip, his fingers going through your arm, in your skin, arghhhhhh….

What Is Hikite?

So Hikite (the pulling arm) is VERY VERY important, try and work on a sharp, strong Hikite pulling arm.

I hope this Hikite article and video helps understand Hikite. Oss!

Here is a link to our indepth article and video looking at Shotokan karate's hikite.

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