In the beginning of our Karate journey it is natural for the practitioner to concentrate on the Omote or the “obvious”. A punch, strike, or kick presents a logic that the practitioner can easily ingest. The “subtle” or Ura in Japanese will only be uncovered through effort, diligence, and experience. Regretfully there is no greater subtlety that eludes the contemporary practitioner than Uke. To stop this erosion, and preserve the ideals of Karate the practitioner must pursue a clearer understanding of Uke.

The commonly accepted translation of the Japanese word Uke is to “block”. Although this cursory translation is accurate it fails to capture the deeper meaning of what Uke implies. A more thorough translation of Uke is “receiving”. This small linguistic change can drastically alter the practitioner’s perception of how we apply Uke.


In a self defence situation our opponent creates an environment that is dynamic. Charging forward, moving backwards, drastically reversing directions, and attacking wildly from all angles must be expected. To successfully defend ourselves our Uke must be a reflection of this dynamism. Through Karate training the practitioner will learn diverse Uke applications. Both single and double hand, open and closed fisted, circular, and Uke performed with ones legs are utilized.


The “obvious” purpose of Uke is to block an attack, and to create an opening for a counter attack. The “subtle” reason for Uke is interwoven into the famous expression Karate Ni Sente Nashi or “There is no first attack in Karate”. Regrettably most contemporary practitioners only understand this philosophy in a literal sense. The practitioner must view Uke as a devastating attack on the mentality and fighting spirit of the attacker. The inherent nature of Budo or the Martial Ways of Japan is to stop or resolve conflict. Correctly applying Uke will demonstrate to the attacker that further attack is futile, and thus will resolve the conflict in the initial stages.

                                      Heian Sandan 

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