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On Kata

"On Kata" is reader feedback column designed to elicit your ideas about kata, their philosophy, structure, strategy and application.

Do you have a good application for this kata move seen in Pinan three (Heian) and several other forms? In the beginning of Pinan (Heian) three there is a combination of what many interpret to be a right upper and left lower block, followed by a left upper and right lower block.

Just send mail to and describe the application to us.

You can also send a photo or sketch in an attachment to your e-mail. We will post the best answers.

I study Shotokan, and henceforth in my mind the simplest answer is usually the right one. For this particular movement found in kata, I always viewed it as a defense against a double wrist grab- it quickly and effectively removes an attackershands from yours. Have somebody grab your wrists and try it out.


Hello, I am a student of Shito Ryo karate. I saw the hand technique that the cartoon displayed and that looked like a similar thrust move in my karate. The technician starts off in his/her stance and delivers the blocking motion shown on the cartoon as an attack aiming for the opponent's solar plexus plus a mid ranged punch to the abdomin. The result of the blow pushes the air out of the opponent and the form possesses power and rigidness depending on the timing of both hands and the technician him/her self. I hope this helps your question.

About the stance. The technician's leg (either) must be bent and lunged toward the opponent while the other leg is slightly bent to produce rigidness.

Regarding the form you call pinan three, (I study Tang Sood Do, we call it peigan, but it looks similar.) I was taught that move is effective against a choke.

The arm that starts high snakes outside and over the attacker's arm. The other does an inside-outside block to the other arm. Twisting the torso before then executing this movement will break most two-handed chokes, from an attacker in front of you. The follow-up could be a strike to the nose and groin.

Just a possibility that one of my instructors recommended, feel free to comment.

Bryon Harvey

Hello. I am a student of Kung Fu, and of course, my ideas of the application may not be the one's that the creators of the kata had in mind. Let us begin.

Opponent throws a left front, side or a roundhouse kick to the midsection. With your right hand execute a downward block as you raise your left arm to protect the upper gate. As you execute a block, extend your wrist and hook the opponents foot under an ankle. Now reverse the motion with his leg hooked. Rising your left arm that has his leg hooked you unbalance him and turn him, exposing the side of his knee... It is on the side of his knee where you smash you right downward backfist.

Result: damage knee, probably crippled opponent and you winning the fight.


I see a few different types of applications for this kata, but here is a couple simple ones.

1. Attacker grabs your wrists. The first maneuver is to break free of the attackers grab. Then immediately double strike the opposite way, hitting Gall bladder 24 (point on about 2 inches from the belly button) and stomach 9.(point on the front of the neck and inch from the wind pipe)

2. Attacker Round house kicks (Right leg kicks for this example) you from the side. First double block, left hand high, blocking the attackers kick and also it helps absorbing the blow. Then with the left arm grab kick, wrapping arm around leg, also stepping in augmented striking downward on stomach 5. (which is about ? inch from the side of the nose where the cheek and the top of the mouth meet.)


John Pappas
Homman Karate
Crown Point, In.

Another application for the tech, could be to catch a round house kick with the upper arm and torking into a 45 degree pivot while breaking the knee by thusting down with the lower arm.

Trent Thurlkill (aka Papasan)

In my dojo we are told that this can be used when an attacker is coming in with a kick, you block gedan bari with the lower arm and the upper arm is then used as an uraken uchi to the attackers face

I learned this waza as part of a Korean form (Po-Eun) as well as Naihanchi. Strikes and blocks are obvious interpretations, including pressure point applications, but the movement could also represent a more basic self-defense (aiki-jujitsu) move as well.

The end of the move depicted could show a side-by-side (both defender and attacker facing in same direction, next to each other) arm bar. The form shows you can do this move on both sides.

The defender's lower hand is grabbing the attacker's wrist, while the defender's upper hand is grabbing and securing the attacker's upper arm/shoulder area. Torque is applied to the attacker's tendon tricep area on the trapped arm, by the defender's pulling back with his own lower hand (which is restraining the attacker's wrist), while expanding his chest
(breathing in and flexing or moving your pectoral/shoulder area) into the attacker's tendon tricep area (above the attacher's elbow). The defender's upper hand is stablizing the attacker's shoulder area so he cannot move to reduce the stress on his arm.

I say side-by-side, because here the attacker is next to you for this move.

If I may,

I am not a traditionalist by any means, so I do not know the forms that you are discussing, specifically. I am a Kenpo stylist and a jujitsu practitioner. Here are my interpretations for the described technique. I see this technique being applicable in a variety of scenarios, right or left punch, right/left punch or several combinations thereof. Lapel grabs, Pushes, kick defenses, and with slight modifications - bear hugs (arms locked and unlocked).

Lapel grab - Depending on how your hands cross over in front of your body you can apply either, A) an arm break, if the hand that is lowering is on the inside and the hand that is rising is on the outside - drive the hand that is in the upper position straight down as you raise your opposite hand in a circular manner, breaking the elbow. Note: a left handed lapel grab your left hand must be the one rising to effect the breaking of the elbow joint. B) For a left-handed lapel grab also (just so we can stay on the same page). As your right hand come down from it position, it will travel on the outside of your left hand. Your right forearm will come down onto, slightly to the side of, the elbow joint. This will happen at the same time as your left hand rises to "catch" your attackers wrist. Applying a figure-four lock as you step forward for the takedown. Note: if takedown is being resisted apply a right elbow to the nose of the attacker that should help.

2) Right/Left Punch defense - Lets start by saying that you have affectively blocked your attacker right punch, now you realize that your right hand is doing nothing to help you, so you land a hammer fist to the groin. As you are rocking his twigs and berries he throws a left punch. As you cross your left hand over to execute a right outward block, you deliver a hammer fist to his nose. Connecting your left hand to his left arm just before you use your outward block, making it a left inward right outward block. Grabbing his left wrist with your right hand, your left hand goes down once more to the very sensitive area.

These are but some of what I can think of for this technique, if I were to write them all it would take two days (I type slowly, peck, peck, peck). Train hard and have fun.

Fred C. O'Keefe

Hi there

Most of your respondents have talked about lapel grabs. What about a middle level block using the uchi uke, and the gedan barai being a strike to the groin (possibly using the gedan barai motion as a tetsui hammer fist).

By using the right hand for the block of a right handed punch (such as oie zuki) you can put yourself in a position to take down your opponent after a groin stike, chest strike or even raise it to a strike to the neck, nose or temple. Knee in the back of the opponents knee or ashi barai.

Gary (Sunderland UK)
2nd Dan Shotokan

I see that You ask for a good application for the first characteristic movements for Pinan Sandan. My interpretation would be for an Oi-tzuki,Nidan-tzuki attack. The defensive movement for these attacks would be: first an outer block(soto-uke), next double morote-uke (similar to the one in Naihanchi Shodan) executed in the way that the higher block is an outer-block, the lower block is Tetsui (hammer-fist punch) on the floating ribs. I think it might be a good interpretation :).


Dear Sirs,

Regarding the opening application (bunkai) that you mentioned on your web site please allow me to explain our interpretation. Words to define these moves are quite difficult. Perhaps, if you would like, we can scan some photos to you, a picture paints a thousand words?

The defensive application we use is for an opponent to seize the lapel, (single grasp). With the thumb knuckle of one hand, coming upwards, the tricep tendon is struck. A specific pressure point can be inpacted as well. Simultaneously the other arm is brought down to buckle the opponent's arm, with the feet turning very slightly (the only difference from the original kata) the arms' position is reversed to put the opponent's grasping arm into a rear arm lock. I hope this is of some help for you.

The application above was influenced to me by Patrick McCarthy


Albuie O'Connor

Yudansha UK

A good application of this movement, is when someone grabs you with a single lapel grab. Simply strike Sp12 & Li12 in the inguinal crease (in the fold of the leg) with the 'low block', this will a) push his butt backward and b) will bring his head down but with his chin up.

Then (near enough) simultaneously strike to ST5 on the side of the jaw to put him in lala land (This is sore!)

'Train Hard, Fight Easy'



One application for this sets of moves could be a grappling technique. One hand "catches" a kick, perhaps at the calf or knee level, the other hand grabs person or clothing high on the body trunk - shoulder level or above. The higher hand pulls downward (in a circular fashion), the other hand (containing the leg) raises upward, also in a circular fashion. The result is a throw - off balancing the opponent, and throwing to the ground.

A variation would be a block to a kick/punch combination, then moving into the technique mentioned above.

Ron van de Sandt

In kumite, this move is used to block a U-punch.

One of the applications that we use for this movement is for a defense against a lapel grab. The aggressor can grab with either arm - let's go with a right hand grab to the left lapel. the defender will use their left arm for the downward motion and their right arm for the upward motion. The downward motion uses the pinky finger knuckle or the wrist bone to strike the wrist area (pick a point that looks vulnerable as they may vary somewhat depending upon the actual grip used to grab the lapel) of the aggressor. the upward motion hand will hit the inside/bottom side (heart meridian) of the aggressors upper arm (ouch - that hurts). As the downward arm goes down, it sticks the aggressors wrist during the transition to an upward motion. Since the aggressor is now thinking about the pain they are experiencing in their arm versus continuing the attack the defender can apply the arm bar that shows up - or not.

There's a bit more to it than this but this describes the basics of it
fairly well.

From someone with a good instructor

To start with, look at the "middle block" could be a strike to the temple (of course, the "block would need to be moved up several inches). A similar strike is shown in the Gojuryu Kobudo kata for Chizi kun Bo.

Second, the "low block" could be a strike the nerve on the inner thigh.

Just my thoughts . . .

Cody Stephens

One possibility could be that an attacker attempts to grab you with both hands.You defend by going over his one arm as you "block" low. Your other hand hits his from under as you create what appears to be a middle block. Now counter attack immediately by switching your hand positions. Your low blocking hand is now coming up as a backfist or upper cut. The chest blocking hand now strikes down toward the belly or groin. ...Or so it seems...

Just a warrior rambling

You perform the double movement after a middle level block. Your opponent has grabbed your wrist. You step up and strike the back of his elbow with your right arm while driving your grabbed hand downward. You then perform a back fist to his temple with the other hand doing a dropping punch to his stomach. Repeat on other side.

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kata, Pinan, Heian, bunkai, kata applications

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