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Empi Uchi: Nudge


Empi Uchi, the nudgeEmpi Uchi or the nudge ...

is a very powerful technique of attack or against very short distance (hand-to-hand).

For all techniques of Karate, I often explain that everything starts from the center of the body, the belly (Hara) and that the arms or the legs are only the tools to direct the energy produced by the body.

In a technique like Empi Uchi, the sensation of striking with the body is really present.

Indeed, here, "the tool" is very short (There is only the humerus (bone of the arm) between the body and the point of impact) and without articulation other than the shoulder.

So, even more than in other techniques,

the movements of the trunk will be reflected directly on the arm that makes Empi Uchi.

The shoulder is a movable joint in all directions, therefore in the direction of the energy produced by the center of the body, ascending, descending, lateral, backward or in rotation, the shoulder will be able to direct the arm to transmit body energy directly to the elbow (Empi)

Even if there is only the shoulder between the body and the elbow, we will see however that the forearm and in particular the rotation of the wrist has a very important influence on the fixation of the shoulder and thus the connection between the body and the arm.

We are going to study Empi Uchi, following 5 different directions.

  • dating back : Jodan Age Empi Uchi
  • Descending : Otoshi Empi Uchi
  • On the side : Yoko Empi Uchi
  • Rearward : Ushiro Empi Uchi
  • Weekly flyer : Mawashi Empi Uchi

Jodan Age Empi Uchi :

Jodan Age Empi UchiWe strike with the elbow going up. While bending your arm, you raise your elbow towards the opponent (chin, nose) to hit the tip of your elbow. The fist is found next to the ear, palm turned to the ear.

Warningthe movement is going up, one would tend to lift the shoulder. However, it is very important to keep the shoulder low and locked.


The position of the hand is also essential in maintaining the shoulder.

Indeed, it is necessary to turn the palm naturally towards the ear and not towards the shoulder as we sometimes see it so as not to mobilize the supinator muscles (external rotation) of the forearm and in particular the brachial biceps whose head long that passes over the head of the humerus would interfere with the proper placement of the shoulder joint.

Otoshi Empi Uchi :

Otoshi Empi UchiAs Otoshi Tettsuiyou raise your arm above the head in the axis of the body and then pull your elbow down with the idea of ​​falling.

The energy goes from the Hara that literally "pulls" the elbow down. But beware, for this, it must rely on a solid foundation. So do not dampen the shock with the bending of the legs.

On the contrary, at the moment of impact, the position must be stabilized and very strong in order to transmit all the energy vertically to the ground.

Yoko Empi Uchi :

Yoko Empi UchiThe nudge on the side starts as if to make Uraken Uchi on the side. Your arm is folded in front of you palm turned to the ground. Your opponent being, of course, on your side. The technique goes now from the center of the body: by a vibration of the hips and a contraction of the back muscles (approximation of the shoulder blades), you throw the tip of your elbow in the direction of the opponent.

The second arm is Ikited at the waist to strengthen the support on the back or you can also use this second arm to reinforce the technique. You come open hand strengthen the power of your Empi Uchi pushing on the fist of the striking arm. In this case as for Morpheus Uchi Uke, the two arms are one and must work in synergy.

Ushiro Empi Uchi :

Ushiro Empi UchiPut a nudge rearward is a technique that you have all learned even if you are new to beginners - Ah, good?!?

Eh yes ! It's pretty much the same thing as doing Ikité...

Finally! ... it's about the same thing, or rather it's a possible application of Ikité because there is still a difference in body and mind.
Indeed, in Ushiro Empi Uchi, one has to

  1. turn your head to look where you hit,
  2. direct the energy of the Hara, no longer forward but backward,
  3. and keep your mind focused towards the elbow.

So you hit the back with the tip of your elbow keeping your arm very close to your body. The elbow must be close to the hip.

Mawashi Empi Uchi :

Mawashi Empi Uchi

Mawashi Empi Uchi is an excellent educational to make you feel hip rotation.

Indeed as I told you above with Empi Uchiyour body directly transfers these movements to the elbow.
In the case of Mawashi Empi Uchi, there will be a hip rotation who will spread as a spiral wave trunk up to the shoulder and then to the arm.
The elbow will hit the target by a circular movement from outside to inside and up.

The palm of the hand should be turned towards the ground and not towards you, always not to mobilize the long head of the biceps which would destabilize the shoulder.

That's pretty much my elbow shots. We could also add Ura Mawashi Empi which would be a circular movement but this time from the inside to the outside. But as this way of doing Empi is not in any Kata (to my knowledge ...) I preferred not to approach it. Another time maybe

By cons I could have approached Mae Empi which is very common in the Kata since it is found in Heian Yodan, Heian Godan, Tekki Shodan, Bassaï Daï, Kanku Daï ... It's the nudge forward, but we will talk about it again when studying the different Kata.

Well, I'm not sure I was loud and clear "In my explanation on the supination of the forearm which destabilizes the shoulder but hey, do not torture your mind with that (I did it for you ;-)).

What is important to remember is that for Age Empi, the palm is turned towards the ear, and that for Mawashi Empi, it is towards the ground ... After supination, the brachial biceps, coaptation of the shoulder, headdress Rotators ... (What's all that for a nudge?) ...

In short, I think it's time to stop torturing our brains. We will begin to transform all these words a bit abstract in very real sensations and wet the Karategi.
I let you prepare yourself with a good warm up session using my method

the ABC of Warm-ups

and I'll meet you again for a Kihon on five times with Empi Uchi. See you soon.

>>> Download the video

I believe that stretching of the scapular girdle and spine is required.
Tell me what you thought of this course in a comment below, Thank you !!!

See you soon,

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  1. Congratulations for these videos. I often talk to the club.
    Thank you for this educational work. I am aware of the work that is done.
    yves L

  2. Hello Bruno
    Congratulations for your initiative. I discover your blog. and before making this answer, I made a comment on your article Qigong and Karate.
    Practicing both in the same method, I invite you to learn about the Tokitsu-Ryu, Japanese, living in France, Kenji Tokitsu has long been the link between "internal" and "external".
    This would give a very clear sense to the practice of Empi, I personally discovered after working the shots that you describe several years to punch bag in kyokushinkai style.
    He conducts workshops involving martial arts practitioners from all walks of life.
    For the indispensable flexibility of the shoulders, I will advise the work of Scott Sonnon visible on You Tube.
    Do not hesitate to question me.

  3. Hello Bruno,
    good course of kihon on empi uchi, you know the kata which takes again these techniques. it is a kata known to some schools, an educational kata it seems to me, its name Empi no kata, not to be confused with Empi "the flight of the swallow" su shotokan. you can see different version on Youtube.
    See you soon

  4. Hello, it's not much time that I started to follow your courses but I find them great!
    Thank you very much !!
    I make 30 minutes every day. (During each free time

  5. Didier drunk. at

    I think these shots are very powerful especially when you find yourself intertwined in the arms of the opponent. thank you bruno for what you bring us.

    • Hello Didier,

      Intertwined in the arms of the opponent? Wow, it's hot! Is it for a waltz?

      You're right, Empi Uchi is used a lot in close combat. And as one really hits with the body in this technique, she is really suited.
      On the other hand, you still have to fold your arms and when you are "interlaced", as you say, the elbows are found outside, so not easy to use.
      Unless I did not understand well. Could you specify?


      A +, Bruno

  6. Hello Bruno and really thank you.
    I found this video of great interest. But there is mention of five techniques of elbows. While I seem to exist Mae empi uchi. What is it?

    • Hello Fabrice,

      Yes you are right and I thank you. I made a big mistake because I confused Mawashi Empi and Mae Empi who in the end have nothing to do.
      Thanks to you (and Franck who had warned me by mail) I will correct my article.


  7. Hello Bruno,
    On yoko empi, my former teacher asked us to start the movement with the palm up to rotate at the end. What do you think ?
    Thanks for all your info.

    • Hello Christopher,
      No, I think it's not good. You have to keep a connection at the shoulder all the time and if you turn your forearm you have trouble keeping this rotation. The palm must be towards the ground or the limit, forward, but not you.

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