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Soto Uke: Blocking from outside to inside


Soto UkeSoto Uke is a basic blockage that we often learn in his karate debut. However Soto Uke has been forgot basic kata like the Taikyoku and the Heian. It is found only in the Ten-no-kata, which is a Kata very little taught, and not before Bassaï Daï in advanced kata.

Is it an oversight, is it voluntary? If one of the readers has a beginning of answer that he does not hesitate to share with us in a comment.

Anyway, you must know and master Soto Uke. He is from the same family as Uchi Uke - Lateral locking of the forearm (Ude Uke), but in a substantially opposite movement, ie from the outside to the inside.

Soto Uke will allow to deflect a frontal attack by a circular movement of the forearm from outside to inside the body. You block with the outer edge of the forearm. The entire forearm is used, from the hand hammer (Tetsui) to the fleshy part near the elbow.

Soto Uke can be used at both Jodan and Chudan levels.

Decomposition of Soto Uke:

Preparatory phase:

Soto Uke ArmamentUnlike all other blockages, we will not start crossing arms, but on the contrary to open them. You extend an arm in front of you and mount the other fist behind, palm turned outward.

The arm should not be too high and you should not pull it too far back; The humerus remains in the plane of the shoulders.

In fact it is the chest which turns to the maximum towards the back, thus creating a torsion of the trunk with stretching of the muscular chains in diagonal (Pectoral, oblique Abdominal)

Blocking phase:

Now your technique will start from your Hara (belly). You will do a quick rotation of the hips in the direction of the technique.

This rotation will propagate up to the shoulders that will come to realign on the hips: you pull the arm that were in front doing Ikité as if you wanted to pull your opponent towards you and in this same rotation, your front- arm (the other of course!) sweeps the space in front of you from the outside to the inside by a horizontal circular motion (and not descending).

Rotation should continue until your arm has passed the axis of your body in front of you, but not much more. If you stop before, you have not protected yourself enough and if you go much further, you risk endangering your side or back.

At the moment of impact, you turn your wrist a very dry movement. Your fist ends palm facing you.

Your arm should not be too tight in front or too tight against you. The angle at the elbow is about 90 °.

At the moment of kime, we must synchronize:

  1. the locking of the hips (by an abdominal contraction),
  2. the rotation of the wrist (whiplash),
  3. and contraction under the armpits (bodily connection).

With experience we will be able to do without turning the chest to the back and we can do Soto Uke in a much more direct way, but the rotation of the hips will always precede a little rotation of the shoulders still creating the torsion of the bust.

Travel and preparatory phase:

We just saw Soto Uke without displacement, but it will often be coupled with a displacement and we will see that in this case the preparatory phase is a little different.

When moving, you will no longer need to turn your chest backwards during the preparatory phase; it will be enough that your chest is late on the displacement and the rotation of your hips so that the torsion of the trunk is realized naturally.

I had already discussed this notion of torsion of the trunk in my article: Oi-Zuki and the work of the spine.

We are here in the same case: The hips turn and the upper body is behind this rotation. It follows a torsion of the bust and a stretching of the oblique anterior muscle chains that will be used in the blocking phase itself to add speed to the technique.

I'll show you this more in detail on the video and we'll do exercises to make you feel this twist when moving.

I now propose that we go to practice and that we train a little

I let you go to the cloakroom to put your kimono, then ...

... a little warm up and I find you right now on the video !

>>> Download the video
Here I hope you have grasped the principle of torsion of the bust and the importance of the work of the hips in Soto-Uke. I wait your comments with impatience.

See you soon,

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  1. Thank you for this site. My children doing shoto karate in London have learned this kumite for their 8eme Kyu while watching your video

  2. a small corrigendum to the tools used to perform soto uke.

    letting go or engaging?
    -lache taken in the direction where we register the center of gravity in a dynamic.
    -committed for the trunk which is constituted in a block to effectively follow the dynamics initiated by the supports.
    in the case of soto uke, it is the organization of a line of force in finding or organizing a new equilibrium.

    the hips and shoulders form a block and move at the same time by the "putting in tension" of the Hara.

    this line corresponds to the alignment of the support (the rear heel when one is in zen kutzu dachi), the center of gravity in the contact zone (the wrist in this case).

    this principle is verified for other techniques such age uke, kisami tsuky, gedan barai, ... .. or the hips are also placed 3 / 4 for the same reason.

    to finish I suggest a little exercise that verifies these words:
    place your hand on the wall of the house
    -without changing your supports, push back the
    -the wall should not move
    by this experience, you experience the principle of support, the cohesion of the group trunk by putting in tension of the hara and you make soto uke.

    the back is fragile.

    good training to all

    • Hello Marcel,

      I like your description of "letting go" and "putting in" that are different. Simultaneous, but different.
      The "letting go" is the release of the center of gravity to give free rein to the technique, and the "engagement" which is the fact of joining the trunk to the Hara in arm techniques.
      However, you say that the trunk is a block, but I will add "dynamic". Indeed in Soto Uke, the shoulders can (it is not obligatory) take a slight delay on the rotation of the pelvis as I explain it in the article to use the energy of torsion of the spine.
      So the trunk forms a block, but that retains some elasticity.
      In your exercise, we feel the principle of internal connection and connection to the ground, but statically. One can similarly create the thrust by a rotation of hips without moving the shoulders, then let the shoulders catch the hips and one must also be able to feel this force of rotation which is reflected in the wall and in the supports.


    • Hello mutual (it's not common as a nickname!?!),
      I thank you for your compliments. It's true that it takes a lot of time, but I love it.
      I hope that I can continue for a long time, there is still a lot of work, it is only a beginning.
      If you want you can go your presentation, it would be nice.

  3. Good evening!
    good video on this little-known defense technique in karate but effective in a defense against a tsuki or oiy suki, she allowed me to deepen my knowledge defense,
    and I need training on the kihon, I can not memorize successive attacks run very vit; for example, I explain fist techniques; 2 attacks 1 defense or 1 attack 1 defense 1 attack ...

    Thank you, and happy holidays

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