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Ura Mawashi Geri: The Inverted Circular kick


Ura Mawashi Geri: The Inverted Circular kick

Ura Mawashi Geri, is not my cup of tea, as we say 🙂 As karateka, we all have a technique or techniques for which we are more skilled and others for which we have gaps. Personally, I have a lot of difficulties with theUra Mawashi Geri, or the inverted circular kick. It is a very technical kick that combines flexibility, musculature and balance.

As I often say, karate is a long-term job that requires a lot of patience and repetition to properly perform a technique. With Ura Mawashi Geri, as I have trouble doing it correctly, I am stuck as a teacher to suggest exercises. And that's why I called Bruno S. 6ème dan (He prefers not to put his name on the internet, but in Burgundy everyone knows him :-D). He made the trip to our studio dojo, to concoct you a Karate class on Ura Mawashi Geri with exercises that you can do at home or at the dojo to progress.

As I do not control too much, it's not easy for me to describe you Ura-Mawashi Geri in detail but I will do my best to do, as usual, a bio-mechanical analysis of Ura Mawashi Geri.

Detailed and biomechanical analysis of Ura Mawashi Geri

Many Karateka agree to say Ura Mawashi Geri is a very complex foot technique that requires qualities in terms of musculature and flexibility enough important. Indeed, a Ura-Mawashi geri is primarily done to hit the Jodan level with the heel. You can also hit at Chudan or Gedan level, but it's less common. Bruno in the video will tell you that a Ura Mawashi Geri is only Jodan. Personally I do not agree with him, but we will talk about it later ... For the moment we will start from the principle that we want to make a Ura Mawashi Geri Jodan.

You understand, Ura Mawashi Geri is the opposite of a Mawashi geri. The idea is always to go around the guard of the opponent but passing on the other side. If I hit my right foot, for example, with Mawashi Geri I'll do with my foot an arc to the right to hit with the top of the foot or the Koshi.

With Ura Mawashi Geriyour foot is going to make a circular arc but passing to the left and we will hit with the heel or the sole of the foot on the other side of the opponent's head.

As for all karate kicks, we are going to have four phases : arming it, the technique itself, and the return of the foot. We will try to detail these 3 phases so that you understand the mechanics of the technique.

Arming it:

As we have to go to the left to hit with the right foot, it will first have to be set aside so that your right foot passes the central axis of your opponent. To arm your Ura Mawashi Geri, so you put yourself in profile with him and you ride your knee as if you wanted to make a Yoko Geri. Fold well, to combine foot, knee and hip. You must be like a spring that you compress, ready to pounce.

Attention, as I explain in this video, you must above all, lift your foot. The knee will rise automatically but be careful not to raise it too high by tilting the pelvis backwards (retroversion). When arming, your pelvis should remain flat and relaxed to be free and ready to work in the next phase.

The technique itself:

This is where things get complicated and you have to be muscular, supple and balance. We could decompose this phase into 2 parts that will follow each other but do not mobilize the same muscle groups: First, the placement of the pelvis and the launch of the leg, and secondly the strikes properly speaking.

To begin your Ura Mawashi Geri proper, you will open your hips by swiveling on your foot support, while unfolding your leg. It is this mixture that will bring the good trajectory of the foot and allow to keep balance. So while opening the foot of support, you open the hips as much as possible and you describe with your right foot a circular arc bypassing the guard of your opponent.

In the end, when your leg is almost unfolded, you end the arc with a contraction of the glutes and hamstrings to hit with the heel or sole on the side of your opponent.

The return of the foot

As in all kicks, and Bruno will tell you again in the video, the return of the foot is as important as the shot itself. And Ura Mawashi Geri is no exception. Indeed when you kick, you are in a loss of balance and in a vulnerable position (on one foot, leg extended, ...). You must limit the time in this position to the strict minimum.

You must always remain in control of your decisions for the rest of the fight. So there is no question of "swinging" your kick and then finishing somehow. No, you have to think about following and bring back your foot as quickly as possible to resume a more stable posture, to eventually chained.

To bring your foot back, you have to go back by where you went to go. So you redo an arc but in the other direction pulling your leg towards you. Then you regroup your hips as quickly as possible and you close your foot of support to return to face your opponent.

During the 3 phases of your technique, your entire body must participate in the action. Your bust should stay connected to your hips by a good oblique work. Your support leg must remain strong and stable. Your eyes are fixed on your opponent and your arms are always ready to intervene in case of cons.

Exercises to improve your Ura Mawashi Geri

In the video, Bruno will give us some educational exercises to do that will allow you to slowly decompose your Ura Mawashi Geri and so over time improve yourself. I will not detail each exercise because the video is enough with itself with the explanations of Bruno but I will still talk to you about an exercise that you can work alone, at home.

You will need a fulcrum that can be a chair, a dancer's bar or the edge of a window, which you will find available to keep you in balance. Be careful, when I say a point of support, that does not mean that you have to put all your weight on it, it's just at a fixed point that allows you to keep your balance and stay focused on your kick.

Once your point of support is installed. You will gently break down your kick as we just saw it:

So we go to the stage of arming the kick. To arm your Ura Mawashi Geri, your foot is well anchored to the ground, and you hold one arm on the bar to remain stable. You raise your foot and therefore your knee as for a Yoko geri. Bend well and raise your knee as high as possible towards the chest (Be careful not to tip the pelvis in exaggerated retroversion by tucking the buttocks under the body).

Properly arming will give efficiency to your Ura Mawashi Geri. So exercise well. Gradually…..

The next step is to open your support foot, then, in the sequence, open your hip and launch your Ura Mawashi Geri. Send your foot to form a circular arc (and not a "circle circle"! but here you have to watch the video to understand :-D) which would bypass the guard of your opponent. Do not try to go too much to the side, but go slightly outside the central axis.

Go slowly, breaking down your movement. At the end, stay 1 or 2 seconds in contraction to feel the final Kime, and to get in the habit of not "throwing" your leg.


The Ura Mawashi Geri if it is well done, makes it possible to reach the Jodan level with efficiency.

In the same way, with training, a Ura Mawashi Geri will also allow you to win, in value equal to that of the height, in length. Bruno demonstrates this in the video as you can see in the photo opposite.

Let's continue our exercise, because once you hit, as we explained above, it's not over. The return of the foot is also very important, even for a Ura Mawashi geri. It is not a question of falling backwards but of returning to the starting position. So you will gently bring back your foot by describing a circular arc in the opposite direction. You gently rock your hips and tuck your foot down.

And you start again, slowly. For example, you can do 10x on one side and 10x on the other (or more if you want). The important thing is to go slowly decomposing your technique well and staying well focused. If you see that you are losing concentration, it is often time to stop 😉

As I mentioned above, Ura Mawashi Geri combines flexibility, strength and balance. It is therefore essential to acquire the flexibility to perform this technique well, but also muscle strength. Indeed, lifting the leg to the side by making it make a circular path is not natural at all and your muscles need to adapt. It is this musculature and flexibility that will give you the right trajectory and the right placement of your body and that will guarantee a good balance.

The purpose of the exercise proposed by Bruno, our 6ème dan, is precisely to work on your musculature and your flexibility, but also your nervous system. Indeed, going slowly you will exercise your central nervous system to integrate the motor diagram of Ura Mawashi Geri.

Your body works but your brain too and in the long run, with repetitions, your Ura Mawashi Geri will become as natural as walking ... Many exercises in perspective !!!

Ura Mawhashi Geri: Your video karate lesson

And now that we have an overview of today's class, get ready for training with Bruno, Erwan and me.

Put on your karategi, and do not forget to warm up. For that I advise you to download my book the ABCs of warm-ups. Never neglect the importance of warming up. They allow you not to hurt yourself but to make your training more effective.

So, I hope that the video has you more and that you appreciated the intervention of Bruno S. I take this opportunity to thank him and to thank Erwan S. for his precious help.

Practice well and inform me of your developments. On my side, promised, as soon as I master the technique I will make you a personal course on Ura Mawashi Geri.

Well, that being the case, we keep ourselves informed, and do not forget to leave your comments below.

See you soon

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  1. Hello,

    Some exercises are difficult because one solicits muscles that are not accustomed to do what one would like them to do. If you press with a hand to a piece of furniture and on a foot you do the movement repeatedly (2 x 30), on the spot, it becomes easier then. All that remains is to bring this position. In the end, in my opinion, it is not by kicking that we succeed but by preparing the body to execute it. After the opening remains and there we stumble on a bone.

  2. Hello Bruno-san,
    I would like to find the video too in karate-3g to download it.
    I saw that there is already a "bookmark" in the course of the brown belt.
    Will I find him in a few days?

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