Age uke is one of the first techniques that you will learn when you start learning karate. Though it looks simple, performing age uke correctly with maximum power is not easy.

This post will show you how to perform age uke correctly from a natural stance, some practical applications of age uke, and tips to generate more power in your age uke technique.

What does age uke mean?

Age means upward or rising. Uke means to receive. So, age uke means receiving upwards.

Age uke is often translated to English as ‘upward block’ or ‘rising block’. Though this is close, ‘block’ has a limited meaning compared to ‘receiving’. Block is only one way of receiving an attack.

There is a different mindset when, instead of thinking about blocking an attack, you think about how you should receive this attack or how you should deal with this attack in the best possible way. It could be a direct hard block or it could be a deflection that requires little force followed by a counterattack.

Please keep this in mind, but to keep it simple, let’s refer to age uke as a rising block in this post.

How to perform age uke for beginners

Single-arm age uke

Age uke is a double-arm block but first let’s focus on the action of the arm that actually does the blocking and we will cover the supporting arm in the next section.

Imagine there is a punch heading towards your face or a hammer fist striking the top of your head and you are using the right arm to perform age uke to stop this attack.

Age uke is executed as follows:

  1. Stand in a natural stance, shoulders down and relax, hands in chamber
  2. Bring your right arm across the front of your body. In the image below, notice how Morio Higaonna brings his right arm across the center line and keeps the arm at about 45 degree angle (frame #2). The forearm should be about one fist away from the body as it travels upward
  3. The forearm rises upward and rotates at the same time until it meets the attacking arm or weapon and deflects the attack or pushes it away
  4. In the finishing position, the forearm is facing away from the forehead, at about 45 degree angle relative to the ground, and about one fist away from the forehead. This is also when there is a brief tension of the arm muscles when it comes into contact with the opposing force, i.e. the kime moment.
Source: YouTube

Double-arm age uke

As mentioned above, age uke is a double arm block. This helps make your block much stronger and safer.

In the above section, we focus on the main blocking arm. In this section, we will look at the supporting arm.

In the image below, Morio Higaonna sensei still performs age uke using his right arm but he starts with bringing the left arm across and downward (see the left arm in frames 1, 2, and 3 below).

At the same time, he brings the right arm across the centerline and rotates it upward to meet the opposing force as described in the above section (track the right arm across frames 1, 2, and 3 below).

The aim of the supporting arm is to meet the attacking arm and deflect it before the right arm fishes off the job. As you progress, you will learn that a few other karate blocks are double-arm blocks like age uke.

Here is a link to a video where Morio Higaonna sensei demonstrates some basic Goju Ryu techniques, including age uke.

In the image above, Morio Higaonna sensei performs age uke in a natural stance. As a beginner, this is what you will do a lot in the dojo.

In the image below, Inoue Yoshimi sensei performs age uke in a kumite practice with a partner. This is a very good demonstration of the double-arm age uke technique.

You can see very clearly here how he first uses the supporting left arm (frames #1 and 2) to deflect the punch before the right arm comes up and meet it and completes the block (frames #2, 3, and 4).

Age uke applications

Here are two examples of age uke applications.

Application 1 – age uke and jodan tsuki

The first one below is the first bunkai of the first Goju Ryu kata, Gekisai Dai Ichi.

Starting from the natural stance, as the opponent attacks with a jodan punch, you perform an age uke to block and step forward to counter with a jodan punch.

In this case, you receive the attack and head for the inside of the opponent, close the gap and counterattack.

When you head for the inside of the opponent, you become vulnerable to counterattacks too, so this is best used when you are confident that you can finish off the opponent with just one punch before they can launch another attack.

Age uke application 1

Application 2 – age uke and knife hand strike

In the second age uke application, when the opponent comes for you with a jodan punch, you still perform the double-arm age uke technique but this time step to the outside of the opponent afterward and launch a counterattack from there.

As you can see in the image below, as Inoue Yoshimi sensei finishes his age uke (double-arm age uke from frames #1 to 3), he steps to the outside of the opponent.

Here, Yoshimi sensei is very safe but the opponent is very vulnerable to attack. From this position (frame #5), he can easily throw the opponent off balance or launch a deadly attack to the neck (knife hand strike).

Age uke application 2
Source: Inoue-Ha Shito-Ryu Soke Inoue Karate

Here is the link to the short demonstration of this application.

How to generate more power in your age uke

This is best learned from a qualified instructor but below are some quick tips to help you generate more power in your age uke.

1. Stay relax

Relax your shoulders and your body, the more you relax, the faster you can execute your age uke and the stronger your technique will be. A bullet that travels at 1800 mph (3000 km/h) will do a lot more damage than a bullet traveling at a tenth of the speed.

It is difficult to relax when you first learn karate or a new technique, but as you learn and gain more confidence through hours and hours of practice, you will be able to relax naturally and hopefully one day, age uke will become part of you, an unconscious reaction to a jodan attack.

2. Learn to generate power from your hips

The power of your technique is determined by the rate of acceleration (how fast you increase your speed) and the mass involved.

Therefore, in addition to speed, you can increase the power of your age uke by using not just your arm but as much of your whole body weight as possible.

In order to do this, imagine that your age uke begins from your hips rather than your arms. By vibrating the hips, the energy can travel from the center of your gravity up to your arms and hands. In addition, make sure you are “rooted” by assuming a stance where your center of gravity is lowered and weight is well distributed on your feet.

Every time you practice age uke, think about cracking your whip (vibrating your hips) and your blocking arm is just the extension of your whip.

3. Strengthen your body

A weak body can’t deliver strong techniques.

Karate is great at helping you become stronger but additional exercises will help too.

Develop a workout program to strengthen your body that includes warm-up and warm-down exercises and strengthening and speed exercises.

Continuously challenge your body by progressively increasing repetitions and load.

You will also benefit from a healthy diet. Good quality proteins will support muscle synthesis and make you stronger.

However, above all, consistency is the key. No matter how good a workout program you have, if you don’t train consistently, you won’t progress.

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Please also check out my library of other karate articles which is updated regularly.


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