Mawashi tsuki (回し突き) is a popular street fight technique. This post shows you how to execute the mawashi tsuki and a few valuable tips to train and improve your mawashi tsuki technique.

What Is Mawashi Tsuki?

Mawashi (回し) means to turn, rotate, gyrate, circulate, or send something around. Tsuki (突き) means to thrust or punch. In karate, ‘mawashi tsuki‘ refers to a roundhouse punch.

Mawashi tsuki is often used to target an opponent’s head (e.g. ear, temple, or jaw) or body (e.g. ribs) from a lateral angle. It can be executed with the lead hand (front hand) or the rear hand (back hand), and the power is generated from the rotation of the hips and, potentially, the pivot of the back foot.

Because mawashi tsuki follows a curved path instead of moving directly towards the target, it takes a bit longer compared to a straight punch and can potentially telegraph your intention to your opponent. This, in turn, provides the opponent with the time and opportunity to deflect or block the punch.

However, when executed effectively, it can become a powerful technique, especially for those with a larger build who can leverage their entire body mass behind it. A powerful mawashi tsuki striking vital points on the head can disorient an opponent or even end a fight instantly. It can also be used as the finishing strike after a flurry of attacks. In addition, mawashi tsuki can also serve as a feinting technique, diverting the opponent’s attention to the mawashi tsuki and setting the stage for subsequent decisive attacks.

How to Perform the Mawashi Tsuki?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to execute the mawashi tsuki:

  1. Stance: Start in a relaxed natural stance such as the heiko sanchin stance in which you place one foot slightly in front of the other, knees slightly bent, and your weight balanced
  2. Guard Position: Keep your hands up in a guarding position, protecting your face and body. Your non-punching hand should be near your face, and your punching hand should be close to your body
  3. Hip Rotation: The power in a mawashi tsuki comes from hip rotation. Begin by rotating your hips in the direction of the punch. This is crucial for generating power. You can choose to throw the whole body mass behind the punch (at the expense of stability) in which case you will need to pivot your back foot as well. But you can also choose to maintain stability and keep your feet firmly planted on the ground (see images below)
  4. Punching Arm: Your punching arm should start close to your body. As you rotate your hips, extend your punching arm in a circular or semi-circular motion, making sure that your knuckles face your target
  5. Target and Contact: Aim your punch at the target, typically the head or body of your opponent. Make contact with the first two knuckles of your punching hand
  6. Follow Through: After making contact with your target, follow through with your punch to ensure that you’ve delivered maximum power and reached your target
  7. Return to Guard: Quickly return your punching hand and reset your stance. It’s important to maintain balance and readiness for any follow-up techniques or to defend against a counterattack.

As mentioned earlier, mawashi tsuki can be executed with both the lead hand and the rear hand. Therefore, it’s important to practice this technique with both hands, not solely relying on your dominant side.

Although mawashi tsuki is sometimes referred to as the haymaker punch in boxing, there are some differences between the mawashi tsuki and the boxing haymaker.

In karate, mawashi tsuki still adheres to the principle of economy of movement, with the elbow of the attacking arm swinging out less than in the boxing haymaker.

Furthermore, in karate, while the objective is still to engage as much body mass as possible in the punch, it’s essential to maintain balance and stability and karate practitioners usually don’t lift their feet while performing mawashi tsuki. However, in boxing, boxers often rotate and throw their entire body behind the punch to maximize force, sometimes at the expense of stability. In such situations, if the opponent successfully evades the haymaker, it can result in a loss of balance, leaving the attacker extremely vulnerable to counterattacks.

Tips on Improving the Mawashi Tsuki Technique

To improve your mawashi tsuki in karate, consider the following tips and practice methods:

  1. Hip Rotation: The power for the mawashi tsuki comes from hip rotation. Practice rotating your hips as you punch to generate more power. Your hip should rotate in the direction of your punch. It can be beneficial to first practice hip rotation independently before incorporating the hand movement
  2. Body Mass: Aim to put your body weight into the punch for maximum effect by driving your feet into the ground and rotating your hip
  3. Balance and Control: Maintain good balance throughout the technique. After executing the punch, quickly return to your guard position. This helps with control and readiness for follow-up techniques
  4. Practice Slowly: Begin by practicing the mawashi tsuki slowly to ensure proper form. As you become more comfortable, gradually increase the speed and power
  5. Shadow Boxing: Perform shadow boxing exercises to work on the technique without a partner. This helps with muscle memory, speed, and fluidity of motion
  6. Focus Mitts or Pads: Use a training partner with focus mitts or pads to practice the mawashi tsuki with a moving target. This simulates real combat situations and helps improve accuracy and timing
  7. Heavy Bag Training: Incorporate heavy bag training to develop power and conditioning in your punches. Focus on proper technique rather than just hitting the bag with force
  8. Sparring: Engage in sparring sessions with partners to test and refine your mawashi tsuki in a more dynamic and unpredictable environment.

Practical Tips for Effective Self Defense on the Streets

Best Fighting Stance: Going Beyond Physical Form

Why Is Kihon So Important in Karate?

How to Generate Explosive Power in Your Karate Punches

What Is the Purpose of “Chambering” in Karate?

List Of Goju Ryu Techniques, Kata and Kumite Drills

A Complete List of Goju Ryu Stances

Mawashi tsuki

Fundamental Techniques (v. 1) : Higaonna, Morio