This post shows you how to perform the oi tsuki, an important training drill.

What is oi tsuki?

Oi (追い) means to chase, to drive away, to follow or to pursue. Tsuki (突き) means to thrust or punch. Therefore, oi tsuki is often translated as “lunge punch” or “stepping punch”.

In karate context, oi tsuki (also called jun tsuki) refers to a straight stepping punch where you step forward into a zenkutsu dachi and execute a simple punch (seiken tsuki).

How to perform the oi tsuki?

To perform the oi tsuki:

  • Start with a left zenkutsu dachi (forward stance) position with the left hand in a gedan barai position and the right hand in chamber
  • Step forward into a right zenkutsu dachi with the right leg and punch with your right hand. The right hand should be rotating like in seiken choku tsuki. Simultaneously, the left hand should pull back to your side, just above the belt with the palm facing up
  • Repeat with the left hand by stepping forward into a left zenkutsu dachi with the left leg. Punch with your left hand. Simultaneously, the right hand pulls back into chamber.

The oi tsuki is simply the basic seiken choku tsuki plus a step or a lunge. Therefore, to perform the oi tsuki well, you need to have a good understanding of the fundamentals involved in the seiken choku tsuki which is executed from a natural stance.

Oi tsuki can be delivered at jodan, chudan or gedan levels.

Oi tsuki is a training punch that lays the foundation for a long-reaching punch used in free fighting. This is why sometimes the oi tsuki is also called the “chasing punch”.

Oi tsuki appears in many kata, therefore, it is an important drill that can help improve your kata performance significantly.

Tips on mastering the oi tsuki technique

Below are a few tips to help you practicing this technique:

  1. Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed
  2. Maintain contact with the ground with your feet during both the transition and execution of the tsuki
  3. Breathe naturally and remain relaxed throughout the entire process, except at the moment of kime
  4. Break this technique into two separate components: the tsuki and the transitional moves between stances. Practice these two techniques separately. First, practice the tsuki from a natural stance; second, practice moving forward in zenkutsu dachi only; lastly, practice stepping and punching together
  5. Ensure that your front foot lands at the same time as, or a fraction of a second before, the punch reaches the target (more on this below)
  6. During the transition, keep the punching shoulder and hip behind to load up the punch
  7. At the moment of kime, you should feel the feet pushing into the ground and the tension in the muscles for a split second
  8. After executing the punch, ensure that your shoulders are in line with each other, and maintain a straight back.

There are three different arguments with regard to what the correct timing of the step and the execution of the punch should be, namely:

  1. Step first and then punch
  2. Step and punch at the same time
  3. Punch and then step

I think all three methods can be correct but used in different contexts.

The “step first and then punch” approach emphasizes stepping and landing the front foot before executing the punch. The rationale behind this approach is that, by stepping and landing the front foot first, you will establish a solid base from which to launch your technique and your technique will be stronger as a result. Power comes from the ground up. When you have both of your feet firmly planted and pushing to the ground, you can potentially harvest a greater power from the ground and transfer it into your punch. This is akin to moving a cannon from one point to another and then firing it from a stable base.

The “step and punch simultaneously” approach, on the other hand, relies on the direct transfer of body weight to the target to generate power, bypassing the need to harvest power from the ground for the second time.

Similarly, the “punch, then step” approach also emphasizes the transfer of the entire body mass directly to the target with the punch. This is analogous to picking up a rock and hurling it at the target straight away instead of picking it up from point A to point B and then lifting it up again to throw it at the target.

The “step first and then punch” method is particularly suitable for kihon and kata practice. It provides a solid foundation and emphasizes harnessing power from the ground.

On the other hand, the “step and punch simultaneously” or “punch and then step” approaches are more appropriate for free-fighting situations. These approaches prioritize the direct transfer of body weight to the target, offering greater efficiency and speed, both of which are crucial in real combat.

Below are a few demonstrations of the oi tsuki.

Sensei Paul Walker explains the basics of the oi tsuki.
Sensei Kazuaki Kurihara demonstrates the oi tsuki.
Master Yoshiharu Osaka explains the oi tsuki.

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