This post shows you how to perform the seiken choku tsuki, a fundamental karate technique.

What is seiken choku tsuki?

Seiken (正拳) means “proper fist” or “fore fist”. Choku (直) means “straight” and tsuki (突き) means “thrust” or “punch”. So, seiken choku tsuki means a straight punch with a fist. Sometimes it is simply called choku tsuki. This is the most basic punch in karate. Although looking very simple, doing it well requires a good understanding of body mechanics and a lot of practice.

Making a proper fist for seiken choku tsuki

The first step in performing the seiken choku tsuki is making a proper fist.

To make a proper fist, first extend all four fingers and then bend them tightly into the palm. You can bend them in whatever order, little finger first or index finger first or all four fingers at the same time.

Next wrap the thumb over the second joints of the index and the middle fingers to tighten the fist.

It is important to keep the back of the fist and the back of the arm in a relatively straight line when striking (see image below). If you strike an object with a reasonable force when your arm is bent at the wrist, you will injure yourself.

The following videos illustrate the correct method for forming a proper fist when executing the seiken choku tsuki.

Saiko Shihan Y. Oyama explains and demonstrates how to make a strong fist.
Linden John Sensei explains how to make a correct fist.

How to perform the seiken choku tsuki?

To perform the seiken choku tsuki:

  • Stand in a natural stance, knees slightly bent, back straight, shoulders relaxed
  • Place one fist by your side with the palm facing up, fully extend the other arm in front of you with the palm facing down
  • Thrust forward the fist by your side. As you thrust forward, rotate the fist inward 180 degrees so that when it reaches the target, the palm will be facing down. Your fist should strike the target with only the knuckles of the forefinger and the middle finger
  • Simultaneously, as you thrust forward, the extending arm should pull back to your side. The fist of the extending arm should also rotate outward as it pulls and when it reaches the side, the palm should be facing up.

As mentioned above, at the moment of contact, it is important that the back of the thrusting arm is held in a straight line to avoid injury.

Although you don’t punch this way in a fight, in karate, this is how you practice this basic punching technique in order to master the form. Performing it well from a basic stationary position will increase your ability to apply it effectively in dynamic, real combat situations.

The seiken tsuki can be done at jodan (seiken jodan tsuki), chudan (seiken chudan tsuki) or gedan (seiken gedan tsuki) levels.

The following two demonstration videos can be useful in your practice.

Aragaki Misako Sensei demonstrates the seiken choku tsuki.
In this video, Sensei Bruno Bandelier explains in detail how to correctly form a fist, how to execute the seiken choku tsuki, and how to enhance the power of this technique.

Tips on mastering the seiken choku tsuki technique

The seiken choku tsuki is a fundamental karate technique. Mastering this technique can help you master many other karate techniques, for example, ura tsuki, age tsuki, mawashi tsuki, and gyaku tsuki as they share common fundamentals.

Here are some tips to assist you in mastering this technique:

  • Breathe naturally
  • Relax your body, the only time that you need to tense is at the moment of kime
  • Keep your elbows tucked in
  • Keep the back of your punching arm straight
  • Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground
  • Use your hips to launch the strike, not your arms
  • Exaggerate your hip movements at the beginning to understand their impact on the power of your technique. For example, when you are punching with the right hand, initially pull the left hip back slightly
  • Begin with slow, deliberate practice to nail the form first. Speed and power will naturally improve with time
  • Practice this technique on a makiwara or a punching bag. This is the best way to learn body mechanics and develop real power.

If you want to practice choku tsuki at home, check out this tsuki class by the legendary Tatsuya Naka Sensei.

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