Ura tsuki (裏突き) is a powerful close combat technique. This post shows you how to execute the ura tsuki and a few valuable tips to train and improve your ura tsuki technique.

Table of Contents

What Is Ura Tsuki?

Ura (裏) means “back” or “reverse”. Tsuki (突き) means “thrust” or “punch”. In karate, ‘ura tsuki‘ is known as the “inverted punch” or “back fist punch” and refers to a punch from a short distance with an inverted fist.

Ura tsuki is sometimes called a half punch or an incomplete punch because it starts from the side like other tsuki techniques and follows the same trajectory but stops half way through. In ura tsuki, the punching fist does not rotate 180 degrees but remains facing upwards just like at the beginning of the strike.

Ura tsuki can aim at the chudan or gedan area and targets the bladder, dantien, ribs or solar plexus, depending on the height of the opponent. Some argues that ura tsuki can reach the opponent’s chin or jaw but in this case it becomes the age tsuki (rising punch).

Ura tsuki is typically employed as a close-range technique and can be used effectively in self-defense situations. It allows the practitioner to target vulnerable vital areas on the opponent’s mid and lower areas and can be particularly useful for counterattacks or when the opponent is at a close range.

How to Perform the Ura Tsuki?

Performing ura tsuki in karate with good power requires proper body mechanics. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to execute it:

  1. Stance: When you first learn the ura tsuki, you can stand in a natural ready stance but later on it is good idea to adopt a natural fighting stance
  2. Guard Position: Keep the non-punching hand near your face and the punching hand closer to your body. Although you can have both of your hands by your sides in the chamber position when you first learn the ura tsuki, it is a good idea to form the habit of having your hands up in a guard position
  3. Initiate the Punch with Your Hip: Use your hip to initiate the ura tsuki by rotating it in the direction of the punch. This is very important because given the short distance (meaning less time to build momentum and speed) that your hand has to travel in the ura tsuki, you must rely mainly on the body mass engagement to generate the power
  4. Punching Arm: Your punching arm should follow a short straight line. As a general rule, at the completion of the ura tsuki, the elbow would have only passed the ribs. The punching fist does not rotate and should remain facing upwards when it reaches the target
  5. Target and Contact: Aim for your opponent’s abdomen, ribs, or solar plexus and make contact with the front two knuckles while maintaining proper alignment of your wrist and arm
  6. Return to Guard: After executing the punch, quickly return your hands to the guard position and reset your stance. Always maintain balance and readiness to defend against counterattacks or prepare for follow-up techniques.

Tips on Improving Ura Tsuki Technique

Here are some tips to help you improve your ura tsuki technique:

  1. Proper Stance: Ensure you have a well-rooted stance that supports stability, mobility and power generation. As a general rule, choose a ready fighting stance that you would use in actual combat situations to practice ura tsuki
  2. Guard Position: Keep your hands up and close to your face in a protective guard position. Your non-punching hand should be near your face, while your punching hand should be held close to your body
  3. Hip Rotation: Hip rotation is important as it’s the key to generating power and executing effective attacks
  4. Elbow Position: Keep your elbow tucked in, which contributes to proper alignment and efficient use of power
  5. Knuckle Alignment: Focus on striking with the front two knuckles, keeping your wrist and arm aligned to prevent injury
  6. Transfer Power Through: Instead of pulling back after making contact with your target, maintain control and execute a smooth follow-through motion
  7. Master the Form: Start by practicing ura tsuki slowly to focus on maintaining the correct form. Once you’ve perfected your form, work on enhancing the speed and power of your punch
  8. Use Training Tools: Incorporate training tools like the makiwara or focus mitts and pads to develop proper body mechanics and increase the power of your ura tsuki. Partner drills using focus mitts or pads can improve accuracy and timing, which is crucial for developing fluency in real combat scenarios
  9. Sparring: Include ura tsuki in sparring sessions with training partners to develop the ability to apply it effectively in dynamic, unpredictable situations.

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Ura tsuki


Fundamental Techniques (v. 1) : Higaonna, Morio