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Choku zuki guideline

Hirokazu Kanazawa Choku Zuki

Seiken choku zuki, the most basic technique in every Karate Style. Although the first technique everyone learns when stepping for the first time inside a Dojo, I see this as one of the hardest technique to master.

In order to help beginners correct and improve themselves without the guidance of a teacher I had put together a list of common mistakes and examples on how to correct them. This article is something that will prove helpful to beginners so don’t expect pinpoint details or anything amazing if you are already advanced in the way of Karate Do. Also, please note that in order to keep the simplicity of this article I had only given one example for each point spotted out.

Hikite

One of the most common mistakes is when pulling the fist in hikite. If the fist is not pulled all the way back your punches will travel a shorter distance which in consequence will generate less power. Another mistake here is when the hand pulled in hikite is too low. I noticed some people tend to hold their hand on the hip bone when pulling back in hikite. With hikite being too low your punches will tend to have an ascendant trajectory more closely to age zuki than choku zuki.

Hikite should be position between the hip bone and ribs or slightly higher with the fist being pulled all the way back. If you stand sideways in front of a mirror with your left shoulder towards the mirror and the right hand pulled in hikite you must not be able to see your right fist (the hikite fist).

Note: both the punching and the hand retreating in hikite should have the same power.

How to correct this

  • Slowly punch chudan choku zuki with both hands.
  • Retreat both hands in hikite focusing on pulling you fists all the way back and keeping them in the right place
  • Practice ten times slow and then practice another ten pulling in hikite fast.
Choku zuki - Hikite exercise

Hikite exercise

Improper distribution of power

Another comon mistake is punching with the elbow out. The result will be lack of power and improper use of energy. Punching with the elbow outside will transfer the energy generated by the body into the elbow instead of knuckles. Keep in mind that choku zuki is excuted with the knuckles (seiken) and this is where you want to put the power. In order to maximize the technique and use all your body power try to create friction between elbow and ribs so that the back muscles and elbow will work together and transfer the energy forward, straight towards the target.

How to correct this

  • Start from tate shuto uke
  • Punch slowly half way pushing your elbows inside, almost like pushing then against each other
  • Hold it for a second and then continue the punch
  • After performing 20 counts slow do another 20, but this time execute the second part of the punch fast.
  • Now practice 10 more slowly without stopping in the middle. By now you should be more aware of how to direct the energy straight forward and not into the elbow
  • Last, practice 10 more counts with kime.
Choku zuki - correct alligment of segemnts.

Elbow pressure

Fist rotation

This is something people tend to neglect a lot. There is a common tendency to rotate the fist on horizontal plan to early. I see a lot of people rotating the fist just after the punch has been lunched from choku zuki. This is a common mistake that usually goes hand in hand with the correct use of segments and wrong use of elbow which we discussed above. Instead of rotating the fist as soon as you lunched it focus on twisting the punch in the last second, just before the contact when the punching arm is 90% stretched. Appling this rotation the right way will add more snap to your punches and will generate a greater impact force.

Note: not applying this rotation at all to your punches or not twisting all the way you will end up punching a long and wrong ura zuki or a tate zuki which are different from choku zuki.

How to correct this

  • Stretch your 90% of the punch without fully extend or rotate de punches (both the punching one and the one retreating in hikite)
  • Rotate both fist at the same time.
  • Do this 20 times slowly and then do another 20 putting more power when twisting the fist.
  • Now try to do the same way slowly without breaking down in two motion. Do it in one motion and focus on twisting the fist in the last moment. Try to put a little tension when rotating the fist.
  • Practice another 10-20 reps at full speed and power.
Choku zuki - fist rotation

Fist rotation

Posture

This is one of the most important aspects of every technique. Make sure the posture is correct before you go on practicing any technique. This is one aspect that people tend to neglect a lot, usually the instructors.

I recommend practicing choku zuki from heiko dachi but other stances can be used. Kiba dachi or shiko dachi are other great stance for practicing choku zuki if you wanna work the lower body while you practice you punches or blocks. Another benefit of kiba dachi/shiko dachi is that due to their characteristics this stances locks the joints and isolates the techniques cutting off the extra movement.

When practicing choku zuki make sure you keep your spine straight and shoulder relaxed. Extra tensioning the shoulder will make you slow and get you tired quickly.

Another thing that should be avoid when practicing from heiko/kiba/shiko dachi is pushing the belly forward hyper extending the lower back. Instead try rotating your hips upwards, this should help you maintain the proper posture without creating that concave shape with your lower back “(“.

If you manage to proper use and align the pelvis, bone spine and neck you will have a solid base for every technique in Karate.

How to correct this

I think the best option for correcting this is to keep it in mind every time you practice. Practicing in front of a mirror will also help a lot as will help you notice when you distort the posture.

Aiming

The most common two levels for practicing choku zuki are chudan and jodan. However, regardless of the level, your punches should always be placed in the center of your body. As a beginner you will generally tend to punch on the same line with the shoulder instead of aiming for the middle of the body (for example the chin or the solar plexus).

How to correct this

  • Punch choku zuki chudan with both hands held together
  • Pull you right hand in hikite while keeping the left hand in choku zuki
  • Punch with the right hand and just like before keep the left hand in choku zuki. After this both your hand should be stretched in choku zuki
  • Repeat steeps 1-3 with the other hand.
  • Practice like this 20-30 times and then practice another 20-30 counts with kime.

By keeping the other hand in choku zuki while retreating and punching back will help you punch in the central axe. This is a great exercise for beginners being a drill a always practice with beginner classes.

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Comments (3)

  • Ode bate 3 years ago Reply

    Wow, wonderful blog!

    George Paun 3 years ago Reply

    Thanks!

  • Rosalinda 3 years ago Reply

    Awesome instructions. Also very informative for instructors.

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