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Double open hand circular block and palm heel strike (mawashi uke / tora guchi)

Tora Guchi is a trapping technique that combines a double handed open-hand circular block (Mawashi Uke) with a double-handed (palm heel or fist) strike. The double handed Mawashi Uke is a blocking technique against strikes to both the upper and middle areas of the body and can be used to block successive punches and punch-and-kick attacks.

The double strike at the end of this technique can be performed with fists or palm heels, attacking multiple targets (eg. solar plexus and groin) simultaneously.

How to perform a tora guchi (double open handed block)

Start with your right hand under your left elbow. With your left arm, perform a circular open-handed block in front of your face. At the same time, begin a large arc in front of your body with your right hand, similar to the Hiki Uke technique.

The right arm completes the arc with the palm facing upwards (fingers pointing to the ground) near your right hip. Your left arm completes a small circular hooking motion and finishes with your hand loaded under your shoulder.

Both arms perform motions that can be described as three distinct stages. Let’s start with the right arm. The right arm performs a motion similar to Hiki Uke or even a Shuto Uke (knife-hand block), with outside-tension on the small finger side of the hand. The completion of the circular motion is a hooking action (akin Ura Uke), where the tension is on the back of the hand as it is pulling back. The strikes that follows has its tension on the palm heel, in the case of a palm heel strike.

The left arm has a very similar sequence. The initial circular blocking motion is via knife hand (Shuto Uke, palm facing the face) with the tension also on the small-finger side of the hand. As this block continues downwards towards the center of the body, it changes to a hooking motion with the back of the hand (Ura Uke) pulling to the left side of the body. This movement continues to the loading position under the shoulder, with the palm facing forwards, fingers pointing upwards. The strikes the follows has its tension on the palm heel, in the case of a palm heel strike.

The video clip shows Sensei Terry Lyon (5th Dan) performing Tora Guchi.

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Tora guchi: points to remember

  • Both hands move simultaneously.
  • Be aware of which part of the hand is going to be in contact with the attackers and place tension in that area.
  • Inhale on the block and exhale on the strike.
  • Keep the thumbs tucked in at all times and make sure to lead your strike with the palm heel forward and the fingers back.
  • It is beneficial to practice this technique in front of a mirror so you can see whether you move your arms correctly.

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