PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: "Karate blocks" are not blocks! This common misunderstanding has been clarified by wiser Karateka than myself so in this thread I will begin by citing them with source links. I hope that at least some Sherdoggers will find this helpful or interesting. Thank you for your attention. Let's start with the term "UKE" itself. One of the most commonly mistranslated and misunderstood words in the karate lexicon is “uke.” Just about anyone who has trained in traditional karate for more than a few weeks should recognize that word. Despite the familiarity of the word, most karateka will erroneously say that “uke” means “block.” This is something that has been deeply ingrained in karate culture – so much so, that even people who know what the word actually means will still say “block” when speaking about it in English. The word “uke” is actually a shortened form of the word “ukeru,” which means “to receive.” This is a much more nuanced term when you apply it to a fighting technique, because you can receive an attack in many more ways than simply blocking it. That nuance is likely why the literal translation of “uke” never gained popularity. A lot of people (particularly Western people) prefer terminology that is specific and precise, rather than vague and nebulous. SOURCE: http://www.karateobsession.com/2015/03/terminology-confusion.html “Traditional Karate blocks don’t work against real attacks.” That’s something I often hear. (Especially from people who don’t practice Karate.) They claim our Karate blocks require too much strength, power, speed, intuition and effort to successfully work against an opponent attacking full force. I agree. You see, the Japanese word “uke” is a conjugation of “ukeru”, which literally means “TO RECEIVE”. Your blocks are not really “blocks”. They never were. They are ways of “receiving” your opponent’s attack. Even Funakoshi Gichin (1868-1957), the founder of Shotokan Karate – a style known for being very hard, direct and linear – used “blocks” in a totally different manner in his books compared to today’s Karate practitioners. Yet, in modern Karate, we interpret “uke” as “to block an incoming force”. Totally different concept. So, make this crucial shift in your mindset: To “block” is to receive. That’s the original meaning of “uke”. SOURCE: http://www.karatebyjesse.com/karate-block-real-meaning/ Uke-waza (receiving techniques) are not solely defensive – they are both defensive and offensive at the same time. (...) If you block your attacker’s initial attack and simultaneously land a significant strike of your own (particularly to the head, as Motobu often suggested), you stand a very good chance of stopping the attacker. The reason for this is two-fold. First of all, you are interrupting a committed attack, which the attacker expects to be overwhelming, so you have a psychological effect. Second, your attacker will likely be moving forward, meaning that they will be moving into your strike. As combat sports pundit, Jack Slack, often says, “creating collisions” like this is the best way to knock someone out. By interrupting your opponent’s attack, and creating a powerful collision, you can end the fight entirely by knocking them out, or daze them enough to cause them to stop their continuous attack and have to reset. SOURCE: http://www.karateobsession.com/2016/02/motobu-choki-and-stopping-attacks-with-blocks.html Finally, my favorite example - Gedan Barai or "low block". (not quoting anyone here, just my personal thoughts) The word "Gedan" means "low-level" but also "downward", while "Barai" means "sweep" and by no means "block". Note that everyone translates the "barai" in Ashi Barai correctly as "foot sweep", yet in Gedan Barai it suddenly turns into "low block" and nobody bats an eye! How we ended up with both "uke" ("receive") and "barai" ("sweep") translated as "block" is beyond me... Now note how a "full" Gedan Barai always starts at the shoulder. Why? Some people say that this is "windup" to make the block even more powerful and devastating... Sorry for being blunt but this is plain wrong. In a fight where strikes are thrown fast and continuously you don't have time to waste on "windup"! Anyone who has ever done free sparring knows this. Gedan Barai is one of the first techniques any Karateka learns, whether it's in Taikyoku Shodan or in Heian Shodan. And here's the proper bunkai (application/analysis) for the opening movements of both kata: Thus, Gedan Barai (in Taikyoku and Heian Shodan) is: Limb control while you're moving / evading A neck crank throw (there's that "windup" movement!) Here's another take on Gedan Barai as limb clearance and a takedown: And that's not the only thing you can do with Gedan Barai. Here's a self-defense class showing a completely different application (with the "windup" again): The takeaway. Okinawan Karate has always been an art very much focused on close-quarter limb control (http://www.karateobsession.com/2015/03/karate-limb-control.html). It is not surprising then, that a group of its fundamental techniques called "receiving" and "sweeping" (uke / barai) transitions directly to limb control and takedowns. The original terms themselves convey the proper meanings so let's not ignore them for the sake of simplicity. "Blocks" are not really blocks. PS. to my Karate bros: Any other examples of "blocks" used for control instead of impact? Post your favorite.