Karate Essence - ‘Reality Check’:
Uchi Mawashi Geri
Uchi mawashi geri (inside to outside roundhouse kick) is this month’s ‘Reality Check’, subject technique, for Karate Essence.
These days, I envisage that most martial arts students will have seen almost every kick imaginable on the movies before they ever began their martial arts training. That was not the case when I began my formal martial arts training.
Table of Contents
· My introduction to martial arts kicks.
· Not in the Shotokan repertoire.
· Taking the lead from my original Sensei.
· A very practical kick.
· A basic kick in different systems.
· The evolution of the Torakan Uchi mawashi geri.
Introduction to Martial Arts Kicks
The only kicks that I had witnessed were real life kicks to the groin; and the only martial art type kicks that I had seen, prior to beginning my Karate training in 1972, were in the movie ‘Billy Jack’. I have featured this scene in a previous ‘Karate Essence’ article, ‘Martial Arts and or Martial Artists in the Movies’ (link), but it is very pertinent for this article as it features an excellent Uchi mawashi geri (link) at the very beginning of the fight scene. It made a very big impression on me.
Not in the Shotokan Repertoire
Uchi mawashi geri is a technique that is not generally practiced in most Shotokan schools or Shotokan based styles; it’s just not in the basic repertoire of kicks unless your particular strain of Shotokan uses Uchi mawashi geri in some of the Kata. For instance, the Japan Karate Association (JKA) uses a simple knee lift to perform a fumikomi (stomping kick) while performing Tekki Shodan; whereas, I teach the technique the way I have always performed it: as an uchi mawashi geri preceding the fumikomi.
Taking the Lead from my Original Sensei
Copying Danny Bryceland Sensei, Enoeda Sensei and Kanazawa Sensei, I have always thrown the foot high and, as I progressed along my martial path, I developed the technique to impact the way that I imagined that those outstanding karateka that I first learned from meant the technique to be performed. It is performed at chudan level and, whether as a strike or a striking block, it is performed to do damage, prior to the fumikomi.
Uchi Mawashi Geri is a Very Practical Kick
I have also trained in and with other styles of martial art besides Shotokan, and there are some styles that train Uchi mawashi geri as one of their basic kicks. Personally, I have found it to be a very practical kick. For instance, when I worked in ‘close protection’ and ‘crowd control’, where adverse situations were oftentimes at very close quarters, I found it to be an extremely functional kick.
A Basic Kick in Different Systems
Unsurprisingly, different styles perform it in different ways; sometimes slightly different and sometimes radically different. For instance:
Kyokushin (link) Kyokushin perform it in a straight leg manner, using the hips to rotate the leg in a wide circular motion. Kyokushin practice a full contact style of Kumite, and this method of delivering the Uchi mawashi geri more suits their overall fighting style.
Shotokan (link) As I stated earlier, Shotokan doesn’t include this kick in their basic kicking arsenal, but when they do practice it to utilise it in their style of controlled contact Kumite it is practiced and performed totally differently.
Tae Kwon Do (link) Tae-Kwon-Do has a different take again on Uchi mawashi geri, or the ‘Bakkat Chagi’ (‘inside to outside crescent kick’).
Kung Fu (link) Kung Fu has yet another take on their version of that ‘inside to outside crescent kick’.
The Evolution of the Torakan Uchi Mawashi Geri
I learned and practiced Uchi mawashi geri outside of the Shotokan system and, because of this, my Uchi mawashi geri is a little different from any of these models. I first saw the kick performed by a Hapkido practitioner, in ‘Billy Jack’; I was then tutored in this kick by a Chӗ-Cha-Tai (a Chinese art) practitioner. I then went on to perfect ‘the snapping instep crescent kick’ of Chӗ-Cha-Tai in real life scenarios (while working in high risk security situations), making it my very own version of a Budō Uchi mawashi geri. I’ve practiced various versions of this kick, from many different arts and styles but I prefer my version of the kick for a number of reasons. I get speed, accuracy and deception by the chambering action, similar to the Shotokan practitioner; and then, by driving through the target, I manage to bring something like the power of the Kyokushin kick to the delivery.
The following link will demonstrate my explanation of the chambering action to initially launch the kick, giving it a platform to generate the speed and accuracy; and then the follow through to use the speed to load up the technique, demonstrating the deceptiveness of that chambering action and the kick’s short range for practical use in a self-defence situation. Torakan (link 1), Torakan (link 2)
In conclusion, much like ‘Uraken uchi’, ‘Uchi mawashi geri’ is not a powerhouse technique, per se; however, it can definitely have a ‘shocking impact’ and, in fact, can oftentimes have a devastating effect. To summarise, my personal opinion on Uchi mawashi geri is 9 out of 10 for practicality.