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Torakan Karate-Do

Karate Essence ‘Reality Check’ Teisho Uchi/Heel Palm Strike


Karate Essence ‘Reality Check’


Teisho Uchi/Heel Palm Strike

This month’s ‘Reality Check’ technique is the Palm Heel Strike and, as usual, each art or style has a slightly different take on this technique. One thing they all agree on is that it’s well worth mastering as a self-defence weapon.


Table of Contents

  •          Fighting or Self-Defence

  •          Tae Kwon Do, Ba Tang Son Chuck Chi Gi/Heel Palm

  •          Tang So Do, Jang Kwon Kong Kyuck/Palm Heel Strike

  •          Kyokushin, Shotei/Palm Heel Strike

  •          Shotokan Teisho Uchi/Heel Palm Strike

  •          Shito Ryu, Shotei/Heel Palm Strike

  •          Wing Chun Kung Fu Palm Heel Strike

  •          Kung Fu, Chuan Zhang/Palm Heel Strike

  •          Tiger Kung Fu, Fu Jow Pai/Tiger Claw Strike

  •         Torakan Eye View

  •          Conclusion

Fighting or Self-Defence

Whether you call it Teisho Uchi, Shotei, Jang Kwon Kong Kyuck, Tiger Claw Strike or simply Heel Palm Strike, it is practiced throughout the martial arts world in every art and every style.  Some pay it more attention than others but this open hand striking technique with the heel of the hand, at least initially, is evident in every martial art.


This Technique, although not practiced for and rarely seen in sporting competition (martial sport combat), is however practiced extensively, both for Kata (Forms) and for Self-defence.  And, as with any part of the personal arsenal that you affix to your Mushin, you need to extensively practice three main components ‘explosive speed’, ‘accuracy’, and ‘Kime

The following link will take you to an excellent preparation technique tutorial for a Combative Palm heel strike.

Still on the subject of preparation and particularly when teaching a student with no prior knowledge of the importance of correct hand positioning the following link, I believe, is an excellent tutorial regarding the safe positioning of the hand in the performance the Self-Defence Palm Heel Strike.


Tae Kwon Do, Ba Tang Son Chuck Chi Gi/Heel Palm

This is a strike that Tae Kwon Do obviously do not practice in regard to their competition fighting; however, they do practice the Palm Heel Strike for self-defence and, not unlike the various Karate styles with their Kata, Tae Kwon Do have several ‘Ba Tang Son Chuck Chi Gi’/Heel Palm Strikes throughout their Patterns.


The following link is to a basic Tae Kwon Do Heel Palm Strike tutorial.


Tang So Do, Jang Kwon Kong Kyuck/Palm Heel Strike

Just as there are various styles of Japanese martial arts, there are various styles of Korean martial arts.  Tang So Do, like Tae Kwon Do, is a Korean martial art; however, a little different, they also utilise grappling techniques similar to jiu-jitsu.  Like Tae Kwon Do, they compete in various types of point sparring and other contact types of competition, where the Heel Palm Strike is rarely if ever in evidence.  So, similarly, their Palm Heel strike is practiced in their Patterns, and also for self-defence.


The following link is to a basic Tang So Do, Jang Kwon Kong Kyuck/Palm Heel Strike.


Kyokushin, Shotei/Palm Heel Strike

Kyokushin, in many respects, is about as different from the first two styles of martial arts featured here as you can get; although Masutatsu Oyama, the founder of this very Japanese art, was Korean.

Kyokushin Karate is by its very nature a powerful style of stand up, full contact martial art.  However, its Shotei/Palm Heel Strike is not generally used in their style of contact fighting and only practiced in their Kata and in their self-defence training, just like the first two styles mentioned in connection with the ‘Palm Heel Strike’.

The following link is to a basic Kyokushin Shotei/Palm Heel Strike tutorial.


Shotokan, Teisho Uchi/Heel Palm Strike

As with the three previous martial arts, Shotokan Karate does not use the Heel Palm Strike in the style of competition fighting that they traditionally compete in.  That style of competition is a point sparring type of fighting.  And much like the previous disciplines, Shotokan practitioners perform Teisho Uchi extensively, in its various applications, throughout their comprehensive list of Kata, and in their self-defence training.

The following link will take you to a brief introductory self-defence application tutorial for the Shotokan Teisho Uchi/Heel Palm Strike.


Shito Ryu, Shotei/Heel Palm Strike

Shito Ryu takes part in the same type of competition, point sparring as Shotokan, and so it follows that they also do not use Shotei/Heel Palm, in their fighting style.  However, in their Kata, and they have around twice as many Kata as most traditional Karate styles, they use Shotei more than just about any other style of Karate.  They also of course practice the Heel Palm for their self-defence training; and the following link will take you to a short Shito Ryu Teisho Uchi/Heel Palm Strike tutorial. 

I would also like to include another, different, very short Shito Ryu Teisho Uchi/Palm Heel Strike.


Wing Chun, Ju Cheung/Palm Heel Strike

There won’t be many people out there who are not aware that Bruce Lee originally studied Wing Chun Kung Fu.  According to the writings of Ip Man; the ‘Wing Chun’ system originated near the end of the 17th century. 

The Abbess Ng Mui was one of a handful of survivors who escaped after the Manchu Government troops’ destruction of the Shaolin temple. 

After the Abbess Ng Mui sought refuge in the White Crane Temple in the Tai Leung (Daliang), she became friends with Yim Yee and his daughter, Yim Wing Chun.  Wing Chun became Ng Mui’s devoted disciple and, through Wing Chun, Ng Mui’s legacy was passed on.

Wing Chun has no superfluous movements and the Palm Heel strike follows the same linier, straight through, dominating the centre line type of action.  The following link takes you to an excellent Wing Chun Kung Fu, Ju Cheung/ Palm Heel Strike tutorial.


Kung Fu, Chuan Zhang/Palm Heel Strike

Known in the Philippines as the “Wushu Queen”, Janice Hung is an International Wushu Champion. A 10-time Gold Medallist in Wushu, Janice represented the Philippines in various prestigious international tournaments including the SEA Games, Asian Games and World Championships.

Following her retirement from competition, Janice has forged a successful career as a model, singer and actress; and here she gives a short tutorial on the Kung Fu, Chuan Zhang/Palm Heel Strike.



Tiger Kung Fu, Fu Jow Pai/Tiger Claw Strike

In the ‘Fu Jow Pai’ style or system (Tiger Style Kung Fu) the Tiger Claw Strike is frequently used; utilising the Palm Heel Strike for both blocks and strikes.  The technique is performed by striking the opponent with the heel of the palm; and as you strike, your fingers and thumb are bent so that your hand forms a claw.  In this way, for instance, you can hit your antagonist anywhere along the jaw line with the Palm Heel, and then drive your fingers into their eyes.

‘Fu Jow Pai’ has its origins in the Hoy Hong Temple and Ng Ying Kung Fu, from the Tiger techniques of the ‘Five Animal Kung Fu’. The system was modelled from the fighting strategy of an attacking tiger.  The ripping, tearing, clawing and grasping applications are unique to ‘Fu Jow Pai’.

The following link will take you to an excellent introductory tutorial on both the style and the Tiger Kung Fu, Fu Jow Pai/Tiger Claw Strike.


Krav Maga Self-Defence Heel of the Hand Strike

‘Krav Maga’ is an Israeli martial art, developed for the Israel Defence Forces, derived from a combination of techniques used in Aikido, Boxing, Judo, Karate and Wrestling, and its focus is on real-world situations.

Krav Maga was originally developed by Hungarian-born Israeli martial artist, Imi Lichtenfeld.  Having grown up in Bratislava during a time of anti-Semitic unrest; Lichtenfeld used his training as a boxer and wrestler and became an experienced ‘street fighter’ defending Jewish neighbourhoods against attackers in the mid-to-late 1930s.  After immigrating to Palestine in the late 1940s, he taught ‘close quarter combat’ to Jewish paramilitary groups which, in 1948, would form the ‘Israeli Defence Forces’.  


The following link is to a very brief tutorial on the Krav Maga Self-Defence Heel of the Hand Strike.


Torakan Eye View

The following paragraph is in answer to one or two questions that have been put to me recently. 

These days, most of my personal training is conducted via Kata type activity, and occupied with the perfection of ‘practical’ techniques.  At my age, and with chronic osteoarthritis, impact type training is not an activity which is part of my regime.  Having said that… I don’t know too many 74 year olds who are still doing the kind of regular workouts that I do.  In my teaching, however, I do encourage the use of impact training to remain completely familiar with the kind of ‘impact force’ you are able to generate and, of course, as a supplementary conditioning part of your training.

Teisho Uchi is a technique that occurs frequently, in various guises, in Kata; and so, if you practice Kata you practice Teisho.

The Heel Palm Strike is a very practical self-defence technique that can be used in the place of almost any closed fist punch.  Also, following an altercation should you find that you have to ‘defend yourself’ in a court of law, defending your use of an open hand technique would be a much safer bet than, say, defending the use of a closed fist.  Furthermore, in regard to personal injury from delivering a Heel Palm Strike as opposed to a punch, you are less likely to inadvertently damage yourself.

Anyway, from more than 60 years of training, probably hundreds of thousands of repetitions, and more than 30 years of practical application in the high-risk security industry, I would strongly advise that you practice Teisho Uchi in your self-defence training.  

The following links are just some of the uses of the Heel Palm Strike from the Torakan point of view:


In conclusion, I believe there are as many ways to use a ‘Heel Palm Strike’ as there are ways to use a ‘Clenched Fist Punch’ and, as always, in my opinion it comes down to preference.  

My personal choice, in most adverse situations, has usually been the fist.  Briefly, the reason for that is partly because of the amount of training and conditioning I have always done with my fists; and most of the adverse situations have been work related, where I was outnumbered and needed to do maximum damage – the kind of damage well-conditioned knuckles do – in the shortest amount of time.

However, if you have not spent the time conditioning bare, unstrapped fists and particularly for the more finely boned hands of a woman or anyone in fact who uses their hands for delicate or artistic work, I believe the ‘go-to' technique of the ‘Heel Palm Strike’ to be a smarter choice.


Thank You to the Readers

As always, thank you for following the Karate Essence 'Reality Check'.

Thank you also for the terrific response to the launch of my latest book, ‘A Budōka Odyssey’

The reviews are just beginning to trickle in.  I will show them here in my ‘Thank You to the Readers’


Top review from Australia

Reviewed in Australia on 28 May 2024

Written by a man who has lived the life of a modern warrior. His ability to recognise the lessons and gifts in any situation and the having the humility to seek out those who can help you better yourself are important traits we should all endeavour to achieve not just in our own martial art’s odyssey but in life.


Top review from the United States

Minimal shopper

5.0 out of 5 stars

‘A Fine Man Shares a Life of Budō’

Reviewed in the United States on May 18, 2024

Verified Purchase

At over 500 pages there is a lot of content in this autobiographical journey.  A quick overview is as follows:

Author Shihan TD McKinnon has had ALOT of fights in his life; starting under the age of 6! He tells the narrative of his life through all those fights and what he learned about himself and life along the way. I appreciate that he doesn’t make self-defense fighting seem glamorous and one sided. He talks about injuries, dangers, and making alternate choices to physical violence as a reality.

This book emphasizes lessons like ‘never quit’, ‘move on to the next venture’, ‘stay in the moment and learn what you can along the way’. I recommend it for young and old, karate people and non-karate folks. He carries the journey into today with a very relevant subject - training and aging. Take it on your next plane trip, or beach vacation. And if you’re a karate instructor, you can work it into your teaching. This book does not disappoint!





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