|Here we see an alternate hiki-te by Miyagi and Miyazato|
I know it has been sometime since I last posted an article on this blog, I apologies for that but I have been rather busy training, traveling and retiring from my career.
Today I want to talk about Hiki-te, which is commonly referred to as the withdrawing hand or chambering hand in karate. I think that it should be more correctly translated to mean pulling or drawing hand; Hikeru means to draw toward you. Te means hand. So for an example when you punch with your right hand, you typically pull your left hand back to the side of your body.
In your first karate classes your sensei probably told you where to place your chambered hand and that when you chamber it that you should do it hard with power, to make your punch or block stronger. You may have even noticed at a tournament that other styles may chamber their hand differently than you do. Why is that?
Historically we have been told that Shuri-te chambers at the hip, Naha-te chambers at the breast and Tomari-te chambered at the short rib. While these are generalized methods, they are not exactly true because Shuri and Tomari-te Master Choki Motobu chambered his hand at the breast, so that just blows the whole historical theory out of the water doesn’t it. I think what it really boils down to is personal preference at least in the terms of how the founders used hiki-te, nowadays it probably has a historical condensation based on the founders original preference.
In this modern age when everyone is an advocate of MMA or UFC type fighting, why should a traditional exponent of the martial arts continue to use Hiki-te, I know someone somewhere is going to say, oh it leaves your head open to an attack, while on the surface it would appear that way wouldn’t it.
|Here we can see Funakoshi Sensei using different applications to Hiki-Te|
What was it that Newton said “For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action”. The majority of movements in traditional karate are designed to be multi-functional. The adaptation of Hiki-te in old style Okinawan or Ryukyuan Karate or Tode, was used for Tuite or Toide applications, to pull something back to you after your strike or block.
The problem is that most people do not learn application to the kata and if they do the majority learns a basic interpretation of it. The grappling aspect of karate has been largely ignored by modern exponents. If you look at old style karate you will notice that there are several places where the hiki-te is not always brought back to the side of the body but the rear hand is pulled back to the solar plexus area, this can be seen in both Goju-ryu and Motobu-ryu. Regardless of where you chamber your hand, one should be able to execute a technique regardless of it's point of origin.
|Here we see another application of the chamber by Konishi and Motobu|
It is my opinion that a the returning hand or pulling hand is done so with the intention of bringing something back in it, pulling and arm or grabbing a piece of clothing to pull your opponent into your strike or into a grappling application. Now go to the dojo and have some fun trying to work it out!