Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hikite - Pulling hand

Hikite – pulling hand

Hikite is one of the most important yet neglected aspects of the technique.

Most of us concentrate on the result, which is the technique itself, this is what we see and we are end gaining and want results.

Therefore, most people focus on technique side and ignore the hikite side.

When Sensei Nishiyama was testing people we used to joke that for sure one of his comments will be weak hikite".

If you ever tested for 3rd dan by sensei nishiyama and he asked you to correct another student, you would have a sure right answer if you said "weak hikite", 99% of the time.

Hikite is more important than technique hand since the technique hand does not increase speed and range of the body action and is only a result, an expression.

It is the hikite that directly increase the speed and range of motion of the body action and in turn increases energy to technique arm.

The hikite also help increase the contraction of the torso at kime, the technique arm also does so to a lesser degree. Just try for yourself and make body contraction without hikite and see how difficult it is. Therefore, at kime hikite twist and glued to the body.
Notice how the hikite can help you engage the back muscles, if you are in a good posture.
Strong hikite is making a strong base side, where energy is being delivered from.

Attention to the hikite also will center mentally and physically make us more centered, while attention to technique will make us uncentered.

Sensei used to repeatedly scold us, “more strong hikite, hikite, hikite is more important than technique” and usually it followed with the shinai hitting my hand, even if my hand was taped and was obviously injured, sensei would still hit my hand, and believe I can feel the pain till today, so I don’t forget about hikite.

Aiko San told me constantly “both sides of the body have to b used through the center”.

Hikite will balance both side of the body and of course will make for cyclical action, when one technique ends the hikite side helps loading the body for next action.

Aiko San used to stress how the hikite elbow should travel in shortest line, if hikite make circle and travel through a long course, the body action and technique will be slow.
Aiko San also used to stress that the elbow of the hikite side should heavy as if a dumbbell is attached to it to help firm base side.
Generally, try to think of the hikite as the active arm, and the technique side as the passive, receiver.

Be aware of the placement of the hikite, when you place the arm to your side, where the elbow is, that is where your hikite fist should be, for reasons of connecting the body to elbow which is important in any sport, think of tennis, shut put.

Hikite is a learning tool, helping us to learn to connect body to elbow and use both sides of the body through the center, but in reality, and in advanced level, karate technique starts from anywhere, no hikite is needed.

Does it seem that I am contradicting myself? Well when you digest the principles of hikite, you can forget the form yet you will never violate its principles.

Try to play with those points and let me know how it works for you, I hope it will be useful for you.


  1. Hey Avi -
    Thank you for this. I am always working on this and can't seem to get it right.
    Sometimes - more often actually - I think of the hikite as "the end." Meaning when my technique is finished my hikite finishes strongly at the same time. But now I am questioning this thinking. Thinking if hikite as the active arm is very helpful!

  2. Also, in many bunkai I've seen of Shotokan and other styles' kata, the hikite is very often a controlling/pulling technique. It is rarely an "empty hand".