Jodan Uke

what is jodan uke?

The quick answer: "High block" or "Head block".

It can be convenient, but if you're looking for real understanding or Karate theory on a higher level, it's actually a bad answer...

First, we need to understand the language:

Jodan = Jo + Dan.

Jo means above or up. Dan means grade or level.

You guessed it:

Jodan means upper level (from the collar bone to the tip of the head).

Uke means receive, so "Receive at upper level" is less easy than "high block".

Having said that...

Jodan Uke actually refers to ALL Uke Waza happening at Jodan level—not only the basic techniques that Shotokan stylists call "Age Uke" (rising "block").

Something can be said in favor of the approach:

  • Age describes the trajectory of the movement and classifies more as well.
  • Soto Uke for example —if executed Jodan— can also be called Jodan Uke. 

You can see why Age Uke can be a more clear approach. For completeness, you could say Jodan Age Uke to be more precise about the direction of the movement. 

Having said that in Wado we generally simply call this Jodan Uke. Most of the time anyway... you can't really go wrong. 

Anyway, if you execute Jodan Uke as you do in basic practise— there are a number of key points to take note of and mind as you practise:

The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Jodan Uke3
The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Jodan Uke2
The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Jodan Uke1

The main thing is to not expose the armpit during Jodan Uke. Do so by squeezing your elbow inside during the movement while avoiding unnecessary tension.

Let's see how this goes again step by step.

how to execute jodan uke step by step

Take Hikite position.


Bring your elbow inside properly. 


Pass Seichusen and bring your arm next to your head. 


Execute Jodan uke from your elbow and make sure that your arm and side of the body form a straight line.

key points of jodan uke

  1. Bring your elbow inside properly;
  2. Pass Seichusen and bring your arm next to your head;
  3. Execute Jodan uke from your elbow;
  4. Make sure that your arm and side of the body form a straight line. 

I reveal and demonstrate the above key points of Jodan uke in the video.

jodan uke applications

Ultimately, all techniques are applications of the fundamental principles. Jodan Uke included. Beginner level applications are straight forward - you can recognise the technique easily. 

The more advanced you get, the more you know how to use the fundamental principle. In the end it may not even look like Jodan Uke...

beginner level ippon kumite

The most standard use of Jodan Uke is demonstrated below using an Ippon Kumite. This is the way first taught to beginners. The second movement is one of the ways to continue and counter attack.

The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Application of Jodan Uke1
The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Application of Jodan Uke2

ADVANCED level ippon kumite for jodan uke

This application is the first movement of Kumite Gata 12. You may think it's not Jodan Uke, and if you consider Jodan Uke to be the form you learn as a white belt, you're right.

But. Jodan Uke is a basic movement which "contains the formula for advanced movement" as Kazumasa Yokoyama Kancho verbalised it. In fact — it's the EXACT same movement, but more forward and emphasis is logically place in striking the opponent.

Both take Migi Hanmi Chudan Gamae. It's the formal name of "right stance".

The Digi Dojo - Kumite Gata - 12 - 2 - Tsuki Uke

The opponent strikes with his front hand sliding in, so when you take emotion and hormones out of the equation it's simple. Slide slightly diagonally inside.

It allows you to strike staight away, instead of 1-2 aka block-punch. When you counterattack AS your opponent attacks himself he has extremely limited (if not absent) options to defend himself. This principle is called "Ko Bo Ittai".

practise 2 types of jodan uke in 1 ippon kumite

For the first movement, you can use either regular or Nagashi Jodan Uke. Then quickly switch to the 3rd type of Jodan Uke.

the mini series
Gems of jodan uke

1/3 use two stances to their benefit

Each stance has advantages and disadvantages. If you know these you can pick the stance that you use for practise deliberately.

2/3 how to isolate rotational movement

After focussing on the centre line and the trajectory of the arm, it's time to add body movement. Importance lies in picking the right method so you can strictly focus on rotational movement. At the same time it should complement Jodan Uke.

3/3 Combine What You Learned And Connect This To Your Movement

If you're looking for the most effecient way to practise you have to let all methods complement each other. Hence the movement chose in this method and the stance are not an accident.

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