NAGASHI UKE — Wado’s Characteristic ‘Block’ Explained

what is nagashi uke?

A quick breakdown of the Kanji of Nagashi Uke will till you a lot straight way: 

  • 流 Nagashi (Nagasu) = current, flow
  • 受 Uke = Receive

Nagashi Uke is a flowing way to receive aka 'block' an attack.

Generally in Karate though...

...Nagashi translates into parry when it's about 'blocking' movement.

So it's not blocking in 90 degree angle, and definately not head-on.  

For convenience, you can say Nagashi Uke is 'blocking' in a 45 degree angle. Between you and me though — that HARDLY scratches the surface of "Nagashi Uke".

Nagashi Uke & Urazuki

Instead of thinking in agles, mind this:

  • Brushing instead of bashing.
  • Circular and rotational instead of straight (so it's not a straight move coming from a 45 angle).
  • Guiding hand movement that matches absorbing, avoiding and rotational body movement — think Aikido-like. Instead of arm movement.

But be careful...

When doing any kind of Nagashi Uke, don't 'Nagashi' too much. 

Don't follow the opponents attack more than necessary, because you'll risk a second attack that has a high successrate.

And even if your opponent doesn't follow up right away...

...YOU are unable to follow up fast either.

So how does Nagashi Uke exactly work? 

You'll find out soon throught these 2 videos ⬇️

Everything you need to know about nagashi uke

ishikawa nagashi uke kumite examples

NEXT UP: how to turn a basic 'block' into nagashi uke

Here's some easy math:

Uke + Nagashi = Nagashi Uke.

The idea is simple, but the effect is HUGE.

Let's analyse Uchi and Soto Uke to understand this more...


Although Uchi Uke has a regular version that can be turned into Nagashi Uchi Uke, you can take it one step further. 

Look at the Uchi Uke picture and compare it to the Nagashi Shuto Uchi Uke picture. 

The regular version has emphasis and focus on movement of the elbow. Although the elbow is still a key feature of the movement, focus shifts to the hand that you use to parry the attack.

You can argue that the open hand version is more practical for these 3 reasons:

  1. Elbow is lower, so the body is more protected
  2. The movement is smaller, so counter attack is easier
  3. You can intercept him earlier and guide him longer
The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Uchi Uke
The Digi Dojo - Sanbon Kumite Jodan Uke 9 - Uchi Uke 2
The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Nagashi Uke
The Digi Dojo - Ohyo Kumite 1 -2


More or less similar to Uchi Uke with 1 BIG difference: the change of direction.

In Soto Uke, the direction is pretty much to the side. When doing Nagashi Soto Uke, the direction changes to diagonally backwards.

This difference is present in Uchi Uke as well, but not as much as in Soto Uke.

The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Soto Uke
The Digi Dojo - Sanbon Kumite Jodan Uke 10 - Soto Uke 3
The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Nagashi Soto Uke
The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Application of Soto Uke1

Add This Secret To Nagashi Uke To Become Faster And Avoid Suki (gap)

The fastes way is the shortest route: a staight line.

Or is it? 

Let's just say roundabouts where designed and implemented in traffic for a reason...

Create your 'roundabout movement' by adding this secret to your Nagashi Uke that I teach in this video.

A valuable trainingmethod is inside too >>

Improve your nagashi uke with this exercise

Want more of this?

nagashi uke ippon kumite

The advantage of this Ippon Kumite is the use of Neko Ashi Dachi.

Naturally, your front foot will follow the twisting movement of your upper body which makes it easier for practise. It allows you to rotate your body really well. This is especially effective if you want to use your body more instead of just moving your arm.

✅PRO TIP: Instead grabbing and Empi, drop into Shiko Dachi and execute Uraken (so you can focus on rotation and pulling your front foot. The rotation assists you big time: It'll turn into Nagashi Uke with your body.

The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Application of Nagashi Uke

When your opponent attacks with Jodanzuki, slide slightly diagonally to the right. At the same time, rotate to the left and execute Nagashi Uke.

Aim to do this one and the next in ONE movement. To pull this off, connect the left side of the body and pull it as one WITHOUT stopping to take this stance. 

The Digi Dojo - Uke Waza - Application of Nagashi Uke - Empi

So: Keep pulling your body as you grab the opponents wrist and position your left foot.

Continously, drop your body weight as you take Shiko Dachi and execute Empi.

After Nagashi Uke, you can add Meotode by doing another Otoshi with the same hand. Doing it that way is as if handing your opponents wrist to your left hand.

sanbon kumite jodan uke 6
nagashi soto uke allows you to slip the punch

Hidari Kamae

Ukemi: Hidari Gamae
Torimi: Shizentai

Ukemi moves backward and executes chudanzuki. This is a formal agreement in order to assume kamae. Ukemi could move forward as well, if maai allows this. However, we usually moves backwards. Then, Ukemi moves forward using nijiri ashi until there is a correct distance to attack. Hence, mind mazakai. Not only Ukemi’s, but also Torimi’s reach counts. That is the difficulty in feeling and judging mazakai.

Torimi remains in shizentai the whole time, while not thinking ahead about the next movement. Both Ukemi and Torimi should stand with the intent of attack. Hence, both are in sente. It is Torimi’s job to take control over the situation as soon as possible. If done correctly, Torimi takes over already when in shizentai. Hence, do not wait and defend. Rather, manipulate and control.

Jodan Uke

Ukemi: Junzuki No Tsukkomi
Torimi: Jodan Uke

Ukemi executes jodan junzuki no tsukkomi and aims for the nose or chin. Ukemi should try to penetrate the head of Torimi. Using tsukkomi also makes it more realistic and more difficult to execute jodan uke. Hence, its practice becomes valuable.

Considering you are Torimi, be careful not to move back immediately or too early as Ukemi could adjust his movement. ‘Wait’ until Ukemi commits himself to his attack and then pull the body out of range of the attack as you execute jodan uke. Completely harmonise and connect your body movement with jodan uke. Time your movement and feel the opponent. Never just step back and execute jodan uke. It is important that you use such timing and distance that Ukemi is forced to end up in a tsukkomi position.

The pulling of the body is done with the power from the inside. Pull your body with your body and accelerate without pushing the floor even if you hang in mid air. Executing jodan uke is not to defend with jodan uke, it is to learn about the interaction between Torimi and Ukemi and all principles involved.

Jodan Uke

Ukemi: Junzuki No Tsukkomi
Torimi: Jodan Uke

Ukemi attacks with another jodan junzuki no tsukkomi. Torimi receives with another jodan uke in order to practice both the left and right side. This also facilitates to do a full ayumi ashi from junzuki dachi, instead of shizentai.

Like moving forward, ayumi ashi is facilitated by hiza no nuki, this time the back leg. Keep the upper body erect and harmonise jodan uke with your body movement. You have to feel your opponent and move accordingly. The speed that you move with should be in harmony with your opponent. When the opponent attacks you have to position yourself accordingly.

As you execute jodan uke, relax the body and especially the joints of the knees and waist. A common error is to follow the direction of the arm making seichushin rise and jodan uke weaker. Squeeze internally and drop to make jodan uke heavy, not tensed and hard in order to block. You should have the feeling to drop vertically. Complete all elements in one movement and finish in one moment.

Nagashi Soto Uke

Ukemi: Junzuki No Tsukkomi
Torimi: Nagashi Soto Uke

Move backwards and draw Ukemi to execute another jodanzuki. When Ukemi commits and strikes, move the body to the left and execute jodan nagashi uke similar to kihon gumite. Sharply twist the upper body sharply to the left. This movement is an application from Kushanku. For lower grades kokutsu dachi is advised, for higher grades use Seishan dachi and stay closer to the opponent.

Jodan Mawashigeri

Torimi: Jodan Mawashigeri

Grab Ukemi’s sleeve and execute jodan mawashigeri. Correct your distance by pulling the left foot below your centre of gravity. Do this smoothly, it should be a part of the movement. Hence, it is one smooth movement as the foot adjustment should be subconscious and part of the body movement.

We practice jodan mawashigeri to remain agile and the development of koshi. Kicking the groin, leg or knee is probably more effective and less risky in reality.

Ashi Barai

Torimi: Ashi Barai

Lower the kicking leg and sweep Ukemi’s front leg. Affect Ukemi’s balance already before sweeping with the right hand by pushing him off balance. Push him by the movement of the body, not by the arm alone. Use the upper body effectively. 


Torimi: Shitazuki

As you throw, follow the opponent smoothly and use hiza no nuki on the supporting leg to do so. After throwing, maintain the grip and execute shitazuki. Always be ready to control the opponent with your knees, kick him or whatever.

sanbon kumite jodan uke 6
Your Centre Line Dictates How Effective Nagashi Soto Uke Is

jodan Uke 6 performance

Jodan Uke 6 slow

Details of nagashi Uke


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