3 types of Hikite that enhance techniques (+videos)

what is hikite?

There are a number of myths, practical applications and fantasies about Hikite. 

We can agree that myths and fantasies won't help your techniques right?


So now that we're on the same page...

There are 3 types of Hikite that enhance your techniques. Call it appearances if you will.

Hikite isn't only the pull-back hand as you know it...

Sai Hikite

Although part of the same circle β€” Hikite has 3 types which you'll discover today. 


  • You need to know all 3
  • Plus understand when to highlight one, or the other.
  • And: when to focus on Ohyo VS Tanren (application vs training)

Before we dig into the 3 types though ⬇️

Let's analyse the Kanji of Hikite first:

引き手 or simply 引手 translates into knob, handle or catch.

In Budo the translation is usually the pulling back of the hand. Is this logic? 

Here's the Kanji seperately:

  • εΌ• = Hiki (Hiku = verb) = to pull
  • 手 = Te = hand

At first glance β€” yes.


The common explanation of Hikite is to pull back your punch to the side of the chest. That said, Hikite refers to pulling back, but not necessarily a punch.

I'll eleborate in a sec. First, look at the axis of the BoπŸ‘‡

Hikite, Soete and Tsukite

Hikite is your back hand, even if you don't physically pull back.

And there's another name too: Soete.

Soete means supporting hand. It more closely resembles the function of Hikite. 

Whether it's to...

  • unbalance the opponent
  • control him
  • or add power to your attack

All Hikite is Soete β€” and vice versa. 

Terminology-wise, sometimes Soete may be more appropriate to use. Other times Hikite.

Here's the thing:

Karate terminology came AFTER the techniques. And with different styles, different instructors with different emphasis β€” we still look for clarity. 

But to truly get it, you need to understand deeply. On fundamental level. 

From punching on the spot all the way to free application.

Hikite for trapping your opponent

Because if you don't, you won't get it:

Terminology can put you in the right direction, but Budo is specific. Like a field you work in, with jargon (so even Japanese won't understand it's technical meaning).

Sometimes words are cloudy and almost poetic in their description. Like Unga Dori meaning "Shadow of the cloud".

Cool 😎  Not helpful.

For Hikite it's the other way around.

It's easy to translate, but straight away limits your understanding because it only points in one direction.

Before we decipher "Hikite" β€” watch this:

In summer 2015, I was in Japan. I discovered the true meaning of Nagasu on the toilet πŸ‘‡

Wadoryu Nagasu

Of course I am not serious with this example, but it shows that the meaning behind a word can be quite different in daily life as opposed to using it professionally. 

The same goes for Hikite.

Hikite does not only describe the pulling of the hand and the end position, but also the function. And on a deeper level: how to use your body internally β€” with Meotode.

Meotode = Hikite + Tsukite. Using both hands in harmony.

There are many ways to use Hikite for Meotode. But for now, let's stick a bit more to the surface and get things cleared up.

In Karate, Hikite shows itself in these 3 ways:

  • The pulling back of the non-punching hand
  • The position at the side of the chest 
  • The pulling back of the punching hand

1/3 Pulling Back Your Fist From Kamae

The fist has a start (1) and a final position (2).

Extend your arm. Now bring back your fist from the stretched position to the end position at the side of the chest β€” this is one of the Hikite.

The name of the action is Hikite, which takes place between picture 1 and 2.

1. Arm streched 
(start position)

Hikite on Gyakuzuki 1/2

2. Arm pulled back 
(end position)

Hikite on Gyakuzuki 2/2

This is the first and most common of the 3 Hikite that: 

  • [POWER] Can add power to your strike
  • [TRAPPING] Creates leverage when you grab him.

He can't get away, and you can pull him onto your attack.

On a fundamental level?

Both program your body to become Meotode β€” getting your body to move effectively. Your left and right side moving in sync.

In simple terms, this pull-back action is Hikite "1".

Hikite "2" is the end position. There's always discussion about "the correct height" β€” so let's get that out of the way next.

Ohtsuka sensei's way included.


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2/3 Position At The Side Of The Chest


The end position at the side of the chest is Hikite too. Although there are many possible positions if you check inch by inch, you could categorise the end positions of Hikite in 3 heights. 

  • Low Hikite
  • Medium Hikite
  • High Hikite

That said...

What Is The Correct Height Of Hikite?

In this video, I explain the three different heights of Hikite and share Hironori Ohtsuka sensei's answer  to this question.

3/3 Pulling Back A Strike Or Punch

Hikite of Uraken

In JKF-Wadokai's Ido Kihon (the official basics) you punch and extend your arm. It's only when progressing to Tobikomizuki and Tobikomi-Nagashizuki that you pull your fist back to Kamae.

This is the 3rd Hikite  β€” pulling the fist of the punching hand. 

For beginners and competition type of fighting, this Hikite is well known for its big, visible movement β€” especially for Tsuki.

For Uraken, there is also Hikite.  

3 Reasons Why To Execute Hikite For Uraken This way

You discover 2 ways of doing Hikite for Uraken in tis video. There are 3 reasons why you should pick one over the other β€” clearly.

hikite β€” the conclusion

Some terminology points you in the direction of in-depth knowledge. Other terms send you off track.

Hikite is a bit of both.

In a bad way, you think about hand movement. The good way is pointing to basic Sonobazuki with a classic Hikite approach. It's the gateway to Meotode and quality movement with internal muscle.

If you want to dig deeper, check "Mastering Meotode".

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