Shuto Uke – Knife Hand Block

Master Karate Shuto Uchi

Shuto Uke in Karate

On this page we will go over the Shuto Uke, we will review the proper execution step by step and recommendations.

This is a Knife Hand block that can also be a strike and also applied in many angles, it has many applications. First of all this block is available on Katas and on many self-defense techniques.  You can find it in consecutive techniques commonly followed by a grab and a counterattack. Shuto is the shape of the hand as a sword, the word Uke means to block in Japanese.

  • Shuto Uke is a very effective block useful in self-defense techniques, we do not recommend using it in Kumite.

Shuto Uke Step by Step

  • Start by crossing your forearms.
  • Your blocking hand is by your opposed ear and your other hand is in front of you.
  • Move your blocking hand to the front to meet the attack.
  • Keep your fingers together aligned with your elbow.
  • Your block should be complete when it reaches the limit of your body.
  • The tip of your fingers should be at the shoulder level at a 90% angle
  • Do the same on the other side.
Preparing for Shuto Uke
Preparing for Shuto Uke

Preparing the block, by having your hand next to your ear while you extend your other hand.

Shuto Uke fully Executed
Shuto Uke fully Executed

As you can see in this image, your back is straight. Your blocking hand is semi-extended creating a 45-degree angle while blocking.


  • Do not overextend your arm and do not block beyond your body because is not necessary.
  • Your block ends at the edge of your body, not beyond.
  • Keep your elbow aligned and anchored to your ribs when you are blocking.
  • Always keep your eyes on your attacker with every move.

In contrast, Shuto Uke is an elegant block for the middle zone, you can use it against punches and kicks. We would not recommend using it in Kumite but we have seen some black belts using it. Finally, we can conclude Shuto Uke is one of the signatures moves in Karate and it gives beauty to the art.

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