Tate Zuki – Vertical Punch in Karate

Tate Zuki in Karate

Tate Zuki in Karate

Let’s learn more about a punch found in many Martial Arts under different names, called Tate Zuki in traditional Karate. On this page, we will review the proper execution, targets, uses, and benefits of this vertical punch.

A Tate Zuki is a vertical punch in Traditional Karate. It has the same principle as the horizontal punch and the point of contact are the two upper knuckles. It can be applied differently in other martial art styles but the principles are the same.

In the following image, you can see in detail the points of impact, the two upper knuckles transfer the force.

Close up on a Tate Suki or Vertical Punch
Tate Zuki in Karate Close up

This punch can be applied against the following targets:

  • Kidneys
  • Ribs
  • Solar plexus
  • Stomach
  • Neck
  • Face
  • Groin

Tate Zuki is a direct and thrusting move, it is considered the perfect counterattack which can stop any aggressor if applied correctly. Many practitioners prefer this punch over the horizontal one. Tate Zuki fits better between people’s guard, it lines up better.

When doing Kumite, if you get too close to your opponent you will notice vertical punches work much better, it allows you to apply them faster than a horizontal punch.

Benefits of the Tate Zuki or Vertical Punch

After analyzing this punch we encounter several important factors in favor of this technique:

  • Tate Zuki protects the wrist more than a horizontal punch and fits better into the V shape of the sternum.
  • Strength & Impact. In Tate Zuki the elbow is behind the fist during the strike, and supported by the strength of the entire body rather than just a swinging fist, and therefore has more impact. It allows the top two knuckles to make contact instead of the other weaker knuckles.
  • Directness. The punch is not loaded by pulling the elbow behind the body. The punch travels straight towards the target from the guard position.
  • Protection. The elbow is kept low to cover the front midsection of the body. This aids in generating power by use of the entire body structure rather than only the arm to strike.
Jodan Tate Zuki in Karate

In certain Karate styles, the vertical punch or Tate Zuki is a trademark of the style. In just about any martial art, when punching, contact should be made only by the top two knuckles of the hand.

The reason for this is they have much more structural support when it comes to making an impact. If you punch something hard with the bottom two, you will likely end up with a boxer’s fracture.

Punching with your fist vertical makes it easier to keep your elbow down, thus avoiding telegraphing the punch. One of the most common mistakes seen in many martial art students is when they raise the elbow when punching, this allows the opponent to telegraph the move and easily counterattack.

In the following video, you can see the development of this vertical punch in a traditional kneel stance. It is important to keep your back straight when punching because it maintains your balance and allows you to move freely in any direction if needed.


  • Do not overextend your arm when punching, this might cause an injury in your elbow, and the generated power will not completely transfer.
  • Relax and don’t use your shoulders, if your shoulder feels distressed when executing this punch then you did something wrong.
  • The power of this punch comes from the body, not from the arm.
  • The point of contact is the first two knuckles.

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