Horizontal Punch in Traditional Karate

Horizontal Punch in Traditional Karate

Seiken Choku Zuki is a technique we can find in many martial art styles. It is one of the first techniques a while belt learns. Let’s analyze the proper execution, targets, and recommendations to master Seiken Choku Zuki.

Seiken Choku Zuki is learned along with Kiba Dachi, the students practice each punch from this stance, but it can also be practiced from Zenkutso Dachi moving forward. You will find this technique in many Katas as one of the essential pieces of them.

What is Hikite?

Horizontal Punch in Traditional Karate
Horizontal Punch in Traditional Karate

Hikite is also known as the pulling hand, it can be seen when the opposite hand is taken and placed by the ribs. It refers to the action of throwing the hand of the adversary at the time of hitting with the fist, this creates 2 simultaneous forces while producing more damage at the moment of impact.

Then, in a counterattack movement we block, take the wrist, pull the wrist, and hit with the opposite hand.

In my karate classes, they taught me something different, the hand on the waist or ribs is because you are doing an elbow strike to an attacker behind you, simultaneously punching to the front, and counter-attacking with an elbow strike to an attacker behind you.

The force produced in the horizontal punch depends on the muscles of the arm, chest, and shoulders; very different from the vertical punch or also known as Tate Suki where the force is produced by the body.

The Targets of Seiken Choku Zuki

The Targets of Seiken Choku Zuki - Horizontal Punch
The Targets of Seiken Choku Zuki – Horizontal Punch

A sensei recommended all your punches should be placed in the center of your body when training. The horizontal punch can be applied to many targets, but it is much better to apply them to those that are effective, preferably vital organs. These can be the nose, mouth, and jaw in the head.

The neck can also be considered, but it can be lethal. In the body, it can go to the chest, stomach, ribs, kidneys, and genitals. If you are on the ground and defend yourself from someone who is attacking you, then you can punch the groin, or the face, it all depends on your position.

This punch can be aimed at three different zones:

  • Jodan Zuki – Upper Punch applied to the face, nose, jaw, and temple.
  • Chudan Zuki – Middle Punch applied to the chest, stomach, ribs, and kidneys.
  • Gedan Zuki – Lower Punch can be applied to the groin, to the lower part of the body.

Seiken Choku Zuki Fist rotation

Fist rotation is very important for effective movement. Rotation should be done moments before hitting the target, but many have a tendency to do it before; which reduces effectiveness and strength. If you do not rotate your punch then you might end up doing a Tate Suki.

A good way to fix the rotation would be done if you start by putting both fists together in front of you, then rotate them both at the same time in Hijite and bring them back next to your ribs. Start slowly then increase the speed as you do it, imagine you are grabbing or pulling a rope, this will give you guidance to your movement.

Seiken Choku Zuki Step by Step

  1. Place your left fist over your right fist on your right side.
  2. Bring your left fist to your left side as your right arm moves out.
  3. Extend your right fist to execute the punch.
  4. Pull back your right arm as if pulling a rope and then execute a left punch.
Seiken Choku Zuki Step by Step - Horizontal Punch
Seiken Choku Zuki Step by Step – Horizontal Punch


  • Keep your back straight every time you punch.
  • Aim for the center of your body.
  • You should keep a strong stance when executing any punch.
  • Do not move your upper body when punching, your arms only should move.

Other Recommended Karate Punches

  • Tate Zuki – Vertical Punch in Traditional Karate
  • Ura Zuki – Short Uppercut to the stomach

Karate Requirements

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