How to Immobilize an Attacker’s Arms – Yakusoku Kumite III Video Study

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Yakusoku Kumite III shows how to immobilize an attacker’s arms and introduces the principle of simultaneously blocking and stuffing both of the attacker’s arms to temporarily immobilize them. It also demonstrates using the block to open a vulnerable target, then immediately smashing the newly exposed target with an elbow at very close range to end an attack. This Yakusoku Kumite III video study is a quick breakdown and analysis of the third set of the full Yakusoku Kumite I-IV fighting drill series. The above video shows both full speed and slow motion versions of two different interpretations of the set being practiced. First I give a relatively formal defense version followed by MJ who gives a more natural defense variation.


This drill is based on Yakusoku Kumite as described in The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do.
Shoshin Nagamine's The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do

The 7 Essential Principles of Yakusoku Kumite

O-Sensei Shoshin Nagamine developed the Yakusoku Kumite agreement fighting drills with seven key fighting principles based on the teaching of his sensei Choki Motobu. Yakusoku Kumite III specifically demonstrates the following highlighted principles.

  1. Simultaneous attack and defense
  2. Simultaneously use both hands
  3. Simultaneously use both hands and feet
  4. Naturally shift off-line to attack from the side
  5. Intently defeat the opponent in critical situations
  6. Reflexively kick when grabbed or grabbing
  7. Reflexively attack after suppressing and grabbing

How to Immobilize an Attacker’s Arms – Step-by-Step Breakdown

The following Yakusoku Kumite III video study step-by-step breakdown uses freeze frames from the live action video of the full Yakusoku Kumite I-VII series, so these snapshot poses may not be quite as clean as specifically posed photos would be.

1) Start Position: Yoi

Yakusoku Kumite III-1: Yoi

The yoi or ready position for all the Yakusoku Kumite sets is the same as in the Pinan Kata. Stand facing each other in hachiji-dachi. Keep your knees and entire body relaxed and ready to move. In these photos Renshi Mike on the left is the defender and Sempai MJ on the right is the attacker.

2) Initial Defense: Oi-zuke – Soto Chudan Uke

How to Immobilize an Attacker’s Arms – Yakusoku Kumite III-2: Soto Chudan Uke

Attacker steps forward right into jigotai-dachi and throws a right punch (oi-zuki) to the solar plexus.

Defender steps back left dropping into jigotai-dachi while blocking the incoming punch with an outside chest block (soto-chudan-uke).

Notes: As this punch approaches the defender steps back left pivoting on the right foot. This removes the target from the original target location and changes the body angle from straight on, to a glancing angle. At the same time the twisting of the body pulls the outside chest block across the body to intercept the incoming punch. Depending on how hard you snap the outside chest block smashing into the incoming punching forearm, this move can deaden and disable the punching arm. But don’t smash your partner too hard!

This block comes from the outside to the inside. In our dojo we call this an outside chest [middle] block (soto-chudan-uke) because it comes from the outside. The book calls this a middle inside block (chudan-uchi-uke) because it blocks to the inside. It’s the same block, just named differently based on a different point of reference.

3) Secondary Defense: Gyaku-zuke – Jodan-uke & Stuff

How to Immobilize an Attacker’s Arms – Yakusoku-III-3: Jodan Uke

Attacker shifts into zenkutsu-dachi and throws a left punch (oi-zuki) to the face.

Defender still in jigotai-dachi shuffles in and blocks the incoming punch with right high block (jodan-uke) stretching out the attacker’s arm and exposing his ribs. Defender simultaneously uses the left hand to stuff the attacker’s right fist as it travels back to chamber.

Notes: The defender may shuffle forward in jigotai-dachi if needed to close the distance as we did in the video. While the book shows a jigotai-dachi here, the defender may shift into a zenkutsu-dachi when pressing into this high block if more forward pressure is needed. Some versions even use a modified cat stance while shuffling in. Depending on how hard you drive the high block into the incoming punching arm, this move can deaden and disable the punching arm. But don’t bash your partner too hard!

4) Final Counter Attack: Hiji-ate/Empi

Yakusoku Kumite III-4: Empi

Defender still in jigotai-dachi drops weight while releasing the high block and driving an elbow smash (hiji-ate/empi) into the attacker’s ribs.

Notes: The elbow should release the high block and drop down vertically before striking horizontally into the ribs, making more of an arc rather than sliding straight down on an angle into the ribs. Drive the elbow strike from the hips/core in a whipping motion as you also drop your weight deeper in the stance. Be careful when practicing this move because your partner’s ribs are exposed and vulnerable to being accidentally cracked or broken.

This is a more detailed look at one set that shows how to immobilize an attacker’s arms. It’s from a longer live action practice video, Yakusoku Kumite I-VII Video Breakdown, which included the full seven set series being practiced. Such video studies are a great way to analyze your karate to see where you can make further improvements (and we see plenty to continue refining here). Karate is always a work in progress!

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Arigato Gozaimasu (Thank You Very Much!)
-Renshi Mike Scaramozzino

This drill is based on Yakusoku Kumite as described in The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do.
Shoshin Nagamine's book The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do Matsubayashi Ryu

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