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Karate is an ancient martial art that originated in Japan and fascinates practitioners of all ages with its disciplinary philosophy and powerful blows. More than a form of self-defense, Karate is a path to physical and mental development, requiring discipline, focus and perseverance. In search of all these elements, mastering the main types of Karate moves is a way for athletes who dedicate themselves to the sport to evolve.

After all, there are an infinite number of variations of strikes, the main ones involving the fundamentals of punches, kicks and elbows.

It’s also important to know how to block and dodge, master the rules of karate and, of course, train until your movements are intuitive during a fight and your decision-making is quicker.

If you play the sport or like to follow fights, you know that taking a second to make a decision can lead to defeat.

That’s why, throughout this article, our intention is to help you take the first step, with a list of the main karate moves, how to execute them and the ideal moments to do so.

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Main karate moves: we’ve listed 24 alternatives for athletes of all levels

On the list of the main karate moves to execute in fights are:

  • different types of punches;
  • variations of kicks;
  • various elbow strikes
  • strikes with the hand in the shape of a Sword.

Below we’ve listed the variations in each of these categories of blows and explained how to perform them, so you can vary the execution of your karate routine.

We’ve separated them into groups to make it easier to understand each blow and we’ve also shared some videos to help you understand each movement.

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Types of punches

  • Age-zuki: punch from below
  • Ura-zuki: close punch
  • Kagi-zuki: hook punch
  • Mawashi-zuki: circle punch
  • Awase-zuki: U-shaped double punch

But the list doesn’t stop there, including other types of punches in the list of karate blows such as:

  • Heiko-zuki: double parallel punch
  • Masami-zuki: double scissor punch
  • Yama-zuki: wide U-shaped double punch

There are also some variations of punches, including:

  • Gyaku-zuki: reverse punch, when the blow is executed with the opposite arm to the front foot
  • Oi-zuki: type of walking punch. The arm that makes the movement corresponds to the foot that has moved forward
  • Nagashi-zuki: dodging punch. It is a punch in which the force comes from the movement of the body. Performed from a semi-facing forward position, moving diagonally forwards or backwards.

No, the list of karate punches isn’t over yet! lol

  • Kizami-zuki: a blow with the front fist. Without moving the front leg, the punch is applied with the front arm, using the movement of the hips and the back leg to gain momentum
  • Morote-zuki: simultaneous punches. In this case, the arms must be parallel, either horizontally or vertically.

Karate blows with the elbow

The list of karate moves that use the elbow to hit the opponent and score points.

Just like the list of punches, karate strikes also have multiple variations, which are very useful at different times in a competition, so it’s important to know them all.

Check them out!

  • Mae Hiji-ate: forward elbow strike
  • Yoko Hiji-ate: elbow strike to the side
  • Ushiro Hiji-ate: backward elbow strike
  • Yoko Mawashi Hiji-ate: circular strike with the elbow to the side
  • Tate Hiji-ate: upward elbow strike
  • Otoshi Hiji-ate: downward elbow strike

Shuto Uchi or blow with the hand in the shape of an espada

This is a list of karate blows that show the flexibility of the sport, using the fist, elbow and hips.

When an athlete executes this type of blow, they generally target the temple, the carotid artery and the sides of the opponent’s body.

For details on how to execute the method, check out the video below.

Keri or leg attack and kick

Like punching, kicking is one of the fundamentals of karate. However, contrary to what people who don’t practice the sport might think, the movement requires more than the use of the feet, but also an efficient and rapid projection of the hips. When this happens, the whole body moves in the direction of the attack.

Extra care in the Karate kick: when kicking, the athlete must bear in mind that the foot needs to be retracted quickly, so that the opponent cannot grab it and execute the counter-attack.

Other types of karate kick include:

  • Mae-geri: front kick
  • Yoko-geri: side kick
  • Mawashi-geri: circular kick
  • Tobi-geri: jumping kick

It’s worth watching the video and getting to know some of the moves in practice.

In short, the list of the most used karate moves that athletes need to master includes:

  1. Age-zuki
  2. Ura-zuki
  3. Kagi-zuki
  4. Mawashi-zuki
  5. Awase-zuki
  6. Heiko-zuki
  7. Masami-zuki
  8. Yama-zuki
  9. Gyaku-zuki
  10. Oi-zuki
  11. Nagashi-zuk
  12. Kizami-zuki
  13. Morote-zuki
  14. Mae Hiji-ate
  15. Yoko Hiji-ate
  16. Ushiro Hiji-ate
  17. Yoko Mawashi Hiji-ate
  18. Tate Hiji-ate
  19. Otoshi Hiji-ate
  20. Strike with sword-shaped hand
  21. Mae-geri
  22. Yoko-geri
  23. Mawashi-geri
  24. Tobi-geri

Each one has its own execution technique and they all need to be trained to become automatic for the athlete when fighting.

With this, the athlete becomes more flexible and versatile, expanding the range of karate blows they can apply – and surprise – their opponent with.

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