Nami-ashi uke

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Nami-ashi uke is the sweeping-foot block; a simple and versatile low-level defense. Please note that in our lessons, will only refer to this technique by its Japanese name, so it will not be confused for a sweeping block.

To perform a nami-ashi, the arch of foot taps the opposite-side thigh, just above the knee, then snaps back into a proper stance.

[Video of a nami-ashi, fast and slow, from the front and the side]

This simple move has a variety of applications:

  • Nami-ashi is the ultimate defense against leg sweeps and stomp kicks to the instep or shin. A quick nami-ashi denies the opponent from having a target, reducing their attack into a shadow-boxing drill.
  • Nami-ashi can be used as a transition to quickly change your direction.
  • The up-stroke of a nami-ashi uses the ball of your foot to swat attacks away, to the inside, much like a sweeping block does with attacks to the midsection.
  • The down-stroke of a nami-ashi uses using your instep as a hook to swat attacks away, to the outside.
  • Nami-ashi allows you to use your lower leg as a defensive cover (i.e., a “meat-shield”), to protect your groin at the expense of your shin.
  • Nami-ashi can be used to off-balance opponents in the clinch. If you and your opponent are pushing against each other, a nami-ashi can momentarily release the pressure without compromising your balance. Since the opponent continues to push, which effectively becomes a burst of forward momentum which can be used to augment blows or to setup takedowns.

[Video of all of the above-listed applications of nami-ashi]