Unlike most other striking arts, there is a peculiar component to karate techniques -- hikite (literally: “pulling hand”). As one hand drives outward to perform a technique, the other hand must pull back inward. This is why within Goshin-Jutsu, hikite is referred to as reciprocal action, because your arms reciprocate like the pistons in a gasoline engine. Many practitioners of other striking arts criticize karateka for pulling their opposite-side hands to their hip, instead of using it to cover their head. However, the advantages of hikite far outweigh that of using your arms as a temporary meat shield. These advantages include:
- Improved balance. A punch's momentum can pull people off-balance. This is why most people lean forward as they punch, and this excess motion wastes energy and creates exploitable openings. Pulling the opposite-side hand to the hip counter-rotates the torso, leading to improved stability.
- Fewer exploitable openings. While throwing a technique, the opposite-side hand pulls back to set up (or “rechamber”) the next technique. By reloading one gun as the other shoots, continuous fire can be achieved.
- Balance breaking. Any hand technique can become a grab, since the hand is conveniently there. By grabbing and rechambering, reciprocal action pull opponents off-balance, rendering them less able to intelligently defend or counterattack.
- Augmented striking power. The act of grabbing and rechambering pulls the opponent into your incoming counterattack. In addition to merely punching your opponent in the face, reciprocal action forces the opponent to smash your fist with their face. Reciprocal action causes simple fender-benders to become head-on collisions.
- Defense-in-depth against sneak attacks. Reciprocal action can be interpreted as a rear elbow strike to a second opponent sneaking up from behind.