Sukui-uke, the scooping block, is a variation of the downward-fist block used to trap an opponent’s leg.
Scooping blocks, like all of our defenses, are performed in tandem with an evasion, usually an snake step. Like downward-fist blocks, scooping blocks are chambered by bringing the blocking hand up by the opposite-side ear, with the palm facing inward. Hold the opposite-side hand open over the exposed floating ribs on the blocking side, as in the picture below.
[front-view photo of gedan barai chamber]
Pull the blocking arm's elbow down diagonally as far as possible, then curl your hand into a scoop-like hook (pictured below) and swing your forearm out from the elbow. Keep your elbow slightly bent to draw upon the relaxed tension of the Unbendable Arm technique. The opposite-side hand pulls across the abdomen into a chambered position, setting up a counterattack. Counter-rotate your hips, and twist your upper body into the technique. Otherwise, you will push yourself off of the opponent, and compromise your balance.
[picture of scooping block hand]
[video of scooping block, from the front and from the side, fast and slow]
Distancing and timing are critical to prevent the opponent from kicking your exposed, open hand. As such, this technique is typically reserved for intermediate students. The block should complete behind and under the opponent’s foot, just as they finish their kick, so their rechamber pulls their foot into your waiting hand.
Keep in mind that the rules for downward-fist blocks still apply to scooping blocks:
- When performing scooping blocks, do not cross your arms in an X-shape across your chest. Your opponent can push on the outside arm to trap them both.
[front-view photos of improper gedan barai, and trapping the arms. ]
- Do not use a scooping block to defend anything below the waistline. These attacks are too low, requiring you to lean forward, which compromises your stance and stability. In addition, leaning involves additional and unnecessary energy expenditure to right yourself. Instead, attacks to the groin or legs should be deflected with knee blocks. Leaning will accentuate your undefended head, making it much easier for the opponent to reach and abuse. Only use scooping blocks to protect your abdomen.
[side-view photo of leaning as a result of blocking too low, and being pulled off-balance ]