Jūji-uke literally translates as “Figure-10 block.” The Japanese character for the number ten (jū) looks like a plus sign; so in Japanese, cross-shapes are “Figure-10's”. Keeping with the spirit of the name, we will call jūji-uke the X-block, for obvious reasons. The X-block is not a commonly-used defense, because it is only appropriate to use against exaggerated attacks directed to the centerline, such as:
- a grid-iron football punt to the groin.
- a lunging punch to the abdomen.
- a downward strike with a club.
However, in each of these cases, X-blocks work amazingly well. X-blocks also require no real use of strength, and they automatically set up sleeve/wrist grabs and joint manipulations (e.g., kote-gaeshi, nikkyō, and shihō-nage).
Techniques must be re-chambered twice as fast as they go out. The X-block demonstrates why this is so crucial, because if an opponent rushes in while your hands are in the X-block position, they can push your forearms against the other, pinning and trapping both of your arms to your chest.
To perform a downward X-block, chamber both hands to the hips. Then, as you enter a front stance, both hands shoot downward at a 45° angles. Both forearms cross each other, just above the wrists; by convention, the lead hand is always on the bottom. The opponent’s attacks will be trapped or jammed between your wrists. It is imperative to employ the Unbendable Arm Technique to keep your arms from buckling; otherwise, the block will collapse and fail.
Alternately, X-blocks can be performed with open hands, with your fingers pointing out to the sides, with the shutō as the point-of-contact. This makes sleeve/wrist grabs and joint manipulations slightly faster to execute.
[Video of a downward X-block, slow and fast, from the front and side, with both open and closed hands.]
A rising X-block is just like a downward X-block, except the hands shoot upward at a 45° angles.
[Video of a rising X-block, slow and fast, from the front and side, with both open and closed hands.]