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, to prevent it from being confused for the sweeping block.

To perform a nami-ashi, the arch of foot taps thigh of the opposite-side leg, just above the knee, then rotates 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, such as:

  • Nami-ashi is the ultimate defense against leg sweeps, and stomp kicks to the instep or shin. A quick nami-ashi will deny the opponent a target, reducing their attack into a shadow-boxing drill.
  • Nami-ashi can be used as a transitional stance to quickly change your direction.
  • The up-stroke of a nami-ashi uses the arch 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 can swat attacks away, to the outside, by using your foot as a hook
  • Nami-ashi can allow you to use your lower leg as a defensive cover (i.e., a “meat-shield”), protecting 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 in a clash, pushing against each other, a nami-ashi can allow you to momentarily take the pressure off of them without compromising your balance. Since the opponent continues to push, this effectively gives them a burst of forward momentum which can be used to augment blows, or as part of the balance-breaking needed to setup takedowns.

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