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 one’s hands are in the X-block position, they can pushing your forearm against the other, and pinning and trapping both of your arms to your chest.
explain why back is on top
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° angle. Both hands cross just above the wrists; the front-leg side on the bottom, and the back-leg side is on top. The opponent’s attacks will be trapped or jammed between your wrists. Do not rotate your wrists; this way if the block misses, the attack will strike your first two knuckles, and effectively become a punch. Alternately, X-blocks can be performed with open hands, with your fingers point out to the sides, making using the shutō as the point-of-contact.
[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 done in the same way as the downward X-block, except the hands shoot upward at a 45° angle.
[Video of a rising X-block, slow and fast, from the front and side, with both open and closed hands.]