Technique of the Week (May 27th, 2008)
From Sensei Steve Lott
Ueshiro Midtown Karate Dojo, NYC
Do not lead with the elbow.
The open hand chest block as performed in Pinan Shodan must be executed properly in order to be effective. The foreman must remain almost vertical throughout its travel in order to be able to block the attack. In order to make this happen, the foreman and hand must lead. The most common error for beginners is to permit the elbow to lead. This results in the hand and forearm coming forward in a horizontal plane. This results in an ineffective block:
Here is what happens when the elbow leads:
The arm begins in the chamber properly in a vertical position but then the elbow comes out first. As you can see, there is no way the foreman or blocking hand can intercept the attack in this way. The attacker's punch would come right through.
Now observe the angle of the foreman and hand when properly executed:
The arm begins in the chamber properly in a vertical position and maintains its vertical form throughout its travel. You can see it here just a split second before the hand twists completing the technique.
The best way to practice this is with the mirror on the side of the chamber. Execute slowly and be certain to keep the arm and hand in this vertical position. It may feel a little mechanical at first but thats OK, eventually it will feel natural. When the speed is increased there will be a tendency for the elbow to lead but, if you practice this properly and slowly in the mirror enough times, you will be able to maintain proper form throughout.