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Most Underused Karate Moves

Updated on November 17, 2014

There is an abundance of seldom-used karate techniques that are highly effective. Having travelled far and wide and gained knowledge of joint locks, takedowns, pressure points, and other ways to incapacitate an opponent, Allen Sandoval is happy to pass on his knowledge to students in the Sandoval centers located in Gilbert and Chandler, Arizona.

The modern combination of Kata, Kihon, and Kumite has been turned into a system that often overlooks some awesome karate moves. Keep reading to learn more about underused karate techniques that can add an extra level to your training.

Tsubame Gaeshi

This is actually a judo throw that is within the auspices of the 17 techniques of the Shimmeisho no waza. However, it was also used by none other than Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate. This move was given the nickname “swallow reversal” and is performed by stepping back and completing a rising cross block with open hands when your opponent throws a high punch.

This move should deflect the punch and then you can quickly grab the inside of your opponent’s attacking arm before using a backfist strike to connect with your opponent’s jaw. Spin around while dropping to one knee and twist your opponent’s arm around. He should come crashing to the ground.


This is an Okinawan Karate technique known as a “thumb strike.” There are two ways of performing Boshi-Ken:

  • Open hand: This looks like nothing more than a slap to the face, but it is actually a thumb strike to the throat, face, or torso and can do real damage to your opponent. The open hand strike is still used in Uechi-ryu Karate.
  • Closed fist: This is performed in a sideways or circular motion, and again you aim at vital points, but this time the target is the soft tissue of your opponent’s neck or back. If you want to learn more about the closed fist, perform some research on Isshin-ryu Karate.

If you are looking to try Boshi-Ken out, you should practice on the palm of your hand first before trying anything else. Get it wrong and you will injure or even break your thumb!

Boshi-Ken Training


This is a toe kick and is the original version of the front kick (mae-geri) used today. However, you kick with the tip of your big toe instead of the ball of your foot. This is an advanced technique, and those who have mastered it spent years conditioning their hands and feet.

It was the most common style of kicking in ancient Okinawa because of its incredible effectiveness when connecting with vital points. It is still used by more obscure forms of karate but is seldom seen in the more popular forms.

Tsumasaki-geri Training

Underused KarateMoves

Which of the techniques listed do you believe would be most effective in a fight?

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