Use of Gedan Barai

In this short article I will look at a way in which we use Gedan Barai in our school.  There are plenty of applications for this technique.  Some use it as a block/parry or, as in our case, as an attack.  There is no right or wrong way to use Gedan Barai, just whichever works best for you.

Let’s go through the movements of this technique and their uses.  At the start of the sequence we place one arm in front of us with a fist  whilst the other arm travels up to the opposite ear .  This second arm then sweeps downwards, clearing anything in the way .

This way of executing the technique is the way it is performed in kihon and is just a movement at this point.  The technique is transformed when you imagine the function of every part of the movement and then test this vision on a partner that is first willing to cooperate with us and is then resisting.

For this demonstration we will be working on a defence from a double grab<figure 1>. For this application the first move is transformed into a punch to the abdomen.  Depending on which arm is used this punch will be either to the spleen or liver <figure 2>.  The second arm that travels upwards will then be used as a strike to the head (with the hand opened or closed).  This strike is targeted at the ear, temple or vital points on the jaw <figure 3>.  Note that when a technique causes us to touch a part of our own body this often indicates where we should attack our opponent.

When our strike connects with the head of our attacker our elbow proceeds to come close to our body, trapping the arms of our opponent.  The arm then continues to travel down to unbalance our attacker and open him up to our counter attack <figures 4 and 5>

Defender left side view.

Defender right side view.

In reality the first and second arm movements are done simultaneously.

I hope that this description demonstrates our way of thinking about kihon and how it is used.  You can find the whole sequence in the video below.


Learning Model at Shin Ai Do

In life we constantly learn new skills.  Starting from a young age we are introduced to different models of learning.  In Karate just like in other subjects we have to have a structure of progression through the education levels.

In our Karate style we have a simple and transparent way of teaching students of any grade from beginner to advanced.  This structure is based on the traditional model of teaching in martial arts.


Knowledge is passed from generation to generation, from master to student.  In the dojo environment the teacher is the main source of knowledge.


To understand the relationship between teachers and students we need to know the grade structure and terminology in use in the dojo environment.


Now that we know who is who in the dojo let’s take a look at how the knowledge is distributed throughout the organisation.


Taking in to consideration the time and effort it takes to achieve mastery in Karate there will always be more students than teachers.  Passing knowledge via the traditional (Japanese) model differs from the modern (Western).  In the modern model the Sensei passes knowledge to students who then focus on their own progress.


In the traditional model students receive instructions from the Sensei and they have to pass this on to lower grade students, so the least experienced students get more information from more sources than in the modern model.


There is another mechanism in place at our organisation that is different when compared to some others.  A lot of western dojos have their Sensei focus most of their attention on beginners.  This can lead to higher grades not learning anything new due to lack of support, which can result in them quitting.


For us, the highest graded students get the most attention and instruction to make sure that they are continuing to advance their knowledge.


It is not that the Kohai is left alone to blindly copy Sempais and Sensei, they do have some of their attention, but they mainly benefit from being facilitated by all of the higher grades.


In our club all of our students and teachers have responsibilities.  The Sensei passes on knowledge and Sempais are absorbing and passing this knowledge on to the Kohais.  With time and grade responsibility grows.


As an organisation there are two models of seeking knowledge – open and closed.  The latter model means that students are restricted to only one source of knowledge, their own organisation.  In Shin Ai Do we prefer and encourage an open model.


We recommend to our members that they not only learn from other styles of Karate, but that they try to find useful information from other martial arts and sports.

I hope that this short article has managed to demonstrate our simple learning model.