A tribute to one of the best Karate techniques – the ashi barai or the leg sweep. I think it deserves a spot here because of the practicality and the beauty of the move.

I say practical because it’s one of those techniques that increase your chances of winning over your opponent. It’s like a thief in the night. With the proper timing, down goes your opponent, available for the follow up. Lights out! He wouldn’t even know how it happened.

There are so many different ways to use this technique. A few effective ways would be:

Throwing a gyaku zuki (reverse punch) and then executing a sweep using the front leg on your opponent’s leg in front. This is done by ensuring that your sweeping leg is almost beside the front leg of your opponent.

sweep 2

The other way would be timing the landing of your opponent’s front foot and then sweeping it just before it touches the floor. It is effective because you get to sweep the leg before a firm balance of the stance is achieved.

The simplest way is to go straight to sweeping your opponent’s front leg using either your rear or front foot before throwing a gyaku zuki or a back fist.

There are many variations to the ashi barai. Let’s take a look at this video where we see a lot of nice ashi barai executions. Some would be more complicated than the variations I mentioned above. They are all beautiful nonetheless.

The thing with the sweep, though, is that it’s a delicate thing. You have to execute it well or else you mess up your opportunity, you get off balance and risk getting tagged by your opponent because your defense is compromised.

It’s also an underutilized technique. It’s a very effective way to win in either sport Karate or actual combat. Of course, a fallen opponent will find it significantly more difficult to fight. In actual combat, it is most effective when you target the the knee instead of a lower part of the leg. In so doing, you neutralize your opponent as you break the joints. You get more leverage in ending the aggression quickly.

How do you use the ashi barai?

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2 thoughts on “Live and Die, with the Ashi Barai

  1. I cannot agree with u more..its the coolest technique there is when performed correctly and is ippon almost every time…..I have performed this once with precision and ippon was awarded..nothing since then…oss

    • Nice to hear from you, karate brother. I have received similar feedback on social media about the article. It’s a great technique. Not easy but if done well and done more often will yield fantastic results. Ossu!

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