The shuto or knife hand strike is the traditional “karate chop,” and one of the most recognizable (but least used) combat techniques. Hand position is critical, with thumb tucked in, fingers together in a straight hand, striking with the pad along the distal, outside edge of hand (NOTE: do not over-rotate and make contact with the bones on the side of hand, lest you break them).
Shuto is practiced in two ways. First way is to bring the striking hand to the same side ear palm up as ìf a waiter holding a tray. Hips cock back when bringing hand to ear, then rotate in opposite direction as strike is delivered in a circular, hooking motion parallel to floor, striking to center line of opponent. In application targets include pressure points and soft tissue, such as side or back of neck, throat, solar plexus, and groin. Palm can be either up or down upon impact, though rotation of wrist can provide additional torque.
The second is an inside-out motion, starting with the palm to the opposite ear, elbow of striking arm toward floor. Opposite hand is extended toward opponent, downward about 45 degrees toward floor, as palm is “chambered” by the ear, and retracts to chamber as the shuto extends toward target. Hand rotates to palm away from body as it moves outward from ear to mid body, ending in similar position as chudan uke.
A third application is a quick snapping motion of the extended arm back toward the center line of your own body, striking an opponent at close range (e.g., striking their floating ribs palm up, as in the last move in Saifa).