My hovercraft is full of eels
My hovercraft is full of eels, or as they say in Japanese, watashi no hobākurafuto wa unagi de ippai desu (私のホバークラフトは鰻でいっぱいです).
Back to Articles Index
I Inside Spectacles
Or do I outside spectacles?
In an earlier blog entry, Gay Dan, oo Kay!, I posed the question, which part of "uchi uke" and "soto uke" do you think means "hooking"? This was after explaining that "uke" (受け, うけ, u-ke), which is the only common word in those technique names, means "block". I regularly hear these techniques called "inside hooking block" and "outside hooking block" respectively in the dōjō. I also hear "uchi uke" (内受け) called just "hooking block".
The simple answer is that there is no "hooking" in either "uchi uke" or "soto uke". Uchi (内, うち, u-chi) means "inside" and soto (外, そと, so-to) means "outside". So "uchi uke" (内受け) and "soto uke" (外受け) are simply "inside block" and "outside block".
Hooking block is "kake uke" (掛け受け, かけうけ, ka-ke-u-ke). Kake comes from the verb kakeru (掛ける, かける, ka-ke-ru) which has many meanings one of which is "to hang". None of its meanings, to my knowledge, is "to hook" so why don't we call kake uke "hanging block"? It is probably because the block involves a "hang" and a "pull". You rotate your wrist so as to hang over your opponent/attacker's forearm and then you pull it towards you. You may have heard the term "hikite" (引き手, ひきて, hi-ki-te) used for the hand, te (手), that is retracted or pulled back when executing a technique. The verb "hiku" (引く, ひく, hi-ku) means "to pull". In Japanese "to pull" and "to hang" combined make the verb "hikkakeru" (引っ掛ける, ひっかける, hi-k-ka-ke-ru) which means "to hook", among other things. In his book, Goju Ryu Karate Do Kyohan, Gogen Yamaguchi uses hikkakeru when describing the final stage of kake uke.
In English we wear a hat, wear a coat, wear a shirt, wear a tie or wear glasses. The verb wear works for all of those. In Japanese however verbs are much more specific and a different verb is used in each of those cases. When we wear glasses we hang them, or hook them, over our ears. The Japanese don't wear glasses, they kakeru (掛ける, かける, ka-ke-ru) them.