Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to Punch

No single blog post can possibly cover all of the elements that go into a great punch. In this post, I will focus on just one element, the position of the fist relative to the object being struck.

As I will demonstrate later, I speak from personal experience when I say that failing to follow this sound advice will cost you time, money, embarrassment, self esteem, and the loss of your hand for several weeks. Sometimes, we learn the hard way.

In summary, when you make a fist you have four knuckles at the top and front of your hand with which you can strike a board, a face, a rib, or anything else. You should strike with the knuckles of the first two fingers, the pointer finger and the middle finger.

Do not make contact with the ring finger nor the pinky.

Seriously. Don’t.

Here is a picture that demonstrates how you should strike a board. Note how the ring and pinky knuckles do not come in contact with the surface of the board.

There are at least two specific reasons why you strike with the first two knuckles and why you don’t use the last two. First the good news.

In order to routinely and predictably strike with the first two knuckles, you need to slightly turn your wrist. This will line up the metacarpal bones of the hand with your arm. The metacarpal bones can be felt under the skin on the back of your wrist.

By slightly turning the wrist, the first two knuckles will line up with the metacarpal bones, which will be lined up with the bones of the arm. This means that all of the power of the punch will impact the target; making your punch more, well, impactful.

You should get in the habit of turning your wrist correctly even when performing non-punching techniques. Here, for example, is a proper sudo (knife hand). Note that the bones of the metacarpal line up with the arm. If I closed my fingers and made a fist from this position, my knuckles, wrist, and arm would all line up.

Push ups should be performed with the same slight wrist turn. Do a couple of push-ups on a hard floor and then look at your knuckles. If they are all red, need to turn your wrist a little more. Only the first two knuckles should touch the floor.


The bad news is that if you don’t heed this advice and strike with the ring and pinky knuckles you will learn about “Boxer’s Knuckle.” Here is an x-ray of a fractured right pinky knuckle, one of several bones that break far too easily.



If, by chance you don’t practice enough, or correctly… and you strike an object using the incorrect technique, … and you snap the little bugger knuckle of your pinky finger as I did as a Red Belt, you get to have two pins inserted (temporarily) into your hand (sideways) to keep everything immobilized until the bones can all heal up nicely.

See!



So, start with some correct push ups. Then do some bag work. Make sure you are punching with the correct technique. If a fight ever comes your way, you will transition to autopilot mode right way - you won’t have time to think about proper positioning.

As a side note, when it came time for the doctor to remove the pins from my hand, he discovered that they had begun to calcify with the bones, i.e. they had become fused. He had to grip the exposed end of each pin with a pair of plyers and with his foot pressed against my hand, use his whole body to slide them out.

This is called, not fun.

I want to thank Michelle Deemer Photography and Kyo Sa Nim Brian Mattes for the great pics.

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