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ky0han
ky0han's picture
Fist on Face

Hi all,

has anyone live experience in hitting somebody's face, jaw or head with the pure fist really hard, causing a knockout but wihout breaking his hands?

I have in mind that you should allways aim at hard targets with a soft bodyweapon and vice versa.

So when we practise punching or doing bagwork, we condition ourselfs using the fist. Maybe it would be better to practise hooks and stuff like that with other parts, then the knuckles (palmheel, hammerfist) in order to avoid injuring the fist.

Any suggestions?

Regards Holger

Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture

Can't comment on punching someone hard in the face or head but from my line of work I have seen  persons hands damaged from punching hard to the head with the head being such a solid lump of bone.

The injuries usually consist of teeth marks/ teeth stuck in the back of the hand behind the knuckles or the ring or little finger collapsing down as they are so easily damaged compared to the two larger inner knuckles. A doctor showed me an xray of one of the damaged hands and when you look at the hand structure its easy to understand why these two fingers wear the worst of it when the hand hits something very hard when clenched in a fist,the larger knuckle bones more or less run right down to your wrist so they can take a bit more stick.  The two outer fingers injury usually  get referred to as a punchers injury.

 

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

I've punched people full-on in the face with a bare fist and it's a mugs game.  Not just for the injuries (no breaks but swollen knuckles that were sore for a very long time) but CCTV doesn't show punches in a good light.

Hard to claim SP when you look like you were trying to really mess people up.  I know some might feel that is a minor consideration, but if you have effective skills that look more in line with 'reasonable force' I'd use those.

Gary

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

Damage to the fist is certainly realistic.

Fist conditoning does work and helps alot with this, but ultimatly hit something hard, wrong or get unlucky and you will damage your hand to some extent.

Targeting the Jaw is certainly a better option, as hit at a sensible angle it moves more than say the skull, but face punches can and do work well enough - usually we are not able to target as well as we might think in reality.

Yes I have hit people, hard, yes I have put peopel down, and knocked a few out over the years - yes I have damaged my hands as well - there wasn't much logic in the when and whys, which is why I put s*ds law at the top of my list of things likeley to happen.

I always found my feet were effective, granted I focused on that alot in my early training but now raw power shots arn't top of my list as I prefer tight defence, multiple hitting and positoning for the majority of my training - but im not trianing for the same reasons as I used to really.

I also use Hammer fist, back knuckles and front knukles alot and have found them very effective.

Keeping the elbow down in most punch formations helps as the arm doesnt rotate so much meaning the little knuckles tend to be back from the target, the little finger and the one next to it are 'floating' knuckles as more prone to injury.

DaveHaze
DaveHaze's picture

Had a few scrapes in the old days and yes, I broke my ring finger/knuckle with a punch to upper temple / skull area.

We try to train with the hard to soft / soft to hard theory. Trouble is, if you actually use a fist on focus mitts and the like, you will probably do the same in a real confrontation. You will fight the way you train.

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Dave,

that is exacly my concern with training and conditioning ourselfs using the fists. So I think it would be better to use not only the fists when pounding against mitts and punching bags, but also other (softer) weapons like hammerfist, palm or palmheel.

The important thing is to generate power properly, but which tool we use for deforming targets should also be carefully choosen.

Regards Holger  

Dave. H
Dave. H's picture

I have had the experience of hitting someone in the face with a punch.  It was during a riot at work (I am a prison officer), and the guy was swinging a pool ball in a sock at the time.  As the incident was spontaneous, i was not wearing any gloves.  I hit the guy somewhere between his jaw and his cheekbone.

After the incident my hand was a little bruised, but no broken bones, and the skin was not broken.

I have never done any specific hand conditioning, but i have never worn gloves or hand wraps while doing pad or bag work.  I have heard that this kind of training can cause the bones in the hand and forearm to increase in density, through years of microscopic fractures forming and healing.   The skin on my hands has thickened and toughened a bit, but it does not look terrible, and the shape of my hands has not deformed.

Through my work i meet a great deal of violent people, and many have the deformed and damadged hands of a fighter.  I can only put my good fortune down to the fact that i have got used to striking with my hands over the years, was trained in how to create a proper fist, and that going around hitting people full on is an exception and not a habit. 

nielmag
nielmag's picture

Just out of curiosity, are there hook punches in the kata's or is that a western boxing original?  im a shotokan guy and just about everything ive learned is a straight punch, i can only think of tekki/niahanchi as something close to a hook punch (after elbow, cup n saucer, down block, then hook punch to body) but that seems more like a grab or throw. 

Tau
Tau's picture

Dave Moore wrote:
The two outer fingers injury usually  get referred to as a punchers injury.

By definition, fractures of the fourth or fifth metacarpals are "boxer's fractures" which I've always found ironic as (in theory) boxers should have technique such that they don't hit with this part of the hand. Neverless, probably 99% of boxers fractures that I've treated have been through punching, though often not other people.

As a teenager, I through a few punches in SD against school bullies. I did Martial Arts but not to anywhere near the level that I do now. I always hurt my knuckles but there was no consistency as to which ones. I suspect that, knowing what I know now, that I'd likely cause a fracture of my knuckles.

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi nielmag,

nielmag wrote:

Just out of curiosity, are there hook punches in the kata's or is that a western boxing original?  im a shotokan guy and just about everything ive learned is a straight punch, i can only think of tekki/niahanchi as something close to a hook punch (after elbow, cup n saucer, down block, then hook punch to body) but that seems more like a grab or throw. 

The technique you think of is called kagi zuki which is hook punch/thrust in English. It also occurs in Jion. So the hook punch is there. Whether you use it at chudan or jodan level doesn't matter. And since there is more than one application to each move, you can also use it to chocke someone or whatever you can think of else.

Regards Holger

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hook punch is one of those techniques that karateka generally need to be a lot better at. It’s a massively powerful punch that can be delivered from lots of different positions. Just as with other techniques found within kata, it needs to be taken out of the kata and drilled and varied.

One of my observations is that many karateka try to use linear body motions when throwing a hook and then write it off as a weak technique. If you can get the correct rotational motion behind the aching technique then it’s one of the most powerful punches we have and it should be drilled more than it generally is. The same motion can also be applied with an open hand too and I think it’s good to drill both.

As to why it is not widely practised? My guess would be that karateka vs. karateka kumite (i.e. competitive format) is generally conducted at long- to mid-range and the hook really comes into it’s own at mid- to close-range.

All the best,

Iain

LAKane
LAKane's picture

My job is to control people without hurting them, so I generally don’t target the head (in large part for legal/liability reasons), but there have been a couple of exceptions. I have knocked someone down with a palm heel to the jaw twice. Neither one was a knockout precisely, but both ended the fight. And, both times my hand was a bit swollen for a couple days, but no worse than I’ve had from firing a pistol-grip shotgun one-handed. The only knockout was when I hit a guy near the base of his jaw using my closed-fist. It was a straight punch, not a hook, but he was tied up with another guy at the time and didn’t see it coming. That time my knuckles were a touch red afterward, sorta like hitting a makiwara, but I didn’t notice until much later. No damage to the skin or anything. The guy I was trying to protect had four or five years of taekwondo. Nevertheless, he broke his hand during the scuffle. Not sure what or how he hit (and he didn’t remember either), but it required surgery to repair the damage. He’s fully recovered so far as I know… He got fired over the incident and I lost touch with him afterward, but he’d recovered full range of motion and most of his manual dexterity by that time.

Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture

I learned hook punching at kick boxing rather than Karate,  once I had  got the idea of how they did it I worked on it on the bag at home. Uppercuts are still a mystery to me though,  even though they repeatedly show me how it doesn't seem to work for me.

nielmag
nielmag's picture

i always wondered why we never work on the hook when it seems to be so powerful!  is the hook punch thrown like a gyaku zuki with the hip rotation and keeping it compact vs wild haymaker roundhouse?  forgive my shotokan-ness, this is like tryin to learn a new language!    speaking of uppercuts, are those in katas?  i can only think of beginning of heian nidan/pinan shodan as something similar .

Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture

I am sure the people on here that are a lot more experienced can explain it better than I ever could.

My advice is buy Iain's Applied Karate volume 1 thats got the lot in it and Iains explanations are brilliant.

Mark B
Mark B's picture

Uppercuts certainly are present in kata, examples are the ''reinforced block'' in Naihanchi/Tekki or Pinan/Heian Godan, the arm across the chest serves to unbalance, control the head, clear/ control limbs to name a few. Hope this helps

All the best

Mark

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

nielmag wrote:
i always wondered why we never work on the hook when it seems to be so powerful!  is the hook punch thrown like a gyaku zuki with the hip rotation and keeping it compact vs wild haymaker roundhouse?

Personally I do let my lead hook travel on a wider arc that would be more commonly seen in boxing. The reason being that I want a wrecking-ball KO from it. It’s far from being a haymaker though … which I would think of as a wild swing with poor dynamics. In the video below Steve Williams (a good friend and training partner of mine) describes the mechanics of the hook exactly as I do it and teach it. 

Dave Moore wrote:
Uppercuts are still a mystery to me though, even though they repeatedly show me how it doesn't seem to work for me.

Definitely mechanically more difficult than hooks and straight punches. Also harder to apply. Well worth working on and making part of the tool kit though. For the isolated punch, the most common errors are punching on an arc (i.e. past your own ear) rather than straight up and not getting bodyweight into it by failing to push upward with the legs. Within kata the punch is often delivered with a drop of weight which jolts the enemy’s chin up (i.e. dropping the other arm onto the enemy’s gripping arm, as Mark describes above). So it is OK to drop when executing the punch when grips have been established. When “free punching” though, we need to drive from the legs. Again, I think Steve does a great job of explaining things on the above clip

All the best,

Iain

PS I love the way Steve says “pivot” with his Yorkshire accent … almost as cool as the way I say “punch” with my Cumbrian accent!

Mark B
Mark B's picture

Hi all,

I use open hand rather than closed fist on all hooking and straight strikes, I only practice this method when using focus mitts, as DaveHaze pointed out, how you train is how you'll fight so I eliminate the doubt and practice one way. I also use an open hand for uppercuts, basically a palm heel strike, this can also help to eliminate the common problem Iain mentioned of arcing the strike, it ends up being similar to a straight strike, the dropping of your body weight however allows the strike to come from ''underneath''

All the best

Mark

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Mark B wrote:
I also use an open hand for uppercuts, basically a palm heel strike, this can also help to eliminate the common problem Iain mentioned of arcing the strike

What I meant by “arcing” was flexing the bicep so the hand curls back as opposed to going straight up. It is the triceps that should flex on an uppercut, not the bicep. I’m not clear how a change of hand position could eliminate that on an uppercut? Unless you don’t do an uppercut but a “chin-jab” instead? For a pure uppercut though, whether done with fist or open hand, the mechanics will be the same regardless of the hand position used. Apologies if I’ve failed to make it clear what I was referring to?

Rising palm heels (i.e. uppercuts with an open hand) can work great when the enemy’s head has been pulled down. The forearm can be broadly parallel to the floor, and this is impossible if trying to hit with the front of the fist as one would on a standard uppercut. So it works great when the enemy’s head is low.

An open hand can be problematic when coming up under the chin when the enemy is more upright. The fingers will contact with the enemy’s chest and push the striking surface (heel of palm) away from the chin. It’s fine on a pad, but not something that works too well on things that are “human shaped”.

That’s assuming we are talking about an “uppercut” though. A “chin jam” (i.e. a fingers up predominately straight palm-heel strike on a slight rising line) is what I think Mark is referring to?

It’s a different technique in terms of direction and mechanics, but I think it’s good to have both as they both have their uses and limitations.

I hope this helps clarify?

All the best,

Iain

michael rosenbaum
michael rosenbaum's picture

This is an interesting thread with some very good input. I really like the video. I think it funny though the debat of, to hit or not to hit, the face.

Some considerations about punching to the face verses the body.

1. There's no rule that says hitting to the body is the safest or most effective way to go. If your opponent is wearing heavy winter clothing, raincoat, workvest, jacket etc, your body shot won't be as effective as a head shot. Padding usually tends to soften the impact of a strike.

2. With body shots it is possbile to clip an elbow, hip, rib or even a twisiting body can cause damage to the fist and rib.

3. The head may be the only opening you have, so learn to hit it too.

4. Sometimes body shots against drunks don't work nearly as well as head shots do.

5. Headshots are routine in boxing, both in and out of the ring.  For example Pankration, early Greek boxing, Thai Boxing, Burmese styles of fighting, western boxing in James Figgs day and even boxers today. Headshots have also been used in street fighting long before the word karate ever was thought of.

6. I have used head shots and they work for me. Try to avoid hitting someone in the teeth though. I've seen someone do it and even though they knocked the guy flat they still ended up with teeth in their fingers. Infection isn't something you want.

7. Boxing drills develop flow, hip action, stamina and they help the karate-ka get out of the old 1-2-3 lockstep way of movement. Try practicing them, it'll help you become a better fighter.

8. What's it matter if the punch isn't in your system of karate. Practice it anyway, have fun and use it when you feel like. I mean after all driving a car isn't included in the karate kata, but we do it anyway.

 

Mike R

Mark B
Mark B's picture

Hi Iain,

It was my description that was unclear, not yours, apologies for that.

You're right when you describe the technique as ''chin jam'' with the fingers pointing up. I guess its not exactly an uppercut but as I only use open handed techniques i've adapted the technique somewhat. I still apply it the way people might apply a pure uppercut, weight dropped, driving from the floor . The only closed hand technique I drill would be hammer fist, vertical or horizontal as in the '' double punch'' at the end of Naihanchi

Hope that makes more sense,

All the best

Mark

jmike
jmike's picture

It seems that he is hopping when he hook punches. What is the purpose in that? I understand dropping energy like  gravity and momentem, but this just looks odd to me. Could someone explain? Thanks

Al Peasland
Al Peasland's picture

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPslLaW_aSM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPslLaW_aSM

A great thread and hopefully one I can contribute to.

I spent alot of my years training in both Karate and Western Boxing (ABA Assistant Coach) I have also spent quite a few years working on nightclub doors and, unfortunately, getting into quite a few scrapes - alot of which have required me to throw punches.

I've broken my hands several times and now sport broken metacarples on both hands on the ring finger.

I used to do alot of hand conditioning, not deliberately, more just as a by product of hitting lots of pads and doing rounds without gloves. The conditioning was more aimed at toughening the skin on the knuckles and creating calluses, rather than looking to toughen up the bones. Always thought that was a bit of a myth to be honest - any damage to bones and joints must surely only weaken them in the long run.... but I'll get onto that in a mo.

So, I've hit plenty of people in the face, jaw, head, and various other parts of their anatomy (ooh err) and have only really caused damage to my hands on a - dare I say "handful" of occasions.

Usually that was minor cuts, bruising and only on 1 occasion was it a bad break of bones in my hand - which was actually a left hook delivered to the guys face full on square onto his face. Judging by the damage to him and me, I contacted him with my little finger knuckle on the point of his jaw, with the rest of my knuckles working vertically up his face so that my larger top knuckles hit him square on the nose. It bust his nose and I think knocked out a couple of teeth. It also broke my ring finger metacarple.

This was during a mele of around 10 guys versus me and one other doorman, so being able to choose any other target in this chaos simply wasn't an option.

I also broke my hand sparring with 16Oz gloves on - ala the Boxers Break!

I've also knocked quite a few out with slaps - which for me, are just a tweak to the way I throw my hook punches. I always teach slap techniques as exactly the same body mechanics as a hook - simply with a different shaped delivery tool at the end of your arm.

I've added a link to one of my clips which shows me hooking the bag at around 30seconds into the clip (sorry I don't have other clips that focus on this one technique in more detail)

If you're quick you may notice I am also hooking the bag with an "unclenched" fist - perhaps a topic for a different thread.

To sum up my contribution.

While I always teach hitting the jawline with hook punches - in the heat of the moment, in a live situation, if you can target anywhere on the other person's head, you're doing pretty well. Obviously, avoiding the known hard areas such as the top or back of the head, and effectively, anywhere above the eyebrow line, is adviseable for clenched fists and to be honest, probably not that effective with any other technique either.

Aim for the jawline, if you hit the face, it's pretty soft anyway - certainly softer than the forehead.

Yes, avoid teeth - they can be nasty injuries if you get cut fingers from hitting teeth.

And finally, if you break your hand hitting someone, then as long as you knock them out - that's a price I'm prepared to pay,

Fortunately, I live in the UK so don't need to worry about drawing my firearm after I've hit someone so a broken hand won't hinder me too much. Also, I'm not in the fighting business and don't have to worry about not being able to fight next week if I pick up a broken hand injury this week (if that makes any sense)

Finally - with hands injured over the years, I now feel the cold alot more and can tell you in advance when we're going to get some bad weather just by my aching bones - so damaging hands for conditioning purposes........ I'd politely suggest you take the boxers advice and wrap them up, strap them up and protect as if they are your most prized possessions because for a boxer - they are!

 

Merry Xmas everyone - stay safe ;-)

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Jmike,

jmike wrote:
It seems that he is hopping when he hook punches. What is the purpose in that? I understand dropping energy like gravity and momentum, but this just looks odd to me. Could someone explain? Thanks

Steve explains that in the clip at around 1:30. What he is doing is pushing the lead hip forward to create torque in the body and to transfer weight into the punch. Because he is hitting on the move (and not stopping, making a base, and then hitting) the foot can look like it is hopping. It’s the exact same way I do my hooks and if is does look unusual it could be of those “seeing is not believing; feeling is believing” things.

Anyone who has ever trained with Steve will tell you his power is truly incredible. I’m not exaggerating when I say that holding the pads for him always results in a “toothachey” pain in my hands and forearms that can last for days. Everything he does is to add power to the shot and nothing is unintentional. I hope that helps?

All the best,

Iain

Al Peasland
Al Peasland's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

Anyone who has ever trained with Steve will tell you his power is truly incredible.

I totally have to agree with you there Iain.

Steve hits like a train - I was fortunate/unlucky (whichever way you look at it) to hold the pads and work out with Steve a while ago when I popped up to one of the Training Days and I have to say he winded me several times during the session - kicking me through a very very heavy kick shield. The man has power!!

I think this is a great example of how we can miss things both when we are teaching and when we are learning.

Steve's explanation of weight transfer, hip rotation and body mechanics for the hook punch is perfect.

He then goes on to deliver the punches to the pads in a "live" drill with continued footwork and it appears as though he is hopping. I'd go as far as saying he IS actually lifting both feet off the ground when he throws the hook punch.

I'd also back that up by saying - that is a great demonstration of taking the basic technique to a very advanced level.

The difference here is that Steve hasn't just started to lift his feet off the floor when he punches - this is something that has been developed AFTER he has mastered the basic mechanics that he teaches in the first part of the clip.

Without those basics he would simply be "hopping" as he punches - but by understanding the basics he is still including all of that in the punch (hip rotation, forward motion of the punching side hip, torso rotation, punching through the pad and not continuing to rotate, etc etc) - and then adding more advanced footwork on top of this.

"Travelling" when you punch is an advanced technique and not something I would teach at first. This will only benefit your power when you already understand the prinicples of the basics

Check out this clip of some old Tyson footage

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-ulJmNVISs

At around 1min 30 seconds he's seen hitting the heavy bag - his feet would appear to be planted as he punches - because this is his basic bagwork - and again at 1min 44s

At around 2min 50 though, you see him lift both feet off the ground as he hits the heavy bag with far more ferocity and intensity. It's advanced punching and advanced footwork but it only works when it's still combined with the basics.

I'd go as far as saying, once you have the basics mastered (not that that's ever totally possible of course) you can often break all the rules with your techniques - punching with your fist unclenched, punching across your body from totally obscure angles (see Prince Naseem Hamed in his hayday), etc

Happy Training Everyone

Al ;-)

JWT
JWT's picture

I used to do lots of knuckle conditioning in my early years in Karate, hitting whatever I could find and being especially fond of my rope clad makiwara that I buried and dug up 3 times as I moved. :)

Like Al though, I've had the classic 5th metacarpal break - and in my case it occurred while pulling my hand to stop myself from hitting a student with a hammerfist, while at the same time the student rose up from their bent over position (I had been hitting them with some hard torso strikes) and consequently headbutted by relaxed hand. :0

These days I focus on empty handed strikes.   I prefer to strike to the forehead, temple, jawline, base of the skull - I avoid the mouth.  Forearms, elbows, knees and shins are my other contact surfaces of choice). I do throw punches - but only when I am role playing a "bad guy" in training.  When I do (with hook and haymaker punches)  I tend to turn my arm and hand so that my palm faces my training partner so that I can ensure that the big knuckles strike.

With regard to power generation, Steve is awesome to watch.  I think you can also learn a lot by having a tug of war with a dog. :)

JWT

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

I still punch and have no real issues with it myself, but all the negatives raised are important to accept.

One area I do use a lot (along with open hand work) is 'fist' strikes - backfist, front knuckles and hammer fist I find the 'Uchi' nature of these outstanding in breaking down a defence and setting up a 'big' hit, or as I call them 'Tsuki' - which (for me) often lands on the rear hand (Gyakute).