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Michael Rust
Michael Rust's picture
Hook Punches - Palm Down or Palm In

Does anybody have a preference in the way they hold their hand when throwing a hook punch ? I was always told when throwing a close range hook punch that my palm should be facing me and for a larger distance or further away the palm should be down ?

Does it matter the way we hold or hands for a hook ? I had also heard that throwing the hook punch with the palm in is more anatomically correct. Not sure if that is true or not.



Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Close range, I prefer the hook palm down (as the kata does it). I find palm in cause the biceps to tense and can reduce relaxation.  If I’m throwing it at longer range then I go palm out so the knuckles will connect with the target as opposed to the inside of the first.

Personally I rarely throw a hook palm in, but if it was working for a student I wound not tell them it was “wrong”. So long as they are getting good impact from it that is ultimately all that matters.  This would be one of those things that I feel is untimely decided upon my personal preference as I know people who can make either version work well for them.

All the best,


Ben Ryder
Ben Ryder's picture

Either. Just hit the target hard.

JWT's picture

For me, if it's low to the abdomen or ribs, palm down or palm in depending on distancing, target and angle.  If it's high I'd usually go palm out, thumb down.

Neil Cook
Neil Cook's picture

I think it depends on the person and the circumstance. When wearing a boxing glove i use palm in as it's more comfortable, but with no glove or thinner mma/bag mitts i go palm down. I have found some people find palm down easier and can still hit hard, but i they have a tendancy to drop the elbow which could mean hitting with the smaller fingers first. Again, not really a problem with big gloves on. As JWT states this can change for body shots, if hitting the ribs i go with a sort of inclining hook with palm in as i find it contours the body better.

I'm sure people will argue about hand positioning with regards to breaking the fingers but i have broken fingers/thumbs in full contact fights with boxing gloves so personally if that the least i come away with ( regards to self defence) i can live with it. I do however have thin boney fingers.

PASmith's picture

For years I've thrown palm in. My wrist always got tweaked throwing palm down. It never felt right. But I saw so many people throwing palm down I decided to play with it and found I needed too throw my fist into the bag more. I was being a bit too circular with the trajectory and wasn't hitting the correct angle in relation to the surface. Now I can throw both ways but tend to favour palm in when really going for it. It seems more forgiving for less than perfect contact to me. And less likely to land with the small knuckles.

I've seen quality boxers throw both ways and have heard good reasons for both.

Just recently I saw David Haye teaching Ricky Gervais how to box and he favoured palm in precisely because he could get a bit of bicep in it, which is exactly why Iain doesn't like it. :)

I also saw a vid of John Anderson (doorman from "Watch my back") teaching the short hook and he stressed throwing the hook "into" the man rather than around in a circle. He was throwing slightly palm out/thumb down rather than palm in or down.

So my conclusion is that so long as you can land well with it and don't damage your hands it's a good hook. Someone you KO isn't going to be worried whether they got hit palm in, down or out.

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

This reminds me of a Shotokan Dojo near me where I remember the young 2nd Dan said to the students he was teaching, in the deepest frontstance I'd seen, saying "There are no Hook punches in Karate"

My thought was 'With a deep stance like that I can see why there's none in Your School'

I tend to give the option and its down to whichever is more appropriate for the particular moment.

Tau's picture

One style of Kickboxing that I did taught a "verticle" hook punch. I didn't like it as I felt there was too great a risk of hyperflexiing the wrist on impact. Certainly the allignment of carpals to radius struck me as awful. Some of there students subsequently came to train with me to get some of the skills that they're missing. I'm of the mind that there are different ways to do things and if someone has a methods that's different to mine then as long as it's safe (most importantly) and effective then why should I change it? But I did insist on "horizontal" hook punches and everyone has commented that they used to have wrist pain after hook punches, but didn't after training with me.

Incidentally I've had a couple of pre-teens and teenagers have wrist pain on some punches. Remember the scaphoid bone doesn't develop until around aged 12. In this case, I have then palm-heel strike instead.

Drew Loto
Drew Loto's picture

I've participated in MMA classes that began students with the palm in style of hook punches.  They claimed that the palm in position aids students becoming comfortable with the tight box like shape of the technique.  Eventually, once students become comfortable with that type of hook punch they would move on to the palm down type in order to reap any potential benefits that variation provides.

Steve Gombosi
Steve Gombosi's picture

I hate to revive a moribund thread just to make my first quasi-substantive post, but I think it's strictly dependent on the relative positions of you and your (doubtless moving) opponent. The palm-down hook includes the palm-in variation: it's just an earler phase of the movement. The key is to keep your wrist aligned throughout the movement so you won't be injured if you end up making contact when the palm is in. I think that's what the form is trying to teach us in, for example, the Naihanchi/Tekki kata. You learn the full movement, with maximum extension, but delivered in such a way that the shorter version will be safe and successful. You hit your opponent where he is, as opposed to some theoretically optimal position. I would make the same argument about fist position (inverse, vertical, 3/4 turn, and full turn) in a straight punch as well.

For what it's worth, noted professional boxing trainer Freddie Roach also teaches the hook palm-down (check out his boxing DVDs), and his students seem to have been relatively successful with it (albeit with gloves and taped wrists).  

senshido's picture

In Kyokushin, the hook to the body (kage tsuki) is taught palm down, I prefer to do it this way as you can move round your opponents body into a sanchin type stance to get a lot of power in it. In general for this type of work the punching arm is kept close to your own body.

If I was boxing or kick boxing however (with gloves) I use palm in to the head, bare knuckle, palm out or 45 degrees towards the ground.

As has been said before... different circumstances requires different strikes