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Finlay's picture
finger tip 'strikes'

in the patterns/kata there are lots of movements that seem to be interprated as finger tip strikes. i guess the notion is that sometimes in the past people conditioned themselves to a point where their fingers could jab through people.

is there any validity to finger tip strikes at all?

In my mind the idea of being able to pierce the skin of someone with a fingertip thrust is a little silly, but even to take the notion back a little and to attempt to  inflict minor damage to someone by hitting with fingers seems a little high risk, low yield. I have seen people perform breaking demonstations with fingertips but as we know breaking a board and breaking a person are very different things.

of course finger strength is important and gouging and grabbing can be an effective method but striking???? 

When looking through the forms most of what is claimed to be striking with fingers can also be applied as takedowns with the fingers actually going past the person and the attacking tool being the forearm.

so once again has anyone come across any validity to using the fingertips as a striking tool

Wastelander's picture

Fingertip strikes, and other small-surface strikes, are certainly valid striking methods, but only when used appropriately. Nobody is going to shove a spearhand through someone's rib cage. Fingertips and other small-surface strikes to the eyes and neck work just fine, though.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

The tips of the fingers can be used to strike the eyes, throat, suprasternal notch, etc. To make this work effectively we need some grip / datum to ensure accuracy. Any such strike without a grip / datum requires an impractical degree of accuracy within the chaos of conflict; so we can put them to one side as fanciful. We can also put to one side the idea of striking hard surfaces with the tips of the fingers too (such as the solar plexus). While it is true that we can “condition” our fingers / cripple ourselves such that we can deliver such a strike; that strike is still going to be less effective that a punch to the same area … and by not destroying our hands we can avoid suffering in later life, maintain the ability to write, play musical instruments, tie our own shoes, etc.

Worth noting that Funakoshi mocks some of the more outlandish claims about fingertip strikes in Karate-Do: My Way of Life:

“Many students of karate still choose, for one reason or another, to foster such myths. For example, a man who is relatively unfamiliar with the art may say to an adept: “I understand that you practice karate. Tell me, can you really shatter a huge rock with your fingers? Can you really make a hole in a man’s belly with them?” ... What nonsense!”

So, I do think they have a use, and can be effective if done right. But let’s not get carried away and be mindful of the cost / benefit ratio of excessive conditioning vs health.

All the best,


Stuart Akers
Stuart Akers's picture

Ok a couple of points about fingers, there is no such thing as finger strength - there are no muscles in fingers, forearm muscles define grip not fingers.

We have tried all sorts, the one we all dreaded was the seed box, a large plastic box full of a mixture of dried peas/rice/birdseed, 20 mins minutes of kneeling on the carpet and plunging spear hands into this mixture used to leave the quick at the bottom of your nails shredded and bleeding, anyone with long nails soon found out another reason to cut them short, septic fingernails really sting.

My latest aquisition are a pair of neck braces you use for whiplash injuries, other than Wed R & D (Ian and I) my usual Uke is anyone I find who isn't actively hiding, we'd tried these out on a Wed session and I thought we'd introduce then into a self defence session.

Squaddie Jim was unfortunately the Uke, the whole scenarion doesn't really matter, the finish was a simple straight fingers strike to the front of the throat, something I've demonstrated a 1,000 times and never hurt anyone. I'm used to the length of my arm and fingers but I didn't really allow for the 2" of padding.

Damn they are effective, however red faced and retching on the floor is not  how I like to leave my students, so I put one on and attacked Jim. I know I didn't go in as hard and fast as I could, I was too busy trying to tense my throat. 

There's no way I could have carried on the attack, on your knees, eyes streaming and trying to breath is not condusive to continued aggression. 

Kevin73's picture

The following is a video of the "Finger Set" from American Kenpo.  It is basically a catalog of all the different tips of finger strikes. 

As to their use, I have met people with big sausage fingers that could effectively spear up into the abdomin and grab a rib (not through the skin, but I hope you know what I mean) that was excruciating.  They could spear up into the armpit and then grab around the pectoral insert like it was a handle.  And this was done while actively resisting.  For the average person, I don't know how much would be obtainable due to physical limitations.

The old masters spent lots of time not only conditioning, but in many cases damaging the fingers/knuckles etc. to deaden nerves or cause other physical damage to "toughen" their body weapon. I don't think that is necessary in today's society.  

From personal experience, the time I used a spearhand to the throat to back someone up (and luckily discouraged them further) was a variation that I learned.  Hit the chest with a heel palm and then "slide" the hand up into the jugualr notch for the spear portion.  Very easy to do and no jammed fingers.