The fist punch withe the rear hand is the most basic of strikes in any martial art. It is a ‘natural’ movement – this is what everyone sees in a standard fight.
Being a strike forward, the common stance is a forward stance to balance the force of impact. As described in the section of Centre of Power, the shoulders should be perpendicular to the punch, and the striking hand should be in the centre of the body. Striking hand palm down, opposite hand at the waist, palm up.
The strongest position for the strike is in the centre of the body - the 'centre of power' as described in the Advanced section 'Mechanics of Strikes'. For this reason, it is important that each strike ends on the centreline of the body and not directly in front of the shoulder.
Correct position of hand on the centerline of the body
Hand off-centre costing power of the technique.
For all forward strength techniques, the centre of power is perpendicular from the centre of the chest. This is the most natural for the punch, although many students over-reach - turning the shoulders and moving the centre of power off the strike. While techniques will still work when not on centre, extra strength will be required.
The punch can be done at three standard positions - high, middle and low.
Many instructors will be quite strict on the positioning, but this is mainly for uniformity - so the class looks the same. In practice, the positions of the strike is an indication:
High Strike - is around your head height, but clearly a small person will need a high strike to hit a tall persons abdomen
Mid Strike - is a horizontal strike, so your arm is parallel to the ground
Low Strike - is aiming for your stomach level.
A detailed explanation of the punch can be seen in the section ‘Mechanics of Strikes’, but the basic steps include:
Punching while stationary:
- The rear hand is rarely used as a technique by itself – you have either just jabbed with the front hand or have blocked an attack. For maximum power, it is important for the front hand – or balance hand – to be extended
- Moving forward in your stance will add body weight to the technique. Keep balance and retract the rear shoulder to load up the strike
- Bring forward the rear shoulder, extend the rear arm and retract the balance hand.
Guard is up
The front hand jabs - both as a distraction and as a balance hand for the strike
Shoulder starts moving forward
Rear hand extends as the front hand is pulled back
Rear hand straightens while the balance hand is pulled back to the waist
As described in the Yin Yang section, your hands need to be balanced to gain the most power. Not only does this mean the front (balance) hand is pulled back hard as the striking hand is extended, but both hands twist in the same direction, opposite to each other. When the balance hand is extended, it is palm down and the striking hand is palm up, During the strike, both will rotate until they are each facing the opposite way to the start.
Hands parallel and palms opposite directions
As rear hand punches and twists, forward hand retracts and twists
Both hands remain parallel throughout the movement
Hands finish opposite to where they started
Punching while stepping is identical except for timing it correctly with the stepping foot. While often it is important to step to be in the right position for your technique, whenever your foot is off the ground, you have little balance. It is important that your stepping foot does touch the ground fractionally before the strike lands, as you will use your stance to help pull your arm forward.
Balance hand is extended
Rear foot is brought forward to be close to the front foot, to keep balance while you are stepping
Rear foot steps out and lands a fraction of a second before the strike is performed
Distance from opponent
A common issue with the punch is getting the distance to the opponent correct. There are three general distances with all these movements:
- Too far away: If you are too far from the opponent when your striking arm is fully extended, there is no power left to impact the opponent. This is why some students feel the need to over-extend their arm or stance, comprimising power in the process.
- Just right: When you are the correct distance from the opponent, your arm is still slightly bent when your fist touches. The power in your arm can continue and 'push through' the opponent with the strike. A good gauge is that when your fist touches the target, you can still extend your arm a fist distance forward without over-extending
- Too close: When you are too close, you do not have enough distance to gain full power in your strike. Your fist will touch the opponent when your arm to too bent and you will not achieve much impact.
Too far from opponent. Arm is fully extended before impact
Correct distance from opponent. Fist touches opponent and can still extend a fist distance forward into the opponent
Too close to opponent. Fist touches while the arm is too bent - full power has not been generated
Mechanics of Strikes - how to get additional power and speed into the strike.