Tuesday, March 24, 2015

To Punch or Palm Strike

Got this question from John...

     "Hi, Hock; just got your punching module download, busy watching it, have got a question, though. When do you punch? Not talking about before, after, or during his attacks, as you say on the film, but instead when do you punch and when do you palm strike? I think I get it about "the target determines the weapon," but is that all there is to it? Really enjoy your stuff by the way. All the best, John."

     Thanks, John. No matter what I say here, it will be argued over and controversial for some folks. There are people fixated on the palm strike and vice-versa. But here goes. The old rule of thumb is, "hit something hard with something soft; hit something soft with something hard."

      I am not one of these "anti-fist-you'll-always-break-your-hand" stalwarts. Have I hurt my hand punching people's faces? Not always, and I have never flat-out broken my hand. Though I had to have surgery a few years back correcting damage from hitting someone's pointy chin with an uppercut. The chin! (And, no, I could not have used the beloved "chin-jab" from my side position.) I have had numerous friends with broken hands from punching people to the head; most were cops. I suspect they did not "know" how to punch, but some of them did know how and still had problems.

     I think the really dangerous part to punch on the head is the bicycle helmet area of the skull. Lower, the jaw usually does give when hit. The head even gives on the neck when hit. But that skull top, once reflexively dropped or turned down to the side when incoming punches are perceived, are the really dangerous times for the fist. The bike helmet area!

     Another point?The individual's hand or fist. How big is the hand? How solid and tight the fist? Some people are never meant to punch. Some with cinder-block-fists should only punch! I think every student in a class needs to hear this fist/palm inspection and briefing
at least once. (As an aside? Fighter's hands inside boxing gloves are not making tight fists. This is a problem for some people when they suddenly have to go bare-knuckle/glove-less. Remember when Mike Tyson hit that mugger with a bare fist and broke his hand? MMA gloves are so much better. I think people should limit wearing classic boxing gloves to a bare minimum. I understand they are needed for some drills and exercises. I, too, use them for that; but I think people overuse boxing gloves, like when hitting heavy bags. Use MMA Gloves!  Now if you're just a boxer, and you know it? Then sure - use the boxing gloves.)

     Another point?The aim. If you aim at the nose as many systems naively suggest, when and if the head drops, the forehead/bike helmet area is hit instead. BAM! So aim lower. And that high, hook punch? He turns and drops his head, and you have that classic knuckle-splitter problem. So aim lower still.

      Another point? Whenever an arresting fight would begin for me? If I had to get into a ready-fighting-position? I always kept my hands open, as opposed to the option of the fighting stance with closed fists; so I started with an "anything goes," open-hand kind of platform. From there? All options open, to include grappling.


     Another point?Many proponents of the palm strike condemn the fist punch as ever-so breakable. "Use palm strikes only!" they demand. But you could also hurt your hand and wrist doing palm strikes. I have had some serious aches and pains with palm strikes, too. Hyper-extended wrists, etc. So have a few of my martial veteran friends. I know! Desk-bound critics will declare you hit on the wrong part of the hand. But with two parties in motion, stuff happens.

     People will occasionally mention punching the teeth, and what a shame that is. But you can also palm strike the teeth area and get some from injuries. The fact is that when you use your body to hit somebody else's body, you might hurt your body in some manner.

     Yet another point? Fists? Palms? Which causes more damage? Would they be on par to each other for causing injury? Hmmm. Honestly, I don't know for sure. Palms to ears are great (flat palms are fine - you don't need those extra "cupped-palms versions"). But that is another situational question. I worked a case once where a guy was shot in the head four times and walked out of the hospital that night. The rounds did not penetrate the skull and just traveled around the scalp. They plucked the slugs out and sewed him up. After you think about that? How can we effectively list damages and effects on a chart within the chaos of life, bodies, and weapons? If I can't promise that shooting a guy in the head will kill someone? What else can I promise? You never really can predict what a shot, a stab, a punch, a kick, or a palm strike will do to someone. You can hope! You can guess. You may bet, but you really cannot be sure. 
     And more still? There's probably more, but I am just typing away freestyle here with stuff right off the tip of my tongue. No doubt this will kick off more opinionated discussions.

      Looking for that "magic bullet advice" on how to instantaneously decide between the two? I will never be able to tell anyone once in a fight, once over him or under him, or standing before an opponent, in that split instant, when and where they should decide to select a palm strike or a fist punch. That is so situational. 

     I teach and exercise people through both of these strikes. I issue the above warnings and leave it to them as to the "when's and where's" and to their own little personal arsenal they must customize for themselves. If they want to ignore punching? Ignore palm strikes? Hey, I don't care. Just experiment with it all. 

     Think about it. Work it out. Decide. Make that intelligent, informed choice is all I ask.

Email Hock at HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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Combat Strikes 1, 2, 3

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