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#106986 - 12/30/04 06:54 PM Why its the training and not the punch!
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
As Multiverse and I frequently disagree on the strength or weaknesses of striking different ways I thought it might be worthwhile to go further in my own analysis of same.

First I use a very wide ranges of striking in my personal study. I see them all as tools with various merits to be used.

Striking (and all motion) is more complex than just where do you place the bones of your arm and hand when you strike.

If you step away from the PREJUDICE of your own studies and try looking further you readily see EVERYONE believes they're doing the strongest technique, and always have.

Arts continually change, evolve, mutate on that quest. If there was a simple right answer nobody would do anything else.

But there isn't. The Chinese have been doing it far longer than the Okinawan styilsts, and they have no universal right answer. The Shaolin influenced Northern Styles (Sil Lum, Tai Tong Long, Faan Tzi Ying Jow Pai) to name a few all use the full turning fist. Others like Wing Chun and Tai Chi use vertical strikes.

Moving to other cultures you can also find vertical striking in Bando's technique structure to pick another example, and I've never heard anyone who faced the Bando dudes feel their punches were weaker.

So the range of answers from Okinawn origin are not unique or necessarily better. If you instrutor told you way "A" is best, that's the right answer for you, just not necessarily so for the next guy.

Now Multiverse and others like to get into the alignment of the striking arm bones as proof the 3/4 turning punch is superior, the inference first the other punches are weaker and more dangerous.

Unfortunately it takes more than x-rays, where's the proof? Where are the statistics how many have injured themselves, not been able to strike for power with the other punches? Where is there proof the others have been so blind not to notice their weakness?

I've never seen any credible answer to those questions, just the claims otherwise.

The truth is more complex than arm placement during striking, because you don't strike with your arm, you use your whole body. The knee release mechanism during striking causes different bodily alignment, so if you strike with a 3/4 turning fist, your body will work one way, but with a full turning fist it works somewhat differently.

It's not just the arm or bone alignment. The full issue of body alignment during striking is so complex the vocabulary doesn't even exist for us to discuss it here. Perhaps the modern coregrapher's language to record dance might do it, but we don't have that available.

The truth is indepth correct study of your style of striking will develop the body's ability to make the punch work. That's why they all work if properly trained, and it's why none is superior to the other. It's a much more involved discussion than just where the arm bones are involved.

Then while basic striking and use of makiwara to train some of striking specifics are important, in reality you striking abody with different shapes. Different areas of the body require different closing on the strike, so often even a stylist that uses the complete turning fist will shape their strike to the body they're striking.

Then you add the dynamics of the vertical strike as in Isshinryu, it's an entirely different beast. The hand chambers in standing position, so there is no turning involved, the arm actually makes a figure '0' during execution out and return. The method of striking can be the flat fist (as in the turning varieties) or it can be with the knuckles, as a standing ridge, or a single 2nd knuckle strike.

The thumb is not used for the strike or to tighten the fingers, and in the case of the ridge knuckle strikes the alignment of the wrist provides all the strength needed. No, the thumb knuckle has other uses to gouge and flow into multiple strikes, which are not available to those using the turning fist. It becomes an extra tool in the tool chest.

I can't say why the vertical was actually adopted (no formal notes were kept) but I've heard and experienced one plausable theory. That being when people actually fought, the pressure of the onslaught caused those who used turning punches to be less than perfect and actually use vertical ones. I've seen plenty of people in todays world do the same, regardless of how they train, when they've acutally fought they change their technique.

So perhaps the answer was if people really use vertical punches why not specialize in them? Of course you could say they could train better to use their actual training, and I can't disagree with that.

But the vertical strike did enter the picture. An entirely different paradigm from the old style fist (which I also use) or newer one, all in the turning variety.

And of course there's another structural answer why the turning fist is actually weaker. It has to do with facing an experienced opponent and missing. If the fist begins turning it is very easy to use that against the owner (providing they didn't hit you first). The vertical strike with no turn is actually much, much, much harder to work against for those who might counter and grab you. And it doesn't matter if you turn the fist 1/2, 3/4 or the full enchilada. The fact the arm has turned can be used against one.

Well that's my opening case on this. Please don't believe and whatever you do don't stop using those turning fists. As I'm so older and slower I'll take any adavantage you choose to hand me.

My words are not the entire picture, but this is what I've observed and practice. And while I feel most comfortably vertically, I've been trained to use all of them, by people that can strike with the best.

I'm very, very little in the scheme of things, but I hope I've explained a little of what I see.

Victor Smith
bushi no te isshinryu

[This message has been edited by Victor Smith (edited 12-30-2004).]

#106987 - 12/31/04 05:22 AM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!

I have been instructed to punch 3/4.
When striking makiwara, 3/4 punch feels best for me. We used to strike a lot makiwara in the 'old' days. Now I only strike a 'matras' that is used in gymnastics. I put it vertical against the wall and practise seiken, keiko ken and nukite on it. I use the heavy bag for teisho, hiji, knee and shin conditioning.
When you punch full power into these tools, and it feels ok, meaning that you can feel optimum power release into the striked area, your punch is ok, wether it's 3/4, full or vertical. Also in partner training, using protective bodygear and fistgear, you can evaluate your punches.
For kata competitors I usually instruct to use the full twist as it is the most common
practise in WKF-ruled tournaments but I never tell it's wrong to use the 3/4. I think it's a matter of personal preference.
As for verical fist, goju-ryu knows 2 vertical fist techniques, the keiko-ken wich is a common practise in most styles I think (punch with the middle joint of the index finger) and the tateken zuki, vertical fist strike useally to nose and lips.
The 3/4 or full twist punch is used as basic technique to explain dynamics in punching. To test these dynamics you can use makiwara or punching bag. In real self defense you use techniques like keiko-ken nakadaka-ippon-ken, teisho, nukite, boshi-ken .... The seiken is the basic punch, if it is executed in an improper way, all other fist techniques will be executed improperly and it will damage your finger, wrists ....
In goju-ryu the basic seiken zuki is almost not found (except gekisai)in kata and there where it is used, it is probably changed from open hand techniques. So why is the seiken zuki practised the most in general?
I think because it teaches basic dynamics in fist techniques and the conditioning necesary to deliver powerfull technique is safest practised this way. Also, the fist formed this way is the most natural way in striking.
In the end, if basics are ok, your fighting ability is a matter of use of prefered techniques.

#106988 - 12/31/04 06:16 AM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!

We've used the 3/4 punch for years so it feels more powerful and natural to me now. In the past I used the full twist punch in TKD for about 3 yrs. But now it feels weak and we see it as a sport version.
What about the masters changing the punch to protect school students from hurting themselves(is that founded?)1906 I believe it was.
But no matter it's up to the student to practice what they feel works best for them and let others do the same without criticism.

"Train til' you die"

All American Goju Karate

#106989 - 01/01/05 06:35 PM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!
senseilou Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 2082
Loc: Glendale, Az.
I am on the same page with Mr. Smith. We also use other strikes more than the twist punch. I teach the twist punch to our beginners and refer to it more as a rotation punch than twist. But the purpose I use it for is to teach proper rotation, proper alignments and proper transmission of power. We teach the rotation becuse we us it in our other strikes and combinations as well. We do a finger jab(spear hand) to the eye, and then rotate our wrist for a shuto to the jaw, without cocking the hand. This takes proper rotation and body mechnaics to achieve. We also stress to punch from where your hand is, so we don't like to coil or retract to the chamber before we strike, rather from where the hand is already. You can't do this either without proper rotations.

I prefer the verticle punch as well. I hardly ever use the twist punch for myself. I teach it, but don't use it. I prefer my other strikes or boxing type strikes. We employ all the boxing strikes and like to lead with jabs, hooks and uppercuts, from the lead hand. We also use hammers, ridge hands and my favorite forearms more than punches. Another point here along with the type of punch is how you perform it. We stress 'transmission of power'. I have seen some styles keep their back foot planted, others who use the ball of the foot to push off. It's harder to push off with the ball of the foot and use a twist punch. So it really depends on, As one of my Sensei says "how you move" I agee too that there is more than one way to get this done, and there is not a way. I have studied with some Hawaiian Instructors who use the wrist bone instead of the knifedge of the hand for a strike. I have trained with some Silant practioners that use hammers almost exclusively. Then again others who use the twist punch or 3/4 punch. I too am getting older and have done this for a long time. I am on the back side of my training, and am no longer young and as spry as I once was, so I need to compensate in my body dynamics. I like to move less, and align my body to do the maximum damge with out moving alot. I also am trying to disguise my punches, or make them hidden so they are not so obvious. Another trick of the old gang. Its the punch that you don't see that knocks you out, so I am working on trying to make my punches less visible. In order to do this I have to move less and keep my movements subtle and out of my attackers vision plane. The more he sees me move something, the more he can read me. So like Mr. Smith its the lessons you learn from performing the punch, not the punch itself. One of my Sensei said once you learn proper rotations, it does matter what weapon on the body you use or what weapon you have in your hand. Punching with the proper angle, rotation and transmission of pwer is what is important , not the punch itself.

Us old guys got to stick together!

#106990 - 01/01/05 08:13 PM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!
Multiversed Offline

Registered: 03/11/03
Posts: 642
Loc: Sa, Tx. USA
The traditional Seito punch makes no turns at all. It does not torque. It is the natural positions of your hands if they are held in front of you without turning them to the outside (vertical punch) or the inside (horizontal punch). It's the happy medium between the extremes.

There are times when you can twist your fist in order to engage the knuckles. As a rule you should just throw your punch straight forward and back, using as little protagonistic muscle action as possible. Like a boxer the fist is held loosely and then tensed upon impact. After years of training, the suppleness of your forearm muscles will increase as well as sinew strength and flexibility, and the fists can be held tighter from beginning to end.

There is soooo much I could detail dealing with proper biomechanics based on not one style but real science.

When you make a fist the fingers other than the first two are used to splint or reinforce the contacting surface. For this reason the thumb should rest along the bottom of the balled-up fingers not on top of the index finger. That's just wrong and one of the reasons that, for all it's efficacy, Isshin Ryu IMHO is a flawed system.

Now if you did the traditional standing fist punch where all digits are splinted, like in Wing Chun, then I would say cool, good technique. If you contacted with your weakest digits (last two fingers) then I would say "ohhhh, not smart, bad technique".

I'm basing my posts on truth and the most sound way, not what I want or making something round fit into a square hole. That's just stubborn. I give proof not anecdotal evidence based on other faulty training. That's good you've never sprained or broken anything. Good luck if you insist on using the Isshin punch as your main punching weapon. BTW for you Wing Chunners, a "Boxer's Fracture" occurs when you strike using the last fingers of your hand which do not articulate with your "wrist bone" and which make a discontinuous line with the weak bone of your arm (the ulna).

Often MAs types don't like to use physics or proper science to explain their techs. They just follow what they were taught and leave it at that. It's to be expected. It happens in every profession even medicine where the understanding of the physician is not based on being to break things down into simple terms, but to use only their professions nomenclature and terms to describe things to their patients.

I ilke to understand things on all levels and be able to translate them to whatever group or person I'm speaking too. When I do medicine I don't use doctor terms. I understand how to translate the medical junk into lay terms. Same on here. I can't type for an hour trying to explain to you why you're wrong. Just know that if you do things in a less right way I will tell you.

You should do the same to me. If you can prove I'm wrong then do it with your words. If we ever trained together you can do it with your words and actions. If it works better than the way I know I'll adapt and adopt in a quick minute. I'm just giving you a more scientific or medical perspective to these things. I don't just hope what I say is true I test it in the dojo too. It's not all theory and it was all here even before I knew it. I will say that the karate I've learned under Lindsey is the most scientific and realistic I've encountered.

He's does do seminars. Invite him to your school and see if you like what he says and if what he says works. You'll be more than pleasantly surprised, trust me. He does do the art of the Head of the Royal Palace Guard at Shuri after all [IMG][/IMG]. What he taught (Sokon) was for quick, efficient and effective self-preservation, not for prolonged fighting in a fair manner. Food for thought.

Happy New Year and happy training!!!

[This message has been edited by Multiversed (edited 01-01-2005).]

#106991 - 01/01/05 10:26 PM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

Let's see there's been thousands of Isshinryu practitioners in the past 50 years and to my best knowledge I've never heard of one breaking their hand with our punch. Which by the way would be a somewhat more significant statistical pool than the number of people who've practiced your system.

And there've been multi thousands of others who use the full twisting punch, etc. with similar results.

Sure I'm sure somebody somewhere made a mistake in their technique and hurt their hand, but any system can have that happen. I'm talking raw statistics. If the punch is flawed then the damages should be adding up.

Where's the proof, you're making the claim that it dosn't work.

As for medical analysis, I have a surgeon who switched to my system 16 years ago as a 3rd dan in Goju. He is extremely critical of anything that could be damaging in our practice and has never had one bit of concern about the vertial punch.

The truth is the difference is as trivial as the difference betwen all the Okinawan system when someone who martially trained outside of karate looks at them and wonders why they are all so bothered about such little differences.

My proof is quite simple, in say the last 50 years on Okinawa, how many Okinawan's have abandoned their systems and switched to Seito? Some sure, but if the Okinawan Seito can't make their case to the other Okinawan's to abandon their Uechi, Shorin, Isshin and Goju traditions, that Seito is the best way, why bother to try and make an obscure point.

I don't doubt your technique can work, but there are many times many traditions on Okinawa that also work. It takes more than an impressive seminar to prove a point. That would only prove what is there works, not that others don't.

Alas I'll take the evidence I've seen and experienced every time. As you seem to take yours in the same idea.

And I've seen Mr. Lindsey, and Mr. Kise and their technique. It's ok, but not so I'm interested. In turn I'm not trying to convince you to switch to my system.


Victor Smith

#106992 - 01/02/05 05:43 PM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Let me tell all of you what happens as you age, you forget and repeat yourself.

I suspect Multivese and I previously had this conversation about striking on e-budo in 2001, alas my memory failed me, but doing some research today I found it, with essentialy the same discussion.

You can read it at

Nothing new under the universe at times.


#106993 - 01/04/05 01:54 PM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!
Ironfoot Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/10/04
Posts: 2682
Loc: St. Clair Shores, MI USA
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Multiversed:
When you make a fist the fingers other than the first two are used to splint or reinforce the contacting surface. For this reason the thumb should rest along the bottom of the balled-up fingers not on top of the index finger. That's just wrong and one of the reasons that, for all it's efficacy, Isshin Ryu IMHO is a flawed system.

Who says the ring & pinky fingers "splint"?
Seems to me this allows the knuckles that comprise the striking surface to relax. The thumb on top reinforces the wrist, which is injured far more often that the hand in punching. If you tighten the fist chiefly with the index & middle fingers that also helps in bracing the wrist.

#106994 - 01/05/05 11:54 AM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!
reaperblack Offline

Registered: 04/30/04
Posts: 558
Loc: Victoria, BC, Canada
OK now I need to throw my 2 cents in, because that is what I came here for. Since our last discussion on the topic I have analysed my strikes a little more in depth (for no other purpose than this discussion really) and now I will share with you what I have found. (a) what type of fist formation you need to use depends on what type of strike you are attempting to do and how far away your uke is.
(b) it can also be varied by what stance you are in and the opening that your opponent displays.
I know some of you are chomping at the bit already to argue but give me a second.
If you are standin in an orthodox stance suitable for boxing or kickboxing then the jab and cross are totally different punches, when you jab you don't need torque, as a matter of fact the turning of your elbow creates an opening that is completely unnecessary. If you throw a backfist however then you must torque or it has no force, or speed and limits its usefullness to certain targets. If you are throwing an uppercut with the lead hand you must torque your hand or you will land with the pinky finger, probably breaking it. If you do turn your fist enough (while still vertical) that you land a larger knuckle you may either do damage to the wrist or the force will be diffused over the entire face of the fist. Lead hand hook: you may or may not throw a whipping hook, but if you do then the thumb must be down and the fist rolled all the way (270) in order to make contact with anything other than the inside of the fist. This punch must be torqued or it has no force.
Rt. The hand should be turned in variation depending on the distance to the target. Close range it may remain either palm up or vertical depending on the target and intent for damage (put it where it fits), medium range torqes to 3/4 and for maximum penetration, distance, and force, should be rotated to horizontal at outside distance. Worth noting is that this punch should also be done with the hips rotated and both knees bent, for penetration, balance, force, and speed of retreat. As far as overrotating for this punch, I saw no benefit, I see no issue, but it gives no more penetration or force.
As far as doing damage to ones fist or arm from improper formation: I hit makiwara and heavy bags with open hand, tiger claw, panther (leopard) fist, crane hands, single fingers, thumbs, etc. I have never had an injury. If you do the conditioning it doesn't matter, if you talk all day about it being wrong then of course it doesn't work. On this, Sensei Smith, you and I are in agreement. And as far as the location of the thumb, I see the difference only in being able to use it to poke instead of trying to form a phoenix eye. Let me guess, that will break my finger right? If you do enough grip exercises, tiger claw push ups, open hand strikes, and overall hand conditioning, it doesn't matter what you hit with. Although I will still stay away from the pinky

#106995 - 01/05/05 10:19 PM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!
Multiversed Offline

Registered: 03/11/03
Posts: 642
Loc: Sa, Tx. USA
Reaper it does matter what you hit with and yes you can make some bones stronger but you can't change the overall makeup or structure of certain anatomical parts.

I already explained why hitting with the last two knuckles is potentially more injurious than striking with the first 2 knuckles. As a Shorinkan guy you should not only know this but you should have been taught this.

You can hit a standing or even springy makiwara with many fist forms because you are controlling the variables. With an oncoming opponent there is not telling what amount of force or the direction of the force that'll be subjected on your striking appendage.

You don't have to turn your hand with a hook, but you can and it won't hurt to do so. Same with and uppercut, if your fist is formed correctly those first 2 knuckles should almost always contact first. Are there times you use torque? Sure, but usually only with hooking punches and uppercuts.

I was speaking of the traditional straight punch, which makes more sense for self-preservation. The bone-on-bone nature of a good bare-knuckle punch gives you the extra power needed or generated with a cushioned hand. No need for over rotation.

Good replies and good looking out to you cool guys. Catch you on the flip-flop, or something like that!

#106996 - 01/06/05 01:22 AM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!

Yes, the PUNCH. Through out the whole history of MA any where in the world, no other subject (except perhaps sex and chi) has generated more argument.

Why? because it is THE most used item in any fight, and we all know in any fight, the variables are so, well, varied that there cannot be a one-size-fit-all answer.

My views are:-

I agree substantially with Reaperblack (I did roughly the same research many years ago)and modified my own training accordingly as a result of a bad combat injury of the wrist.

Of the full twist, 3/4 twist, vertical, even the 'pinky' punch, there all have their place and time in a fight. Added to this will also be that for every type of punch, there is a specific conditioning method tailored for it and a special way to execute it so that you won't suffer the kind of injuries commonly associated therewith.

I'll skip the specific training methods for each; suffice to say, it involves a lot more than just striking the makiwara and tiger claw push-ups. It will require a mini manual.

But let me touch on the full twist punch. The best place for this punch is in two basic scenarios.

one, when a lot of arm-power is not available because the available target happens to be near AND not directly in front, but awkwardly to the side. The power will be all from a waist-torque. No so-called 'snapping' or 'whipping' here as the distance travelled is very short and you want to put a punch in quickly before the target moves.

two, the long-range snapping or whipping punch, the so-called boxer's punch, but with a full twist. Here the target is far away and to reach it you need to extend your arm until your elbow is a millimetre shy of being straight and the only power available to you is the snap or whip at the end of the punch. This will be to soft targets like the stomach, liver areas. Needless to say, a lot of specialised training is required to make this work and not hurt yourself. The good thing about this punch, with proper specialised training, is the blinding speed from any originating angle because of the absolute absence of opposing arm muscle antagonism by way of full relaxation of the triceps.

Now, the vertical pinky punch. I will use this punch on only one occasion. When the opponent is a lot taller and I am going for his chin, when the upper-cut is not necessary because my pinky is already quite near. Here, my thumb will be resting on top of the index finger instead of the normal curl. This, besides being able to tighten the pinky more, will also harden the tendons on left and right side of the wrist.
There will also be a tilt of the fist when in the full vertical position.

As Reaperblack has already taken the two cents slot, I'll settle for 2 1/2 cents?

#106997 - 01/06/05 06:24 PM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!

ANY punching is a risky venture. What is the most common injury in asault or "fraccas"?

Injured knuckles.

My theory is, train using different methods if you are interested, and develop them into true tools of fighting. Bagwork and sparring will sort either the techniques or your form out.

#106998 - 01/06/05 06:56 PM Re: Why its the training and not the punch!
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

[This message has been edited by Victor Smith (edited 01-06-2005).]

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