Originally Posted By: Matakiant
So what is it?

This is something that bothers me. Quite a few times in life I've been told that my punching is not ''karate punching'' that it's just ''boxing''.

That I don't do this twist here or that I don't punch from the hip there or that I punch from a guard and so on...

When I try to explain that it is a Karate punch because of the body mechanics behind it, the way I use my legs, my core and so on I get looked at funny by most and then I realize I'm wasting my time with those people.

But the general question here is. What makes a punch a Karate punch. What is the Karate technique for you.


Well, as specifically applies to your individual punch, I wouldn't think of offering an opinion, since I'd have to see it first.
As a general topic, though: Funny I should stumble on this thread today. That's 'cause yesterday I was watching a boxer training on the heavy bag in my gym. In fact, it was a woman. And as is often the case with very fit females, she had a figure worthy of admiration. So this was what caught my eye first. wink But soon enough I stopped watching the form of her body and became interested in the form of her punches. Watching served to remind me of what I think the main differences are.
IMO (and I emphasize that because others may well have a different take), the Karate adept will seek to ground himself more than a boxer will while punching. So, even from a boxing-like "fighting stance", the Karate-ka will at least try to widen his stance, if only a smidgen. He will also try to drop his hips, if only a bit. The most obvious difference will be the oft-mentioned hip rotation, which can be foreshortened, but is more pronounced in a Karate punch than in boxing.
Hand positioning while sparring/fighting nowadays is a question of how tight to the body the hands are held, as most Karate styles have dropped the more exotic guards in favor of those that resemble boxing's, whether the more open, back-of-the-fist-forward bare knuckled boxing guard or gloved boxing's tighter one. But there will be more of an attempt by the Karate-ka to add rotation to his punch. This is something that the boxer either doesn't worry about, or is an afterthought.
There is no, or very little, follow through with a Karate punch (or overextension, from a Karate point of view), whereas this is much more the case in boxing when delivering a power punch. OTOH, there is more emphasis in adding power to all punches in Karate, even the jab-like kisame-zuki than in boxing. As a result on this emphasis of lowering the stance, hips, rotation, etc., the Karate punch, though fast, isn't as fast as in boxing.
I might've missed one or two things, and will kick myself for it later. But as an off the cuff response, this is what comes to mind.
My take is that there is a much stronger sport bias in boxing tactics than there is in Karate. Gloves, rules and referee tend to prolong the fight. And the gloves make hits less damaging than bare knuckles. So the boxer has three things in mind: To try to knock out his opponent, to wear him out to make the first easier or to win by points. So, since number of punches thrown and landed count, the boxer is more willing to throw out quicker, less powerful punches. Lowering the stance and engaging the hips to add power takes more time than to just whip out a punch with arms and a bit of shoulder rotation, and score points. Conversely, lower stance and hips come at the cost of mobility being impaired a bit. The boxer wants to be able to move away quickly in order not to get scored on in turn. More follow through is explained by the desirability of a swift knockout, whereas losing balance and ending on the floor will cause the referee merely to stop the action until the boxer regains his feet.
Karate, OTOH, in it's origins (as opposed to more recent times) wasn't intended as a sport, but as a method of self defense. So Karate tactics are focused towards a short, sharp bare knuckles fight where the opponent is battered into being ineffective or until escaping becomes possible. So mobility isn't as much an issue as powerful punches, speed of delivery less an issue than hitting harder and remaining on one's feet is much more important than a bit more power in the punch with follow through. Thus a wider, stabler base, emphasis on dropping and rotating the hips to add power, more of a preoccupation with corkscrewing the punch and no follow through.
This isn't to say that a boxer won't use hip rotation to add power to hard punch, or a Karate-ka won't do "on toes" footwork. Just that the emphasis is different enough to be quite noticeable.
BTW, if you look for it in the archives, there was an epic discussion about boxing vs. Karate punches in this forum a coupla, three years back (more, maybe?).
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