The Many Faces of Fist

Human Innovation

It is astounding how many methods Humans have innovated to punch each other in the face.

From the sweet science of Boxing, we have the classic repertoire: Jab, Cross, Hook and Uppercut. Other punches like the Hook-Jab, the “Shovel” punch, while lesser-known, can be very effective strikes. And, of course, we have the crowd-pleasing “Hay-maker”, a wild-looking swing with only one intention.

Kickboxing, MMA and even Canadian Jiu-Jitsu stick to the core strikes of boxing but can open things up, by including back-fists or hammer-fists. Typically, in sport fighting, these fists are scenario-specific. Back-fists are primarily used in spinning attacks and hammer-fists seem to be exclusively used for ground fighting.

A Different Animal

Chito-ryu Karate on the other hand is a different animal. Not only are the fists mentioned above included in the curriculum but there are at least 3 variations on all of them.

But then you start getting into fore-knuckle strikes, one-knuckle strikes done with either the middle or index fingers. These types of fist penetrate deep into soft tissue areas and the internal organs of the human body. And again, there are multiple targets: The neck, the lower abdomen, all joints and a plethora of pressure points. Keep in mind, a practitioner has to be proficient with both the right and left hands.

Short Power

Karate and Kung Fu both deal with the concept of “short power” in a fist but Kung Fu takes this a step further. Kung Fu masters threw up their arms in dismay when Bruce Lee broke with tradition (again), demonstrating his now famous “One-Inch Punch” against none other than Karate Champion Joe Lewis.

And to think we haven’t even started on open-hand techniques yet!!


–Sensei Jim


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