Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Palm Heel Strike

I have tried to wean myself away from punching in favor of the palm heel strike. In my book 12 US Military Combat Techniques That Could Save Your Life, I make my case against striking with a closed fist. The major point is that punching hurts -- the puncher.

Boxing used to be done without gloves. (I don't know why they punched instead of using the palm heel strike). The transition from bare knuckles to gloves changed the "sweet science" forever. Padded gloves protected the contestants' hands, and they, consequently, could punch harder without damaging their hands. They could also hit the head harder and more often.

Boxing gloves protect the puncher, not the punchee. Conversely, punching with bare knuckles hurts the puncher. That became obvious from my years in hospital security . . . . EMTs bring two drunks into the emergency room. One had punched the other out, and both are sent to radiology for x-rays. Invariably, the one who got punched in the head is either okay or suffers from a mild concussion. In 24 hours he'll be pretty much over the ordeal. The puncher, however, has broken a bone in his hand and will wear a cast for weeks.

When you see the foregoing scenario played out over and over, you begin to get the idea that punching may not be a good idea. That's why I favor the palm heel strike. The palm is naturally padded, and bone injuries are a lot less likely if you strike with it. Also, hitting with a fist requires proper alignment to avoid wrist injury, whereas if you strike with the heel of your palm, proper alignment is automatic.

Some instructors will say, "Punch to the soft areas and palm heel strike to the hard ones." That's good advice, as long as your target doesn't shift. But if your opponent bobs or weaves, your punch to his (soft) nose may land on his (hard) cheek bone or forehead.

During my karate training, my sensei talked about making a fist properly to avoid injury. Nevertheless, when we sparred, we wore gloves. All the striking arts wear them for sparring. The purpose is to protect the fist from injury. If you use a palm heel strike, you will be much less likely to hurt yourself and much more likely to hurt your opponent.

It's the very effectiveness of the palm heel strike that requires you to use caution in your training. Practice in slow motion (using follow-through) with your training partner. Practice full speed strikes on focus mitts or body shields.

The palm heel strike is not the only effective way to hit an attacker, but it is one you should definitely know and practice.

Click the link to go to my post entitled "Palm Heel Strikes Video"

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