Boxing when your hand is shielded by wraps and gloves is one thing. All that protection on your hands distributes the force across your entire hand, stabilises your wrist and safeguards the small bones of your hands.
But hitting someone in the head with your bare fist in the street is quite another matter…
When your unprotected fist meets an unpadded skull there’s always a chance that you’re going to break the bones in your hand.
One of the best defences against hurting your hand is making a really strong fist. The tighter you get your fingers together then the more supported and protected the carpal, metacarpal, and phalanges bones in your hand are going to be.
To help you make a really tight and strong fist here’s a video step-by-step breakdown from the Self Defense Tutorials Youtube channel on how to make a really strong fist. In this video you’ll learn…
- The conventional method for making a fist
- A little-known alternate fist used by the founder of Shotokan Karate that I endorse
- Common mistakes that’ll get your hand broken
- Examples of Kung Fu fists that are mostly bull***t
Check out the video immediately below or scroll on down for a pictorial breakdown…
Let’s talk a bit more about my two favourite ways of making a fist…
We’ll go through the steps of both methods, using photos posted on the Self Defense Tutorials Instagram channel to help illustrate what you’re going to do.
Method 1, How to Make a Regular Fist
This is a tried and true method advocated by most quality martial arts instructors. It’s a great way to make a fist and it will serve you well!
A very good method of making a tight fist for punching. Roll your four fingers down into your palm, digit by digit, and then seal the fist by having your thumb across your other fingers (not at the side of your fist). Roll your hand right and squeeze it tight to protect the bones when you’re punching! #selfdefense #selfdefensetutorials #martialart #martialarts #punching #fistfight #fist #karate #kungfu #mma #kravmaga
Steps for Making a Fist…
- Start with your hand open and all four fingers fully extended
- Roll your fingers so that your fingertips come to the top of your palm
- Continue rolling your fingers until your nails dig into your palm
- Place your thumb across your fingers between the first and second finger joints so it locks the fist tight
Make sure that you check out the commonmistakes section at the bottom of this article, because breaking your wrist when you punch something hard really sucks!
Method 2, How to Make an ‘Old School’ Fist
The only other a method of making a fist for self defense that I endorse is what I call the ‘old school’ method. I first learned this way to make a fist in Emperado method Kajukenbo under Philip Gelinas, but since then I’ve found reference to it in various older Karate systems too.
For example, it shows up in Gichin Funakoshi’s book on Karate (click here for a PDF copy of that historic book).
Here’s how to do make this old school fist; as you can see, it’s a little more involved than the regular fist,
This is an old school but effective way of making a fist that I first learned in Emperado method Kajukenbo. It was also one of the methods advocated by Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate. It definitely works if you are willing to put the practice into making a fist quickly, over and over, and actually hitting art objects with it! #kajukenbo #emperadokajukenbo #gichinfunakoshi #shotokan #shotokankaratedo #fistfight #fist #karate #kungfu #mma #kravmaga
Steps for Making an Old School Fist
- Start with your hand fully open and all fingers extended
- Fold the last 3 fingers in tightly with your fingertips touching your palm like you’re making a pretend handgun
- Fold your index finger down but – unlike the other fingers – keep it straight and pointing towards your wrist
- Fold your thumb across your fingers to lock the fist tight.
The ‘Old School’ fist is a very effective weapon, BUT it requires a lot of training to make it instinctive.
In particular you need to practise being able to fold your fingers into the correct configuration very quickly. Basically you should be able to go from an open hand at the beginning of your punch to a perfectly formed fist at impact, and also keep your fist and wrist solid when hitting a hard object.
Master this fist and you’ve got an effective way to hit someone hard as well as a cool piece of history to play with in your training!
Common Mistakes When Making a Fist
As I said at the beginning, punching is inherently a dangerous business. Anytime you’re swinging at someone without gloves then there’s a decent chance you’re going to injure your hands…
But let’s not make the risks any worse by using bad technique!!
Here are some of the most common ways to hurt your fists and wrists when punching something hard (i.e. not focus mitts) without boxing gloves and handwraps….
Anytime you punch someone without gloves and handwraps you’re taking a chance of breaking a bone in your hand or wrist. But if you avoid these 4 common errors you’ll greatly lower the chances of that happening. #fist #karate #kungfu #mma #selfdefense #martialart #martialarts #punching #punches #punchout #kravmaga
Common Mistake 1, Loose Fingers and Thumbs
No matter which type of fist you use it’s important that your hand is squeezed tightly and that there are no fingers or thumbs sticking out at odd angles.
In a loose fist the bones of the hand don’t work together to support each other. And anyone who’s ever jammed a finger or toe while sparring already understands how easily a dangling digit can get severely dinged.
Roll your hand right and squeeze it tight to prevent injury when you’re punching.
Common Mistake 2, Bending Your Wrist Down
Bending your wrist down towards your forearm while punching is a very common way to injure yourself.
Once the wrist is bent all the force from the punch goes into buckling your wrist rather than into your target, and the wrist is a rather delicate assortment of bones and ligaments. Plus wrist injuries can take a very long time to heal.
So not only should you squeeze your fists tight upon impact, you should also line up your fist and forearm so that the force is transmitted to your target in a straight line. At impact your fist and forearm should be as solid as a log that you put into your fireplace.
Common Mistake 3, Bending Your Wrist Up and/or Hitting with the Wrong Knuckles
This mistake is slightly less common than bending your wrist down, but can also result in some pretty good injuries.
First of all, if your fist is bent upwards (like you’re revv’ing a motorbike) then the system buckles at impact that can severely injure your wrist. Essentially you’re putting yourself into a high-speed wrist lock that you can’t tap out of.
In addition to that, bringing your fist up means that you’ll likely be hitting with the smaller, weaker knuckles of your fist. While there are some Kung Fu systems that actually advocate hitting with these knuckles closer to the end of the fingers, the reality is that power hitting with anything other than your big knuckles on top of your hand dramatically increases the chances of injury.
Common Mistake 4, Bending Your Wrist In or Out
If it’s bad to bend your wrist up or down, then it’s also bad to bend your wrist in or out.
When you’re punching someone you want the impact point (your knuckles) to be in a straight line with your wrist and forearm. The 2×4’s holding up a house are straight, and that’s because a straight structure is better at absorbing and resisting force than a bent structure. A bend in your wrist makes it weaker and makes the whole system susceptible to injury.
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