Techniques>Attacks>Arm attacks

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Arm attacks


Arm attacks use some part of the arm and hand to attack an opponent:
  • Fingers
  • Hand
  • Wrist
  • Forearm
  • Elbow
  • Shoulder
The primary and most common arm attack is the closed fist punch.

Sources of power

The power of arm attacks comes from:
  • Wrist snap. Snap-twisting the hand at impact.
  • Hip snap. Snapping hips toward the target at impact.
  • Knees. The International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) also uses a controversial up and down knee movement called the sine wave that supposedly adds power. Traditional taekwondo also uses the knees to add power but does it naturally and unobtrusively.
  • Legs. Using leg muscles to drive off the ball of the trailing foot.
  • Twisting. Twisting the upper torso into the attack to add body mass to it.
  • Spinning. Spinning the entire body to add centrifugal force to the attack. Spinning increases the velocity of the strike and thus increases its power.

Types of delivery

  • Snap. A snapping motion, like snapping a bullwhip, to the surface of the target. The attack only penetrates a couple of inches and is then snapped back into its chamber. 
  • Push. Pushing into or through the target.
  • Snap-push. Combining the snap and push. The claim is that this type of punch can cause internal damage with little external damage. Such as rupturing an organ while not leaving a bruise on the skin. This is the technique supposedly used in board breaking to leave the first board intact while breaking the others.
  • Inverted. An inverted technique is one where the hand is turned upside down. For example, an open hand strike with the palm up using the outer edge of the palm is called a knife hand strike; whereas, an open hand strike with the palm down using the outer edge of the palm is called an inverted knife hand strike.

Types of motion

  • Linear. The hand moves straight at the target, such as a straight punch.
  • Hooking. Hand arcs and moves in a semicircular motion to the target, such as a hook punch.
  • Dropping. The hand moves in a downward motion into the target, such as a downward hammer fist strike.
  • Rising. The hand moves in an upward motion into the target, such as an uppercut punch.

Types of techniques


Punches are hand attacks that impact the target with the front portion of a closed fist.

Some characteristics of punches are:
  • The fist may be positioned vertically, horizontally, or anywhere in between.
  • Usually, the striking surface is the front of the first two knuckles, but all four knuckles may be used. 
  • Techniques include jab, cross (straight), hook, and uppercut.
  • Usually delivered in a linear or hooking motion.
  • A punch may be a single power punch or a series of punches where the back and forth action-reaction movement of the body transfers power from the retracting arm to the punching arm.
  • Punches are usually targeted to the face or upper torso.


Strikes are arm and hand attacks that impact with some variation of a closed hand (such as a back fist or hammer fist), semi-open hand (such as bear paw or palm strike), or open hand (such as knife hand or ridge hand). Strikes also include attacks using the wrist, forearm, elbow, and the shoulder.

Some characteristics of strikes are:
  • The striking surfaces are the inner and outer edges, the palm, and the back of the hand; all sides of the wrist; all sides of the forearm; the front, tip, back, and inside edge of the elbow; and the front and top of the shoulder.
  • Techniques include ridge hand, knife hand, back fist, palm heel, hammer fist, forward elbow strike, and more. When in close range, such as in a standing struggle, snapping the shoulder up under the opponent's chin is an effective attack.
  • Strikes are usually delivered in a snapping manner using a linear or hooking motion.
  • Strikes are usually targeted to the head, neck, shoulders, arms, and to the upper, middle, and lower torso. 
Southern preachers are known for their powerful hammer fist strikes. While preaching, they hold the Bible in one hand while pounding on it with a hammer fist strike with the other hand to emphasize points in their sermons, which is why they are sometimes called "Bible thumpers."


Thrusts are hand attacks where the attack is forcibly jabbed, pushed, or driven straight into the target. A thrust relies more on the penetration than the impact of the hand to cause damage.
Some characteristics of thrusts are:
  • The striking surfaces are the tips of one or more fingers or the palm.
  • Techniques include spear hand, twin fingers to eyes, and palm to solar plexus
  • The delivery of the thrust is linear. The thrust may be a quick, snap thrust to a pressure point or it may be a powerful, penetrating thrust to a vital area.
  • Thrusts are usually targeted to small, soft areas of the body.

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