Techniques>Punches>To punch or not to punch

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To punch or not to punch


To punch or not to punch, that is the question.

When knuckles meet the skull during a confrontation, the skull will always win. So, maybe the fist is not the best weapon to use for striking the head with the hand; the palm heel strike may be the better choice.

Problems with punching

The most common injury in punching occurs when the fist strikes with the last two knuckles and the 5th metacarpal (between the knuckles) breaks, an injury commonly referred to as a boxer's fracture. A fracture will take 6-8 weeks to heal, while a sprain (tear in ligament) could take up to 6 months to heal, and then rehabilitation could take another 3-4 months. This is why boxers always tape their hands prior to training or fighting.

Grip strength comes from the ulnar side (pinky side) of the hand, so a boxer's fracture would significantly affect your grip. Try to hold anything with a handle without using your little finger. Damaging this part of the hand means you will not be able to defend yourself by grabbing the attacker or gripping something such as a weapon.

Another problem with punching to face is cutting the knuckles on the perpetrator's teeth. Punches are usually directed to the head, but the mouth should be avoided; however, even then the teeth may be struck inadvertently. Humans have the very infectious mouths that can pass on many diseases, including AIDS. Once you break your skin, you are introducing all these germs to your body.

When you open your hand from a fist, the tendons pull back. If the knuckles are cut when a fist strikes teeth, the act of opening the hand pulls bacteria in. Serious infection can set in within 24-48 hours. When a mouth strike is made with the heel of the palm. any impact on the mouth distributes the contact area making it difficult to break skin if the teeth are struck.

With a punch, a knuckle may hit the teeth, breaking skin easily, because the skin on the dorsal side (top of the hand) is very thin and easily cut. The opposite is true of the skin on the lower palm where the skin is thick and tough. Germs do not fester as easily in the fleshy palm of the hand as they do in the knuckles. With a properly executed palm heel strike, the chances of injuring the hand are slim.

Striking with the palm heel

To execute a palm heel strike, the hand is bent backward as far as possible, locking the wrist, and the fingers curl slightly. The palm and fingertips should face the target. Contact is made with the very bottom of the palm just in front of the wrist. If used at a slightly upward angle, the strike has a tremendous amount of leverage and is very effective.

Palm heel strikes are most effective when used to the hard parts of the body; whereas, punches are best when used against the softer muscular parts of the body. A punch to the head will usually only affect the area where the knuckles make contact; whereas, palm heel strikes have secondary effects:
  • A palm strike to the head probably will not cause much damage to the contact point, but it will have a great effect on the neck and usually will jolt the body. 
  • A palm heel strike to the underside of the chin will often produce a knockout due to the whiplash effect. 
  • A palm heel strike anywhere to the head area will almost always affect balance because it takes the assailant's ears out of alignment with the hips and the twisting of the head will expose other parts of the body to combinations or take-downs. 
Also, in street situations, palm heel strikes do not appear to be as violent an attack as does clenching your fist and punching someone. To witnesses, an open hand strike may appear as a push or a slap

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