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Rebounding is a theory put forth by American kenpo karate and some other martial arts styles. Practitioners of the theory believe it to be valid, but I have had several problems with it. You may draw your own conclusions.

What is it?

If you watch high ranking America kenpo practitioners train, you will notice that they appear to be slapping themselves, usually on the chest area, while performing various hand techniques. This technique demonstrates their theory of rebounding. In rebound, a hand will strike out toward the opponent, jerk back and rebound off the user's body, and then strike out toward the opponent again.

Reasons for it

The following are reasons posited for using this technique and my counterpoints:
  • To minimize the harm done to the opponent. This is questionable. Maybe the reduced harm is due to the inherent weakness of the technique.
  • To program your mind to the exact location of the target by first striking the location on yourself. The location on your body is the mirror image of the intended target's location so why bother.
  • To ensure the strike is delivered in a relaxed, whipping action. For a relaxed whipping motion, the hand should naturally stop during its snap back action. If the hand hits the body, it is an abrupt stop that causes the arm to tense itself reflexively.
  • To maintain a "soft body." How does beating on your own body make it softer? If you use the same strike too many times, you will injury yourself by repeatedly striking the same spot on your body (remember the pink belly), without the opponent ever striking you.
  • Practitioners of this technique do not advocate using the technique in all situations since the action telegraphs its intentions, but they do believe it is useful if the opponent's line of sight is obscured. For example, after a kick to the abdomen, the opponent bends forward, so he or she will not see the slapping motion of the follow-up strike. So this a technique you use when the opponent is not looking. If the opponent is not looking, then use an obvious but powerful technique to end the fight.


This appears to be another technique that was invented to make an art "different" from the other martial arts. When analyzing a technique's usefulness, remember, KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

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