Differences Between Boxing Punch vs Traditional Martial Arts Punch

This post looks at the differences and relative advantages/disadvantages of the a boxing punch compared with a traditional martial arts (Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu) punch.

Firstly, the disclaimer part   🙂
I want to make it clear that this for informational/interest purposes and is not meant to be an attack or criticism of any fighting system and is just my opinion.  Anybody who can punch well is going to be a tough opponent on the street or in the ring regardless of which system they train in.  Although I would argue that some systems are optimised for certain purposes (ie: sport or self defence, etc), that is not say that they are not capable of being used for other purposes as well.

Traditional martial arts have a large variety of different punches.  Furthermore, within each art there can also be some differences in how they are performed, with some people sticking strictly to the traditional way whilst others have adopted more of a boxing approach.  Certainly Kickboxers punch more like boxers than like strict traditional martial artists, and Kickboxing has influenced many traditional martial arts.

So for the sake of the post, I’ll be focusing on the basic Shotokan Karate extended punch (kizami zuki) and reverse punch (gyaku zuki) with the “corkscrew” twist of the forearm at the end of the punch as Shotokan is my primary style.  These punches are however common to many other martial arts and are demonstrated below:

Although many styles of Kung Fu use these (or very similar) punches, some Kung Fu styles (such as Wing Chun) do not use this type of punch at all.  Their method of punching is beyond the scope of this post.

Boxing fortunately is a bit more standardised without the vast array of different punches (though they do have variations on a theme).  The boxing equivalent of the 2 martial arts punches shown above are the jab and cross, demonstrated below.  You will see a lot of similarities:

If we look at the technical differences first, then we can examine what uses these different variations are optimised for.

Probably the most obvious difference is that the Karateka pulls their non-punching hand back to the hip, whereas the boxer keeps theirs in a high guard around the head.  I’ll come back to that later, but a more important difference (in my opinion) is the way the shoulders are used.  In the start position the boxers shoulders are hunched very slightly upwards and forwards, which making the chest very slightly concave, minimising any potential target areas.  The gloved hands are also held much closer to the head and head is tilted forward slightly protecting the facial features more.

The Karateka on the other hand, keeps the shoulders lower and more relaxed, the chest in a more neutral position, the hands further forward and the head is kept more erect.

Part of the reason for these differences is quite simply the use of gloves (though there is more to it than that, which I’ll come to in a minute).  When fighting with gloves, the hands are effectively much bigger.  This means 2 relatively large gloved hands have to get through 2 other relatively large gloved hands!

When defending, you don’t really have to worry too much about blocking and parrying as you can absorb the opponents blows on your forearms and gloves!  Glove to glove is not going to hurt and even glove to forearm is not going to do much damage.  Keeping the head down and the chest slightly concave allows you to “hide” most of you upper body and head behind your forearms and gloves.  The lower body is quite well muscled (boxers always do a lot of conditioning before going in the ring) and there is no punching below the belt!

The Karateka and most traditional martial artists however do not use gloves.  So trying to absorb bare knuckle blows to your forearms will be more painful.  Granted, it is still preferable to absorbing the blows with your head, but it can soon damage your resolve and weaken your guard.  Rather than trying to absorb the blows of bony knuckles, the hands are held further forward to give more opportunity to block or parry incoming blows.

The hands are also . . . . well . . . . hand size, making it easier to slip a punch through somebody else’s guard, when your hands are small enough to slip in between their guard and their hands are not big enough to “hide behind”.

In Karate (and most other martial arts) competition you are also not allowed to kick/punch below the belt.  However, anybody who trains for self defence must take low shots into account, hence the Karateka holds his hands lower than his boxing counterpart.

Another influencing factor is when you consider the difference between a fight and self protection.  In a fight (sport or street) 2 people agree to have a go.  With self protection, you do not agree to fight yet you have a physical altercation forced upon you.  Even if you are severely provoked, the moment you agree to “step outside” or to “sort it out”, you have left the self protection realm and agreed to enter into a fight.

Boxing is all about fighting.  It is designed as a sport where 2 people enter a ring with a referee.  They will be in the same weight category and usually have a similar level of ability.  As such there is no surprise attacks, sucker punches or pre-emptive strikes.  They only fight when both are ready and prepared.

Many traditional martial arts have become sports and have a similar approach.  However, they were originally designed for self protection where you can use (or encounter from others) surprise attacks, sucker punches and pre-emptive strikes.

The more erect position of the Karateka’s head may seem to be more vulnerable at first glance, but from a self protection point of view can have some advantages.  A bully or thug will often try to intimidate with a lot of threats and abuse.  They will often be “peacocking” whilst they do this (puffing themselves up to make themselves look bigger).  Whilst peacocking, they actually leave themselves very open with a lot of vulnerable targets.  As soon as you agree to a fight, or show any intention or capability of fighting, they will usually go into a similar stance to the boxer and close of those vulnerable targets.  If you keep the head erect, the shoulders low and relaxed; but instead of making a proper stance and fists, you face your opponent with hands open/palms down, you can mask any intention that you are preparing to defend yourself.  The bully is therefore more likely to keep peacocking leaving plenty of good targets.  This allows you to take a nice clear pre-emptive strike to a vulnerable target and hopefully end the situation in one go.

Also, having the hands in a more forward position means that they are actually closer to your assailant.  So when you do launch a pre-emptive strike to a vulnerable target, your assailant has less chance of stopping it.

Many traditional martial arts also have a whip like effect to their punches.  This requires a rapid rotation of the spine, which is more easily achieved with the spine straight.  This is another reason why the head is held upright.  Lowering the head (like a boxer) puts a slight curvature at the top of the spine which creates a slight amount of tension in the upper body, which works against the whip effect.

Furthermore, big gloves spread out and dampen the impact (which is necessary when 2 people are hitting each other full contact for a number of rounds).  So a whip like snap punch will not work quite so well for a boxer wearing gloves, so they needs to go for a more deeply penetrating punch rather than the snap/impact of a traditional martial arts punch.  This necessitates more commitment of the shoulder to achieve that extra penetration.

Now this is where we come back to the traditional martial artist pulling the non-punching hand back to the hip.  This is very often explained as a way to increase the power of the punch, but when you see how powerful boxers are without it, then there has to be a bit more to it.  The non punching hand is called “Hikite” in Japanese, meaning “pulling hand”.  It can be used to grab the opponent and pull them off balance whilst striking them with the other hand.  Again, this works better with a straight spine, hence another reason for the head being erect.

Although boxing has obviously been developed as a sport, it is all about fighting.  Once a situation has become a fight (in the ring or in the street, it is a very simple and pragmatic system.  It is very effective, very powerful and generally speaking boxers train to absorb more punishment then most traditional martial artists do.

The traditional martial arts punch is more optimised to self protection scenarios.  Having said that, many instructors are not very good at teaching self protection and teach more for sport fighting anyway!

But like I said at the beginning, this is only my opinion and there are only a few degrees of differences between the 2 types of punches anyway.

Please leave your own comments below and build on my observations.

Front Kick Variations (Pros & Cons)

Any technique can be developed into a number of variations.  However, when it comes to the front kick, I would say that there are main variations (and many sub-variations).  These are hips side-on (FIG 1: hips facing about 90 degrees to opponent) and hips forward (FIG 2: hips facing toward the opponent).

Both have slightly different advantages which I’d like to explore.  But firstly I want to make it clear, I’m not saying that one kick can ONLY be used ONE WAY and the other version can only be used ANOTHER WAY, as that would be silly.  What I would say however is that each version is optimised for different purposes.

FIG 1

If we start with the hips side on version first.  This variation gives a slightly longer range.  It is also easier for doing a front leg kick.  If you get into a fighting stance with your weight on your back leg and your feet more or less in line, it becomes very easy to raise the front leg of the ground and kick with it.  This give you a better chance of keeping an opponent at a distance due to it’s additional range (especially compared with hands) and speed.

The hips forward version however has slightly less range, but it does put more actually body weight behind the kick.

FIG 2

This gives it more stopping power for somebody charging in.  Generally speaking, your body weight moves in the direction that the hips face.

Another detail is the position of the supporting foot.  If you look at Fig 1, you’ll see that the supporting foot is also pointing at about 90 degrees away from the opponent.  This is necessary or the supporting leg would be twisted and could do hip/knee damage.  However, if the opponent is able to absorb the kicks impact and keep moving forward, then the supporting foot will end up resisting the push on the little toe side of the foot which is obviously weaker.  The kicker could find themself being unbalanced and pushed back.

With the hips forward version at Fig 2, you’ll see that the supporting foot is facing forward too.  Firstly, being able to put more body weight into the kick means it would take more for the opponent to overcome and even be able to move forward.  Secondly, as the supporting foot is pointing forward, it is able to dig into the floor with the heal of the foot which will afford more resistance than the little toe side of the foot to any pressure being applied by an opponent absorbing the kick and trying to push through.

The hips facing forward (Fig 2) is the older version of the kick and the hips side on version (Fig 1) was developed later.  Why?  The hips side on version is better for the sport environment.  Although in sport, the opponent is still trying to hit/kick/strike you, because there are rules the opponent is still partially co-operative.  Unless you are in competing in Mixed Martial Arts cage fights, most competitions (traditional martial arts/Kickboxing) do not allow you to grab or grapple.  Therefore the opponent is usually co-operative in that they are staying at kicking/striking range and not trying to rush in at you.

This creates an environment where that little bit of extra range is useful and the weakness on the supporting foot is not an issue.

However, the hips forward version has limitations in the sporting arena but has more stopping power in the street.  In a real assault, the attacker will not be co-operative in any way at all and will most likely be charging forward to grab you.  Most street fighters/muggers/etc are not martial artists so would not fight the same way.  Therefore range is not an issue as the chances are that your attacker will be closing distance straight away (especially for assaults on women).

I am not suggesting that you should practice one way or the other, all I would suggest is that be aware of what you are training for and chose the appropriate version of this technique.

Teenage Martial Artist Fights Off Would-Be Mugger

I was surprised to see in one of my regional papers today a story about a slightly-built unassuming 15 year old Taekwondo exponent who got the better of a would be mugger.  So I thought I’d share it with you:-

 

WHEN a would-be mugger approached slightly-built teenager Henry Watts determined to steal his wallet and phone, he got much more than he bargained for.

The criminal, who grabbed the Staple Hill teenager on the Bristol to Bath cycle path and aggressively demanded his possessions, had no idea his potential victim was an expert in the martial art taekwondo.

Instead of handing over his valuables, Henry, 15, put his self-defence skills to good use. And in a scene straight out of the movie The Karate Kid, he freed himself from the mugger’s grasp and punched him in the face.

But rather than bragging about what he had done, Henry carried straight on to school, where he did not tell anyone about his unusual start to the day.

It was only that evening when he told his dad, Paul, what had happened. Mr Watts then contacted the police. Henry told The Post: “I usually walk to school with my younger brother Josh but was running a little bit late, so was on my own.

“I saw a man walking towards me with his head down, but suddenly he had hold of my jacket and was asking for my phone and wallet.

“I used an arm lock move to get his hand off my jacket – it basically involves getting his arm and twisting it around – and then I punched him in the face so that I could get away.

“I got off the track and ran up some stairs onto the common before carrying on to school.

“I didn’t really think much of it until later in the day, and then I felt quite shocked.

“I didn’t really want my dad to tell the police at first but he said what if it had been my brother, who is only 11?

“That made me realise that what had happened was quite serious.”

Henry wholly credits his twice-weekly taekwondo lessons for his quick-thinking reaction.

“The whole thing didn’t take longer than 15 seconds,” he said.

“It never crossed my mind to hand over my things.

“My first reaction was to defend myself, and I think that’s because of my taekwondo lessons.”

His mum Alice Watts, 41, a finance officer, told The Post: “Henry is quite slight for his age and was wearing headphones.

“I think the man might have thought he was an easy target, but didn’t realise that he knew how to defend himself. He’s been doing taekwondo on and off for about five years and obviously used some of those moves to defend himself.”

Andy Davies, chief instructor at Black Belt Academy in Staple Hill, has been Henry’s taekwondo teacher for around 18 months.

Henry, who is in Year 10 at Mangotsfield School, is graded a green belt, which means he knows around half the skills needed to be awarded the elite black belt.

“We teach a mix of taekwondo and kick boxing using a range of oriental weapons,” said Mr Davies. “The biggest thing that we try to do is to keep things simple and practical.

“Henry is a very diligent and quiet person – he’s the last person I would have expected to do what he did.

“But it shows that he had the confidence to use the moves he’d learned in a real setting to defend himself.

“It’s that confidence that we really try to instil in people.

“That takes time and training – the moves have to be practised and repeated over a period of time.

“We try to teach martial arts as a way of life and I am very proud of Henry and what he did to defend himself.

“I would like more children to learn the skills that martial arts teaches so that more can learn how to defend themselves in these sorts of situations.”

A police spokeswoman told The Post that no arrests had yet been made but an investigation continues into the incident.

It happened between 8.30am and 8.40am on November 6, on the Bristol to Bath cycle track near Rodway Common in Mangotsfield.

Police are looking for a man aged 20 to 30, with a pale complexion, who is about 5ft 7in tall and skinny, with green eyes, a goatee beard and light brown scruffy hair. He was wearing a grey or blue hooded jumper at the time of the incident.

Anyone with information about the attacker should contact the police on 101.

 

Well done Henry Watts, huge respect to you  🙂

Applied Taekwondo With Russ Martin (Applicable To Karateka Too)

Russ Martin, 5th Dan TKD is recognised within the Taekwondo Association of Great Britain as an expert on applied Taekwondo (the practical application of the basics and patterns).  He should really be known further afield as he has a very extensive knowledge.

To better understand his own art he decided to study Shito Ryu Karate as well and has attained his black belt in that too.  He has also attended seminars with many of the great names in applied pattern/kata bunkai.

In the videos below he demonstrates applications to a number of basic blocks and pattern movements, most of which will be very readily recognised by most Karateka as well.

Russ can  be contacted through his website at:  www.tkdbristol.com.

Do Our Training Methods Damage Our Bodies? (Part 2)

This post is following on from another posting that I wrote back in October 2011 about how some training methods introduced by the Japanese into Karate can be damaging to our bodies.

Going back further in Okinawan Karate history before Karate was introduced to Japan, they had the interesting concept of Shu-Ha-Ri, which I have discussed before.  However, to recap:

Shu:    means that you copy your master as closely as possible, to learn his techniques in as much detail as you can.
Ha:    means that once your technique is up to a good standard, you have the freedom to make subtle changes to suit your own physique and experiences.
Ri:    means that you have mastered the techniques to the extent that they are a natural part of you.  At this point the student may transcend the master.

This is not a far cry from Bruce Lee’s famous quote: “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is specifically your own.”

The “Ha” part in particular tells us that it was expected for the advanced student to adapt their Karate to suit themselves.  Although there is a certain amount of leeway for us to do this today, we are still in the main confined to what our seniors tell us is our style.  We are not free to change our kata’s to do (for example) a Front Kick rather than a Side Snap Kick which we might struggle with.  Can you imagine the masters of old raised with the concept of Shu-Ha-Ri, insisting that their student continue to do a technique that damaged their joints, simply because it was always done that way?  If you want to train in the traditional manner, rather than a “traditional style”, then maybe you should consider making little changes to suit your own body.

To quote Matsuo Basho a haiku poet, we should progress:  “Not by blindly flowing the footsteps of the old masters, but by seeking what they sought”

There are a number of examples of Shu-Ha-Ri in modern martial arts.  I hope martial artists of other styles will forgive me for focusing on Shotokan Karate, but it is the style that I’m most familiar with, (though I’m sure other styles have similar examples).

Those of us who have trained in Shotokan Karate over the decades have instinctively known (especially in the early days) that something was missing.  Not just in the unrealistic bunkai that was taught to us by our Japanese masters, but sometimes technically in the art.  We would see films or read magazine articles about masters doing great feats with seemingly no effort, yet we were encouraged to put more and more effort into our training (overly exhaling and tensing to create kime) as we progressed.  That seemingly mystical ability to generate masses of power with little effort, derived from pure technique which we thought we would attain as we progressed, seemed to become more elusive as we rose through the grades.  Very few senior Sensei in those earlier days seemed to be able to show us anything except more of the same.  As my former Sensei, Graham Mead used to say, “ We were ending up with 2nd & 3rd Dans who were really just very good brown belts”.

However, over the years things have gradually changed and mainly for the better.  Sport science has obviously shown that fast movement requires relaxation rather than more tensing.  The emphasis on deep stances has relaxed (though Shotokan stances are still deeper than many others).  Little things like bending the back leg slightly in Zenkutsu Dachi (front stance) relieves the tension on the lower spine and hips has replaced the straight back leg which was common years ago.

These all help to reduce the damage to our bodies that many early practitioners suffered from.

The availability of many other martial arts have allowed exploration to fill the gaps and bring some of the answers back into mainstream Shotokan.

Master Hirokazu Kanazawa, 10th Dan and founder of the Shotokan Karate International, also studied Tai Chi.  When he taught around the world he would often have Tai Chi seminars alongside the Karate seminars.  His Karate has become much more softer and more relaxed than most others and he has inspired many Shotokan practitioners of all associations to take up Tai Chi (including me).

The Late Master Tetsuhiko Asai, 10th Dan, lived and taught in Taiwan form many years.  During this time he also studied White Crane Kung Fu, Dim Mak (critical nerve points) and Qi Gong.  He placed great emphasis on relaxation and using the body like a whip.  He was the founder of the Japan Karate Shotorenmei and brought his own special influences to bear on the Shotokan world.

These influences along with many others have led Shotokan Karate to become very varied depending on which association or instructor you train with.  Some versions are quite relaxed like the original Okinawan Karate making it a healthy art to practice, whilst others are still quite stiff like the early post war Karate which can be damaging.

Taekwondo too has also changed significantly over the years and now has many variations.  Some associations for example have introduced a sine-wave movement into their step to also create a more relaxed manner of moving.

Please add any other examples below of how any martial art has been adapted to make it healthier to train.

Do Our Training Methods Damage Our Bodies? (Part 2)

This post is following on from another posting that I wrote back in October 2011 about how some training methods introduced by the Japanese into Karate can be damaging to our bodies.

Going back further in Okinawan Karate history before Karate was introduced to Japan, they had the interesting concept of Shu-Ha-Ri, which I have discussed before.  However, to recap:

Shu:    means that you copy your master as closely as possible, to learn his techniques in as much detail as you can.
Ha:    means that once your technique is up to a good standard, you have the Continue reading “Do Our Training Methods Damage Our Bodies? (Part 2)” »

In Defence Of Basic Karate/Taekwondo “Blocks”

A lot is written these days about how the basic blocking techniques in Karate/Taekwondo are not really “blocks”, but close quarters strikes, releases from grabs/holds, joint locks etc.  It is often pointed out that though we practice these “blocks” against straight punches, the creators of Karate would not have been facing that type of attack.  So we have “blocks” that don’t really work, practiced against techniques that we are not likely to be attacked with.  They only really work with a compliant partner with a pre-arranged attack.  The true meanings of these techniques have definitely been dumbed down in mainstream Karate/Taekwondo, yet many instructors are researching and uncovering much more workable applications for these same techniques.

So why is it that so many instructors who challenge the conventional wisdom of how these “blocks” should be applied, yet still teach these techniques in blocking drills against straight punches, despite the fact that they know full well they won’t work when applied this way in a real situation?

Is it simply for because it’s part of the art so we have to do it even though we know that it won’t actually work in reality?

Is it just to allow students to pass gradings (with unworkable applications)?

It probably is partly because it’s an accepted part of the art and part of the grading syllabus.  But having said that, these basic blocking drills do still have some useful and practical functions with which to develop our Karate/Taekwondo.

Firstly, there is the reason for which much of the dumbing down started in the first place.  That is that it is taught to children and you don’t want to teach then to break arms and legs then have them use it in a playground brawl.  But what about adults who want to be able to use it in a real self defence situation against a mugger or rapist?

Well if we take for example an upper rising block (age uke), which works much better as an attack to the neck or under the chin then it does for blocking a straight punch.  If this is done full force, smashing the forearm upwards under somebody’s chin whilst pulling them down at the same time with the other hand (hikite), then you could feasibly break their necks and kill them.  You obviously can’t do it full power and would always have to pull the technique when practicing with a partner.  Practicing it against a straight punch however, always allows you to practice and apply the technique full power against a moving target with an whilst being put under pressure of somebody coming at you fast and powerful (miss and you get hit).    You can use your opponents arm as a substitute head which you can hit as hard as you like without the fear of damaging them.

There is some limitations within this principle as I’m sure that some will argue that blocking the forearm is not a realistic substitute for striking the head.  However, the mind is a very powerful tool and if you keep focused on what the real intention/target should be, then it can still be an effective training method.  Besides, you can still practice against the head as well (as long as you pull the technique) as there is no reason not to practice both ways.

It is also a convenient tool to teach a sense of distancing and timing.  When these techniques were created, they were designed by warriors for warriors who would have probably had a keen sense of timing and distance already.  But most of us who train today can’t really describe ourselves as warriors, so it is a useful exercise for us to learn these skills early in our martial arts training.

So I’m in favour of keeping these practices.  Even though we know our blocking drill will not work as such in a real situation, they do teach us things that are useful building blocks in our journey through the martial arts.  We just have to keep our mind focused on what the end objective really is!

The “Corkscrew” Punch (The Devil In The Detail)

The “corkscrew” punch where we rotate the fist at the end of the punch is unique to Oriental martial arts.

Twisting the fist  is something that we all know about and take for granted.  And why shouldn’t we, we’ve been doing it since our very first class in Karate/Tae Kwon Do/most styles of Kung Fu .  The reason that I write about it here, is because I believe that it is something that though deeply ingrained into us, is still not done quite right by a good many people.

It may sound a bit strange to question something so basic, but bare with me.  Although many will be doing what I describe below, a good many others will not be.

Why not?  Because people will rotate the fist to get it into it’s correct finishing position, but not think about how the rest of the arm is moving to get it there!

It would be more correct to say that you should “twist your forearm”.   The fist is actually incapable of rotating on its own, it is only capable of moving up and down in a waving/hinged motion when isolated from any other arm movement.

Try this little exercise.  Perform any linear punch, then just freeze for a second with the arm in the extended punch position (no snap back).  Now keep check if the crease of your elbow joint (where it folds) is pointing upwards or inwards.  If you are not sure, then being very careful not to move the upper arm at all, bend the elbow.  It the fist rises up then the crease of the elbow joint is facing up.  If the fist moves inward (parallel to the floor) then the crease of the elbow is pointing inwards.

So why should you care about that?

Like the fist, the elbow is incapable of rotating itself, it is a hinge joint rather than a ball joint.  From the starting position with the fist at the hip, the crease of the elbow joint points forward.  As the arm is extended forward (without rotating), the elbow crease should end up pointing upwards.

For the elbow to rotate (so that the elbow crease points inward), you actually have to rotate the arm in the shoulder socket.  To be a bit more technical, you rotate the humerus bone in the ball socket at the shoulder.

Kata bunkaiThis is something that you shouldn’t be doing.  Firstly it is an unnecessary movement of the shoulder joint and as we progress, we should be looking to take out all unnecessary movements.  Secondly, it creates a small jarring feeling at the elbow, so it is not good for the long term health of either shoulder or elbow joint.

Furthermore, it’s a less efficient punching technique, so it is less effective if you really need it.

Try standing in front of a mirror with you arm and shoulders exposed.  Now extend your arm in front of you and towards the mirror.  Don’t worry about making a fist or any technique, just relax.  Now rotate the whole arm several times at the shoulder joint.  You will notice when you look closely that upper arm actually moves very slightly away from the body when you rotate the arm so that the elbow crease points inwards rather than upwards.  Linear techniques are based on having the body weight behind them, so anything that takes the strike sideways away from the body will weaken that technique.

Granted, this is a very slight outward movement, but as you get more advanced, so it become more about fine detail.

It also effects your muscular alignments too.  The shoulder and lateral muscles (underneath the arm pits) act as shock absorbers and maintain the body structure when you strike a target and receive a reaction force from the impact.  Rotating the humerus outward in the shoulder socket slightly stretches those muscles making them less efficient at absorbing that reaction force.

Furthermore, when you punch, you use your triceps to extend your arm.  The triceps work more efficiently with the crease of the elbow facing upwards.  Don’t believe me?  Ask anyone who does weight training, or look up “triceps curls” on Youtube.

The bones of the forearm (the ulna and radius) are much smaller and they can rotate around each other.  There is not a big ball in socket rotation required as with rotating the humerus in the shoulder socket.

If you are not used to doing it this way, it may feel awkward at first and you may not be able to fully rotate the fist all the way over.  Stick with it, your forearm muscles will become more flexible and it will become easier.  You’ll find when you get used to it that the whole punch is much smoother than when you rotate the shoulder joint.

There is an argument that the bone alignment is weaker when the ulna and radius are rotated about each other.  However, the idea when punching is that you actually make contact with the target before rotating the forearm (when the fist is still palm up).  So the point of impact is when these bones are still in a strong alignment.  You only rotate the forearm after contact has been made so that the rotational energy is added to forward impact to the punch, giving it a very penetrating “corkscrew effect”.

This forearm rotation comes into many other techniques too, such as at the very end of Soto Uke (Outside Block), Uchi Uke (Inside Block) and others.  With these blocks, the rotation of the fist at the end of the technique cannot be supported by the rotation of the shoulder joint because of the arm being bent and the elbow joint being lower than the fist.  Practicing for maximum forearm rotation in the punches will help maximise the forearm rotation in these other techniques too, making them more powerful, even with smaller movements.  It helps to give a small “whip” on the the end of these other techniques.

True Martial Arts Spirit . . . . And He’s Only 11!

I came across this story by chance in a local paper.  It was just so awesome that it had to be shared.  Next time you feel too tired to train, or think you’d rather watch the telly instead, think of this young lad from the Bath TKD club.  This is where the grown ups can really learn from the kids.

The following is copied from the Bath Chronicle On-Line paper:

 

A boy who had to learn to walk and talk again after a brain tumour is now heading for a black belt in tae kwon do.

Daniel Kimmins, 11, from Odd Down was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006.

Martial art spirit

 

 

 

 

 

After a battle to walk and talk again, he returned to school and tae kwon do in 2009, and has won his red belt and is now working towards his black one.

Bath Tae Kwon Do Club Instructor Rob Morris said: “I truly never thought I’d see the day Daniel would return, let alone reach such a high level.

“He continues to be an inspiration to all members at the club.

“In the 20 years I have been teaching I have never seen anyone with as much fighting spirit – it is truly humbling.”

Daniel was six years old when he started suffering from constant headaches and vomiting, causing his worried mum Heidi to take him to the Royal United Hospital.

She was told he had a virus and they were sent home, but when his health started to deteriorate, the health problems returned.

Daniel was then diagnosed with a brain tumour, and was transferred to Frenchay Hospital near Bristol for two operations.

Five weeks later, he was moved to Bristol Children’s Hospital for chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Daniel faced another challenge to learn to walk and talk again, after one operation to remove the tumour left him mute and unable to move the left side of his body.

The cancer had also spread to his spine, confining him to a wheelchair for two years.

Now, five years on, Daniel still has six monthly MRI scans at the RUH, and check-ups at Bristol Children’s Hospital. Although he is not yet in remission, he is improving all the time, but still has problems with balance and walking up stairs.

Heidi said she was very proud of his courage and determination.

She said: “Everything Daniel does amazes me.

“He is so determined to have a normal life and carry on with all the things he loves, like tae kwon do.

“I am just so proud of him. He is a very brave and determined boy.”

As a mark of his courage Daniel was awarded an award from his club for his “indomitable spirit”.

He has also been given a Cancer Research UK Little Star Award in recognition of his achievements.

Respect  🙂

Review: A Killing Art – The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do

I have to confess that I haven’t read this book, though I would like to when I get the chance.  My brother-in-law, Martin who is a 2nd Dan TKD has read it and has highly recommended it.  Then I saw a review on my friend Bob Patterson’s Striking Thoughts blog, so I thought I would copy it here for my TKD readers.

It is along similar lines to (Shotokan’s Secrets, by Dr Bruce Clayton, which is the only book that I’ve ever finished and then read again almost straight away.  Both books explore the history behind the arts in question and expose many of the so called “truths” behind the “official history” of these arts.  I do believe that it is helpful to get behind the myths of the art and get to the truth.  It helps give a bit more of an all round understanding and appreciation of the art(s) that we practice.

As with Karate (which at one stage deliberately sought to hide it’s Chinese influences) so some in TaeKwonDo have hidden some its history.  In particular, that it was mainly based on Shotokan Karate with hardly any influence from ancient Korean martial arts as is often claimed.  It’s all in the marketing and there is an element of this in every style.  Whereas Shotokan’s Secret revealed how Funakoshi and other Okinawan masters had been economical with the truth of Karate, so General Choi and other Korean masters have been economical with the truth of TaeKwonDo’s past.

The way I look at it is that our arts today are what they are.  Whether they come from Japan, Okinawa, ancient China, ancient Korea or Disneyland, the arts are still what they are.  They will not be any different just because you discover that they had different influences to what you have been told.  Besides, understanding the actual influences go a good way to understanding the full potential of the art.

Anyway, here below is Bob Patterson’s review from his Striking Thoughts blog:
(Note:  The Striking Thoughts blog has since closed).

Alex Gillis is a university instructor, journalist and author of A Killing Art: The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do. He has studied the art for 25 years in both ITF and WTF styles. Much like many of us who have studied Tae Kwon Do, he has heard fantastic stories of Tae Kwon Do from his instructors and other Taekwondoists. In this book Gillis grants us access to interviews and information from the early pioneers of the art. Along the way he also debunks a lot of the fantastic claims and dubious history that surrounds Tae Kwon Do.

Simple fact: Tae Kwon Do is not thousands of years old nor did it spring from the Hwrang warriors. Rather, it’s a derivative of Shotokan Karate that Choi originally learned while in Japan during the 1940′s. Nor, for that matter, is Choi the sole inventor of Tae Kwon Do.  We have the art of Tae Kwon Do because of a poker game. The young and hot-tempered Choi Hong-Hi lost all his money on a game of poker and enraged a local wrestler by throwing a bottle of ink at him.  This loss forced Choi to flee his village and later learn karate.

The books starts before the Second World War when Korea was occupied by the Japanese and Choi was a young man ready to set off to Japan to complete his education. From there we follow the story of Tae Kwon Do from Choi’s experiences of WW II, to the Korean civil war to the war waged between the ITF and WTF Taekwondo organizations. No political detail is spared as we learn how far Choi would go to keep control of his beloved ITF.  Along the way we also learn how pioneers like Jhoon Rhee and others helped to develop the art.

Alex Gillis has written a biography of Tae Kwon Do and a gripping thriller that’s as worthy of a movie as the story of Ip Man! Included are Choi’s brushes with death and his involvement with the Korean CIA. What is also quite disappointing is the shear corruption and greed associated with Tae Kwon Do. As Gillis notes: “I am stuck on the path of Courtesy, which instructors in small gyms around the world know well but which is largely ignored by Tae Kwon Do’s leaders.”

The history of Tae Kwon Do is rightly titled ‘A Killing Art’ because it was created at a time when the martial art was used on the battle fields of Korea and Vietnam by the U.S. and South Korean military. This book is essential reading for karate players and taekwondoists and should be mandatory reading for both ITF and WTF styles.