Monday, January 30, 2006

Hock Hochheim on "Nonsense and Punching"

In Hock's blog entry for January 27, 2006, he dissects an article by Black Belt columnist Jim Wagner on something we've been concentrating lately - hitting with a closed fist versus an open hand.
Disclosure: I haven't been able to find Wagner's article online, and I rarely read Black Belt anymore, though I will pick it up. Also, from reading Hock's blog and articles, he isn't necessarily a fan of Wagner, though he seems to treat him fairly in his critique (as far as I know, not having read the original).

Wagner's points:
  • “Men tend to close their fist under pressure.”
  • “Advocates of the open hand techniques say that a person runs a higher risk of breaking his hand if he strikes an opponent with a closed fist. This is nonsense.”
  • “When I hit someone with my fist, the last thing I worry about is injury. I can get it fixed later at the hospital.” (Hock-if its such nonsense, why even mention a trip to the hospital?)

Hock's rebuttal:
To suggest that humans are genetically predisposed to fighting with balled-up fists is one thing, but to say that we therefore should be stuck fighting with fists is something else. Wouldn't this “punching gene” also mean we should also de-emphasize grabbing and grappling and have natural troubles striking with eye attacks, hammer fists, forearms and elbows? Somehow, with a little very training, people do these other things.

The open palm strike or palm heel strike was placed into military and police doctrines for a some good reason. Whenever the closed fist accidentally hits the ducking forehead/skull, there is an increased chance for injuries. Even some classical oriental systems prefer strikes with the so-called “knife” edge of the hand. Otherwise they spend decades "toughening" the fist to counter-attack the harsh reality of injuries.

Ducking skulls? The human head has a predisposition to duck down versus incoming attacks. The so-called slap or palm heel was emphasized to keep the soldiers from debilitating or incapacitating their hands in the middle of a fight for their life. One such modern, recognized source for the heel palm strike is the British military during World War II. The program called for restricting punches to the jaw-line and below to avoid striking the dense, ducking, bobbing and weaving bowling ball called the skull.

- First, your hand could be injured and still function. This has happened to me, and many others I know.

- Second, your hand could be injured and somewhat incapacitated. This also has happened to me, and others I know. You can still use your hand somewhat but it becomes swollen and only partially dexterous. In the middle of a fight, I could not grab the suspect in any way. Nor cuff him. My hand became a dull, heavy slab. Plus, a second or third punch with this partially wounded fist might finish your hand.

- And lastly, you may suffer an injury with such electric pain that it shuts the fighter right down. This has not happened to me but has happened to co-workers right before my eyes, as well as numerous assault cases I have worked on.

NDT- He makes really good points. Worth a read. Also, take some time to explore his site. The content is excellent. Impressive amount of experience and thought has gone into it.

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