Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hand protection: what is the cost?

Sam's comment on the homework post (http://tdatraining.blogspot.com/2006/02/homework.html) of about a week ago brought this up for me. This is an excellent essay from Fighting Arts.com on safety equipment, particularly handgear. What is the cost? As you may know, I like to grab-a lot. I like to check, clinch, and pull you into a knee or elbow. The fact is that most of the techniques we use right now, though, are straight from boxing, which can be effective, but every punch to the head is a chance at a broken or sprained hand. Read the whole thing. My conclusions at the end.

Protective equipment on the hands and feet during sparring in karate, taekwondo and in many kung fu styles has it increased safety, but have they also created a new set of problems?

... The palm strike and bent wrist block have all but disappeared, and grabbing has been virtually eliminated too. Furthermore the knuckles have become so padded in foam or other material that they have become solely instruments of blunt power attacks. In short, is safety equipment turning karate into a power punch and kick art?

... participants had some freedom to utilize many of the grabbing, trapping, sweeping and other techniques – those same techniques found in kata, and which help define the art form.

Before safety equipment was adopted sparring often involved grabbing another at the chest or shoulder and pulling in, pushing, or grabbing an arm to control it or effect a sweep. The variety of techniques was much greater than found today...

So, what happens on the street, if and when the martial artist comes face to face with a real threat? Well, the many knife/spear hand attacks, grabs, off-balances, elbows, knees, head butts, groin and kidney strikes and pressure point techniques found in kata, just aren’t practiced. Without practice they become irrelevant...

How many advanced, highly ranked martial artists do you know who would have no idea how to react if someone grabbed their hair and pulled them (hard) forward and down? ...

The more realistic the attack and defense, the more the participants will actually be prepared of a real life assault. This will produce more well rounded karate, taekwondo or kung fu practitioner, one who just might thank his teacher if he is ever actually attacked on the street.

Conclusion:

When you wear full hand protection, you create a bad habit of always punching, lose the grabbing and checking skills that allow throws and takedowns, and lose the accuracy need to go inside or around someone's guard. You also develop unrealistic blocking skills. Consequently, I recommend:

  • Drill without gloves, or at the least, use the MMA gloves to protect the hands while still allowing grabs and finger strikes.
  • If you don't use boxing gloves, beware hitting to the top or front of the skull with your fists. Punch to the side of the neck or to the body, and use palms, and knifehands to the hard parts of the skull.
  • Protect your thumbs and fingers. They can now be grabbed and broken because you aren't wearing protection around them. I try to always bend the thumbs, and to curl in the fingers to protect them when throwing an open-hand technique.
  • Better yet, use elbows and forearms as much as possible. They are less precise, but more powerful. They are also harder to injure.
  • You practice against what you are likely to face. That means sucker punches, hooks & overhands, and takedowns. It also means training versus a grab & punch, headlocks, chokes, and other common moves (without boxing gloves).
  • Groundwork is essential, as many, some say most, fights will end up on the ground. Especially for DT students - you ALWAYS take a subject down, because that's where you can reduce his mobility, then cuff, while still controlling your weapon and not killing him. You can do that without gloves.
  • Knife and club training is mandatory. An upcoming post highlights that he most common club attack is with a baseball bat - and that usually comes in groups, and against smaller victims. What do you do then? Grappling is out - you need a better weapon, and skill/knowledge to reduce your risk of injury.
  • I will start to use arm bars, wrist locks, etc. in sparring. Why not? Control. I can do it with MMA gloves.
  • We will be doing scenarios as opposed to standard sparring a lot.
  • Why do I like plexiglass goggles? Because we can eye jab without fear of hitting our partners. We train with MMA gloves so that we can do the grabs, pokes, and open-hand techniques, but the goggles give the freedom to build muscle memory of going for the eyes, which is so effective.

4 comments:

G. McA. said...

Yup, no doubt about it,in a street fight you've gotta take care of those hands!
I boxed for years, and I've done plenty of unarmed combat. The average street fighter,is a trouble-maker who thinks he is tough, but they are usually rubbish compared to a trained boxer or other martial artist.
When dealing with these guys I think that the greatest advantage you can seize is to short-circuit his aggression, ie most of them need to build themselves up psychologicaly before striking you.
Learn to read the signs of progression; short-circuit the process and hit first.
Often, this completely unerves him ,as well as giving you several "free" hits.
I once felled a giant of a man by puching him with a right hook to the temple.Dumb. he went down and out, but I had a tender hand for a year. When I short-circuit an aggressor, it is normally a simple one-two, the jab to the nose-eye area followed by a straight right to the chin. If for any reason your rught does not connect cleanly, use the momentum to follow through with a head butt. (It happens often enough by accident in boxing, so it's easy to incorporate it into the street.

depending on position, I may strike first with a right hook to the "flush" ie the jaw bone just to the side of the chin.
Be mentally prepared to follow-up immediately with whatever openings have been created by your blows, using either punches, kicks, locks, gouges, bites and teh kictchen sink.
Remember;
Blessed is he whose cause is just;
Rather more blessed is he who gets the boot in first!
G.McAulay

G. McA. said...

Yup, no doubt about it,in a street fight you've gotta take care of those hands!
I boxed for years, and I've done plenty of unarmed combat. The average street fighter,is a trouble-maker who thinks he is tough, but they are usually rubbish compared to a trained boxer or other martial artist.
When dealing with these guys I think that the greatest advantage you can seize is to short-circuit his aggression, ie most of them need to build themselves up psychologicaly before striking you.
Learn to read the signs of progression; short-circuit the process and hit first.
Often, this completely unerves him ,as well as giving you several "free" hits.
I once felled a giant of a man by puching him with a right hook to the temple.Dumb. he went down and out, but I had a tender hand for a year. When I short-circuit an aggressor, it is normally a simple one-two, the jab to the nose-eye area followed by a straight right to the chin. If for any reason your rught does not connect cleanly, use the momentum to follow through with a head butt. (It happens often enough by accident in boxing, so it's easy to incorporate it into the street.

depending on position, I may strike first with a right hook to the "flush" ie the jaw bone just to the side of the chin.
Be mentally prepared to follow-up immediately with whatever openings have been created by your blows, using either punches, kicks, locks, gouges, bites and teh kictchen sink.
Remember;
Blessed is he whose cause is just;
Rather more blessed is he who gets the boot in first!
G.McAulay

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan,
I'm not commenting on any particular article but just want to say thanks and great job with the website. Lots of excellent info in here.
Best,
Steve

D.GLover said...

Very interesting article. I'm relatively new to martial arts, but I'm glad I go to a good martial art school. My school emphasises picking a soft target to strike, such a solar plexus or temple. I think people are being influence by films and sport such as boxing - boxers wear big gloves and films are not real.