Thursday, January 10, 2008

The 'Hammerfist' from a Traditional Viewpoint

Hi again.

A couple of days ago, Nathan posted a great article on one of my favorite techniques: the Hammerfist.

I really liked the post and agree with Nathan that (for causing damage) the Hammerfist is a much better option than the standard Backfist. However, I was a little surprised to read that one of the old school, bare knuckle contemporaries, Lord Headley, felt that the Hammer fist “was a poor hit and never could do much real damage.”

Just the opposite, I’ve always liked the Hammerfist because I’ve found that I can generate A LOT of power with it.

Looking carefully at the pictures that Nathan provided, I think I may have found a reason why some people feel the Hammerfist is a weak movement.

In the pictures, both of the combatants are fairly far apart. The defender is forced to almost completely extend his arm in order to strike with a Hammerfist.

When I use this technique, I stick much closer to my opponent (with a 90 degree bend in my elbow.)

In order to better to describe what I’m talking about here, I’ve made a short video to demonstrate why and how I use this technique. It’s much easier to show the movements on video than it is to explain them in written words. I hope you like it.

In addition to the power generated by the Hammerfist movement, there are also several Pressure Points that work very well with this type of technique.

Be careful practicing these points as they can cause serious injury to your training partner if you strike too hard. Also be certain that you are legally justified in using them if you have to defend yourself. (Remember that Force is always used as a last resort. Try to talk, walk away or call for help before you attempt to do anything that might injure another person.)

Pressure points can be dangerous, so please use caution when training.

    • The first point is Stomach-5, located in the notch at the center of either side of the lower jawbone. An upward strike at this point can usually cause unconsciousness.

      • A little lower, in the neck, is Stomach-9. Located on either side of the Adam’s Apple, this point should be struck inward at a 45 degree angle for a knock out.

      • The next target is Triple Warmer-23, located in the Temple on either side of the head, just above the outside edge of the eyebrows. Strike this point with a slight downward motion.

      • At the rear edge of the jaw is Triple Warmer-17. Located behind the jaw, just below the earlobe, this point is struck in a forward direction.
        It’s not possible to strike this point if your opponent is facing you. However, it may be hit if your opponent’s head is turned.

        • The last pressure point is an extraordinary point that goes by the Chinese name ‘Be-tong.’ Located in the center of either side of the nose, this point may be struck horizontally to cause a break.

        Remember, the Hammerfist can be a very powerful strike. When you add the benefit of pressure point targets, you begin to develop a very dangerous technique.

        I hope that you’ve found this post helpful. Please remember to train carefully.

        Best Wishes,



        [Nathan] Several points:

        • Rick's post is exactly the way that we envisioned this partnership working. One of us may post, then the other may either comment within the body of the post, like this, or respond with a counterpoint or a post to build upon the points made, as this one does so well.
        • Rick Fryer brings a different viewpoint to the TDA Training group. Our focus here has always been on what is most effective, not necessarily what's traditionally a part of any particular style. Rick brings the Kyusho Jitsu perspective, while sharing the TKD and full-contact experience that I have. My combatives, arnis, and Muay Thai experience, along with his Karate and Tai Chi make the TDA perspective more diverse while preserving the original goal: sharing what works.
        • With the above points in mind, I consider myself a pressure point skeptic. I've been around long enough in martial arts (30+ years, how many over that is none of your business! :-)), and in mostly "traditional" styles and schools to have exposure to them, but been in enough fights and around enough LEO-types (and taught enough) to have some skepticism from that experience. What Rick's teaching you here, though, isn't a reliance on the pressure point, but on targeted striking of "vital points." That distinction is important.
        • Last, my post, The Practical Backfist, was meant only as a response to the utility (or not) of the backfist, and not an analysis of the hammerfist in general - this post is! You should know that the hammerfist can take the place of almost every situation where you may use the knifehand strike. It's extremely hard-hitting, and easy to train and teach (most people like to use their fists as opposed to empty-hand anyway), plus it reduces the chance of injury to the hand and fingers. Almost every closed-fist "block" in Karate and TKD forms are also usable or interpreted as hammerfist strikes. They work well, and should be a part of every fighter's arsenal.


      Patrick Parker said...

      Good Job, Rick. very good instructional. Something both of y'all probably considered but maybe didn't mention was the hammerfist can be used as a good striking surface in an arc almost opposite to what Rick is showing.

      At a range slightly longer than elbow-length, you can punch a hammerfist straight into a target - almost like a closed-fisted palm-heel. This punching hannerfist can really be used effectively at ranges between very close to beyond elbow reach.

      Another way of thinking about the punching hammer is the under-hand in the tekki sequence Rick shows. The hand that Rick calls a hook punch. That hooking punch can strike with the hanner surface to good effect.

      Anyway, good post. keep it up!

      Nathan Teodoro said...

      Great points and ideas. I also love the hammerfist out-to-in and in-to-out motions to the side of the neck as well.

      Rick Fryer said...

      Thanks for the great ideas. This is exactly what this blog should be for... allowing us to throw around suggestions and help us to see things in a new way.

      Thanks again,


      Blackbeltmama said...

      I agree that there is a big difference between "vital points" and pressure points. If you ever get the chance to go to a training with Kyoshi Bill Hayes, you'll learn lots about vital points. He's amazing with them.

      MARKS said...

      Good post! I think the hammer fist ike the backfist is a very underrated technique. Where you strike is the main thing with this type of technique i think. I wrote an article on the back fist which you may find interesting,