Monday, 9 July 2012

Self Defense - The Hammerfist

The smiling defender strikes with a downward version of the hammerfist
s its name implies the hammerfist strikes with the trajectory - and force - of a hammer. It’s a favourite among martial artists who practise breaking boards or concrete straight down, like a builder driving a nail into a board. Except this time, the goal is to break the board!

The shape of the hammerfist is simple - fingers and thumb are curled into a basic fist which you then use not as a straight punch forward but as a swing using the hinge-joint mobility of the elbow.

The impact surface is always the little finger side of the fist.

You may strike from a long distance as in the 8th section of the famous 12 section version of rhe Tan Tuei routine from Kung Fu; or you may strike downward to the side as in Goju Ryu Karate’s Saifa routine; or you may strike downward from a very close range as Southern Mantis might do.

This weapon is always adjustable to the flow and changes of real self defense.

The cross sideways version with the palm facing down
But this strike isn’t only limited to a downward motion. You can also -

1.  Strike from the side with the palm of the fist facing up

2.  Strike across to the other side of the attacker’s body with the palm of the fist facing down

3.  Or strike straight forward i.e. to the groin, with the elbow and the fist in line and perpendicular to the floor.

There are many more variations of course - the sideways cross strike straight in to the front from Hsing I Kung Fu’s horse fist; the many versions of the spinning hammerfist we learned in Chito-Ryu Karate, the double hammerfist straight backwards and up as in the Shotokan Karate’s routine Gojushiho-Sho; the single hammerfist backward to the groin we use so often against bear hugs, chokes, etc. in Jiu Jitsu…the list goes on!

The palm facing up version

Some suggested targets for the hammerfist -

1.  Downward hammerfist - the crown of the head; the top of the shoulder, ½ way between the neck and the outside of the shoulder; the collarbone (very easy to break); the back of the neck or the spine itself if the attacker is leaning forward; and so on.

2.  Hammerfist from the side with the palm facing up - the temple; the side of the nose; the side of the neck; the back of the neck if the attacker is turned that way; the side of the elbow as in the elbow break in the Karate routine Heian Ni-Dan; the side of the ribs; the kidneys…it all depends on how the attacker is facing you.

3.  Hammerfist across with the palm facing down - the opposite temple; the opposite side of the neck; the bridge of the nose; just under the nose; the side of the nose; straight forward into the solar plexus or the heart; into the armpit of an attacker choking you from the side…your ability to adapt is key!

Caution: (many of us have discovered this fact when breaking boards) - please go easy with this fist. There isn’t much body tissue between the 5th metacarpal bone (the bone of the little finger side of the hand) and the surface of a target.  

As well, the  3rd and 4th metacarpals are reinforced from both side by the bones next to them, the 5th metacarpal is “out there”…almost alone…with just the 4th to buffer it from one side.

In other words, it’s easier to break than some of the other bones in the hand.

Nevertheless, please add this strike to your self defense arsenal. As I’ve pointed out, it’s adaptable - and can come as quite a surprise to someone attacking you!

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