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Wado Heretic
Green Belt
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Joined: 23 May 2014
Posts: 476
Location: United Kingdom, England, Shropshire
Styles: Wado-Ryu , Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (Kodokan), RyuKyu Kobojutsu

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally believe there is a fundamental, false dichotomy that is often brought up regarding horizontal versus vertical alignment. Each position is optimized differently at the conclusion of the punch, and the position you begin your strike from relative to your target, and what the target is, should be considered. I can only recount from my experience and experimentation but the following are my observations. Before I begin, I mostly approach this from a bare-knuckle perspective because my focus is self-defence, although I do allow kick-boxing and free-fighting to inform my technical approach.

When punching from a chambered position, a low guard (I call the hands being relating to the pectorals a low guard for content), or a hands-down position, and allowing for full-extension, I coach as following:

- A horizontal alignment, with a slight slope downwards of the arm, when striking to the body.
- The fist held at a 45-degree angle with the thumb leaning inward when striking up to the head.

I find these positions allow two things which I consider most important: the greatest structural fixture in the limb allowing the greatest transference of power, and also makes it more likely to connect with the two large knuckles (with knuckles in line with the arm and tendons properly contracted) and thus the safest and most robust knuckles to hit a hard target with if aim goes awry or the target moves in an unexpected way.

If punching to the head from a high guard (hands situated around head height) and again allowing for full extension, I coach the horizontal allignment but with a slight overturn of the hand as done in boxing. Mostly because one it makes it more likely to connect with the big knuckles or the back of the hand if the aim is off, it gives more reach, and if one practices it properly you can get a little lift in the shoulder to help protect against counter punches but without ruining your form by flaring the elbow. The last point I consider very important when it comes to exchanges of straight punches to the head from a hands-up position: that is a stand-up fighting situation where the enemy is going to be throwing shots back.

Now, onto alternative punches to the straight, and to situations where the arm cannot be extended. I prefer the vertical punch when striking the body at close range, where I cannot straighten the arm and activate the triceps in the motion. The vertical alignment is better for activating the biceps and locking the elbow when the arm cannot be extended, and thus in that context produces a stronger punch. Furthermore, at extremely close range, one is more likely to have to punch across the centerline instead of in line with the hip, so the vertical fist is more likely to connect with the knuckle as intended, whereas there is a risk in catching the pinky at such range with the horizontal alignment.

For hooks in general, I favour the vertical alignment just because I think it is more protective of the wrist, and again if the aim is slightly off it is a bit more forgiving to the knuckles and fingers. An exception to this would be the so-called Russian Hook, where the turning over completely of the hand gives protection to the hand and is ideal for bare-knuckle.

With regards to palm strikes. If I am striking upwards from my hands being down then vertical. If I am striking on a plane then horizontal. I just find this is the most protective of the fingers and allows the part of the palm aligned with the wrist to connect first.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28901
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DWx wrote:
bushido_man96 wrote:
I haven't noticed that there is a difference in reach between vertical and horizontal punches, especially straight punches. And if there is any, it seems to be negligible in my experience.

I would love to seem some kind of study on how much difference in power there is between a vertical punch and a horizontal (straight) punch.

Admittedly I only skim read it right now but this is a pretty comprehensive break down of the two methods and suggested better power generation from the full twist

https://expertboxing.com/horizontal-punches-vs-vertical-punches

Interestingly they make a comment towards the end about vertical Vs horizontal in relation to your body (your torso) or in relation to the ground and I guess your opponents body. I guess you have to consider the punch from both a mechanics point of view for the puncher, but also how the fist is orientated to the opponent.


Thanks for sharing that, Danielle. Really good info, both in the article and the video presented. I especially like how he talked about the directions the punches were going as well as the intended target, and how that augments what type of punch gets use. There seemed to be a split at the chest and abdomen, where above it seemed to be more horizontal, and below seemed to be more vertical. He also talks quite a bit about the importance of the elbow position in regards to punching, and less so about the orientation of the fist; the location of the elbow dictates the orientation of the fist. Which is a good point.

He also spoke a little bit about which knuckles to strike with, but I wonder, especially in Boxing today, with the use of the gloves, how often they truly worry about the orientation of the knuckles when punching. If anyone with Boxing experience could lend some experience in this aspect, that would be great.

DWx wrote:
Now on a slightly related point... What about open hand strikes? Most would do them with the wrist in the horizontal position rather than vertical.


This is a good question. When it comes to palm heel strikes, I find good power in turning it over to horizontal, but this strike is mainly aimed at the chin or face. Otherwise, it's pretty limited. I have found that I can get a palm heel into different angles if I make it more vertical. Coming "over the top" in a hooking motion, turning over to the thumb down position is quite nice.

Spear hand techniques tend to be more target dependent. To the torso, I'm looking vertical. Throat or face, horizontal.
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wado Heretic wrote:
When punching from a chambered position, a low guard (I call the hands being relating to the pectorals a low guard for content), or a hands-down position, and allowing for full-extension, I coach as following:

- A horizontal alignment, with a slight slope downwards of the arm, when striking to the body.
- The fist held at a 45-degree angle with the thumb leaning inward when striking up to the head.


I have been doing more and more punching with the 45 degree angled fist, especially in bag work. I find it provides a happy medium of getting some power out of rotation, as well as controlling my elbow position.

When I teach punching in defensive tactics, I like to teach the 45 degree wrist rotation, as it keeps inexperienced punchers from over-rotating, thus avoiding damage to the last three knuckles in the form of a boxer's fracture.
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sensei8
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
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Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the many things that our Sensei taught us in the regards of this topic, and this isn't meant to lessen anyone's methodology/ideology whatsoever, he'd say...

"No care, just punch"

Of course he didn't mean to punch anyway and anyhow, but to just punch effectively, no matter the final profile of ones fist.

So, when in doubt, just punch.



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Wado Heretic
Green Belt
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Joined: 23 May 2014
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Location: United Kingdom, England, Shropshire
Styles: Wado-Ryu , Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (Kodokan), RyuKyu Kobojutsu

PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bushido_man96 wrote:
I have been doing more and more punching with the 45 degree angled fist, especially in bag work. I find it provides a happy medium of getting some power out of rotation, as well as controlling my elbow position.

When I teach punching in defensive tactics, I like to teach the 45-degree wrist rotation, as it keeps inexperienced punchers from over-rotating, thus avoiding damage to the last three knuckles in the form of a boxer's fracture.


I think for beginners and for people who only train part-time, it is important to settle on an approach they can absorb quickly, easily, and practice effectively in their own time. I do think the 45-degree is optimum for defensive tactics, because of how attacks happen in a civilian context. It is the least injurious angle I have found in my personal experimentation. Similarly, it starts the activation of the triceps and secures proper elbow alignment, thus not as powerful as a full rotation, but it is enough to start gaining some of the benefits.

For people training full-time, or with more experience behind them, I do think one should broaden to finding the optimum alignment per target, distance, and angle relative to the target.
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sensei8
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Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please let me pose some questions for everyone...

Is 45-degrees effectively enough?? Why??

Does 15-degrees more make the punch much more effective?? Why??

Before you answer these questions, let's please consider this...the close punch profile never changes; palm is always facing up to the sky, yet, it's quite effective to and through said target.



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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2020 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wado Heretic wrote:
bushido_man96 wrote:
I have been doing more and more punching with the 45 degree angled fist, especially in bag work. I find it provides a happy medium of getting some power out of rotation, as well as controlling my elbow position.

When I teach punching in defensive tactics, I like to teach the 45-degree wrist rotation, as it keeps inexperienced punchers from over-rotating, thus avoiding damage to the last three knuckles in the form of a boxer's fracture.


I think for beginners and for people who only train part-time, it is important to settle on an approach they can absorb quickly, easily, and practice effectively in their own time. I do think the 45-degree is optimum for defensive tactics, because of how attacks happen in a civilian context. It is the least injurious angle I have found in my personal experimentation. Similarly, it starts the activation of the triceps and secures proper elbow alignment, thus not as powerful as a full rotation, but it is enough to start gaining some of the benefits.

For people training full-time, or with more experience behind them, I do think one should broaden to finding the optimum alignment per target, distance, and angle relative to the target.


I like your points on both accounts. As for my typical DT group, the 45 degree angle works best as I have to keep in mind that this group of folks aren't experienced punchers, so I must keep in mind that I need to keep their striking tools in good order so they can use them. To that end, I also teach hammerfists and palm heel strikes as options, if they don't feel confident in striking with their knuckles.
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2020 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
Please let me pose some questions for everyone...

Is 45-degrees effectively enough?? Why??

Does 15-degrees more make the punch much more effective?? Why??

Before you answer these questions, let's please consider this...the close punch profile never changes; palm is always facing up to the sky, yet, it's quite effective to and through said target.




It's a good question, Bob. I think 45 degrees is effective. But is full rotation more effective? It just might be. But, if the person executing isn't skilled in punching, the full rotation may be detrimental enough to refrain from teaching it that way. But, as one improves, moving to the full rotation should be explored. If at least to have more options in the toolbox.

The close punch is a different animal entirely. It's always a close range punch, and usually arriving at an upward angle. It's also a strike that isn't likely to result in the straightening of the arm, and therefore engages a different group of muscles and different mechanics. The upside down, horizontal punch can be rotated, but it doesn't seem to rotate as much as the straight horizontal punches (jabs, crosses, straights, etc.).
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SLK59
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Styles: Shotokan Karate

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2020 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In addition to the differences between different types of punches as discussed by bushido_man96 above, much also depends on which muscles are used to connect your punch to the rest of your body, and that varies greatly from art to art. For example, when I trained in JKA Shotokan 30 years ago, we were taught to focus (kime) by connecting primarily through the pects to the belly (hara) and downward. This tends to produce a punch with a full 180º rotation.

JKA punch - see pic at top of page and pic labelled ‘Step-in Punch’: http://www.jkaboston.com/

In SKA, kime is instead accomplished by connecting primarily through the lats to the belly (hara) and downward. Not only does this result in a very different feeling focus, it also tends to produce a punch with a 145º-180º rotation, depending on the person. I haven’t noticed any reduction in power using this method.

SKA punch - see pics 2 and 5 in the sequence at the top of the page: https://foothill.ska.org/about-practice/

In both systems, stress is placed on rotating the fist at the very end of the punch, ‘corkscrewing’ it into the target. Bottom line, whatever degree of fist rotation is used in a punch, the important thing is to maintain the proper connections as they are practiced in your art, so that your entire body is behind the punch, and not just the arm alone.
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Last edited by SLK59 on Wed Dec 23, 2020 10:58 am; edited 1 time in total
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great points, SKL59. I don't recall that I've ever focused on my pecs or my lats feeding the punch. I've just focused on using my whole body as a unit to generate the power.

I've found more and more that I prefer a fist that is rotated about 45 degrees off vertical, as I like the rotation and the fact that it keeps my elbow tucked in line more.
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