Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Punches vary in technique, speed, and range. The most forceful punches incorporate motion of the whole body: a short step, a shift of the body, a turn of the shoulders, and an extension of the arm. However, in some contexts this motion is not appropriate and the punch is a much more constrained motion. One example is the "one inch punch" from Wing Chun, which is intended for use at very close quarters against an opponenet who is holding the practitioner. As the name suggests, it is a very short, sharp motion with minimal body motion.
A forceful punch that lands wrong or strikes the wrong target may damage the hand; for this reason padded gloves are worn in many sports that involve punching (such as boxing). When punches are practiced on a heavy punching bag, bag gloves are worn to protect the skin of the hand, and the hands are wrapped tightly to protect them from damage due to repetitive impacts.
The elbow should not be locked out at the extension of a punch. This weakens the punch and makes the elbow susceptible to be broken. In the long term, it wears the cartilage which can eventually lead to arthritis.
Many martial arts such as Karate, Taekwondo, Muay Thai and Wing Chun combine punches with kicks and other strikes, whereas boxing relies only on punches. There are also some martial arts, such as judo, that include no strikes at all.
Punching techniques in Karate are called tsuki. Contact may be made with the knuckles (seiken), the back of the fist (uraken), or the bottom of the fist (tetsui).
In boxing, punches are classified according to the motion and direction of the strike; contact is always made with the knuckles.
Wing Chun practitioners punch with a vertical fist, or sun fist.
The impact is made with the bottom three knuckles, which keeps the wrist in proper alignment and reduces risk of injury to the wrist.
Wing Chun punches are always linear with the elbow pointed down. This makes the punch faster and structurally stronger, as the skeletal alignment is better than a horizontal punch.
Different punch types
Jab: The lead arm extends directly towards the target, making contact with the two first knuckles. The jab should be delivered quickly, in a "snapping" way, without moving the hips or feet too much. The jab is not a very powerful punch, and is usually used as a tactical tool in sports, or as the first punch in a combination.
"Power" punch: A direct punch, like the jab, but that employs most of the body in its motion. This punch is usually delivered with the rear hand for maximum power. The arm, shoulders, hip and legs work together to bring great velocity to the movement.
Hook: A relatively wide sweeping, rotating motion of the hip is the hallmark of the hook punch; it is executed by bending the elbow, bringing the arm to a parallel position with the ground, and using the abdominal muscles to twist the upper body away from the target. The hook is characteristically hard to block, very fast and powerful, making it a favorite amongst many fighters.
Uppercut: From a standard boxing stance, the knees are bent sligthly and the torso is rotated while the fist is raised towards the target, usually the chin or the nose. The knuckles make contact.
Palm heel: The uppercut and the hook can be performed with the heel of the palm, avoiding potential injuries in "real life" fights. A palm heel punch is extremely effective when the face is targeted, but loses most of its effectiveness on other targets such as the torso or the arms.
Hammer punch: A compacted fist is brought down as fast as possible on the intended target. This punch also needs the use of the shoulders, and is usually accompanied by a step torwards the target. Like the Palm heel, it is most effective against the head and neck region.
Knife-hand: This refers to strikes performed with the lower part of an open hand. Knife-hand strikes are mostly used to strike sensitive pressure points using sweeping techniques like the backhand or the hook; it is difficult to build much power into a knife-hand blow, because of the angles at wich they must be delivered. Good targets for a knife-hand blow is the neck (using a hooking technique) and the pressure point on the forearm (using a hammer punch technique).
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