Saturday, 5 November 2016

How practitioners of different martial arts punch

I remember waiting my turn with the punching bag at a gym when this boxer was bouncing it around with a series of punches. Sure- the bag was rocking with each blow and swung around, but none of the blows seemed to be anything as damaging as what I have come to encounter in my exploration of the martial arts.

When my turn came the bag did not shake as much, but a loud "BOOM!" emanated with each punch and a nice dent started forming. Oh! And no-one was holding the bag...

The difference between the two ways of punching lay not so much in the movement- or the external aspect- but in the internal aspects.

Now- most of us know what Bruce Lee said about the difference between a karate punch and a kungfu punch, right? Sure- we have all heard it, but here it is again to refresh our memories:

What Bruce Lee was referring to here was the internal aspect of the punch. In short- the external aspect is about how the technique is performed physically, the internal is about how it feels.

Now with what Bruce Lee said- here is a photo showing a typical karate punch:

Now- here is a kungfu punch:


To be exact- that is a Shaolin Kungfu punch. A Wudang style like one of the styles of Taijiquan would have people punch like this:


This is my karate punch:

Wenhsiuquan did not really throw out the horizontal fist, but definitely uses the vertical fist as its first choice due to the heavy influence of Wing Chun and Taijiquan.

This is a video capture of me using a vertical fist in a Wenhsiuquan form.

Looking at these photos one could say that the Shaolin punch and the karate punch are actually the same. Fact is, however, that you will find that Shotokan Karate stresses the "hikite" or withdrawing hand a lot, relying on this push-pull motion for power while in kungfu the emphasis is on the fist gathering energy while in rest position (what internal specialists call the fasong phase) and the explosive expulsion of energy during the punch (the fajing phase). 

What happens to the witdrawing hand in kungfu? It depends on what form of kungfu you refer to. Wingchunquan, Taijiquan and Shaolin Fist each have their own way to use the non-punching hand and their reasons for that.

Now- I want to give an explanation of how the internal power is used and developed, but first I am going to ask you to look at this from an older post of mine:

How do you punch out a candle flame like this?

The thing is- I feel energy gathering in my fist and forearm as I prepare for the punch and inhale. Then- I do not push my fist out, but it shoots out in an explosive movement as I breathe out- tightening at the very end.

Upon impact with a solid target I can often feel the object vibrate. Now- if you were only taught to breathe out as you do the push-pull motion you actually miss a lot.

I still recommend punching into a bucket of water to see how much water you can splash out in one punch. It is an excellent way to develop explosive power and to attune you to the internal aspect of your punch. Just doing the push-pull motion and going "IYAAAA!" is not going to do you much good, though.

Btw- should my next post be about yelling in martial arts?

Oh! While doing research for this post I found this post by Jesse! Give it a look.

Now I am off to go and watch Dr Strange! Until next week!

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