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Old 03-18-2006, 07:32 PM   #1
Adam Grant
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Hey everyone. I was just wondering if I could get the opinion of more anatomically versed crosfitters. It seems to me as if the human hand isn't intended to be used as a punching tool.

Just look at apes and monkeys. They're way stronger than us, but when they fight, they just bite and wrestle. The sports of boxing or any other MA that involves punching wouldn't be possible without wraps, gauze and gloves.

The stories of people breaking their hands in streetfights are many, much less professional fighters injuring their hands while training in proper gear. Are we defying nature whenever we rely on our fists in a fight?
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Old 03-18-2006, 08:08 PM   #2
Jeff Gentry
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Hey Adam

Well IMO the hand is not designed to punch, it is desinged to hold and grasp thing's, it is a versatile tool and so it can be used for that, like you said though it is not hard to damage it when throwing a punch if something goes wrong.

It is possible to throw a punch without injury to the hand when done right, such as martial artist who break board's and such with a closed fist, it is easier to hurt the hand when you put another individual in there who is fighting back, make's it much easier for something to go wrong.

I am a big fan of the hammerfist type of strike much less danger to my hand and it is a devastating strike, it also setup's alot of other option.

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Old 03-18-2006, 08:37 PM   #3
Matthew Nielsen
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You don't have to be anatomically versed to know the hand is not intended to punch, but can be use as such... Elbows are a better striking tool IMO.
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Old 03-18-2006, 09:26 PM   #4
Travis Hall
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i agree with what jeff said-
"Well IMO the hand is not designed to punch, it is desinged to hold and grasp thing's [...] "

punching is, in most cases, small bones against bigger bones: bad idea. if the hit is a glancing one you risk the chance of breaking something. getting teeth in your fist is also a great way to get nasty infections. also, a fist is an extrememly obvious visual cue that your preparing to fight. one which any trained fighter will see immediatly.

with a palm strike you have less of a chance of breaking anything and also less chance of a glancing hit. it also puts/keeps your hand in a position advantageous to gouging and anchoring the persons face/hair/neck...

a palm strike is also more easily delivered by surprise in a street encounter (through a passive stance, for example).

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Old 03-19-2006, 02:44 AM   #5
Kalen Meine
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Well, in your bite and wrestle point, it's also important to remember that those same critters aren't fighting to damage each other- the impression of capability is far more important than actual damage. Rattlesnakes have a rather notably potent arsenal (and no, they aren't immune) but when they fight members of their own species, they too just wrestle. Read "On Killing" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman for more goodies. Humans actually trying to maul each other have, since time immemorial, put sticks and rocks in those handy grippers to handle their striking needs.

That being said, you certainly can punch very, very safely. Evolution isn't about design, it's about collision of a form and a function to be fulfilled, and their is a few thousand years of evidence that closed fists can be used safely- and a few thousand years of idgits who snarled up their hands doing something less than bright. So. Be sure all of your open-hand type work, and elbows and such, are solid, and can do a very hefty share of the work for when fists are immature tools, or just aren't showing up. And work on fist clenching and strong wrist- the handy alignment and bone structure that makes fists work depends upon it being maintained by the surrounding musclulature.}
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Old 03-19-2006, 06:54 AM   #6
John Vivian
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As some folks have mentioned before, the hand is made of small, delicate bones. As such, target selection is key to whether or not it is safe to strike with a standard punch. The body (torso) seems to me to provide valid targets, however the head (where most seem to like to punch) is certainly less than ideal. Hammerfists, as has already been referred to as well, are a much safer alternative for heavy blows.

That said, there are numerous other options, depending on the end you are trying to achieve. If knocking someone out (or at least causing trauma) is the goal, then headbutts, knees, elbows, hammerfists, and shoulder butts come to mind. If simply getting out of an altercation safely is the goal, then finger jabs might be a safer strike to employ (to select targets, of course).

Also, from a psychological standpoint, i think that punching is often the result of anger and tension, two elements that are not necessarily condusive to safe self defense or fighting in general (although i realize some do thrive on the emotional state of anger).

The whole body is a weapon and the whole body is a target, but use harder weapons on softer targets, not the other way around.

Just some thoughts.

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Old 03-19-2006, 09:00 AM   #7
Roger Smith
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Don't forget fingers to the eye! I think Chuck is coming out with a video on them soon LOL....
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Old 03-19-2006, 09:40 AM   #8
Steve Serrano
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I cast a vote for not using fist strikes if possible. Old cop here; worked 13 years in patrol as a young street cop in an active So CA city. I've had some exposure to boxing/MA.

Many of the guys I've worked with are avid martial artists, one was top ranked in the world in full contact stuff. ALL OF US who punched when fighting would trash our hands when punching in street encounters. Boxer's fractures (5th metacarpal), sprained thumbs, cranked wrists, all. Gets old after having a sprained thumb every couple weeks.

Sure, alot of those were sloppy or poorly placed as our "clients" have a desire to move as we launch, but many actually were well timed/placed and to soft tissue areas.

Now I'm a no-fist-unless-it's-really-needed guy. Also a real devotee of plain old blunt force (let the concrete curb or stucco do your work). Over the years I developed a better feel for using that heel-of-the-hand strike. The elbow has also been incredibly effective if you find yourself that close.

Just one guy's experience.
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Old 03-19-2006, 10:25 AM   #9
Luke Schollmeyer
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Steve: My afternoon workout is with (primarily) cops. Most of these guys work in the toughest areas in town. It's always good to get an idea from them of how things happen on the streets in more realistic confrontations.

Thanks for keeping the streets safe, brother.
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Old 03-19-2006, 11:39 AM   #10
Ted Williams
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I'd argue that punching is learned behavior, and open palms/gouging/ripping (etc) are inherent abilities. Not sure how you can say that apes palming and ripping at each other aren't trying to do damage, they most certainly do and are trying. Humans have been lucky enough to adapt to use tools in everyday life...apes use tools as well, not sure if they use them as weapons though.

I personally like to practice only what I know my instincts will let me do in reaction to what kind of confrontation I am in. If I'm at work, and in the right mindset (predatory, aggressive, whatever its called) I'll use a different tool (and be more able to pick which one it is) than if I am ambushed and reacting to something.

My take on it,

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