Lesson 3 – The fist & my first attack technique

The straight punch

After seeing how to sketch a first guard stance (read Lesson 5.2), let’s move on to the first offensive combat technique you will learn in this course:

  • The straight punch is a technique that at the same time can be defined as the simplest and as the most difficult
  • Any non-practitioner can use this technique but a perfect punching capability takes years and years of training to develop
  • We start from this attack because it is one of the most common and because through its study, it is possible to learn a good part of the mechanics of the other striking methods

Note – This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).

How to throw a punch: what you need to know

A note by Master Kongling – In this lesson, we see the theoretical rudiments of an effective punch: you have to train them focusing on all the (apparently insignificant) details and to perfect their application (from today until the day when everything will become instinctive, just like breathing).

Before starting to see how to punch properly, it is essential to underline that:

  • This punch is not for self-defense – We have not yet addressed the topic of personal defense and in a real context this type of punch is not the best choice for those without experience, precision and (especially) conditioning
  • Punch in the face – For a beginner, throwing a fist on the rigid parts of the opponent’s body (also involuntarily) is equivalent to causing (at least) severe pain in the hand and in the worst case (not so remote) to suffer a fracture / rupture of the bones
  • Conditioning – In 6 Dragons Kung Fu, there is a specific path (which we have already started in Lesson 4.5) that will lead you to hit even a mottled rock “without consequences” but it is essential to be gradual
  • Soft targets – For now, this kind of punches should be trained against very soft targets (eg. foam rubber) and / or “against the air” (the so-called “shadow boxing”) without power (to avoid damage to untrained joints); for now all the other targets must be hit open-handed (more about this later)
  • Study purpose – The important thing in this phase is to understand the dynamics through slow and wide movements; in this moment speed and power must be avoided (there is nothing more difficult to correct than a wrong movement that has become part of your muscular memory, read The muscle memory)
  • Preparation – Before starting to throw punches, you must do a correct stretching and warm-up (read Basic warm-up and Basic soft stretching)
  • Avoid violence – Always remember that using violence is the worst humiliation of your intelligence (read The 6DKF’s diagram about the use of violence)

How to prepare a punch: closing the fingers

Let’s start seeing how to (didactically) close your fist in the correct way:

  1. Open your hand at your maximum width (all the fingers must be stretched)
  2. Flex all the fingers (except the thumb) so that the fingertips go to overlap your palm at the height of the thumb base
  3. Make sure no fingers overlap with others (they must be only near)
  4. Slide the fingertips of the previous 4 fingers upward so that they close by firmly grasping the underlying skin (without folds)
  5. Fold as much as possible the 4 bent fingers down and inward the hand
  6. Close the thumb so that it covers the index / middle fingers by tightening the fist

Some useful considerations on how to make a fist:

  • If you have done everything correctly, by throwing your knuckles against the other open hand, you should feel a sense of compactness and no annoyance
  • Even if the fist must be tightened, keep your fingers relaxed until the last moment of the hit (the tension slows your actions / reactions)
  • There are other ways to tighten the hand (for example in the Russian Systema the last phalanges of the 4 upper fingers do not flex) but for the moment focus on this

A note by Master Kongling – Naturally, this is only the explanation, with the time you will close your fist properly without having to think about it. Read also How to tighten the fist and see How to clench my fist to punch (video).

How to punch

How to execute the basic straight punch:

  • You have to align the back of the fist to the wrist and to the forearm; this (eg. against a punching bag) will prevent the fracture of not high-conditioned wrists
  • The punch technique is described in the article How to punch (simple explanation) in its simple version, (in future we will see the extended explanation)
  • In the article everything begin in a casual standing position, you have also to try from the semi-open hands guard stance (described in Lesson 5.2)

Final notes

Some tips about how to throw a punch:

  • How to punch faster – The fastest punch is always the one that travels the shortest route from a starting point A to a point B of arrival (read The best way to hit first: a little trick and see How to punch faster)
  • There are a lot of different methods – What we have seen in this lesson is just one of the infinite ways in which it is possible to hit
  • The difference lies in the details – Do not believe who tells you that “a punch is always a punch” (there are endless variations of loading, of releasing the force, methods of movement, purposes, etc.)

The next step will be your first kick.

In-depth articles

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Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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