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Punching and stuff.
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Hello everyone. I'd like a thread about punching please.

I hear the common criticism when people from other arts watch Bujinkan videos that our punching is either unrealistic or too committed. I don't feel this way, but I haven't seen but a fraction of the Bujinkan's students. I often punch differently at the beginning of a technique to try out new things or to see what things I can influence on my partner. So...

I would love to hear a brief description of the way you punch.
-General footwork and if it changes.
-What 'fist' you use.
-Where your other hand is during the punch.
-The target of your punch.

When the punch ends, do you retract it to keep it from becoming a weakness? Do you leave it out to use like(as) an ichimonji? How high/low do you hold your hands for guards? Do you throw hooks and jabs and uppercuts? Feel free to pick any one or none of these topics to reply on because I don't have any specific idea of where I want this thread to go, I just want to learn more and have ideas to try out.

Me:
-(general footwork) I try to make sure that I let my front foot stay under my body weight as I move so that when I get to the correct distance I will be in hicho. My footwork changes often based on the opening available.

-(fists) I use fudoken as the initial attack almost exclusively. I really don't use the other fists for 'punching' a whole lot. I'm not sure I consider kyusho strikes as punches but if you do then I'm fond of koppoken and boshiken. I hear that the initial attack in Japan is often shikanken to the sternum? I'm not there enough to say anything about what often happens.

-(other hand) I like to either leave my second hand in a loose fist in the same position as the guard in ichimonji, or place my guard hand in a loose fist palm down on the point of my forehead to serve as a high guard. The second is something I'm testing out but it seems to be a good idea.

-(target) I alternate aiming for the nose and the neck. When I aim for the nose my idea is that on most people, taking a serious hit to the nose will cause a great deal of damage to their will to fight as well as making the eyes water automatically. If I do a good enough job of it, I can cause them to have to breathe through their mouth, making them easier to knock out from a hit to the jaw.

When I aim for the neck my idea is that I can cause a minor disruption in their breathing even if I do a poor job, but primarily my concern is getting my hand in to find a grip. Rather than reaching for a grip, I can use the punch to cover the distance and potentially do damage, and the neck serves as a central area to either find a grip or move(strike?) the chin as a distraction.

My primary reason for punching is to close the distance and just "start the conversation." I do try to cause damage with my punches but my main goal is just to touch them to gain information on my opponent so I know where to go.

Sorry for the long post but I'd like to hear a good selection of what you guys think on the matter. I love to watch UFC and one of my favorite fighters is Chuck liddell. He is known for his punching ability because he knocks out most of his opponents with punches and they have a devastating effectiveness to them. He has an incredible sense of distancing. He throws all sorts of punches and I can say that I've only seen him punch any of the ways that I do maybe a couple times. That got me thinking. Thank you in advance for your input and for reading my long winded post. (topics such as this are difficult to restrict to the brevity of aphorisms)

Posted on: 2007/2/13 15:12
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Nate Hallum
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Re: Punching and stuff.
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Nate,
I agree with you most other arts don't seem to understand some of the reasons behind our punching. In Gyokko ryu and Shinden Fudo ryu punching is both used to off balance the opponet and to move on to the next thing. So the arm hanging out there is not an arm hanging out there but something that allows other things to come next.

I have been thinking alot about what Hatsumi Sensei said in December about touching the opponet with one finger then striking. My take on it is that it is a way to search and confuse the opponet in a sense trapping him in a thinking process then striking when he is confused.

The only problem I see with some people that punch in the Bujinkan is that they often forget what comes next and over extend themselves or punch too far, in a sense leaving them no room to do whats next. The goal is to punch without having to over - reset and shift the balance back to a normal postion.

In kukishinden, allthough I am unsure about this, but shikan ken is used quite a bit, and the attacks are a little elongated. This might have something to do with wearing armour and the balance shifting that results, but personally I don't like Kukishin ryu all that much... ;) And, punches to armour don't do much except off balance the opponet.

Rob Hartung

Posted on: 2007/2/13 17:00
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Re: Punching and stuff.
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-General footwork and if it changes.

Footwork has to change according to the distance, right? And you have to strike out when the distance is right. Right?

-What 'fist' you use.

The target is the one that might be dictating this; choose the one that supports the connection wished for.

-Where your other hand is during the punch.

Should be at the reserve, guarding, ready for something else. This might alos depend on where it was before the punch began.

-The target of your punch.

Is this about some specific punch/strike, like a stepping through striking, or any striking...? Anyway, this depends on the situation etc.

-When the punch ends, do you retract it to keep it from becoming a weakness?

It should certainly not be left there to be a weakness, but one should follow the situation naturally. Naturally.

-Do you leave it out to use like(as) an ichimonji?

The hand one hit with? If you leave it there, it might become a target. Being aware of this might be useful, too, though...

-How high/low do you hold your hands for guards?

I was pointed out by a Japanese Shihan that the rear hand guarding while striking should be along the line of navel-leading collarbone. Have stuck to that ever since

-Do you throw hooks and jabs and uppercuts?

Yes, these are part of the curriculum I've been taught, can be seen in various Ryû-ha forms, too, AFAIK.

Quote:

Shinoobie wrote:
-(general footwork) I try to make sure that I let my front foot stay under my body weight as I move so that when I get to the correct distance I will be in hicho. My footwork changes often based on the opening available.


This idea of Hichô might be something that was used somewhat last summer in some classes in Japan. Hmmm, that was clear... not

Quote:

Shinoobie wrote:
-I hear that the initial attack in Japan is often shikanken to the sternum?


I recall seeing Fudô-ken as often... If not more often... depends on the teacher, I'd wager.

Quote:

Shinoobie wrote:
-(other hand) I like to either leave my second hand in a loose fist in the same position as the guard in ichimonji, or place my guard hand in a loose fist palm down on the point of my forehead to serve as a high guard. The second is something I'm testing out but it seems to be a good idea.


This (first) sounds similart o my method of choise (see above), but the latter sounds like a boxing guard.

Quote:

Shinoobie wrote:
-(target) I alternate aiming for the nose and the neck. When I aim for the nose my idea is that on most people, taking a serious hit to the nose will cause a great deal of damage to their will to fight as well as making the eyes water automatically. If I do a good enough job of it, I can cause them to have to breathe through their mouth, making them easier to knock out from a hit to the jaw.


Again I'm wondering if you a specific type of striking... Like stepping through? I'd say the fist should travel the most natural route, this might be dictated by the movement of your body through your footwork.

Quote:

Shinoobie wrote:
My primary reason for punching is to close the distance and just "start the conversation." I do try to cause damage with my punches but my main goal is just to touch them to gain information on my opponent so I know where to go.


To close the distance... so we are talking about a "chasing attack", not strikes from an arms+ length?

Well, many of my points should go well with both situations

Posted on: 2007/2/13 19:04
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Re: Punching and stuff.
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Quote:
I have been thinking alot about what Hatsumi Sensei said in December about touching the opponet with one finger then striking. My take on it is that it is a way to search and confuse the opponet in a sense trapping him in a thinking process then striking when he is confused.


Is there a discussion on this board concerning this? Or, a video or other source? I'd love to learn more about it,

Dave

Posted on: 2007/2/13 21:42
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Re: Punching and stuff.
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a lot of info from Yamazu, tnx alot, I can use that in my training...in addition to attacks to the nose I would like to say that there is one punch that gets there really fast in my experience...the so-called snapfist that bruce Lee also taught; from any kamae you throw the first 2 knuckles (fudoken)forwards, knuckles downwards, and retrieve it back...it goes so fast that when trained, it's almost impossible to catch the movement..especially when you're involved in an unlucky situation in a bar or somewhere where there's limited space to move it's a nice tool...

and I too would like to know more about that particular move of Sensei...

Posted on: 2007/2/13 22:36
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Re: Punching and stuff.
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As Ari has indicated, the "fist" you use must be appropiate to the "target" being struck. You probably wouldn't use a finger to hit a large muscled area. This also gets into the whole issue of the striking body part being able to hit the target, hence distance being a factor in what striking surface is used.
The power of a strike comes from movement of the hip area, (call it hara or whatever you wish) and that must be supported by the location of the feet so there is a direct connection to the ground though the skelton. In fact any strike to be effective needs that "bone on bone" conection to the ground from point of contact. Muscle is only used to insure that bone on bone alignment.
Now what do you do with the striking surface after it has struck? Why not continue to another target? Like the fist becoming the back of the wrist to the fingers to the elbow etc. All of these hitting different targets of course.
Just some ideas.

Posted on: 2007/2/13 22:40
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Re: Punching and stuff.
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Quote:

Yamazu wrote:
1--The target of your punch.

Is this about some specific punch/strike, like a stepping through striking, or any striking...? Anyway, this depends on the situation etc.

2--How high/low do you hold your hands for guards?

I was pointed out by a Japanese Shihan that the rear hand guarding while striking should be along the line of navel-leading collarbone. Have stuck to that ever since

3-This idea of Hichô might be something that was used somewhat last summer in some classes in Japan. Hmmm, that was clear... not

Quote:

4-...or place my guard hand in a loose fist palm down on the point of my forehead to serve as a high guard. The second is something I'm testing out but it seems to be a good idea.


This (first) sounds similart o my method of choise (see above), but the latter sounds like a boxing guard.

5-Again I'm wondering if you a specific type of striking... Like stepping through?

To close the distance... so we are talking about a "chasing attack", not strikes from an arms+ length?


1-I was thinking of the initial attack. So stepping through I guess.

2-Does this mean against your body?

3-I didn't catch the significance of this.

4-It is sort of like a boxing guard in some ways. When performing techniques such as omote gyaku I find it very useful to place the metatarsel portions of my thumbs on the point of my forehead after I have the hand. It provides a more solid place for me to move from until I learn how to use my arms better. I use this same place to put a guard to ensure that I have a back up that can't be "swatted down" easily. I can either drive in with the elbow or throw a shuto or really anything I need to do from here, it's just a stable position for me.

5-I guess I am thinking about a chasing attack.
------

I love the concept of finding them first with the fingers with a strike or just a feeler, and THEN striking. It works really well. I am often too caught up to do something that creative though. Hmm...that's training too.

Thank you very much for the replies everyone.

Posted on: 2007/2/14 0:38
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Love and punches,
Nate Hallum
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Re: Punching and stuff.
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2-yes

I personally would be careful adding boxing "ideology" to "BBT". Can be done, but not on my level, I'm sure. Would most likely become two separate systems, not supporting each other, might even end up disrupting eah others effectiveness...

Posted on: 2007/2/14 1:13
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Re: Punching and stuff.
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Interesting discussion...

I would like to just add a quick thought on punching, if I may. Hard punching puts heavy strain on the joints, bones and ligaments in the hand, wrist and even elbows and shoulders. This is why boxers and the like wrap their hands and wrists, even in training. Compacting the tiny bones in the hand and wrist through repetetive heavy punching can eventually lead to pinched nerves and permanent damage.

Considering we are in a culture where most people need the dexterity of fingers and wrists to operate computers and such, this could have a profound effect on the quality of life.

In addition, if your body is trained to hard punch under the protection of wrapped wrists and hands, imagine what happens when you punch just as hard without the wrappings. You very likely could break your wrist and/or hand, which would be a huge liability in an on-going situation.

So, developing punching for purposes which go beyond just getting the KO is an important concept, because you are working with the limits of natural body strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, you are maintaining the health of those natural body weapons so you have the use of them - not only during a fight, but in your daily life afterwards.

Posted on: 2007/2/14 1:34
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Re: Punching and stuff.
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Nate,

I am very glad you've asked this question. As a shihan once pointed out to me, there is an unfortunate tendency in the Bujinkan to leave the punch extended and thus the arm(s) vulnerable, as is so evident in training.

As someone who's trained in the BBT for quite a few years, I never really understood the lack of practicality behind the so-called "lunge punch" that is often seen in training.

(I mean, how many techniques start out with the instructor saying "Ok, in this one the attacker throws a right punch...") Always seemed too counter-intuitive to me. Leaves you overextended, more open to a counterounch by the attacker than a follow-up punch opportunity for yourself, and very vulnerable based on the resulting footwork and weight distribution.

Then it dawned on me. After training in other fighting systems (not just MA), designed for LE and other agencies that need to get their training "on the run" so to speak, I began experimenting with other punches (vs. strikes) you would more likely see on the street, etc. Surprisingly, here's what I found. The faster, "dirtier" and more "UFC" the strike - if you will - the more effective the BBT technique was in destroying the attacker! And, additionally, blending the daikentaijutsu with these "more realistic / real time" punches if you will, was even more devastating to the attacker.

I guess the long and the short of it is - in my opinion at least - the "lunge punch" is a starting point. "Zero" as soke often refers to. Once you've mastered the kata, forget it and move on. It is the combination of more "realistic" (sorry to use that term) punches (as opposed to strikes) that makes this art such a deadly one, IMHO.

But you have to do what works for you. My main focus in BBT is self defense. My katas are anything but attractive, I don't know half of the terms in Japanese, but I've learned many of the techniques pretty solidly (kihon, etc.) and they are DEVASTATING when the focus is less on perfection and more on what taijutsu is really all about - walking away intact.

Sorry such a long post, but I'm a long time listener and first time caller, so to speak. I was admittedly frustrated with what I incorrectly perceived BBT to lack in terms of "punching" but the above approach really breathed new life into the art for me. Again though - it's up to each individual and what works for them, in my opinion.

Best,

Bradley

Posted on: 2007/2/14 4:17
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