Saturday, July 11, 2009

Striking Distance

Middle-Aged Martial Artist recently penned a post about punching range, in particular how boxers use "reach" to their advantage. In the Sweet Science, having long arms is considered favorable as a skilled fighter can use them to keep an invasive opponent on the outside. The pugilist's jab or the karateka's forward leg front kick both work effectively to stop an aggressor in his tracks.

Still, if you don't possess the reach advantage, or even if you're not that good of a fighter on the outside, getting in that close range shot may be you're best bet. Short strikes such as hooks and uppercuts are fast, powerful and difficult to detect. It was fifties boxing contender Rocky Marciano that delivered a crushing right cross that traveled a mere six inches to knock the heavyweight crown right off Jersey Joe Walcott's head. Taken to its extreme, we have the controversial 1-inch punch that Bruce Lee demonstrates here in 1964:

I'm told that Lee's uke in this footage was in fact a judo player. Note that he's not braced in any kind of a fighting stance whatsoever when he gets hit. Also note that Lee's arm is nearly extended prior to punching. Maybe it's just me, but this looks more like a push than anything else.

Supposedly the trick to this little 1-inch miracle shot is to deliver the strike with a vertical fist and upon impact torque the still standing fist to protrude the bottom two knuckles (as opposed to the traditional method of striking with the top two knuckles). In this way ki-energy that already is flowing down the ulna of the forearm will be dispensed into the bottom portion of the fist and into the hapless opponent. This certainly wasn't Lee's explaination as he had some serious doubts about the existence of ki at all. Draeger believed in its presence but from a practical viewpoint, sans the "carnival hocus-pocus" seen in clips of George Dillman, Jack Hogan, et al.

One noteworthy theory of ki is that it begins in the lower extremities and then radiates to wherever you can get it to go. This idea holds up well alongside of the bio-mechanics involved with delivering any kind of strike. Proper foot alignment and rotation of hips are critical to executing maximum force to punches. Getting real power into short range strikes can be tricky - it might require a little magic - but definitely requires lots of practice.

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Blogger Rick Matz said...

Mastering the interval, ma-ai, is one of the foundations of aikido.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Charles James said...

Hi, John:

This video struck a cord with me so I posted on it in my blog.

As to your view, this type of punch you explain is actually what Henry Sensei taught me as "Muscle and Breath" control or what AJA Sensei teaches as "Chinkuchi" which you explain well in this post.

Great job, always like watching Bruce anyway...he is entertaining...

11:50 AM  
Blogger Bob M said...

Good point about the forward leg front kick working also like a jab. One issue in mixed martial arts is a quick opponent can grab the leg and get control over you--another reason not to be predictable with any strike or kick.

5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think short range punches are excellent practise. They teach one (apart from being good techniques) how to use hip and body rotation to obtain power in strikes. Arm strength alone may sometimes work for long range crosses etc but never will for short range blows. They should definitly be studied and used more by Karate Ka.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Let's not forget Beatrice Kiddo's short range punch in Kill Bill 2! That was a wicked technique.

11:02 PM  

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