Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Striking Techniques

Striking Techniques (Uchi Waza)
Striking techniques are attacks that use a surface other than the front of the fist to attack and are often used when either a punch is not appropriate, you wish to hit a target with more precision than with a fist, or can generate better power with the strike.
Palm Heel (Teisho)
The teisho (palm heel) is one of the classic techniques taught in self-defense seminars, and for good reason. Teisho attacks are done with the bottom (or heel) of your open palm. Normally the fingers are curled in for protection from sprains and breaks. Teisho can be easily delivered to almost any target that a punch can. Attacks to the head are normally delivered with the heel side down, attacks to the body are done with the fingers to the side, and attacks to the groin or legs are done with the fingers pointing downward.The reason why this attack is so popular is because it is easier for someone with little or no punching experience to deliver a strong attack with a teisho than with a punch. Of course, with training, the punch eventually becomes a stronger technique due to the smaller and harder striking surface. But, to get and idea for why the teisho is so strong, do a single pushup. Now, do a pushup, but this time, instead of putting the palms of your hands down, use the knuckles of your fists and keep your wrists straight. Typically, the standard pushup is easier because the wrist and knuckle joints are not used for support.
Hammer Fist (Tettsui)
Tettsui uchi (hammer strike) is not a common attack that one sees in fights even though it can generate a lot of force. Tettsui is any strike that uses the bottom of the fist to strike. This can be done in a downward or sideways swing. The tettsui generates a lot of power in the same way the teisho does, by bypassing the wrist in force delivery. But, the tettsui has the same problem as the teisho, it's softer and larger striking surface makes it less effective compared to punching as you train your punching techniques.
Knife Hand (Shuto)
Shuto (knife-hand) is the classic "karate chop" technique of the movies. The shuto is delivered like the tettsui, but the hand is opened, rather than being held in a fist. This causes two effects. First, it reduces the striking surface. Second, it flattens out the tissue between the skin and bone on the striking side of the hand. These two effects increases the effectiveness of the attack. But also note that because there is less padding on the side of the hand when it is open, the hand is more prone to injury so this attack is not as good for novices.
Ridge Hand (Haito)
Haito (ridge-hand) is the side of the hand opposite to the shuto. Haito attacks are delivered with the side of the knuckle which connects the index finger to the hand. The thumb should be tucked into the palm to help prevent injury. Haito is normally a circular attack which uses angular momentum rather than direct muscle power to do damage. Haito is not normally as strong of an attack as shuto. This is because even though the haito uses a small and hard striking surface, it cannot make as much use of the large muscles as the shuto can, so it is normally used for striking sensitive areas on the target, such as nerves and arteries.
Elbow (Empi)
Empi (elbow) is the ideal close-fighting weapon. Typically, the Shotokan style prefers longer ranges attacks for the added personal safety, but sometimes that is not possible. Empi uchi are probably the strongest attack one can deliver with the upper body. There are many factors that contribute to this. The elbow is a small and very hard surface. There are no joints involved to weaken the attack, the elbow is closer to the body than the hand, so it is easier to apply more of your body mass to the attack. Empi uchi can be applied to a target in many different ways, which also makes it a versatile weapon. But, because it requires you to get so close to the opponent, it is normally considered a last ditch attack for when you have no other choice.
Back Fist (Uraken)
Uraken (back fist) is a typical karate attack. Uraken uses the same part of the fist to attack as the punch (the base knuckles of the index and middle fingers), but use a swinging, circular motion to deliver the attack rather than a direct punch. An important note about the uraken is that the wrist must pronate in order to not injure the hand. If the wrist is kept straight, there is a higher chance to strike with the top of the hand, which is more likely to break your hand than the target, and is thus not recommended without proper training. However, a well executed uraken is often just as devastating an attack as a properly executed punch.
Knee (Hiza)
Hiza uchi (knee strike) is another powerful and intuitive strike for close combat. The comments for the empi uchi apply to the hiza as well, but because the legs are larger and more powerful than the arms, one can normally deliver more damage with a knee than an elbow.

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