The One Punch Hammer Fist...Or Not

14 Apr 2011 16:13

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By Joe Weir

As part of my newly found passion for punching and kicking things I have begun subscribing to few websites. This morning I received an email newsletter from one of them titled; "Hammer knockout blow for street fighting!". Of course I was immediately intrigued, especially since there was a video demonstrating the technique.

Following the link in the email, I was brought to this article.

There is no doubt that when under stress you lose some fine motor skills (and even skill in general for that matter) but fine motor skill refers to using very small muscles for very small or "fine" tasks such as carried out by the fingers or the muscles of the eyes. Unless you are helping your opponent do up his tie then a punches effectiveness generally has nothing to do with how compromised your fine motor skills are. Fine motor skills and gross motor skills generally refer to tasks using very small muscles of the fingers versus larger muscles of the arms, legs, and rest of the body. They are too general to be useful in this context.

What the author probably meant is that you may lose precision and coordination when under stress and you really want to rely on techniques that are not very technical and carry a lot of power (lots of power under training conditions generally means decent or good power when under stress).

So, in other words, one would do better to rely on techniques that derive their effectiveness from their power rather than how precise and dialed in they are.

Basically everything starts out fine and I agree with most of what is said in the article. The video however is another matter.

Initially I pictured the Hammer Fist being more of an extended downward strike, similar to this (only watch 0:30-1:13):

There is more range and arguably it is also simpler with similar power. I would prefer this move to the one presented simply because it is a simpler move.

There are some big drawbacks to the technique presented in the first video:

It's Complicated

Look at him execute the move (3:00 in the video). He steps, drops down a bit, brings his hand up, keeps the elbow tucked and drives with momentum from the hips. That is a fairly technical move under stress. Ideally you want something that you can execute quickly from a passive stance (hands up or hands down) without much movement or footwork. This is a preemptive strike after-all.


By the time he engages you're well within range for many techniques. Namely this elbow:

Here's why:

  • It is much more of a "non-technical" movement
  • You can afford some error since the elbow has much more surface area and is harder than the hammer fist's and doesn't rely on as much momentum as the hammer fist technique
  • The elbow comes up across the face and doubles as a defense (in the video this isn't seen because of the position of the pad, she is striking the chest causing the elbow to drop a bit)
  • It's a more powerful move has slightly more range than the hammer fist technique as described in the video

Back to Basics

The attacker is well within range and is aggressive. In this scenario we have chosen to engage the target with one of the simplest moves to produce a "one hit knockout". While I've discussed the move itself and possibly a more favorable alternative (elbow), there is one move that screams simple and effective.

YES! The groin kick. It is arguably the simplest and most effective move you can do in a self defense situation.

It may not be a "knockout" move in the sense that it will put someone unconscious but it will cause severe pain, vomiting and can definitely incapacitate someone. It also sets the opponent up for additional techniques from the "doubled over" position they may be in. I would prefer this move to any other move, unless you cannot land the kick.

One thing that I totally agree with in the first video is to get the attacker to talk. It will most likely slow their reaction time (because they are focused on talking) and relax the jaw, if that is your target area. However in a stress situation where you question whether you can land a punch or not, you probably won't think to do this.

This page created 14 Apr 2011 16:13
Last updated 05 Apr 2016 19:51

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