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Vertical Fist or Horizontal?
Crackpot Mailbox: Brom Has a Bare-knuckle Combat Question
Fri, Nov 8, 4:43 PM (9 days ago)
For bare knuckle fighting; vertical fist or horizontal?
You might find the Chris price material of interest; multiple articles on street boxing.
cheers
-Brom Crom
Both sides of the debate are right and wrong and wrong and right.
The vertical fist crowd know that the tendons on the back of the hand and wrist will get strained if you throw a horizontal punch above the shoulder [there is an exception here], but...
The horizontal fist folks know that those two small knuckles are not anchored to the wrist and snap, crackle and pop easily.
Due to my 7-bout experience with bare-knuckles, my historical reading of bare-knuckle literature and mostly my bare-handed training on bags and small glove bouts of fringe boxing encounters, I can recommend the following. These are all safety first recommendations which maximize fist integrity and secondarily impart the most energy to the target.
Pronated means palm down
Supinated means palm up
Vertical means thumb up, also called sneaky
1/4 fist means thumb turned out towards supination also called shovel
3/4 fist means thumb turned in towards pronation also called twister
Targets and Fists
Kidney: pronated cutter hook or supinated shovel hook both work great
Heart, spleen: pronated straight.
Liver: shovel hook
Wind: supinated upper cut
Lung: sneaky straight to collapse cartilage between ribs and breast bone
Throat: pronated straight
Chin: it all fucking works great, Mate!
Mouth: anything but rising supinated fist, as the teeth will slash your tendons
Nose: supinated is nastiest, sneaky is most reliable, pronated is good for breaking the bridge at the top. How you attack the nose depends on relative height. Tall men should break the bridge and short men split the nostrils.
Cheek: the twister
Eye: supinated "up" jab is perfect for eye orbit destruction and eyeball damage
Forehead: twister straight
Under ear: shovel hook
Ear: vertical Philly hook or slap
Temple: twister cuter hook
Point of skull-crown: your palm of course
The main thing to remember with bare fists is that if your hands are under his elbows you need to protect the thumb by pronating or shoveling, not landing vertical with an exposed thumb to receive the descending elbow.
Secondarily, thumb up sneaks through his hands easiest.
Third, pronation to targets higher than the shoulder [except the chin where the fist can hang under it] risk wrist sprain as does thumb-up landings under the shoulder line, the former straining the metacarpal ligaments and the latter pinching the radial nerve.
When landing with three knuckles, hitting bone will break the bottom two easily, so rock toward's the middle knuckle. Also, three-knuckle landings with the bottom three align best for power with shovel blows, not vertical.
For high punches, don't go for two-knuckle landings with the first two, but for a three-knuckle landing with the first three—aiming with the middle knuckle and twisting some to avoid wrist sprain. This will eventually cause enlarged and painful middle knuckle. In my late 30s early 40s just making a fist in an MMA glove was painful due to this.
In serious self defense against armed or larger individuals, I like slapping and eye spearing.
Against a group, I like punching from rising angles as it is safest in an imprecise situation.
Good luck, my Brother from Downunder.
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Add Comment
KoanicNovember 19, 2019 5:14 AM UTC

I work out on kickboxing bags heavy and light, with no gloves or just bicycle gloves. Almost all my punches are extension with palm heel as strike surface. My straight and hard jab are knifehand. Head hook is either a clothesline or a slap. Overhand right is palmheel either pronated or thumb down.

Normally my body hook is a palmheel with thumb up, but sounds like I shouldn't risk my thumb catching an elbow. I was never happy with it anyway.

Your wrists and knuckles are conditioned from boxing. I've no such conditioning, and I'm skeptical of knuckle strikes.

Recently I tried them a bit. I started cobra punching off a kick, and found the angle necessitated striking with knuckles. Now I've got a sprained left wrist and feel a bit disarmed. Normally I don't get hand injuries despite striking full-power.

The right straight to the body with knuckles is an easier angle and a soft target, but the wrist is still apt to bend, especially with misjudged distance. The knuckles do add some range, but I can't get nearly the power of a palm heel, much less a knee.

Considering how important they are for grappling, I doubt it's worthwhile to risk one's Rube-Goldberg hand anatomy on delivering underpowered strikes. That's what impervious bone slabs such as elbows, shins and femurs are for. Instead of punching the body, why not clinch and knee? It's not a pro fight, there's no need for variety. If it's life and death, conserving hands for defending and delivering eye gouges seems better than knuckle punching the head.

Alright, I got the front lowkick to cobra punch working on the light bag with thumbs-down palmheel. The angle's harder on the heavy bag since it doesn't budge, but that's not a realistic problem. A brawler will drop his hand on the third lowkick, so I wanted to get that working.
responds:November 19, 2019 10:19 PM UTC

Thanks for this detailed comment. I will use it for an article starter tomorrow.