If you tally up all the hand and foot techniques used in the patterns, I would be surprised if anything is used more often than the good ol’ punch. I suppose that makes sense: a good punch is easy and effective.
To form a proper fist, tightly curl your fingers into your hand and wrap your thumb underneath the middle joint of the index and middle fingers. The point of contact for the forefist is the base knuckles of those same two fingers.
Try to keep your knuckles in a straight line. Don’t put uneven tension on the pinky-finger side of your hand. This will make your fist deform.
Move your fist slightly toward your outer forearm so all of your bones align from your punching knuckles through your hand and wrist to your forearm.
Also, don’t bend your wrist up or down. Keep it aligned with your forearm.
All this aligning helps you deliver as much power as possible into your target and, more importantly, helps keep you from hurting your hand or wrist.
You don’t need to keep your fist tightly clenched throughout the whole punch—this will just slow you down and make you look stiff. Instead, keep a slightly relaxed fist shape throughout the punch and clench at the moment of impact. The same goes for your arms and shoulders: they should be relaxed throughout the technique, only tensing at the last instant. Once your punch has reached full extension and has stopped, relax your body again.
Your fist starts at your hip, with the backfist facing the ground, and will rotate 180 degrees as it travels (so the backfist will finish facing the ceiling). Much of this rotation will happen at the very end of the punch, when your arm is almost fully extended. Your opposite fist (a.k.a. the reaction hand) does much the same thing, but in reverse. It will rotate to finish at your hip with the backfist facing the ground.
The punching hand and reaction hand should travel at the same speed, in opposite directions. So your reaction hand should reach your hip at the same time that your punching arm is fully extended.
Let’s first walk through the punch in a sitting stance, to take stepping out of the equation. We’ll punch with the right hand, so start with your right fist at your hip and your left hand extended. As your knees bend for the first “down” portion of your sine wave (don’t worry, we’ll get more into sine wave in other articles), your right fist will move forward slightly and your left arm will bend slightly. As you rise up, your left arm will straighten most of the way and your right hand will pull back slightly behind your hip. As you start to settle back down into your sitting stance, your right hand will make a tight arc up to your ribs and shoot straight forward. The path your fist travels is like a narrow ‘J’ shape.
For a middle punch, your knuckles should finish at the same height as your shoulder. For a high punch, they should finish at the same height as your eyes. In both cases, the punch should finish on the centreline of your body (in a vertical line with your nose).
Try to keep your back straight. You shouldn’t be leaning forward or backward. Your shoulders should also be in a neutral position. Don’t let your punch pull your shoulder forward.
Punching in walking stance
When performing a middle punch in a walking stance, your fist should make a vertical line with the end of your big toe. Because a high punch is on an angle, it will be a little farther back.
If your punch comes from the same side of your body as your bent leg (i.e. your front leg), it’s called an obverse punch. For example, if your right leg is bent and you are punching with your right hand, that would be a right obverse punch.
If you’re punching with the opposite hand from your bent leg, it’s called a reverse punch. For example, if your right leg is bent and you punch with your left fist, that would be a left reverse punch.
Punching in L-stance
“Obverse” doesn’t always refer to the front hand. In the case of an L-stance, your obverse punch comes from your rear hand because that’s the leg that’s bent more. When performing an obverse punch in L-stance, make sure to keep your body in a half-facing posture. Your fist still finishes on the centreline of your body (under your nose) and your arm should be parallel to your front foot.
A reverse punch in L-stance comes from your front hand. As with the obverse punch (and all techniques in L-stance), keep your body in a half-facing posture. This time, your arm is not parallel to your front foot. Rather, it shoots straight forward.
The same rules apply for punches delivered from rear foot stance, vertical stance and fixed stance.
Now go and perfect your punches!