Maximum Impact: What’s in a powerful karate punch?

karate fist
Image of seiken zuki karate punch striking with the knuckles

Do you remember when you learned the karate punch? Did it feel powerful to you?

From our very first karate practice we learned to punch. Back then we called it seiken zuki, meaning a knuckle punch. It goes by a lot of other names, too.

But for our purposes today, we’ll call it the karate punch. You know the one. Fist starting from a palm-up position high on the side, traveling in a straight line toward its target, rotating to palm-down as the elbow leaves the side.

Pretty basic stuff, right?

It’s at the center of most martial arts training. And it’s the technique of choice when most of us square off in kumite, trying to beat our opponents to the punch, so to speak, and hit them before they hit us.

But to be honest, it’s not very powerful by itself. Then, pulling punches on contact make it even weaker, getting us in bad habits that are hard to break in times of need.

That’s why makiwara training is so important, as is hip rotation — to generate more power, as well as to get used to extending through contact, not to mention the body conditioning that takes place along the way.

Regardless of the techniques you use, if you’re not striking a pad of some kind, you may want to rethink your training regimen.

See also Ju Tip: Relaxation

A different kind of karate punch

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