jabs and crosses


Master Black Belt
Mar 30, 2002
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Leeds, England
Jab/cross is a fairly fundamental technique in kenpo (well it is in our branch anyway), and although I prefer to use legs and elbows most of the time, I feel that I need to sort these two strikes out.

When I started, a jab/cross was just a jab/cross. I didn't think about it too much. I was just told to pivot on my back foot as I did the cross to bring the strike into range, and make sure that I retracted the jab back to the side of my head as a check.

As I've moved further up through the belts, Glen (sensei) has shown me various ways to improve both strikes, so that they're now much more accurate and powerful than they were, however, they still seem very feable and useless to me, although I know that they should be powerful and useful major strikes.

If I hold a focus mitt for Glen to strike, his jabs and crosses feel about 5x stronger than mine, yet we're about physically equal in upper body strength, which means that it's my technique which is lacking.

Also, we keep being told that that first two knuckles shout make contact with the target, but this has never felt comfortable to me. I've been reading Bruce Lee's 'Tao of Gung Fu', in which he writes how the powerful straight punch in Wing Chun always strikes with the lowest three knuckles. He also states that the fist should always strike vertical, where as we have often been told that it makes no difference whether the fist is vertical or more horizontal.

I'm really rambling here and missing the point aren't I? Oh well :)

I'm just interested to know people's own thoughts/methods/tips really, the more time I spend on the pads and bags the worse it seems to get (maybe I'm just thinking about it too much!).

Maybe someone will write something inspirational that will clarify things(!),


[ Garforth Kenpo Ryu Karate, N. England. ]


The theory behind using the bottom three knucles on an upper vertical punch is that it keeps your wrist in alignment. Try standing 3 to 4 feet from a wall and touch it with a head level vertical fist. Switch between the top two and bottom three knuckles. There should be much less pressure on your wrist when using the bottom three knucles.

We now only use the horizontal punch for low or downward strikes.


Master Black Belt
Mar 24, 2002
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Effingham, Illinois
I use a vertical punch and hit with the top three knuckles. Body rotation is a key point but one other aspect is how much penetration you get on the target. I try for 8" inches of penetation. Imagine your punch going out the back of someone's head. If you are just striking the target and pulling off, and your sensei is driving through it will feel that his is much stronger. Remember not to lock out your elbow joints either.
Bob Thomas :)


Feb 15, 2002
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Scottsdale, Arizona
After "touching" or making initial contact on the target with your punch, the "strike" value leaves after about 3/4 of an inch. So the 8" of follow through does not really give more power to the action. It does "check" or push the opponent possibly but the strike factor is void after that first 3/4" of contact and penetration.


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