Throwing proper punches

MikeV

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Hi,

I've been doing Goju ryu for about a month now, yet I'm still confused about the "proper" way of throwing a punch.

These are the things that I learned from the Sensei:
1. The shoulders should not move.
2. The palm rotation should start right away.
3. The arm must not be extended all the way, but bent a little.
4. You must exhale on impact
?5.? I'm not so sure about this one, but I think he also said not to move the hips.

When I got home and tried to brush up on this so I could practice I see that many websites say different things about points 2 and 5.

About 2: Some websites say that the wrist rotation should start as the elbow passes the body, and not right away. My dad, who did Shotokan years ago also told me the same thing.

About 5: I have also seen books and sites (not Goju related though) that say that the hips should move with the strike, this is what my dad taught me as well.

One more thing: when I practice punches to all 3 levels (jodan, chudan, gedan) I get tired in my upper arm and shoulders, what am I doing wrong?

Thanks!
 

twendkata71

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You have to snap your hips into the punch, this generates the power.
the reason you keep the elbow slightly bent is to not hyper extend the elbow, and in a combat situation if you miss the opponent could break your elbow or use a lock on your arm putting you at a server disadvantage.
Keeping your shoulders straight keeps you from throwing yourself off balance and giving the opponent the advantage. If you overextend your shoulder in punching it is easier to throw you or put you in a comprimising position.
 

twendkata71

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As far as getting tired when doing sanbon tsuki's you just have to build strenth and endurance. Not really that you are doing anything wrong persay.
I was always taught to start turning the fist as the elbow passes the plain of the body.
 

Tetsujin

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Hi MikeV.

1. Your shoulders should definitely move. They should move along with your hips, so imagine a vertical line through your head and spine to the floor. Your hips and shoulders should rotate around this line during the punch. But the line MUST remain vertical. If you move your shoulders forward such that the centerpoint between your shoulders is no longer directly above the centerpoint between your hips, then you are overextending and putting yourself in a bad position.

2. Palm rotation should start as your elbow passes your hip. Starting earlier than that will make your elbow more likely to flail outwards from your body, reducing the power of the punch. Power is also generated by the snappiness of the wrist rotation as you hit the target, so rotating earlier will also make this overall rotation slower, further reducing power.

3. The elbow should not be fully locked out at full extension (to avoid damaging your own elbow), but it should only be very slightly bent, i.e. not so much that your arm is very obviously bent at the elbow. It should be straight enough that you could push something forward with your arm and fist without your elbow bending inwards.

4. Yes, exhale sharply on impact. It gives you mental focus and muscular tension, and allows you to tense your abdominal muscles at a point when you are (with your extended arm) vulnerable to a body-strike.

5. I do hope you misinterpreted your instructor on this one. Hip motion is absolutely crucial in generating powerful punches. Your hips should be the first thing to move, followed almost immediately by the punching arm and accompanying shoulder rotation around that vertical centerline. It's possible that your instructor was trying to get you to practice the arm motion by itself without any hip and shoulder movement as a prelude to doing the full and correct technique, but even that would be a rather odd way of doing things.

And punching definitely SHOULD tire your arms and shoulders, so I wouldn't worry about that. The more you practice the easier and more natural it will become. It's also important to drill the correct punching technique when your arms are tired, as doing so helps your brain to hardwire that technique so that it becomes automatic.
Also when punching, remember to stay as relaxed as possible, focussing and tensing your muscles only at the moment of impact. Tensing your muscles during the punch will only slow down your technique and drain your energy.

Hope this helps some.
 

punisher73

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Goju Ryu students learn to develop their power through the practice of Sanchin. Look at Sanchin kata to see how the power is generated.

Many times when an instructor says to "not use the hips" it is because the students are overturning the hips like a boxer would and not utilizing the body the way a karateka would.

Also, Japanese derived karate styles do not have the same power generation method as the Naha-te based methods and do use more hip turning as opposed to the Sanchin style (chinkuchi).
 

seasoned

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Your study of GoJu will be influenced greatly by kata Sanchin. The foundation of GoJu are within this very important kata. Power comes from breath and structure, (body alignment). This is a very deep subject and I dont want to get ahead of your Sensei, but rather give you something to think about as you train. One of the key things about GoJu, is that it is a close in fighting system, so hip rotation and shoulder movement are important at first, but as you practice Sanchin you will see no obvious movement outward. It is almost a contradiction from what you will hear, but it is not. Power does not start in the shoulder, or in the hip. These are only conduits that, power moves through. In a stationary position, as in Sanchin, power will start from the feet and legs, be directed upward by the hips through the spine and as the shoulders drop down, power will move down the arm. Chojun Miyagi, the founder of GoJu mentioned Sanchin as 3 year Sanchin, and this was the only kata taught by him durning that time, so a thorough understanding of GoJu could take place. It is difficult to explain a feeling to someone, you have to feel it for yourself. In Okinawa, not much was explained, they would say dont talk, just train. Once you have trained Sanchin faithfully you will slowly discover that the principals within this awesome kata, Structure, Breath and Movement will influence your whole GoJu experience. Good luck.
 

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Twisting punch can be taught as 3 punches. Fist starts with shoulder down palm up, arm along the side of your body. Practice only of course. Target is not center line. If I were to let my arm hang down limp and were to swing it outward as in walking, where the hand is at when at top end forward, is where your target is. This is structure, change target, then change foot position, right or left. Fist moves out to where elbow is even with your back, palm up, this is an under cut punch. Fist continues out to where elbow is even with front of body, fist has turned 翹, this is a vertical punch. Punch continues out to palm down, this is a full punch. One smooth move out, (1) punch. done slowly, and it is (3) punches, very good training method.
Some instructors prefer not to finish the twist as the punch lands, because it puts the wrist in a position, where it could bend on contact. Wrist strength is important and developed in some traditional dojos, and this will take care of this problem. I hope this helps, and is not too confusing.
 
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MikeV

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Thanks for the info guys, you've given me a lot to think about!
 
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MikeV

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Oh guys, if we're on the subject of doing things properly already... Can you give me a few tips on doing the mae geri?

What I'm not sure about is, do I extend the leg fully (so it is locked) and then quickly pull it back, in a snapping motion? Or should it, like the hand, not be extended fully either?
 

punisher73

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Oh guys, if we're on the subject of doing things properly already... Can you give me a few tips on doing the mae geri?

What I'm not sure about is, do I extend the leg fully (so it is locked) and then quickly pull it back, in a snapping motion? Or should it, like the hand, not be extended fully either?


In old okinawan systems the kick did not extend past the length of the arm. Kicks were meant to be fast snapping kicks that caused a shock wave type damage like you try to accomplish with your punches.

If you are trying to kick to the pelvic bone you would want your knee pointed a little above your belt line. This allows you to perform a snapping motion that hits the target without causing the leg to straighten. If you are kicking lower to the knee area you are probably already doing this so most instructors don't point it out.

Kicks are almost an exagerated step. They should be quick and snappy to allow for a quick recovery and minimize your loss of balance. This is why in styles like Goju-ryu you won't find high kicks or spinning kicks that started with the boom of sport karate in Japan. You couldn't attack the joints or groin with the kicks so they redesigned them for higher sport usage.
 

seasoned

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In old okinawan systems the kick did not extend past the length of the arm. Kicks were meant to be fast snapping kicks that caused a shock wave type damage like you try to accomplish with your punches.

If you are trying to kick to the pelvic bone you would want your knee pointed a little above your belt line. This allows you to perform a snapping motion that hits the target without causing the leg to straighten. If you are kicking lower to the knee area you are probably already doing this so most instructors don't point it out.

Kicks are almost an exagerated step. They should be quick and snappy to allow for a quick recovery and minimize your loss of balance. This is why in styles like Goju-ryu you won't find high kicks or spinning kicks that started with the boom of sport karate in Japan. You couldn't attack the joints or groin with the kicks so they redesigned them for higher sport usage.

What are your thoughts on sticking surfaces for the front kick. I have used ball of the foot, heel of the foot, and instep. I like your point about the kick not extending past the arm. I have seen some front kicks extend way passed, with a lot of hip extension. I prefer the GoJu concept of being a close in fighting art that is not geared toward sparring as its base.
 

Tetsujin

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My legs are longer than my arms. I don't think that making use of that extra range with one's front kicks necessarily means one is leaning towards sport/points-sparring instead of realistic self-defence.

Just saying.

On the contact points, I tend to rely on the ball of the foot for both mid-section kicks and higher kicks (to the jaw or neck). I'm thinking the heel would be better for these higher kicks, but my hamstrings aren't really flexible enough to let me do that. What are your thoughts on the better contact point for higher front kicks? And are there any other front kick techniques where you would want to use your heel instead of the ball of the foot?
 

seasoned

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My legs are longer than my arms. I don't think that making use of that extra range with one's front kicks necessarily means one is leaning towards sport/points-sparring instead of realistic self-defence.

Just saying.

On the contact points, I tend to rely on the ball of the foot for both mid-section kicks and higher kicks (to the jaw or neck). I'm thinking the heel would be better for these higher kicks, but my hamstrings aren't really flexible enough to let me do that. What are your thoughts on the better contact point for higher front kicks? And are there any other front kick techniques where you would want to use your heel instead of the ball of the foot?

Good point. I know the Okinawans legs were only as long as their arms, so maybe that is where the concept came from, in my style, Okinawan GoJu.
As for the heel kick, in walking, the heel touches the ground first when moving forward. In turn I teach the heel kick in a (3) kick Pattern. Same foot position, different heights. (1) stomp to aggressors instep, (2) aggressors knee, (3) where leg and torso meets and just to the right or left of groin area. High kicks push a person away where low kicks have a tendency to bend them over.
 

punisher73

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What are your thoughts on sticking surfaces for the front kick. I have used ball of the foot, heel of the foot, and instep. I like your point about the kick not extending past the arm. I have seen some front kicks extend way passed, with a lot of hip extension. I prefer the GoJu concept of being a close in fighting art that is not geared toward sparring as its base.

I tend to use those same surfaces. I also use the "inside" portion of the heel. If you turn the foot outward it exposes the "big toe side" of the heel and fits nicely to the knee for a joint kick. I try to stick to the surfaces that are still accessible while wearing shoes. I know some styles use a "toe rip" kick or a kick that uses only the big toe as a striking weapon, but the amount of conditioning time to mean doesn't match up to the benefits, and then through in how many times you are attacked without some type of footwear and it doesn't make sense to spend lots of time on those kicks.

I agree on the leg being longer than the arm. I think it's a good idea to consider to make sure you aren't over emphasizing the kicks from goju-ryu. Other styles do use kicks that are longer range tough, but it doesn't allow for the close in fighting as they are designed to do in Goju-ryu. That is why the kicks are more of an exagerated step. They are designed to be quick and assume that the attacker is in close already. Longer range kicks require both participants to start at a longer range to allow for their deployment, which you don't have when suddenly attacked, or an assumption of being able to create distance to use them.

Remember the original purpose of karate in okinawa. It is in response to already being attacked or the attack is imminent. They did not have the concept of "free sparring" like Japan did that used kicks from a longer range. I am NOT saying that they are not effective or can't work, just putting them in perspective of the original purpose in goju-ryu. If you study something else, than they are going to have a strategy that allows for longer ranges.
 

hungfistron

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1. Get or make yourself a makiwara

2. Sit in Sanchin or Zenkutsu dachi and inhale when you bring your fist back, and exhale when you strike.

3. Do this 100 to 200 times when possible with each fist.


Continue this for at least 15 years, and enjoy :)
 

Grenadier

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Oh guys, if we're on the subject of doing things properly already... Can you give me a few tips on doing the mae geri?

What I'm not sure about is, do I extend the leg fully (so it is locked) and then quickly pull it back, in a snapping motion? Or should it, like the hand, not be extended fully either?

Don't fully extend your leg. As you suspected, treat it like you would the punch, and don't snap it out entirely.

If anything, snap the leg back as fast as you kick.

Also, think of the front kick as a kick that drives forward (snapping or thrusting), and not up, so you end up with a penetrating kick, not a scooping kick.

I use the ball of the foot for almost all targets, but for certain types of mae geri kekomi (thrust kick), I might use the heel. Thrust kicks to the pelvic bone, etc, work nicely.
 

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