What are all of the reasons you bring your fist back to your hip in Karate/Taekwondo/etc forms?

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
6,361
Reaction score
1,876
I only have experience with the Taekwondo, but I know that Karate and Tang Soo Do do this, and I'm assuming other East Asian martial arts do this as well. A very common position (probably the most common position) for your off-hand in technical drills or forms/kata/poomsae is to be chambered at the hip, with the elbow behind you. I've personally heard or experienced a few benefits of this.
  • As a grappling tool to pull your opponent off-balance
  • Chambered for more power on next strike
  • Act of pulling back helps rotate your body for more power on this strike
  • It serves as an aesthetic detail in forms
  • It acts as an elbow strike so you can hit two enemies at once
I have put these in order of how practical I think they are.

As a grappling tool, I've seen this concept applied in Taekwondo, Hapkido, and even in my recent foray into BJJ (especially in gi class). In fact, that's part of what prompted me to start this thread. (The other is a video in which someone said he would ask Karate masters this question to see if they were "worth my time", which seemed kind of arrogant to me).

I do agree that chambering creates more power than having your hand in a guard position, as you have more room to accelerate and more rotation that can go into the strike. However, I disagree that in most cases it is worth it, because you give up speed and defense for a little bit of power. Power that isn't necessary, because KOs are more about placement than power.

I also agree that pulling the arm back helps with rotation, but you can isolate that motion to the shoulder and keep your guard up. Again, a small sacrifice in power for a tremendous defense advantage.

While I do think there are some practical benefits of chambering your hand this way, I feel a lot of the benefit is more that it is something to do with your hand in the forms, which is consistently repeatable. Your hand touching your side means you can always anchor it on the same spot. It looks good, and it's easy to grade and easy to replicate. This is just my personal opinion, based on my overall opinion on forms and their practicality.

I agree that the rear elbow strike is a thing, and this does give you reps in elbow strikes and punches (or other techniques) at the same time. However, the idea that you would strike two opponents at the same time is silly to me. For one, unless you're in horse stance, your elbow isn't likely to reach the second person. And my criticism for all of the "hits 2 people" or "blocks 2 people" techniques in forms is: you shouldn't be between two people in the first place! Move and focus on one of them.

Are there other reasons you've learned about? What are the reasons you would put these into form?
 

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
15,098
Reaction score
3,537
Location
Michigan
I only have experience with the Taekwondo, but I know that Karate and Tang Soo Do do this, and I'm assuming other East Asian martial arts do this as well. A very common position (probably the most common position) for your off-hand in technical drills or forms/kata/poomsae is to be chambered at the hip, with the elbow behind you. I've personally heard or experienced a few benefits of this.
  • As a grappling tool to pull your opponent off-balance
  • Chambered for more power on next strike
  • Act of pulling back helps rotate your body for more power on this strike
  • It serves as an aesthetic detail in forms
  • It acts as an elbow strike so you can hit two enemies at once
None of the above, although there are elements of truth in this list.

We teach beginners to chamber at the hip to keep them from doing dopey things, such as letting their arms flail about when they perform basic exercises. Chambering from the hip helps them to learn to turn the hips to generate power. The return of the opposite hand to chamber when one hand goes out in a punch also generates power. Once they've been training for 30 days or so, we drop the hip chamber and move into more natural fighting positions with their hands up, guarding their melon.

Can you use a pull to the hip to off-balance an opponent? Yes. Aesthetic detail in kata (forms)? Not in my style. Our kata are often known for being a tad on the ugly side anyway. Elbow strike? It can be, but we use a reverse elbow strike (higi no ato tsuki) chambered higher than the hip in order to strike to the rear effectively.
 

Jimmythebull

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Sep 15, 2022
Messages
798
Reaction score
261
a strong base..ie strong legs are more important in my opinion.
 

Gyakuto

3rd Black Belt
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Messages
958
Reaction score
767
Location
UK
When I trained in Wado Ryu Karate back in the 80s, it was suggested that fist-on-hip was a basic exercise, providing maximum distance between you and the target (for a longer distance to accelerate the thrust). It also made kicking a little awkward which trained ones balance. Once any sparring type activity was engaged, the back fist was kept in front the abdomen area. Tatsuo Suzuki Sensei 8th Dan Hanshi used to keep his fist-on-hip when doing basic kicks, if memory serves, whereas Shiomitsu sensei used the in front of abdomen position.

So it was for training only and never used in actual combat
 
OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
6,361
Reaction score
1,876
When I trained in Wado Ryu Karate back in the 80s, it was suggested that fist-on-hip was a basic exercise, providing maximum distance between you and the target (for a longer distance to accelerate the thrust). It also made kicking a little awkward which trained ones balance. Once any sparring type activity was engaged, the back fist was kept in front the abdomen area. Tatsuo Suzuki Sensei 8th Dan Hanshi used to keep his fist-on-hip when doing basic kicks, if memory serves, whereas Shiomitsu sensei used the in front of abdomen position.

So it was for training only and never used in actual combat
Tight against the abdomen or out in front like a guard? Was the palm of the fist facing up, down, or inside?
 

Gyakuto

3rd Black Belt
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Messages
958
Reaction score
767
Location
UK
Sorry for the poor images:

F81D2450-4E29-42BD-9F57-764C00ADA30D.jpeg
 

Alan0354

Master of Arts
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
1,673
Reaction score
513
I am so glad my TKD school in the 80s drop all the traditional TKD punching and went to boxing with hands up high to protect the head. Try doing punching like the old way in the Octagon and you'll find out really really fast.
 
OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
6,361
Reaction score
1,876
I am so glad my TKD school in the 80s drop all the traditional TKD punching and went to boxing with hands up high to protect the head. Try doing punching like the old way in the Octagon and you'll find out really really fast.
I was looking for reasons to do this, not reasons not to.
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
12,320
Reaction score
3,668
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
I was looking for reasons to do this, not reasons not to.
It's for

- body coordination, and
- maximum upper body stretching training.

During the beginner training stage, your try to coordinate your both hands. When you right hand reaches to target, your left hand also pull back to your waist. In other words, you want your both hands to

- start to move at the same time, also
- stop at the same time.

When you punch your right fist out, and pull your left hand back to your waist, your left hand pulling back can help your right hand to punch out. This way you can consider both your arms as one arm, and you can stretch your upperbody to the maximum (you can't achieve maximum upperbody stretching by punching out from a boxing guard).

IMO, the progress of training should be:

one hand coordinate with another hand -> hand coordinate with foot -> elbow coordinate with knee -> shoulder coordinate with hip -> mind coordinate with body

Your goal is when you

- start to move, your body parts all move at the same time.
- stop, your body parts all stop at the same time.

So to coordinate your both hands is only the elementary school level training.
 
Last edited:

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
12,320
Reaction score
3,668
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
  • Act of pulling back helps rotate your body for more power on this strike
I will say you want to stretch your body forward and you don't want to rotate your body. Sometime when you rotate your body, you may also move your arm/fist side way which is a bad idea.

When I pull my hand back to my waist, I prefer to have my hand in a vertical fist on my waist. This way, I can remind myself just to pull my hand straight back without causing any body rotation. My punching fist can go straight forward (and not moving side way).
 
OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
6,361
Reaction score
1,876
I will say you want to stretch your body forward and you don't want to rotate your body. Sometime when you rotate your body, you may also move your arm/fist side way which is a bad idea.

When I pull my hand back to my waist, I prefer to have my hand in a vertical fist on my waist. This way, I can remind myself just to pull my hand straight back without causing any body rotation. My punching fist can go straight forward (and not moving side way).
Stretching your body forward seems like a good way to be off-balance. It also sounds like a lot less power than rotating your body. Boxers use body rotation and don't have any problem with aiming.
 

isshinryuronin

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
1,428
Reaction score
1,425
Location
Las Vegas
I only have experience with the Taekwondo, but I know that Karate and Tang Soo Do do this, and I'm assuming other East Asian martial arts do this as well. A very common position (probably the most common position) for your off-hand in technical drills or forms/kata/poomsae is to be chambered at the hip, with the elbow behind you. I've personally heard or experienced a few benefits of this.
  • As a grappling tool to pull your opponent off-balance
  • Chambered for more power on next strike
  • Act of pulling back helps rotate your body for more power on this strike
  • It serves as an aesthetic detail in forms
  • It acts as an elbow strike so you can hit two enemies at once
I have put these in order of how practical I think they are.

As a grappling tool, I've seen this concept applied in Taekwondo, Hapkido, and even in my recent foray into BJJ (especially in gi class). In fact, that's part of what prompted me to start this thread. (The other is a video in which someone said he would ask Karate masters this question to see if they were "worth my time", which seemed kind of arrogant to me).

I do agree that chambering creates more power than having your hand in a guard position, as you have more room to accelerate and more rotation that can go into the strike. However, I disagree that in most cases it is worth it, because you give up speed and defense for a little bit of power. Power that isn't necessary, because KOs are more about placement than power.

I also agree that pulling the arm back helps with rotation, but you can isolate that motion to the shoulder and keep your guard up. Again, a small sacrifice in power for a tremendous defense advantage.

While I do think there are some practical benefits of chambering your hand this way, I feel a lot of the benefit is more that it is something to do with your hand in the forms, which is consistently repeatable. Your hand touching your side means you can always anchor it on the same spot. It looks good, and it's easy to grade and easy to replicate. This is just my personal opinion, based on my overall opinion on forms and their practicality.

I agree that the rear elbow strike is a thing, and this does give you reps in elbow strikes and punches (or other techniques) at the same time. However, the idea that you would strike two opponents at the same time is silly to me. For one, unless you're in horse stance, your elbow isn't likely to reach the second person. And my criticism for all of the "hits 2 people" or "blocks 2 people" techniques in forms is: you shouldn't be between two people in the first place! Move and focus on one of them.

Are there other reasons you've learned about? What are the reasons you would put these into form?
I agree with the top 3 on your list, as well as the reason for your #1 pick. Grabbing and pulling is an integral part of original Okinawan karate, though its use now is under-appreciated/understood by many schools. I would cross out #4, making a form look good. It may be a minor result, but certainly not the reason.
return of the opposite hand to chamber when one hand goes out in a punch also generates power.
This is related to #3 on your list. I think this "reciprocating motion" goes beyond the hip rotation you mentioned as the upper body in included.
Elbow strike? It can be, but we use a reverse elbow strike (higi no ato tsuki) chambered higher than the hip in order to strike to the rear effectively.
The ushiro higi motion is very similar to the chambering motion in most styles except as noted above, which aids moving the elbow in an upward arcing motion useful for digging up into the solar plexus or ribs. This is not a reason for chambering, or for fighting 2 people, but just a similar motion.
 

Jimmythebull

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Sep 15, 2022
Messages
798
Reaction score
261
I am so glad my TKD school in the 80s drop all the traditional TKD punching and went to boxing with hands up high to protect the head. Try doing punching like the old way in the Octagon and you'll find out really really fast.
Yeah all that traditional stuff is of no use in modern arenas. Too slow..talk about telegraphing a punch . I saw this happen once when I was a youngster. Guy went into a karate stance & got kicked in the private parts. Honestly just looked ridiculous
 

Alan0354

Master of Arts
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
1,673
Reaction score
513
Yeah all that traditional stuff is of no use in modern arenas. Too slow..talk about telegraphing a punch . I saw this happen once when I was a youngster. Guy went into a karate stance & got kicked in the private parts. Honestly just looked ridiculous
But those look good and authentic!!!

Notice almost none of the practical and effective technique is nice looking, just getting the job done. Look at Muy Thai, nothing good looking about it. But what striking style can touch Muy Thai? Wrestling and BJJ are not fancy and nice looking either. In fact they look boring to me. But they sure whoop a lot of butts.

TKD kicks are about the only one I can think of that looks nice and effective.............BUT..............being into TKD before, the kicks are really hard on the back. To look nice, they have to raise the knee really high before kicking, then pivot hard to kick out. They glorify high kicks. when people are young, they can get away doing those. Watch out when they get old.

I was the victim of TKD. I hurt my back after 3 years and I had to quit. If I knew better at the time, I would go for Muy Thai instead. Muy Thai kicks are JUST AS EFFECTIVE but without the fancy high knee and strong pivot. I won't be surprised Muy thai kicks are a little faster because they don't waste time on picking the knee as high and pivot as much. Sure, one needs to pick up the knee and also pivot to gain power, BUT not to the exaggeration like TKD. Muy Thai kicks don't look as nice, but it's every bit as effective. I so wish I knew better at the time. then the elbows and knees are the killers that kick boxing doesn't have.

If I am still young, there is no doubt, I go straight to UFC gym and learn MMA. I have one only 1 miles away!!!!
 

Jimmythebull

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Sep 15, 2022
Messages
798
Reaction score
261
But those look good and authentic!!!

Notice almost none of the practical and effective technique is nice looking, just getting the job done. Look at Muy Thai, nothing good looking about it. But what striking style can touch Muy Thai? Wrestling and BJJ are not fancy and nice looking either. In fact they look boring to me. But they sure whoop a lot of butts.

TKD kicks are about the only one I can think of that looks nice and effective.............BUT..............being into TKD before, the kicks are really hard on the back. To look nice, they have to raise the knee really high before kicking, then pivot hard to kick out. They glorify high kicks. when people are young, they can get away doing those. Watch out when they get old.

I was the victim of TKD. I hurt my back after 3 years and I had to quit. If I knew better at the time, I would go for Muy Thai instead. Muy Thai kicks are JUST AS EFFECTIVE but without the fancy high knee and strong pivot. I won't be surprised Muy thai kicks are a little faster because they don't waste time on picking the knee as high and pivot as much. Sure, one needs to pick up the knee and also pivot to gain power, BUT not to the exaggeration like TKD. Muy Thai kicks don't look as nice, but it's every bit as effective. I so wish I knew better at the time. then the elbows and knees are the killers that kick boxing doesn't have.

If I am still young, there is no doubt, I go straight to UFC gym and learn MMA. I have one only 1 miles away!!!!
Yeah I mean I've nothing against the traditional training in a Dojo but outside it's of little use. I've never liked the Look of Taekwondo because of all the kicks. I'd rather learn Hapkido if going the korean Route. Definitely agree about Muy Tai kicks. Low powerful kicks. When I first got into martial arts I soon realised that all the traditional hand positions need to go & so I addapted them with my boxing experience. Power base, Power punch that's my opinion. So I spend a lot of time on leg training.
 

drop bear

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
22,240
Reaction score
7,004
Stretching your body forward seems like a good way to be off-balance. It also sounds like a lot less power than rotating your body. Boxers use body rotation and don't have any problem with aiming.

Is it meant to reflect fighting or is it meant to increase your range of movement?

You could probably just discount trying to come up with tactical reasons.

Plyometrics doesn't look like fighting either.
 
OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
6,361
Reaction score
1,876
Plyometrics doesn't look like fighting either.
This is my answer to the main use of forms. Both to people who think forms are useless (are pushups useless?) or to those who think forms are a textbook for actual fighting, after I say they're not, and they go "oh, so you think they're useless?"

However, people say there are "so many reasons" to do this particular movement, so I was wondering what the "so many reasons" are. Based on the fact there aren't many more answers provided than what I'd already come up with, I'm wondering if "so many reasons" is as oversold as the practicality of the forms themselves.
 
Top