Karate Hand Strikes

Karate hand strikes are usually the first thing beginners learn.

That's probably because of their simplicity of application, and easy reach to an opponent's vulnerable parts.

To understand the importance of karate hand punches and attacks, it is first essential to understand what this martial art is, and how it works.

Karate is the art of self-defense and counter attack without weapons. It is a Japanese word and in its native language means literally "empty hands".

This art of self-defense may be defined as an application of anatomical knowledge to the purpose of offense and defense.

Karate differs from wrestling in that it does not depend upon muscular strength. It differs from the other forms of attack in that it uses no weapon.

Its feat consists in clutching or striking that part of an enemy's body as will make him numb, and incapable of resistance. Its object is not to kill, but to incapacitate one for action for the time being.

The size and weight of your opponent may be used against him.

Even a big 250-lb. (over 100 kg) brute can be toppled by a smaller, lighter man who employs the principles of Karate.

A person who practices karate knows the pressure points and focal nerve centers of bigger, heavier adversary, and strikes at these pressure point.

To quote from the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

"Several of these sensitive places, for instance the partially exposed nerve in the elbow popularly known as the "funny-bone" and the complex of nerves over the stomach called the solar plexus, are familiar to the European, but the ju-jitsu expert is acquainted with many others which, when compressed struck or pinched, cause temporary paralysis of a more or less complete nature....

Such places as the arm pit, the ankle and wrist bones, the tendon running downward from the ear, the "Adam's apple," and the nerves of the upper arm....

In serious fighting almost any hold or attack is resorted to, and a broken or badly sprained limb is the least that can befall the victim ..."

Sure, karate also uses a lot of kicks (leg work), but as a martial arts coleague and friend pointed it out to me when I started learning martial arts: "why kick an opponent in the head, when you can strike with your hands?"

The advice makes sense. The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. The shortest way of hitting somebody's head, is by using your fists.

Now, let's see what karate hand strikes are available to you:

The Clenched Fist

karate clenched fist


The clenched fist is the most frequently used karate hand strike.

However, it can only be mastered after constant practice and training.

When properly executed toward the right pressure points, the this karate hand strike can drop your opponent for the count of ten— and out! Do not be fooled into thinking that the Karate Clenched Fist blow is as easy as it looks.

Be sure to study the illustrations.

Notice that the forearm and the knuckles form a perpendicular line.

Notice also that the front of the fist and the top knuckles form a 90° angle.

In order to carry the maximum striking power from your body, through your arm, and to the fist, that line must be straight.

Even though your adversary is 50 lbs. heavier, 5 inches taller, with broad shoulders and a Rock of Gibraltar stature, you can knock him out . . . perhaps with one smashing blow!

Side view of karate clenched fist





More Karate hand strikes.

Karate Hand Attacks Using Your Knuckles.

More Hand and Fist Karate Strikes.

Karate Wrist Attacks (and Other Techniques).