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Posted as part of the Martial Arts SE post challenge about things about the martial arts you've always been curious about

Is it possible to compile a list of discrete/distinct striking techniques (hands/arms)? made me think of a diagram that either showed up in a martial arts book I read as a child, or on a chart that I saw when I was taking classes in the Chuck Norris System, then known either as "Chuck Norris-style Tang Soo Do" or Chun Kuk Do. It involved a strike with the top of the wrist with the hand cocked down as per the following picture:

Demonstrating what I remembered of the strike with an arrow indicating where I remembered them stating the point of impact was (click to embiggen)

I chiefly remember it because one of the lists we were tested on was striking areas of the hand, and I remember using the wrist as one of the answers (which it was not for our style), and using the chart, or the book, as justification later. What would the purpose for this sort of strike be? It seems like the small bones of the wrist would make it a bad choice for impact, and it requires some effort to contort the fist out of the way.

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    The problem is, this is an inkblot test. People will see whatever they are familiar with. I've been "around", as you might know based on my answers in the past. I've gone into so many martial arts it's not funny. This technique in some martial arts is part of a wrist grab defense (Chen style taiji in particular). In some cases, it's to attack soft targets, particularly the underside of the jaw. In other cases, it's a hard strike. You won't know how it's used unless you see it being used in its kata/form context. Sometimes, though, forms have been altered in appearance over time... – Steve Weigand Oct 27 at 2:56
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    ... And so, what started out as a simple wrist grab dissolve was interpreted as a strike by someone who didn't know the original purpose. And if it's a strike, then it's all wrong the way it's done, so they changed it from a mid-level technique to something that goes up high (thinking it must attack the jaw). These errors in transmission happen all the time, and it's because things like this are weird and invite all kinds of interpretations if you don't know what the original purpose was. Anatomically speaking, it's terrible as a strike. Don't do that. You'll hurt yourself. – Steve Weigand Oct 27 at 2:58
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    As an FYI for anyone looking to answer, this is also called a "bow hand strike" in some styles. – JohnP Oct 28 at 13:59
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    @SteveWeigand - That has the potential to be a good answer, rather than an extended comment. – JohnP Oct 29 at 14:07
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First off, that image is a bad example of the technique: When using this (which karate would call "koken"), my wrist is bent at about 90°, instead of the 60° shown - the hand needs to be pulled further out of the way, which will require further stretching. One of my students (a somewhat hyperactive 6th kyu) is able to get the wrist bent past 100°!

The strike is performed with the end of the radius (the forearm bone closest to the thumb - the ulna is mostly out of the way), not with the wrist. This is similar to how a palm-strike (shotei) is performed with the heel of the palm (sending the force directly into the radius) instead of with the centre of the hand - an excessive moment/torque applied to the wrist will break it!

One of the most common uses for this hand position is when you can't make a solid fist. This could range from the mundane (your hand is open, and a koken strike is faster than reliably closing the fist for seiken), to the more extreme (your fingers or palm are damaged or non-functional for some reason - broken, cut, or just the colloquial "morning hands")

I have a fellow karateka who makes extensive use of koken in competition and demonstrations (including tameshiwari / board breaking), for the simple reason that he was only born with one hand - his other arm ends in a blob just past the wrist, with which making a fist is impossible.

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    As the hand-model in question, sorry for the bad technique. :-D It was many years since I saw it. – Sean Duggan Nov 8 at 12:43
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Ah, I found my likely reference, this poster of Karate Striking Points, and the strike I'm thinking of is apparently Koken or Kakuto, sometimes called an "Oxjaw" strike. There's a discussion of it here:

Actually, this is standard fare in the Shaolin Kempo I studied. Called oxjaw strike, and it definitely is with the end of the forearm bone, not the wrist (as flashlock said, fingertips are pinched together--as a crane's beak--and pointed away from strike). This is a powerful strike. Some good targets already mentioned, but there are many. I've found it's good to any soft target: abdomen and trunk (especially as you're stepping past /countering), even good as horizontal strike to arms, legs, and works well as, with bent elbow, you go up and quickly circle back down straight onto collar bone or shoulder (or nose, of course)--hard to block for boxer/street fighter types because they really aren't expecting a quick blow from above. If you get a chance to try this, let me know if it works as well for you.

A slightly better image from here, with the technique circled:

enter image description here

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Wrist strikes are used frequently in northern praying mantis kung fu, with the hand held in the "praying mantis claw" position. The attacks are generally against softer targets and move in a lateral or upward direction.

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In the Chow Gar style (aka Jowga or Zhoujia) this fist is used striking diagonally upwards from the waist. It's only in one form that I know, Lok Gok Jong Six Countries Fist and my understanding in that context was that it was a blow under the jaw.

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I believe this is intended to strengthen the wrist against wrist manipulation. Some people also do push-ups on this part of the wrist. The lock in question pushes the wrist into this position with the arm straight and the hand pointing upwards. It is very painful unless you have already experienced it and stretched in this way. Striking with this part may condition the wrist against being locked.

Otherwise that hand position is used in my style to jab with the fingers towards the eye. Possibly the arrow is in the wrong place?

  • It could be... it's been decades since I gave that answer in class. And, based on it being a wrong answer, it wasn't even part of our style. – Sean Duggan Oct 26 at 14:59

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