In Hapkido, there are a number of striking surfaces of our hand. This diagram goes through some of the strikes we practice in class, and we will go through them and discuss their applications in this blog post. You will notice the names are in Japanese – I will use the Japanese name simply so you can see which diagram I am referring to – in our classes we use the english words for the strikes to keep our art accessible to everyone.
SELKEN – PUNCH
This is one of the first strikes we teach, yet it is in fact one of the more complicated strikes we learn. Therefore we need to have lots of practice to get it right! In the diagram, you can see the correct striking surface is the first two knuckles of the fist. When we strike correctly with a punch, the knuckles line up behind the wrist, which lines up behind the elbow, which in turn lines up behind the shoulder. In this way, when we strike, it hurts our opponent, not ourselves.
URAKEN – BACKFIST
This strike is done using, as the name suggests, with the back of the fist. This strike is a simple strike to form up for, and so can be used quickly, right after a block. This strike is best used against hard surfaces, such as the temple, the bridge of the nose or the chin. This strike can be achieved either by pulling the arm across the body and striking outwards, by raising the fist upwards diagonally across the body or by striking in a downwards motion. This makes it a very versatile strike.
TETTSUI – HAMMERFIST STRIKE
This strike also has the hand arranged in a fist position, however this strike uses the base of the fist as the surface to make contact. To perform this strike, the arm pulls across the body and strikes in an inward motion. Hammerfist strikes take some practice to perform with power, as they require the use of the shoulders and hips as well as the arm to deliver this strike with power.
IPPON KEN NAKADA KEN – CENTRE KNUCKLE PUNCH
This strike is usually performed at the neck, into the soft tissue. It can also be performed into pressure points, such as the inward of the upper arm. It is performed by forming a fist and then pushing the centre knuckle forward so the it sticks forward. This allows the strike to be highly targeted at a specific spot, to inflict damage on soft, vulnerable areas of an attacker’s body.
HIRAKEN – PANTHER FIST STRIKE
This is a strike in which the top of the fingers are curled over so that the strike is performed with the lower knuckles of the hand. This strike is also aimed at soft tissue areas such as the neck. The advantage of this strike over a punch is that it can reach more narrow areas than a punch can, so it can be used to strike effectively in areas such as the neck.
SHUTO – KNIFEHAND STRIKE
Knifehand strikes are used to strike into hard surfaces such as the temple. The strike is performed by tensing the muscles in the side of the hand, which is done by opening the palm of the hand as wide as possible. This can cause the fingers to curl slightly at the tips. The strike is done by pulling the arm across the body and striking outwards. It can also be done by striking downwards, or by pulling the arm back and striking inwards.
HAITO, HAISHU and NUKITE – FINGER THRUST
These three strikes all illustrate different angles that finger thrust strikes can be performed at. These strikes are aimed at soft areas such as the neck. They require all the finger tips to be lined up together in a straight line, and then the strike is performed by striking straight forward, much like a lunch.
The palm strike is a great strike to use as it can be performed much like a punch, however with less danger of injury to the one performing the strike. The strike is done by pulling the fingers back and striking with the base of the palm. It is usually done toward the bottom of the chin, under the nose or into the solar plexus.
KAKUTO – CRANE STRIKE
This strike looks as though it might be uncomfortable, however it is in fact a very direct and straightforward strike. It is done by folding the hand back and striking with the back of the wrist. This strike can be done very easily after a block, without even having to form up separately for the strike. It works particularly well when combined with a rolling block.
EMPI – ELBOW STRIKE
This is a very multi purpose strike which is used at close range. It can be performed in almost any direction, and is a great weapon for personal defence because of how close to the opponent the strike works at. For elbow strikes to be safe, thy should be done with the thumb in a downwards position. This will mean that the arm rotates into a position so that the strike is performed with the flat of the arm, and not the point of the elbow.
All of these strikes are specialised and work best when done at the correct angle and target. There are a large number of strikes so that at any position you end up in, there is a strike that will suit the situation. When we practice hand techniques, we work on variety as well as power in our techniques, so that we can be ready for anything.