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Upper Body Strikes

Strikes are an important part to the unarmed element of Martial Arts training. Punching is often not the best technique to use, so one must hone other skills to minimize self-injury. These techniques involve simple movements and gross motor skills. To be effective, these techniques must be trained and practiced until they can be executed instinctively. Strikes are offensive skills. In combat taking the offensive is the key to success.

The purpose of strikes is to stun the opponent or to set him up for a follow-up finishing technique. Strikes are unarmed individual striking techniques that are performed with the arms and legs as personal weapons.

Before discussing the basic upper body strikes, it is important to touch on the principles of execution, movement and target areas.
Regardless of the strike, there are several principles of execution that ensure its effectiveness.

  • Generating power
  • Muscular Tension
  • Follow-through

Generating Power
In executing an effective strike, it is important to generate maximum power through weight transfer by rotating the hips and shoulders into the attack, moving your body mass forward or backward in a straight line, and/or dropping your body weight into an opponent. Body mass can be transferred into an attack from high to low (dropping) or from low to high by using the powerful muscles of your legs.

Muscular Tension
There should be muscular tension in the hand and forearm at the instant of impact to maximize damage to the opponent and to avoid injury to your hand. The arms should be relaxed until the moment of impact. Muscular tension should NOT be held continuously, as doing so will increase telegraphing and hasten fatigue.

A strike should be delivered so that the weapon (e.g., hand, elbow) hits, remains on the impact site (target), and follows through the target. This technique will inflict maximum damage on the opponent.
Contact on an opponent should be made with the arm slightly bent(90% extension); the arm extends fully as it moves through the target.
Using this technique, strikes do not have to be executed at full force to be effective.
Also, It is necessary to balace follow-through with Rapid Retraction to avoid giving the opponent a chance to employ a counter technique.

Your movement will put you in the proper position for launching an attack against your opponent as well as help protect yourself. movement is initiated from the BWS and ends with resuming the BWS. Each strike can be performed with either the left or right arm, depending upon your angle of attack, the position of, and proximity to, the opponent, and the available vulnerable target areas exposed on the opponent.

Target areas of the body
For each strike, there are target areas of the body which, when struck, maximize damage to an opponent. Strikes use gross motor skills as opposed to fine motor skills. The target areas of the body are just that: areas. Pinpoint accuracy on a specific nerve is not needed for the strike to be effective. Without further ado:

Strikes with the hands
Hammer Fist
Striking with the hammer fist concentrates power in a small part of the hand which, when transferred to the target, can have a devastating effect.
The striking surface of the hammer fist is the meaty portion of the hand below the little finger.
The hammer fist is ideal for targets such as arm and leg joints, the neck, head, ribs and kidneys.
To execute a hammer fist strike:
First, assume the basic warrior stance.
Next, retract your lead hand so your fist is next to your face and neck. Your arm should be bent at between 45 and 90 degrees. At the same time, rotate your right hip and right sholder forward.
Next, thrust your fist foward into the opponent while rotating your right hip and shoulder forward.
Follow through the target area with your fist.
The hammer fist can be thrown horizontally or vertically. When thrown horizontally, the strike gains its power from the rotation of the hips and shoulder.
When thrown vertically, the strike comes down in a straight line and gets its power from: you dropping your weight into the opponent by bending the knees, thus transferring your weight from high to low; as well as rotation of the hips and shoulder.

Eye Gouge
The eye gouge is used to attack an opponent's eyes, blinding him so follow-up strikes can be executed.
The striking surface is the tips of the fingers and thumb.
The target area for this strike is the eyes.
To execute an eye gouge:
Begin in the BWS.
Extend either hand with your fingers slightly spread apart to allow entry into the eye sockets.
With the palm of your hand either up or down (You will have to practice this to determine your personal preference), thrust your hand forward into your opponent's eyes.
Thrust your hand foward at the opponent's nose level so your fingers can slide naturally into the grooves of the opponent's eye sockets. When striking toward the nose, there is a better chance that the fingers will slide up and into the eye sockets.
Remember to have proper muscular tension at the time of impact. Limp fingers will buckle instead of gouging.

Elbow strikes
Strikes with the hands are versatile and can be executed in a variety of close combat situations depending on your angle of attack and the exposed target areas on the opponent. Elbow strikes are equally versatile and effective at close range during combat.
There are two ways to execute a proper elbow strike: Vertically (low to high or high to low) and horizontally (forward or to the rear).
The striking surface for elbow strikes is two inches above or below the point of the elbow, depending upon your angle of attack and the position of your opponent.
Target areas: Elbow strikes can be delivered to any part of an opponent's body, but they can be especially effective atainst the ribcage, abdomen, chin, nose, or temple.

Vertical Elbow Strike (Low to high):
Begin in the BWS.
Next, drop your weight down by bending slightly at the knees. This will allow you to generate power by pushing off the ground.
At the same time, keeping your fist close to your body, bend your lead elbow. Your fist should be at shoulder level and your elbow should be next to your torso.
Keep your elbow bent until returning to the basic warrior stance.
Rotate your right shoulder and hip forward, while standing up straight, to generate additional power.
Make contact with your opponent with your forearm two inches above the point of the elbow.
Follow through with the strike and quickly return to the BWS.

Vertical Elbow Strike (High to Low):
Begin in the BWS.
Keeping your fist close to your body, bend your lead elbow. Your fist should be at shoulder level and your elbow should be out in front of your body; your forearm should be parallel to the ground.
Keep your elbow bent until returning to the basic warrior stance.
Take a step forward with your lead foot and squat down quickly do drop your weight on your opponent..
Make contact with your opponent with your forearm two inches belowthe point of the elbow.
Follow through with the strike and quickly return to the BWS.

Horizontal Elbow strike (Forward)
The Horozontal elbow strike can be useful for attacking your opponent's ribs or kidneys in the event that his abdomen is protected.
Tuck your lead fist near your chest with the heel of your palm facing down.
Thrus your right elbow horzontally forward toward the opponent. Your forearm should remail parallel to the ground for the duration of this attack.
Keep your fist tucked near your chest with the heel of your palm facing down throughout the movement. Executed properly, it should feel as though your elbow is rotating around your fist, while your fist is glued to your chest.
Rotate your right shoulder and hip forward to generate power.
Make contact on the opponent with your right forearm two inches below the point of the elbow.
Follow-through with the strike to the target area and return to the BWS.

Horizontal Elbow strike(backward):
The backwards horizontal elbow strike is not likely to be a technique used often, or in the best of circumstances. Its most obvious use is for when an opponent is behind you, and possibly has you in a submission hold or choke.
In these situations, you are not going to be in a position to utilize all of the fundamental concepts to the best of your ability; however there are still some things you can do to make a backwards elbow strike to the ribcage effective.
Weight transfer: You may be able to twist your torso back and forth; if so, then you can use the muscles of your torso to generate power to add to an elbow strike.
Pain compliance: Never underestimate the amplifying effect that stomping hard on someone's foot can have on their resolve and the strength of their grip.

Upper body strikes using the hands and elbows can be utilized in a variety of ways, from all manner of directions. They can be used to increase pain compliance (as with the hammer fist), blind and disable an enemy (eye gouge) cause damage or help escape from a lock or hold (elbow strikes).

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