The Knuckle as a Weapon

In the Filipino Martial Arts, we sometimes forget that we are all born with a very potent weapon–if we learn to use it–the knuckles.  I will refer to the “fist” as the “knuckle”, because there are other parts of the hand we can use in fighting, but I will talk only about the knuckles today.

Many martial artists do not think much more about the fist other than ways to throw it. However, if they learn more about the parts of the fist, what damage the fist can inflict, how to train it, and where to aim it, the fighter will see that the potential for a deadly weapon had literally been in their hands all along.  The knuckle is a very powerful weapon because it is a bone at the end of a limb we use all day long–especially in training. However, the knuckle is not a stick, it is not a knife, and we must find practical uses for the knuckle as a knuckle.

A good start is to study the various punches and where they are best used:

  • the jab–the eye, the corner of the chin, the teeth, the jaw, the nose, the center of the chest and the shoulder
  • the cross/reverse punch–anywhere you’d like!
  • the hook–the eye, the side of the nose, the jaw, the back of the head/neck, the side of the neck, the ribs, the solar plexus, the liver, the spleen, and the hip
  • the uppercut–the chin, the throat, the armpit/upper-upper arm, the floating ribs, the solar plexus, the liver/spleen, the belly
  • the backfist/back knuckle strike–the corner of the eye socket, the nose, the jaw, the teeth, the temple, the side/rear of the neck, the collarbone

There are other punches, but I thought these punches would be a good start, since they were universal to most fighting styles.

So, the next factor to consider is how the knuckles can be applied in each of these punches, relative to their targets. For example, a punch to the collarbone will use a different angle (slightly different, at least) than the same type of punch to the eye. you will use a different set of knuckles–the first two vs the last three–as well as alter the angle of the punch to hit the target.  When hitting the eye with a jab, you will have to consider the angle the opponent stands when you launch your attack:  an opponent who holds his guard to the side (like in a horse stance fighting stance, for example) vs an opponent who is squared shoulder when facing you (like in a traditional Muay Thai stance). The angle you hit him will change, as well as the side of the eye you will be attacking. How tall the opponent is will be significant also. A taller opponent will require a verticle fist/last three knuckles vs an opponent who is your height, against whom you can use the traditional palms-down/first two knuckle attack. (In case you are confused, consider this:  a palms-down punch, when aimed upward, will not hit with the knuckles, but the second knuckle of the fist)

Lastly, we must address training the knuckle. I did write an article about this subject. I would like you to take a look at it and utilize this system I introduce, as fist training is vital to your ability to use a fist.

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you have found this or any other article on my blog to be helpful, please spread the word and tell others about it!

Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

2 thoughts on “The Knuckle as a Weapon”

  1. While I take pride in my ability to punch, I have switched to open hand. I have found that utilizing transfering energy strikes, which on contact shift to penetration, allows one to use the edge of the wrist as well as the knuckle. The bonus is the meat there not only protect, it’s also what we train to channel the energy of our strikes. With enough practice, the meat no longer transfers the channeling of the energy through our body and out the point of contact.

    I think punching is still useful… but my right hand is suffering from 2 broken knuckles, and 2 boxers fractures across four fingers. So switching to an open hand style was as much practical as it was necessary, to me, ultimately.

    I have a theory that ‘qi’ is really just the feeling of kinetic energy moving through our body. I think our technology is too feeble to actually read motion moving through our bones, but if you think about, the porous structure, padded with sinuous tissue, means that if aligned properly with no break points (say you bend your arm 90 degrees, the energy splits up your arm, but some also still goes in the initial direction from the elbow crux, and is lost) this kinetic energy can be contained within the bone structure.

    I’ve noticed that almost all martial arts share similar stances, and I believe it because out of all the thousands, if not millions of possible configurations our bodies can contort into, martial arts over many, many years of practice and experimentation, with deliberation, has located those which are strongest for channeling this energy along either crushing, transference, or penetrating type force of blows.

    I think this relevant, because in a nutshell it’s saying that certain stances are better conduits for channeling this ‘chi’ which I say, again, is just raw physical force.

    And what’s interesting, is fight science gives some credence to this. When attaching sensors to martial artists, and measuring force through the floor, they did actually detect that raw physical force was drawn from the ground, through the fighter, and channeled through the strike.

    This means it’s not just our arm doing the punch, and it’s not just the added force of our body when the punch is actually done correctly, but the kinetic energy as well.

    I.E. with practice it’s possible to learn how to channel that force through yourself and utilizing it as a strike. 4:32 is where it’s relevant.

    When you add in torque from hips, and with the horizontal fist or palm, it becomes very powerful. Apologies for the long post and citing youtube; I just think it explains it better than I can.

    1. One small correction; when I say draw from the ground, we dig into the ground, and use the returning force as an added spring to the burst. So it’s our entire body, our arm, and that extra spring from the digging in, if done correctly. I believe that ‘digging in’ should effectively transition toward the movement for the attack, and not telegraph. God help anyone if they telegraph against our favorite FMA Master Blogger.

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