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.

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