The Punch Transformation

Inspired by the discuss on Martial Talk

In class, the uke (attacker) steps in with the right foot (using the C step or half-moon) and punches with the right hand. This is the classic straight in punch. Why do we do it like that? It doesn’t seem like a realistic attack.

On guard position

On guard position

Think back to Kindergarten class when you practiced making your letters. You needed lines on the paper to write straight. This is a very simplified attack so you can focus on the moves, not whether or not you’ll get hit. This is not a realistic attack. It is a “practice” attack. Just like the lines for writing letters, the “step in punch” is an easy attack for you to acclimate to an attack. When you get comfortable with the technique, move one to variations in the attack.

Transformation One
Slight variations to the attack include a street-fighter punch, hook punch and left-right combination. Start slow and progress until you can perform the technique well regardless of which attack they throw. Notice the slight changes you make to your stance and body position.

Don’t stick to arbitrary clock positions or cardinal directions when the live person is there. Those are simple orientation mechanics to help you move about three-dimensional space. Again, they are guidelines. Close is good enough with regards to footing placement. Get a feel for where the foot really needs to go for optimal leverage, attack-angle and balance.

Transformation Two
Most people don’t step in to punch you, rather they just swing from any position they are in. Change the step in to a boxer shuffle (akin to how CHA-3 and Kajukenbo students practice). The juicy right leg isn’t there for you to attack. It is now protected in the rear. What adjustments do you make to keep the technique working?

This transformation is more realistic than the initial one taught in class. Again, you need to work up to this situation, as it is more difficult to work against. By Green Belt, this should be the standard attack procedure after learning the technique in class. It makes Combination 11 difficult but not impossible. How do the other combinations and kempo techniques fair?

Transformation Three
This is my favorite. How about adding a weapon, the yawara, to the technique? The yawara is a pocket stick, an inch bigger than your hand. It is usually made of wood sanded down smooth. How does it change the moves? You’d be surprised how well the techniques all work with a yawara in your right hand.

I usually hold it like an ice pick for downward strikes. Hold it like a fork to punch. Remember to support the yawara with your thumb on top. It’s much like the Poison Thumb strike. Locks, traps and pinches become a factor in applying the technique. Pinch skin, joint or clothes between yawara and thumb. Seek pressure points when you strike too.

Also think of the possibilities with using other things like a pen, spoon or toothbrush. Don’t get stuck in Kindergarten when practicing your techniques — examine, experiment and explore.