Bare Knuckle Boxing Talk

Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts' started by Keith P. Myers, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. StevieB8363

    StevieB8363 Valued Member

    That's odd, in boxing (and karate) I was taught to use the first two knuckles with a horizontal fist. In any case, you can use the top two/bottom three with either vertical or horizontal fist.

    Moreover, a vertical fist to the mouth could hit chin, top and bottom front teeth, and the nose - giving your opponent plenty to think about.
  2. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    Most of the pre-Marquis boxing manuals which teach the Straight Lead (left) or the Straight Rear (right) teach to strike out with the lower three knuckles. Jack Dempsey (post MoQ) taught the vertical fist/left lead and wrote that you aim with your ring finger.

    Peace favor your sword,
  3. Keith P. Myers

    Keith P. Myers Valued Member

    Sure. That makes sense when wearing the big gloves. Probably less of a factor though when bare-knuckle.

  4. Keith P. Myers

    Keith P. Myers Valued Member

    Not sure I agree that closer punches tend to be more horizontal. Close range body shots are more easily done with a vertical fist, you often see this during "pummeling".

    ---Yes. I should have been more specific. I was referring to closer range punches aimed at the head...the relatively "short arm" punches of modern boxing as opposed to the more "long arm" punches of LPR era boxing.

    My theory: That the horizontal fist became popular as a result of the twisting action used by some boxers to tear the skin.

    ---That's a good point. And as the fighters stopped worrying as much about nice straight punches with the elbow down....the elbow tends to drift out and the punch takes on a "corkscrewing" quality which naturally tends towards a horizontal fist.

    BTW Keith: I've also read "The straight left" and frankly I'm amazed when I see pro boxers with a sloppy jab. My boxing instructor taught me to "work off the jab" - and I still do in sparring. In fact I rarely use the right hand, and only after setting up with the left. My left hook is probably harder than my straight right.

    ---Yeah. As Morti pointed out, there have been a lot of modern boxers with good jabs. I would never try to say it disappeared completely. But it seems to have become the exception and not the norm.

    ---Is there an actual advantage to the horizontal fist in modern boxing? Maybe. It does give more torquing power to a short arm punch. But I think the idea that boxers no longer worried as much about hurting their hands with advent of wraps and gloves and so just plain forgot about the advantages of using the vertical fist is a bigger factor.

  5. Keith P. Myers

    Keith P. Myers Valued Member

    One (but not the only) reason a boxer throws a punch with his first horizontal is so that he impacts his opponent with the full span of his knuckle.

    ---That is only true of the relatively "short arm" punches thrown from a closer range. Try to do that with a fully extended straight punch and it requires a bend in your wrist that makes it prone to damage. See my old article linked in earlier in this thread.

    Punching vertically i was always led to believe your trying to hit with the first two knuckles

    ---I'm not sure why you were taught that way. That certainly isn't what is taught in the old boxing manuals.

  6. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Well let's look a bit on what a horizontal and vertical fist really are. Firstly, IME, there is no such thing as a horizontal fist. In reality, if we were to call a vertical fist zero rotation, then a true horizontal fist would be 90 degrees rotation. This is not how people punch. At impact the rotation is going to be at 45-60 degrees or conversely a lot more rotation at around 135-150 degrees. My point is that if you are making contact at a 90 degree rotation, that structurally is not as strong a punch as at zero, 45, or 135 degree rotation. This does not mean that after impact, there cannot be follow-through rotation, I'm meaning at the point of impact.

    The difference then between punches is less the rotation but more the striking surface. If you strike with the bottom three knuckles, you are going to have a stronger structure with a zero rotation (vertical punch) than trying to hit with the first two big knuckles. If you strike with the first two big knuckles, you will get more power with rotation to 45 or 135 degrees.

    This is all based on point of initial contact, the follow-through of the particular technique allow for the equivalent of a "second hit" that penetrates into target in many cases. For example, when I strike a vertical fist to the head, I'm usually striking with a Keiko-ken (one knuckle fist) if it is a straight lead punch/jab. I'm rolling off of contact with the three small knuckles into the one knuckle hit. When gloves are on, the whole advantage of the one knuckle fist goes away... now I'm just hitting like an open hand strike with the gloves, so I'll go with the hit with the two big knuckles with rotation for more snap.
  7. boards

    boards Its all in the reflexes!

    Reading Jack Dempsey, he seems to believe that the twist of the hand to horizontal came about because of the shoulder whirl took precedence over the weighted step. By whirling your shoulders and not steping forward, your power is going in a circular motion, therefore you gain more power by lifting your elbow and allowing it to loop the punch slightly following the "powerline".
  8. karl52

    karl52 openminded

    Interesting discussion

    I didn't see it like I was hitting with three or two knuckles,but which side of the main middle knuckle was landing first, I found the horizontal fist 45% is a stronger position and it delivers more power,I also use more or less the same mechanics bare fist and gloved,and because of the importance of lining the hand up bare fist it gave me much better body/hand positioning for gloved work.

    you do hit harder when the shot is thrown on more of a curve
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
  9. StevieB8363

    StevieB8363 Valued Member

    Thanks all for your responses. I'm not trying to be argumentative - this is a discussion about biomechanics. Isn't it fair to say that all out techniques should stand up to this kind of scrutiny?

    Placing my vertical fist against a wall, arm extended, at chin height, I found the following:

    Contacting with the three lower knuckles felt good. The "impact point" was in line with my forearm, which was at a slight upward angle. Contacting with the first two knuckles (same fist position) felt wrong. I both saw and felt a sharp angular difference between hand and forearm. I'm sure that hitting this way would be both weak and risk injury. (If hitting lower it would be OK, but I'm looking primarily at headshots.)

    When I used a horizontal fist it felt OK with either knuckle option. Lower knuckles line up with the ulna, top knuckles with the radius (I hope I got those right). But the horizontal fist leaves the smallest knuckle at risk in the event of a glancing blow, so I don't feel it's the best option.

    So far, vertical fist/lower three knuckles seems to have an advantage.

    I recently changed my style to vertical fist after reading a few threads like this one. My straight punches feel fine, but my left hook suffered from the change. The twisting action of the hook (I don't "swing") helped add control to the punch, and to stop/return it. When hooking with a vertical fist my punch wanders more, and is harder to reverse. Any tips on this? My left hook is my big gun, and I can throw it long and fast. I don't want to lose that, but I don't want to sacrifice hand safety either.
  10. m1k3jobs

    m1k3jobs Dudeist Priest

    Another part of the reason that the horizontal(ish?) jab became a big part of boxing has to do with head hunting becoming a major factor with the addition of gloves.

    A well thrown jab brings the shoulder up to cover the jaw lessening the effect of a right cross counter. The vertical fist leaves the jaw exposed. Not as big of an issue with no gloves and longer range fighting because the right didn't have the same power or reach back then.
  11. karl52

    karl52 openminded

    your right there mate

    Heres a few of my thoughts

    Heres a look at me throwing some chops on some hard sand bags at 1.30

    Training bare knuckle this style felt more natural at first but once I started adding a bit more impact on the end,I started having problems with my wrist from this angle and started hitting with the other side of the main knuckle(two knuckle side) I found this was a stronger position bare knuckle and also delivers a significant difference in power.

    heres a clip of me testing a water bag on this Im throwing two knuckle side


    I think with bare knuckle answer only come with hard work and theres a real good chance that most of the hand will hit anyway,and its the angles that can make all the difference,when it comes to hurting the opponent and not hurting your hand.well thats just my take:)
  12. JohnnyNull

    JohnnyNull Valued Member

    I seem to recall something in Tao of Jeet Kune Do that said that the vertical fist was better for close strikes, the horizontal for targets further away. Or maybe the opposite. Perhaps someone else remembers this.
  13. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Speaking of influence from other martial arts... was boxing influenced by karate at some point. I know that at times karate was considered to be exotic and had quite a reputation in the West. I seem to recall some similarities between diagrams of Western "self-defense" and techniques used in karate such as punching methods.
  14. StevieB8363

    StevieB8363 Valued Member

    I was taught to roll the shoulder up too, protecting the aw is an important factor.
  15. Keith P. Myers

    Keith P. Myers Valued Member

    The difference then between punches is less the rotation but more the striking surface. If you strike with the bottom three knuckles, you are going to have a stronger structure with a zero rotation (vertical punch) than trying to hit with the first two big knuckles. If you strike with the first two big knuckles, you will get more power with rotation to 45 or 135 degrees.

    ---Excellent points! Striking surface and the biomechanical alignment that that is best for using that striking surface. Elbow down with arm extended and a vertical fist aligns for hitting with the bottom three knuckles the best. If the elbow is bent and out a bit, then the alignment favors the 45 degree rotation you mention. And we have to consider more than just how the large knuckles contact...we have to consider the surface of the fist towards the middles knuckles as well. It you contact first with this portion of the fist, you are more likely to bend the wrist, and more likely to lose power in the strike.

  16. Keith P. Myers

    Keith P. Myers Valued Member

    --This is what Driscoll was talking about when he bemoaned the loss of the ability to "punch straight" in boxing. This "whirling" action was becoming more prominent. If you are "whirling" your punches from the shoulder, then you certainly will end up with a more horizontal alignment of the fist. And this helps to punch around the barrier presented by big fluffy gloves. But I would not agree that you gain more power. Some of the power is going to be lost on contact because the vector is going out through the elbow and not straight back into the shoulder/body/ground. A proper straight punch contacts from the ground up while stepping into the opponent with your entire body weight. Its hard to hit much harder than that! :eek:

  17. Keith P. Myers

    Keith P. Myers Valued Member

    To use a vertical fist with a hook requires you to tighten it up more and deliver it from a closer range. Throwing it with the fist rotated 135 degrees and landing with the 1st two knuckles is riskier as far as damaging your hand, but lets you throw it from further out and with more accuracy. This is how the old timers threw a "swinging blow" with the elbow bent only a bit. They didn't do hooks back then.

  18. Keith P. Myers

    Keith P. Myers Valued Member

    Excellent point Mike! I hadn't thought of that! :)

  19. Keith P. Myers

    Keith P. Myers Valued Member

    Thanks for the vids Karl! I just wanted to point out that you are using a modern boxing structure and delivering almost all "short arm" punches. I didn't see many if any straight punches.

  20. Keith P. Myers

    Keith P. Myers Valued Member

    I don't think so. Remember, Karate is actually a fairly recent development. Funakoshi dates from the 1940's, I think? The LPR style was at its height in the mid to late 1800's. To me, Karate is more like LPR style boxing than modern boxing.

    Many years ago a Wing Chun instructor named Karl Godwin theorized that LPR style boxing may have influenced Wing Chun due to interactions of Kung Fu men and merchant marines making port in southern China. But I've never believed that.

    Also several years ago Dan Inosanto's sister wrote an article theorizing that the Filipino martial arts were responsible for the evolution from the LPR style to the modern style of boxing when Filipino boxers fighting in Hawaii included tactics and movements from knife fighting. I don't believe that either. was Jiu Jitsu/early Judo that had some influence. It wasn't on the sport of boxing per se. But William Barton-Wright added it to his knowledge of LPR style boxing to come up with his martial art of Bartitsu.


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