The great 2 vs 3 knuckle debate.
If you've not read Jack Dempsey's 'championship fighting', please do so before responding on this thread. It's linked on bullshido, search and find it :)
Basically this thread revolves around the pros/cons of punching with the lead two knuckles vs the bottom three.
Let me begin with some of my punching experience and why it pertains to this particular question. First off I came from a TKD/karate/kickboxing school where we did 2 minute sparring rounds (no points). The TKD I learned seems more like karate to me. This is probably because my old instructor was higher belted in American Karate than he was in TKD at the time. Anyways... we learned effective techniques (comparable to the tippy-tappy shite I see from 'tkd') of kicking through, punching through, hitting with power, etc.
The rule was always "punch with the lead two knuckles" and for years I did this. Not knowing any better as a teen, I punched the punching bag without bag gloves. Usually until my knuckles bled. I thought this was cool. We had the same wavemaster punching bag in my basement at my dad's old house so I did it at home very frequently.
Over the years I learn about bone conditioning and begin banging my hands off all manner of hard surfaces.... desks, walls, doors, refridgerators, etc.
Anyways, step forward a few years and I'm doing some stick sparring. I catch one right in the middle knuckle on my right hand. My middle knuckle turns purple. I chipped a bone in my knuckle. Well lo and behold now every time I was hitting everything it would make my hand swell up. So I switched to the 3 knuckle method and found it not only prevented me from injuring that area but allowed much more solid strikes for me. While I like striking both ways, I think after giving both their due I found that the bottom three worked best (for me). Then I read dempsey's book about a year ago and used that to refine it further. I'm definitely satisfied with the results. Now if only I could do that with my crap-tacular judo.
I guess where I'm going is, let's debate this. Pros and cons. Maybe tell some stories. I dunno. I'm down for something new in strikistan other than "how do footwork?" and "how can I start to enjoy being hit in the face?"
Pros of 3 knuckles that I can see:
Better wrist alignment
Better distribution of force across your fist to reduce potential injury
Cons of 3 knuckles that I can see:
More knuckles = more stuff that can break
slightly reduced range vs two knuckle system (like what, a 1/4 inch?)
Trainers might 'disagree' with using it since it's not how many were taught (at least in my experience).
Two knuckles - here's why:
1) Reduces effective surface area. The force of a punch is dependent on mass, speed, and surface area. The two knuckle points reduces the SA compared to three.
2) The index and middle knuckles are larger and have a shitload more muscle, ligaments, and tendons surrounding them, allowing them to hit harder with less chance of damage or dislocation (See figure).
3) My pinky-nuckle is pretty much permanently fucked up, so I try to avoid hitting with it. This is a personal rather than technical choice.
Well, looks like we're off to a good start here. Good info on the knuckles/ligaments. Seems like you have a similiar situation regarding your finger though with the opposite effect of my knuckle problem.
That being said, what are your thoughts on wrist alignment? I know when I'm punching using three knuckles it not only 'feels more solid' but the line is alot straight (as described as the 'power line' by dempsey) and seems to hold alot better at the wrist. I have pretty good wrist strength from Arnis so it's no big deal either way but I can definitely say it seems to have a much better impact. I am not sure entirely why from a technical standpoint. Perhaps someone else can shed some light on that aspect?
(btw, I'm at work dealing with total buffoons today so sorry if my posts seem like quasi-incoherent rambling)
Maybe it's just because I've been karate-conditioned, but I never found the bottom three knuckle punch to "line up" any better with my arm. Try doing pushups on your knuckles - is it easier to support yourself on the first two or the bottom three? For me, the top two work much better.
Also, as far as I can tell, bottom three knuckle punches are primarily advocated in Wing Chun and BBT, which is a definitely knock off of their credibility.
I find the support is far better with the top two, the anatomy of using the top two makes more sense, I hit harder using the top two...etc...
I always think its funny how some people get very adamant that one is so superior, and both cite better alignment. In my experience, you can align your first two or your bottom three to be in alignment with your forearm. The bottom three seems to be the more natural alignment. I tend to use the top two, as that is how I was originally trained.
Not to derail too much, but I remember reading in a book by Ken Shamrock that he advocates using the whole fist when punching, so that less damage is caused to the fist because of the greater surface area. I've never really played around with this idea, but it sounds like a good way to ruin your fingers.
I used to punch with the bottom three when I was stupid and couldn't punch for ****. Now that I am smart and punch decently I punch with the top two. Top two is therefor better.
I have to admit I'm surprised at most of the replies here. A lot of people w good credibility are advocating two knuckle.
For me personally, I go bottom three. Whenever I accidentally hit a bag with the top two knuckles it fucks up my wrist. Never have any problems at all with the bottom three.
From what I understand the two knuckle thing was developed in Karate and the logic behind it kind of shaky. Something about being able to target your opponent like crosshairs between the first two knuckles....
Of course there was the alignment and surface area thing. Buts it probably boils down to training your fists to be at the right angle for you and the way you throw your punches. I admittedly don't have much practice striking with the top two and I am sure there is some small yet subtle technique to it that I am missing.
But for instance, maybe 3 knuckles is better and more natural for vertical punches. Perhaps two knuckles were adopted because they have more "cutting potential", something that fighters have tried to maximize by using twisting horizontal punches since the advent of thick gloves. The top two knuckles are pointier...
I realize that theorizing can be the opposite of fighting BS, so maybe someone with more experience could pitch in.
Last edited by WestonE123; 7/28/2007 3:38am at .
I punch with the first two, but the bottom three has always felt more natural for me.
I do it with 2 knuckles because that's what I've always been told to do, so I just do it.
I don't really buy the theories behind it (alignment with the forearm etc.) because contrary to what I've been told, I find hitting with the first two knuckles twists my fist to the right. There's also a higher chance of me injuring my wrist if I hit a bag hard with the first two rather than the last three.
How in the world could you punch with your bottom 3 knuckles? Do people teach that? In Karate we're taught keep our two knuckles forward so that there's a straight line from your top knuckle to the crease of your elbow.
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