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  1. #1
    TheMightyMcClaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Ann Arbor, MI

    The Palm Heel Thrust Discussion Thread

    Inspired by the YMAS women's self defense thread, I'd like to try and do some analysis on one of the striking techniques which has always bothered me the most: The palm heel thrust.
    I'm sure you all know it - like a straigh punch, but instead of culring your fist like god intended, you instead blasphemously open your hand and straighten your fingers back to strike with the meaty part of the palm. I'm sure you all learned it as part of a taekwondo self-defense move when you ten years old.
    I see it being commonly advocated by self-defense types as a better alternative to punching, on the grounds that a punch which goes awry and strikes the bony skull part of the head instead of the fragile face part can lead to an injured hand. A palm strike, theorectially, does not have this problem, and is thus better suited to self-defense.
    Now, in my own counter-hypothesizing, it seems that a palm strike gone awry could easily lead to fingers being bent back violently, wrists suffering the same fate, or palm meat being lacerated against teeth.
    But more importantly, that's all hypothetical. Never once have I seen anyone throw a palm heel thrust in any type of stand-up striking match, with either success or failure. The closest I've seen are the palm strikes in gloveless MMA events like ZST and Pancrase, but even then, the strikes coming in swinging from the sides (a la "power slaps"), rather than down the center like a jab or straight right would. What's more, these strikes were only used in events the rules mandated them by dissallowing punches to the head, and in bareknuckle events like Rio Heroes, the fist is certainly dominant over the palm strike.
    Thus, I am tempted to dismiss the palm thrust out of hand as another worthless and esoteric striking technique, which was only popularized in martial arts and RBSD circles as an attempt to "be cool" and differientiate themselves from more mainstream or sport-oriented martial arts in which the closed-fist punch was the dominant means of striking.
    I'm curious as to the opinion of other individuals on the palm heel thrust, and if anyone ever has seen it working. If there is, for example, a wealth of Pancrase fights that slipped through my eyes in which fighers were KO'd by palm heel thrusts, or some candid video of a street fight in which someone unleashes the deadly palm heel thrusts learnt in his RBSD classes to devastating affect on his opponent, then I would obviously have to rethink my position on this particular strike.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    United States
    Since you took this off the women's self defense basis, i think the whole palm striking thing is declared practical because many women have long fingernails and maybe not be able to make a tightly closed fist without cutting the inner portion of their hand upon impact (just a theory).

    For everyone else, im not so sure about palm strikes....maybe as a set up for something else, but fighting with palms simply just because....nearly useless IMO. IDK, maybe a plam to the nose would hurt a bit, but Im pretty sure if somebody palm struck me in the chest or gut he/she would very likely injure his/her hand, not to mention just piss me off.

    Maybe the idea is to hit the person but not do as much physical harm....I remember some YouTube ninjer saying not to hit someone in the chest with a closed fist...for fear of "breaking their chest open" lol

    Mechanically it runs plenty of risks, if you dont hit with the solid boney part of the palm you put a tremendous amount of stress on a rather weak joint. There are a lot of small bones in the hand....things break easily.

    I went downstairs and smacked up my heavybag a few times palm striking....I see two problems:

    First, if you keep your wrist pulled back, fingured strecthed backwards to clear then out of the way...that's a lot of muscle tension on the forearm, which felt like it was slowing me down a lot.

    Second, keeping the hands loose until point of impact seemed to remedy the tension/speed problem, but then there is a huge HUGE risk of not getting your hand set properly on impact, if your fingures, hand, w/e isnt cleared out of the way in time or lands funny, you very well could hurt your hand and make you even more unable to defend yourself.

    ==Just my thoughts==

  3. #3
    DdlR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Using a palm-heel strike as a direct punch analog, i.e. as you would a right cross, reverse punch etc. but striking with the palm-heel instead of the fist, is open to the sort of mechanical problems you're listing here.

    When I was teaching self defense full-time, I had my students practice the palm-heel (chin jab) as an extreme close-quarters strike, typically from positions where their forearm was already in contact with the attacker's chest. The technique was to drive up from the heels, sliding the forearm up along the chest as a guide and striking directly underneath the jaw. The initial impact and balance control effect can be magnified if the defender continues to drive the head and neck back and down, at whatever angle is practical depending on how the attacker reacts to the impact.

    In that application the strike is virtually invisible and hits with devastating force, the major potential damage being to the attacker's teeth (if his mouth was open at the time) and, more usefully, his neck, which is bent suddenly and violently backwards. I used to wear padded armor, helmet, neck guard etc. and was often lifted/knocked right off my feet by this type of strike.

    This guy - YouTube - The Chin Jab - has the idea, although in a short course I'd recommend teaching the technique from extreme close-quarters, rather than stepping in to generate power. As an upward attack it relies more on the strength of the legs and alignment of the elbow and hips, than on a drop-step type falling weight.

    In general, RBSD/WW II combatives instructors have a good, realistic application of this weapon.

  4. #4
    WhiteShark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Atlanta GA
    The ancient answer to this question is as always "What would Bas Rutten do?"
    He obviously knocked people retarded in Pancrase with open handed strikes however many times since he has said he would use a punch given the choice. So if you train enough to hit like Bas, punch. If not run away.

  5. #5
    Anna Kovacs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Las Vegas, NV
    Dancing the Spears
    I've always done it with my fingers like this.

    With an inward cant and trying to hit with the lower outside part of the palm (lower left on the left hand if it's facing away and vice versa).

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Kung Fu
    Palm Heel can be hit with the fingers straight or like straight up or sideways. Strike the jaw for KO or ribs or heart for body shot.

  7. #7
    Fuzzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    I find they work nicely to the face to temporarily blind the opponent, also seem to work better as stop hits/push aways when looking for a throw. Maybe thats just the aikido reflexes (Atemi?).

  8. #8
    TheRuss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Not Canada
    I've got no idea how effective a palm strike would be in a fight, but they've been standard operating procedure for football players for the last twenty-plus years. The concerns you've raised about finger injuries and the like, although reasonable, are taken care of with proper technique.

  9. #9
    The Question's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    If you do it with your fingers set like in that photo AnnaTrocity posted, you shouldn't cause any damage to your fingers. I'd actually do a palm strike if someone got really close and started to threaten. Of course, palm strikes could only replace the right cross, and really, people need to be throwing hooks and uppercuts and ****.

    Anyway, it's always better to punch a ************. If nothing else, it's quite satisfying.
    Quote Originally Posted by Goju - joe
    being a dick with skill is only marginally better than being a dick without skill.

  10. #10
    OZZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    London,Ontario Canada
    Short Fist Boxing
    First off, you don't train palm strikes on a heavy bag unless you are an idiot. Double end bag. or one like the one being used in the video -OK, . The palm heel thrust's intended target is almost always the head. The chances of bending your fingers back will increase tenfold if you are hitting a heavy bag.
    I did seen a palm strike delivered in a street fight on one occasion and it did some nice damage. My fellow bouncer tht evening was the recipient and he had a nice shiner the next day.
    Basically, take White Shark's comments a la Bas Rutten to heart. But don't write it off - ever. You land one of those properly and you can easily shatter a cheek bone or orbital bone.
    But watch out for those teeth..
    Edit:The picture put up by Anna is proper hand formation for a palm strike. Anything else is begging for an injury.
    Last edited by OZZ; 8/10/2008 6:54pm at .
    " If one wants to have a friend one must also want to wage war for him: and to wage war one must be capable of being an enemy." - Fr. Nietzsche 'On The Friend' Thus Spake Zarathustra

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