Taekwondo Hand Strikes

Taekwondo hand strikes are performed as a close distance alternative to kicks. They are executed in a number of ways – from standing, jumping, spinning and rushing forwards. Hand strikes make up fast combinations of strikes which can leave an opponent stunned and unable to defend himself. Taekwondo hand strikes can be separated into two distinct styles:

  • Closed hand strikes (Punches)
  • Open hand strikes

Various surfaces of the hand may be engaged as the striking surface depending on which area of the opponents body which is being targeted. This leads to a large array of hand positions.

  • Forefist – A closed fist may be jabbed out directly to strike with the forefist knuckles. This is a suitable position for general punches to soft areas of the body. Without protection, it is inadvisable to strike the bony face as fingers are likely to get broken on the hard temple and jaw bones.
  • Hammer fist – A closed fist may be brought down in a hammering motion to strike with the underneath. Such a strike can obliterate an opponent’s nose, making it near impossible for him to retaliate.
  • Backfist – A Son Dung clenched hand is swung backwards into the face of an opponent. The back of the hand makes contact and the momentum garnered in the swing makes this a powerful strike. Spinning backfists are a knockout punch and banned in most Taekwondo competitions.
  • Knife HandSonkal‘ is the Taekwondo name for a ‘Karate Chop’, i.e. where an open hand is hammered down to make impact with the underside. A Ridge Hand is the opposite, where the top of the open hand strikes. These are commonly made to the side of the neck.
  • FingertipsJoomuk can be used to strike vulnerable areas of the body such as pressure points. Used in self-defence and not competition sparring, one and two finger strikes are made to the eyeballs. Four finger strikes engaging the tips of the outstretched hand (known as Spear hand) can be made to vital points in the neck.
  • ThumbUmji is a fist with the thumb protruding over the top. This is a formidable weapon in pressure point striking. Vulnerable areas can be targeted all over the body such as the sternum, the spaces in between the ribs and other nerve clusters.
  • Palm Heel – Is a classic self-defence strike where the hand is pulled back to engage the base of the palm in an upwards thrusting strike. This is particularly dangerous if applied to the base of the nose or chin and can result in death. Obviously banned in competition Taekwondo.
  • Four Knuckle strike – This is a fist shape particular to the Asian martial arts. Instead of closing the fist completely, the fingers are held out and only the knuckles are bent thereby presenting the upper set of knuckles as the striking surface. This fist is used for breaking boards as the smaller surface area concentrates the punches power. In self-defence, it may be used to purposefully break an attackers jaw.