Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Hook Punch for Karate ka

The hook punch is one of the major punches in western style boxing and a wild swinging style variation of it is one of the common street thugs preferred choice of weapons. Its always best to twist the hips when using any punch in order to deliver as much power behind the blow as possible and the hook punch works perfect for this body rotation. Because of its many pros and few cons however, why don’t Karate ka use the technique as much as it should be used.

Well, mainly due to the rules of competition karate. Firstly, the hook is a power blow and for no contact or light contact matches its full use can not be employed. Secondly, karate competition is about hitting first and the hook punch will always be slower than straight punches such as the preferred gyaku zuki (reverse/cross punch).

This does not mean though that it should not be practised in karate dojos. It is a valuable weapon to develop and karate ka should be using it in there training and sparring just as much as other techniques. If one competes in competition karate, that is fine and when practising for that purpose, exclude the punch if wished, but as with any martial art, one must not focus on only one aspect of it, but train to become an all round competent fighter, practising as many striking and grappling techniques as possible.

Any way, the hook punch comes in from the side as opposed to straight style punches such as the jab. It travels in an arc around the opponents guarding arms striking targets to the side including, mainly the liver, ribs, side of the jaw and temple. Although it can be snapped back after making contact, ones main aim when using this punch is to strike through the target whilst twisting the hips in the same direction of the punch. It can be very easy to become sloppy with this punch so a good amount of practise is needed, keeping in mind especially, to return to a strong and well defended fighting stance as soon as the punch is delivered.

There are also other ways in which the hook punch can be effective. Hikite is a major part of Karate, but many do not practise it how it should be practised which is to grab and/or pull your opponent. By pulling your opponent in during a stand up grappling situation whilst delivering a short sharp hook punch (an exact bunkai which can be seen in Naifanchi), you can easily take your opponent to the floor by following through forcefully with the punch. (Is it coincidence that the next move of Naifanchi is to step sideways, which could be interpreted as a foot stomp. Some styles such as Shotokan actually stomp there foot to the ground to emphasize this technique.)

The hook punch is a part of karate and it should be practised as much as other punches. Use mirrors to check your form when punching, focus pads to develop accuracy and heavy bags to develop power and balance. Eventually, incorporate it into your sparring. You shall be surprised on how natural the punch will feel.


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epicmartialarts said...

we've always, always used hooks in Goju, and probably because we've never emphasised competition karate, there's not been a problem.

I've always loved front hand hook off a jab. Spent a lot of time getting this sorted on the heavy bag.

Not sure that hook is slower than a gyaku suki though..........?

John W. Zimmer said...

Hey Marks,

I really like to have hooks in my tools as the way I was taught - they have about the same range as an elbow but are easier to throw. I was supposed to visualize a 6" string from my body and not let the arc go beyond that. If I threw a "wild" hook I got yelled at because I lost effectiveness and the ability to cover quickly. While I just trained in boxing for full-contact training... I view boxing type tools as invaluable.

I never scored a hook in a semi-contact karate tournament as they frowned on boxing... that is what is great about MMA... whatever works :)

MARKS said...

EPICMARTIALARTS - I think it depends where the gyaku zuki is thrown from. If the hand is somewhere near or below the chin, it should be quicker than a hook normally. If it is thrown from the hip, chances are it will be slightly slower. However, these are just my own experiences.

MARKS said...

JOHN W ZIMMER - The shorter sharper hooks are definitley much more effective than the wild swing style ones. The string method you mention is a good way of training it. You are right also that many semi contact karate tournaments do frown upon boxing style punches. This is sad as they are very effective and worth practising by all, regardless of style.

DansMuayThaiMMA said...

Good post man. Very good suggestions. The hook punch is definitely under used. Even in MMA. They tend to favor the overhand more. Technique is important in this punch, as it can be deadly if the form is good.

By the way, I helped you out and clicked your google links. Hope it helps.


epicmartialarts said...

I was referring to the standard Karate chambered gyaku suki. I prefer the shorter hooks, but I do believe that there is value in the longer, 'wild' version. With correct movement and positioning these can be effective.

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