Monday, 4 January 2010

The Open Hand Guard

Boxing, before MMA was considered the world’s number one combat sport. The idea of two fighters gloved up in order to slug it out was most popular. However, when MMA did finally make an appearance it took over boxing as the world’s number one combat sport. It also brought more into the public eye, finger less gloves, which also brought to the attention of some, the open hand guard.

The open hand guard has been used mainly by Karate fighters (especially Kyokunshin) for many years and unlike a closed fist guard which prohibits a fighter from many things, the open hand guard instantly opens up many windows of opportunities when it comes to fighting techniques. To some, weather the hands are open or closed when in a fighting stance may not be that important however, to some, it is very.

The open hand guard has many advantages. Grabbing is obviously much easier with an open hand guard as is parrying, blocking and clinch fighting. Open hand guard fighters can also develop a sense of awareness that clenched fist fighters can not. This can only be described, as by using the finger’s as antennas. Especially when close or medium distance fighting, one can reach out towards there opponents arms, fists or even head (something Muhammad Ali used to do occasionally, even with gloves on) and can “feel” when there opponent moves or attacks.

The argument which most people have about the open hand guard is simply the fact that it is dangerous when throwing a full contact punch. Some say that one does not have the time to fully clench the fist and that punching without a fully clenched fist can cause injury to the hand or wrist.

While this may be the case when concerned with beginners, it is rare amongst advanced martial artists. Through years of heavy bag striking with bare fists or hand wraps only and sparring with fingerless gloves, one is able to “feel” the technique which is needed to deliver a hard punch, without injury, from an unclenched hand position. This is one of the reasons why bag training without gloves is so useful. The toughening of the hands and wrists which is provided through this type of training is invaluable.

Training using the open hand guard can be carried out by all. Obviously if you are a martial artist who uses boxing gloves to train and to fight (eg Kickboxers) then the open hand guard will be something new to you and very strange at first. It is probably best if you use the open hand guard whilst shadow boxing at first without using it against the heavy bag. As stated many times on this site, use the mirror to help you check to make sure that you are guarding yourself properly.

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Elias said...

I haven't got anything informative to add, but I'd have to say that I definitely prefer the open handed guard =D

Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc. said...

People seem to forget about how effective palm strikes are

KarateStudent said...

Karate Student ("KS") on the Classical Karate Defense against Manny Pacquiao.

There is enormous press out there on how traditional karate can't handle the skilled boxer's punches.

The boxing proponent's thesis is that the boxer's punches are two agile, fast & mobile for the standard, rigid full ROM karate blocks to work.

On a contiuation from MARK'S July 2009 Post: Manny Pacquaio," below is PART 2 of my commentary in answer to the Boxer's thesis that karate is ineffective against skilled boxers.

When I left that commentary, I was getting killed {figuratively} by a skilled boxer @ my karate dojang, just like the boxing thesis stated.

Finding myself completely overwhelmed & at the mercy of the WBB, my mind raced to come up with the traditional karate answer to getting pummeled to death.

The 1st Thought that sprang into my mind that since the WBB had changed the free-sparring excercise from a training / preparation for the Yellow-Belt basics testing WBB was facing, into an all out tournament-like contest--I would at once ditch practicing the kicho power block & strike full ROM basics.

2nd THOUGHT, My intial basics / training / practice blocking being a complete failure against the aggressive, all out assault, I sought to create defense against those skilles alternating boxing body blows. TO ME, KARATE FIGHTING MEANS DEFENSE AGAINST STRIKES, NOT BACKPEDALLING, RUNNING AWAY FROM THE FIGHT, INCLUDING THE BOXER'S TACTICS OF HEAD MOVEMENT & COVERING UP.

3RD THOUGHT, I decided to use speed against speed, to combat the very fast boxing punches being thrown. I looked to the Pyung Ahn hyung, which stress the Knife-hand block.

I started throwing up knife hand blocks as fast as I could in random fashion, with no real thought to targeting the blocks. The WBB's boxing punches had been so fast & continuous I didn't have time to react. Thinking while being overwhelmed & pummeled was too difficult & too slow!

I wasn't placing the knife-hand blocks out there with much thought to form or appearances. My goal was to get blocking motions in place to ward off the rain of blows to my face & torso. The result was a super fast-waving motion of knife-hand like blocks that instanteously began checking, deflecting or parrying the right & left crosses coming in a continum.

The result was that instead of virtually all of the WBB's boxing punches hitting home, now only 1, maybe 2 out of say. twenty was getting to me. The 'blizzard' of alternating, endless knife=hand blocks I was throwing up had diminished the overwhelming battering assault TO an occassional hit. This result was further aided by my shifting within stances and into alternate karate stances causing my body target to evade the punches as a SHIFTING NOT FIXED target. The far fewer remaining hits often lost power and/or glanced off since the position of the target had changed.


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