Punching Is the Heart of Karate

Punching is the Heart of Karate

Punching is an integral part of traditional and modern karate. It is in fact largely considered by most karate schools as “the heart of karate.”

There is more to karate punching than just balling your hand up and whacking someone in the nose with it.

It’s safe to think of the punching technique “tsuki” in terms of thrusting.

Striking and punching are the two main categories of offensive arm techniques in Karate.

Now, picturing yourself holding onto a knife can help you understand the important differences between striking techniques and punching (thrusting) techniques.

If you stab something with the knife so that the blade tip is the first thing to touch the target, and then drive with the handle, you are thrusting.

But, you are striking if you cut or slash with the knife such that the side of the blade touches the target first, and the handle of the knife “pulls” the blade.

Yes, karate has both striking and punching techniques, but have you ever wondered why punching is usually first taught and used so frequently?

Well, let me explain…

While both striking and punching techniques are both considered important, most traditional styles of karate commonly believe that punching is the most natural and instinctive combative karate technique.

The natural nature of punches means that motions are reflexive and untrained.

Punching is likely the technique we attempt first without thinking, so it makes much sense to develop this natural instinct.

For example, think of the automatic action you would take if someone stood very close to you and refuses to move back, or if you are held on to or grabbed by someone, or if someone pushed you until you got scared, angry, or disoriented.

I bet your instinct would put your hands up against them, and shove them (thrust them) away from you.

And if you are a little more aggressive, you might ball your hand up and try to punch out at them.

This natural instinctive display is common among toddlers (for example, 2-year-olds) fighting over a toy.

They find it natural to push at each other by extending their arms and thrusting.

And they might even punch each other if they are really mad.

Most karate schools also believe that once your hands are up, the most direct, fastest, and most powerful access to your target is punching.

They believe that getting well-trained in punching techniques equips you to better and more quickly respond with a punch than you will with anything else.

Thankfully, these punching techniques are used in karate self-defense programs and are also allowed in karate sporting competitions.

See my article Are You Allowed to Punch In Karate where I explained in-depth the reasons why karate frequently uses punches, the different karate punches, and the extent to which they are allowed in competitions.

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