Once you have a solid blocking base, you have to move on to the striking portion of self-defense. A strike can be either a counter-attack after a block or a pre-emptive attack in response to a perceived threat. Either way, the intent is the same as in blocking; self-defense. The important thing is to have confidence and strong form. If your form is not perfect in a block, you can muscle your way through it (unadvisable). However, if your form is incorrect in a strike, you have essentially left yourself open to attack or in the worst case scenario, you can injure yourself (broken fist).
1. Palm Strike
The palm strike is the amateur’s best friend. If a person is not well acquainted with the correct way to make a fist or to throw a punch, then the palm strike is the way to go as it minimizes the chances of spraining the wrist, breaking a finger, or hurting the knuckle.
Start out by holding your hand in front of you with the palm up. Curl your fingers so that their tips are just about touching the top edge of the round palm area. Slightly bend your thumb and press it to the side of your palm. Next, turn your palm so that it faces the would-be opponent and bend your palm back as far as the wrist will allow. This is the basic hand position of the palm strike. When actually making impact, the strike should be carried out with the lower portion of the palm (closer to the wrist). This strike is most effective when administered as an upward thrust aimed at either the nose or under the chin. The effect of this strike can blind the opponent, break the nose, disorient with a strike to the underside of the chin, and cause a lot of bleeding. All in all, this strike can end a confrontation very effectively with only one strike. For maximum effectiveness, be sure to use your hips to drive the strike forward.
2. Straight Punch
This is a strike that requires some practice before using. The first and foremost thing to learn is how to properly make a fist. Hold up your right hand like you are swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in open court. Now, curl your fingers down to the aforementioned palm strike position. Now continue curling them, while keeping them tightly pressed, until the mid sections of your fingers are facing forward. Now, take your thumb and curl as well as press it against that mid-section of your fingers. Congratulations, you have now made a fist.
To administer the straight punch, bring the fist to your hip with the back of the fist facing the floor. When you punch, drive your punching-side hip forward and let that guide your strike. As your punch is being thrown, keep your arm close to your body and rotate your fist so that the ending position is with the back of the hand pointing up. When initially throwing the punch, it is effective if you keep your fist more relaxed as it approaches the target and only tense it when it makes impact. You should make sure to only strike with the first two knuckles counting from the thumb side.
For the greatest effectiveness, you should aim at the nose and chin when punching the head area and the solar plexus when punching to the mid-section. If you wish to improve your striking ability practice is a must. Also, you can strengthen the knuckles by doing knuckle push-ups.
The knife-hand strike, also commonly referred to as a karate-chop is most commonly used to strike the neck. As the name suggests, you administer this strike with the knife part of the hand or forearm. The knife part of the hand is located on the pinky side of the hand, just lower than the pinky knuckle. This strike is very versatile, meaning that it can either be thrown full strength or from the easiest position available with a lower possibility of injury to the hand.
For full effectiveness, stretch out your palm and fingers, keeping the fingers together, making a spear shape with your hand. Bring your hand up to the opposite ear (if you strike with right hand, bring your hand up to your left ear). When you administer the strike, it should be at a 45 degree angle, aimed at striking the neck. To make it even more precise, try aiming just under the jaw bone. If you do not have a clear shot, try shifting to the side as the opponent approaches and strike the neck with more precision than with an impulsive strike. The correct execution of this strike can result in the opponent losing consciousness.
The last strike in this series is the elbow strike. This type of attack should be implemented if the opponent is very close to you as it doesn’t offer you much range. However, the consolation is the power of the strike. It is a very simple form to grasp. Bend your arm and strike with the elbow. If the opponent grabs you from behind, you can do a backward elbow strike to the solar plexus to free yourself by making a would-be fist pump motion and driving the elbow back.
If the opponent is very close to you, then you can do an upward elbow strike. You perform this version of the elbow strike by making the motion as though you would run your fingers through the hair on the side of your head. Except instead of doing that, you ball your hand up in a fist and as the elbow rises, drive your striking side hip forward and make your elbow reach under his chin or nose.
The last version of this strike is if you find yourself to have the higher ground (Mounted on his chest or he tripped and his head is low). In this strike, you do a downward elbow strike. To perform such a strike, you bring your hand back to the aforementioned hair brushing position and bring it down on the opponent with the elbow pointing down.
After grasping the theory behind these techniques, it is important to practice them and to understand the situations that warrant the use of each of these variations.