Punching With the Fist – Rarely a Good Thing – Janet McClintock

fistForm a fist. Look at it. If you’re looking at the knuckles, you are looking at the weakest striking surface. They are unprotected by fat or muscle. They are small. They are vulnerable. The back of the fist is a stronger striking surface, but against a hard target like the human skull, there’s still the danger of fracturing the small bones of the hand. The lateral, or outside, edge of the fist (known as the hammer fist) is stronger, but against something like a skull, there’s still the danger of fracturing the small bones on the outside of the hand. The impact would hurt like heck, but you would retain use of some of your hand, if you’re lucky…and have dense bones.

You (when I say “you” I mean you vicariously through your characters) can aim for the nose to get your opponent’s eyes to water; you can aim a hook at the chin for that wonderful knockout blow. Those strikes will work with minimal destruction of your hand—if only your opponent would stand still. The opponent’s human reflex will be to tuck the chin or turn the head to protect the softer targets in favor of the harder portion of the skull. Unless you are very fast, and your opponent is very slow, you will hit something hard. And you will pay the price.

Save your fists primarily by avoiding a fight. But when a physical altercation is unavoidable, use your fists only for soft targets such as the solar plexus (right below the sternum), the abdomen and the kidneys.

Arguably, you can punch the groin, but you’ll hit the pelvic bone, and there is the outside chance you’ll injure your hand—albeit your pain will be less than your opponent’s. If that ends the fight, shake off the pain in your hand and get your behind out of there. [I must add here, that it is also painful for a woman to be hit in the groin. Her groin area is only skin over bone with no fat or muscle to cushion the blow. This statement is not to trivialize a man’s agony at a blow to the groin. The men peg the pain meter on that. But a blow to a woman’s groin will hurt and, to a woman who is not used to fighting, it will also be disconcerting.]

One more thing. In case you haven’t noticed, men’s fists are different from women’s fists. A man could punch another man in the face and maybe he would fracture his knuckles, maybe not. But a woman’s knuckles will fracture. I know firsthand.

Many years ago in an American Combato class, I was helping a lower belt refine his technique. As I was demonstrating, he was mirroring my movements and we accidently bumped fists. I went to Sick Call the next day and was diagnosed with three fractured knuckles. I had been demonstrating at class speed, not fight speed. And I fractured my knuckles. The next evening I went to class with my fingers taped together. When this fellow student asked what happened, I told him the injury was from when we banged fists. He didn’t remember it happening! I had fractured knuckles. He felt nothing. Woman’s fist versus man’s fist. I don’t care what NOW claims. Physically women are NOT the same as men.

If I have something positive to say, I like to get it out there. The other night I was watching the television show Criminal Minds and one of the profilers punched a guy on the side of his head. In the next scene the character was wrapping his hand. Kudos to the writers or director, or whoever. They got it right.

Now, writers, it’s your chance to Get it Write!

Janet McClintock
Action Girl

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