From The Martial Arts Encyclopedia

A strike is an attack with an inanimate object, such as a weapon, or with a part of the human body intended to cause an effect upon an opponent or to simply cause harm to an opponent. An attack with the hand closed into a fist is called a punch. A strike with the leg or foot is generally called a kick. An attack with the head is called a headbutt.

Strikes are employed in most martial arts, but are explored more thoroughly in martial arts such as karate, taekwondo, boxing and Muay Thai. Most martial arts also use the fingertips, wrists, forearms, shoulders, back and hips to strike an opponent as well as the more conventional fists, palms, elbows, knees and feet that combat sports use. Some martial arts, such as judo employ no strikes at all, as do some combat sports, such as wrestling. In many martial systems, strikes are complemented by trapping and grappling.


Punches are covered by a separate article, see Punch (strike)

Some alternative hand strikes are given below.

Palm strike

A strike using the palm of the hand. Whether the hand is open or the fingertips are folded against the bottom knuckles, palm strikes hit with the bottom part of the palm, where the hand meets the wrist. The hand is held perpendicular to the wrist to avoid hitting the softer inner wrist tissue against the target.

In general, if a strike is applied to certain pressure points, the resulting percussive shock can disrupt the nervous system causing shock and sometimes unconsciousness.Template:Fact

The palm strike is useful as it is thrown in a more relaxed manner than a clenched fist. This is because clenching the fist shortens the extensor muscles of the wrist which counter the action of flexor muscles of the wrist used in punching. Many martial arts teach to keep the fist clench relaxed until impact in order to maximize the speed of the punch.

Targets are numerous and some examples include the face, ears, back of the head, the groin, the kidneys and abdominal cavity. Some combat sports, such as Pancrase, have forbidden strikes using the clenched fist but permitted strikes using the palm.

Knife hand


A strike using the part of the hand opposite the thumb (from the little finger to the wrist), familiar to many people as a "karate chop or Tegatana." This refers to strikes performed with the bottom side of an open hand . Suitable targets for the Knife-hand strike include the mastoid muscles of the neck, the jugular, the throat, the collar bones, the 3rd vertebrae (key stone of the spinal column), the upper arm, the wrist (knife hand block), the elbow (outside knifehand block), and the knee cap (leg throw). In many Japanese and Chinese martial arts systems, the knife hand is used to block as well as to strike.

Ridge hand

By tucking the thumb into the palm, a striking surface called the ridge-hand, or reverse knife-hand is formed, extending a few inches along the inside of the hand below the first knuckle of the first finger. Ridge-hand strikes commonly are delivered with a hooking motion, or with a straight arm swing

Suitable targets include the the mastoid muscles of the neck, the jugular, throat, nose, jaw, and the groin.

Spear hand

Delivered just as with a punch except that the hand is held open like with a knife hand. The intended striking area are the tips of the fingers. Obviously, use of this technique is generally unsuitable against most targets due to the high probabilty that one might break their fingers.


A strike with the bottom of a clenched fist, using an action like swinging a hammer, but can also be used horizontally like a backfist strike using the bottom fist.

This strike will not damage the bones of the hands as there is no compression of the knuckles or metacarpals, and there is no leverage to bend the wrist.

The hammer fist strikes cricket ball sized areas on the body, hence is particularly effective for striking the Occiput, the temples, the nose, the mandible, the wrist (for blocking punches), the sternum, and the ear (although a cupped hand is more effective). The hammerfist is sometimes used during "ground-and-pound" striking in mixed martial arts to avoid damaging the bones of the hand.

Extended Knuckle Strike

Hand strikes can be delivered with an extended knuckle, rather than the classic fist configuration used for a traditional punch. One of the fingers is moved forwards so that the impact is made with the knuckle, concentrating force onto a smaller area. This kind of strike is optimized for attacks to pressure points, as the knuckles are much too fragile for percussive blows to other areas.


Kicks are covered by a separate article, see Kick


For knee strikes, see Knee.

Other strikes

See Category:Strikes

The dangers of fist strikes

The human hand is made up of many small bones which may be damaged by heavy impact. If a hard part of the opponent's body or other hard object is inadvertently struck, the metacarpals may splay on impact and break. Boxers tape their hands so as to hold the metacarpals together and keep them from splaying. One can toughen one's bones by striking objects to induce osteoclasts (cells which form bone) to grow bone over the struck area increasing the density of bone at the striking surface (reference needed, see search pubmed at

The results of proper training,, and the results of improper training,

This video shows the calluses on a properly trained person which allow them to hit objects without injury,

The lesson is obvious, never attempt to do any strike without proper protection or training.

The wrist must also be kept in proper alignment during a fist strike. If the wrist bends on impact, it can easily be sprained, dislocated or broken. Boxers tape their wrists to reduce wrist flex.

See Also


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