Punching in Self Defence: How to form a fist

Self Defence, Martial Arts Training at the London Wing Chun Academy.

Correct fist formation is essential for self defence in any martial art. After all, if you cannot form a proper fist you will have a less effective weapon to defend yourself with. Correct formation of your fist will develop the muscularity and strength of your forearms, which not only improves Lap Sao in Wing Chun, but also makes your punch heavier on impact.

Wing Chun is a martial art that specialises in developing power over short distances (see example below). As the example illustrates how you form a fist is an essential part of the process of the development of power. The quicker and tighter you create your fist the heavier the blow will be when it lands for self defence.  In this martial art, Wing Chun practitioners instantly form a tight fist but relax the arm and the rest of the body in order to throw the fist at speed. Muscular contraction is also key but this will be discussed another time.

In our approach you will be taught to form a tight fist by pulling your fingers inwards to form a half fist and then wrapping them in towards the base of your thumb. Then closing your thumb around your fingers to complete the fist. When you squeeze the fist tight, it should feel like a solid mass on the end of your forearm similar to the weight of a hammer head. Imagine a hammer, this tool has a solid piece of heavy metal at the end of a handle, which when swung at speed would cause a tremendous amount of damage. In this sense, we do the same thing in Wing Chun, which is to throw a heavy dead weight at speed towards the soft targets of the human body. Just like any martial art the impact is made with the knuckles of the fist. 

Having solid conditioned hands is as important as your fitness and conditioning. In fact, the harder your hands are the greater the likelihood of inflicting pain. Wing Chun is traditional a bare knuckle fighting style that draws upon the authentic concept of Iron Palm training in Chinese martial arts. Hence, to wear gloves as in boxing, kickboxing, or mixed martial arts would interfere with the density of a Wing Chun fist and therefore reduce the weight of the punch. Furthermore, the effect of striking with bare knuckles is absorbed by the boxing glove, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the Wing Chun punch over short distance.    

Overall, forming a correct fist is essential to developing power over a short distance. If you wish to test how effective or solid your fist are, then simply hold your fist up to a light and open one finger at a time. If you can see light through your fist as you open the fingers your hand is hollow. A hollow hand is likely to crumple under pressure, so you must compress the air out of your fist. For self defence it is crucial that you hit hard with a solid clenched fist rather than a relaxed hand, otherwise you are likely to damage your hands. The London Wing Chun Academy will teach you how to punch well and effectively for self defence or even martial arts training



The London Wing Chun Academy is a martial arts and functional fitness gym based in North London. Open 7 days a week with gym and functional fitness equipment. Our gym provides group fitness and martial arts classes in Wing ChunSan Shou KickboxingBrazilian Jiu JitsuWC4 Self Defence, YogaFunctional Fitness, and non contact Fitness kick BoxingMembership starts from £25 per month. Visit our gym today for a taster class. Get Started Now >>