Taekwondo Punches & Strikes

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Taekwondo Punches & Strikes

In order to be a complete Taekwondo student, you need to practice and master various martial arts punches and hand/arm strikes. Taekwondo is not just kicks! There will be many situations where you are too close for an effective kick and you need to use your fists and/or elbows. Moreover, your kicks will be more effective if used in combination with punches/strikes. Below are written and/or video instructions for these punches and hand/arm strikes.

  • Jab - A quick flick of the fist on your forward arm. This Taekwondo punch is generally used for defense and keeping your opponent away from you.
  • Reverse Punch or Rear Arm Punch - The standard "power" Taekwondo punch where you hit with your rear arm. To generate greater power, you rotate your body towards your opponent as you punch. A number of these videos rely on boxing experts because this sport focuses heavily on maximizing your punching power.
  • Upper Cut - Swing your punch upwards to strike the bottom of the jaw or into the ribs.
  • Hook Punch - Short compact punches that "hook" sideways and can get around a person's guard. This is not a wild haymaker-type punch.
  • Back Fist & Spinning Back Fist - Use the back of your fist to strike an opponent. Or try a spinning back fist (which is more powerful than the standard back fist strike). With this Taekwondo punching technique, you will spin your body backwards generating additional momentum and strike with the back of your fist. This move can surprise your opponent and generate a lot of power. One of the videos in this segment will show you the knockout power of a spinning back fist strike during a MMA match.
  • Hammer Fist - Make a clenched fist but instead of hitting with your knuckles, you strike your opponent with the "padded" side of your fist (non-thumb side). Try a spinning hammer fist versus a spinning back fist (for greater hand protection versus using the "unpadded" back of your fist.
  • Extended Knuckle Punch - Make a fist and use your thumb to "push up" and semi-reinforce the middle joint of your index finger (the first joint below the knuckle). Don't put your thumb inside your fingers. You will use this "extended" joint to attack small weak areas such as an opponent's temple.
  • Spear Hand Strike - Use the tips of your fingers (on an open hand with fingers together) to strike soft areas such as an opponent's neck. To make this Taekwondo strike more effective, try to pull your index back modestly so it is parallel with your forefinger & ring finger (you want the fingers at the same level because it generates a greater striking surface & lessens the chance of injuring your index finger).
  • Knife Hand Strike - This is the famous "Karate Chop". Use the outer side of an open hand (with fingers together) to hit soft areas such as your opponent's neck. Try to hit with the side of your hand versus using your pinky (in order to lessen the chance of injuring yourself).
  • Ridge Hand Strike - Use the inner side of an open hand (with fingers together) to strike soft areas (versus using the outer edge of your hand in the Knife Hand Strike). Remember to keep your thumb tucked inside your palm so it is not hurt. This Taekwondo strike is also called a reverse knife hand strike. See the bottom video on this page for a short demonstration of a ridge hand strike (it is about halfway through the video).
  • Palm Strike or Palm Heel Strike - Use the bottom of your palm (the "padded" part) to strike an opponent's chin, nose, etc.
  • Throat Strike or Tiger Claw - Form your hand into an arc and attack an opponent's throat. In Taekwondo, it is often called a Tiger Claw strike. However, I think it is more like a Crab Claw! :)
  • Elbow Strike - Use your elbow to strike targets such as an opponent's head. This is a devastating Taekwondo strike when used in-close (because your elbow is made of much thicker bone than the bones in your fist).

Instructional Video for Basic Taekwondo Punches

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