How To Hammer And Screw Your Opponent

Tricia Duggin 011

How To Hammer And Screw Your Opponent

“Sensei ni rei!”  Everyone bowed with sensei.

“Otagani rei!”  Everyone bowed again.

“Kiritsu!”  We all stood up.

“Sonoba zuki!” We prepared to deliver a basic punch from a natural standing position.

Sensei looked thoughtful for a moment and then said “Yamee”..  we all stood down.

“This evening, ladies and gentleman, I will teach you how to hammer and screw your opponent.”  Sensei had that mischievous look in his eye and knew the effect that his play on words would have.  Everyone suddenly looked far more interested…

“I’ve been ‘hammered’ a few times” said one young lady.

“And no doubt…..”

“That’s enough of that now” said sensei well aware that he would get that response and added interest.

“When you think about it, karate tends to focus on the beginning of the technique and the end, and yet the most important part of any technique is the moment you come into contact with the opponent.”

“So that’s not at the end of the punch?”


“When is it then?”

“The general rule is when the fingers of the hikite (withdrawing) arm reach the elbows of the hitting arm.”

“Is that the same time the elbow of the punching arm is one fist width away from the body?”

“That’s right.”

“And when the fist is vertical?”


“So we hit with a vertical fist?”

“That’s spinning… thus the method of ‘screwing’ the opponent!”

“And what about the hammer?”

“The other motion of the wrist ‘on contact’ as you’re screwing them!”  Sensei knew that would get a laugh.

“One volunteer please!”  One unfortunate suspect got pushed forward to sensei by his mates behind him; he staggered forwards with a surprised look on his face.

Sensei obligingly placed his fist on the uke’s chest and demonstrated the power of the screw and hammer motion, sending him flying across the room.

“Woah…. that’s cool!”

“You see that I used minimum power there, no ‘punch’ as such.  No weight movement, no speed, no effort – and yet….  it worked.”

“Yeah, but I did notice a little ‘wiggle’ of the hips there sensei….”

“Well observed young Grasshopper.  Indeed I did ‘vibrate’ more than ‘wiggle’, but the movement of the hips is a result of the pulsing in the feet which is timed with the screw and hammer motions in the wrist.”  Sensei waited for that information to sink in.

“How are we going to practice that sensei?”

“First of all with good old sonoba zuki – let’s break the movement down into parts.  On ich you punch to a vertical fist, with the arm one fist width from the body and the hikite withdran to the elbow.  On ni you vibrate the hips utilising the hammer and screw motion of the wrist for kime and penetration.

The class practised with correction for about 15minutes.

“Okay, now do as I demonstrated earlier and place your fist on your partners chest and use only the hammer and screw motion fired by the hips.”  Suddenly bodies were flying around everywhere with a lot of oohs and ahs….  and a few calling out to Jesus..

“Let’s put these skills into junzuki and gyakuzuki allowing the torque from the waist to throw the punch to the contact point and then using the hips to hammer and screw the strike in, timing it with the feet and momentum from the body.  Then into tobikommizuki and nagashizuki.”

Moving up and down with these techniques allowed us to hone these skills.  Many people just ‘plod’ up and down with basics, but sensei used them as ‘floor exercises’ allowing us to perform  in our own time so that we could focus on improving the fluidity and timing of our new found knowledge.

“Finally, let’s do it on the pads.  Don’t try to hit them as hard as you can, utilise the skills learned today and take your time so that you can absorb them.”  We found that our punches now had more ‘bite’ the impact skills meant that we got the penetration we needed.

“At my other clubs sensei, we were always told to use our hips at the start of the punch.”

“If you do it the way I’ve showed you tonight, your punch will accelerate all the way to the target.  More importantly, you will be rooted at the point of impact without losing the momentum of the body.  The point of impact skills add that necessary focus and ‘bite’ to the punch sending a final wave of power through the body and out of the fist.  You must have felt the difference.  It also means that you punch effectively from short range.  Shall I show you?”

“No… it’s all right sensei, I felt it earlier!  So why do they use the hips at the beginning?”

“I don’t know……  ask them…”

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