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Thread: Why palms, not fists?

  1. #1
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Default Why palms, not fists?

    In wuxia fiction, many of the most powerful hand-to-hand combat techniques use the flat palm of the combatant's hand as the striking surface. Why use the palm of the hand, however, when the fist does more obvious damage? I'm not trained in the martial arts, so from my layman's perspective, I think I would do more damage if I hit someone with my closed fist than I would with the flat palm of my hand. That being the case, why is wuxia hand-to-hand combat dominated by palm techniques?

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    Senior Member foreva's Avatar
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    I don't do martial arts either.

    But I'm thinking since the chi is coming from the body, and in Wuxia fiction you actually make use of your internal energy rather than just the physical force of striking in reality, I doubt your internal energy will be transmitted through your knuckles.

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    Thumbs up logical answer

    see what the experts say. hehe.
    Quote Originally Posted by foreva
    I don't do martial arts either.

    But I'm thinking since the chi is coming from the body, and in Wuxia fiction you actually make use of your internal energy rather than just the physical force of striking in reality, I doubt your internal energy will be transmitted through your knuckles.

  4. #4
    atlantean0208
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    if you guys remember in Kungfu Cult Master movie, (crap WJ movie btw) jet-li ZWJ character releasing chi through fist like a superhero

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    Senior Member Candide's Avatar
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    In wuxia, the centre of your palm is where qi gets shot out.

    I trained a bit in a Vietnamese Shaolin branch martial art school. The end of your palm (opposite to the fingers) is very strong and hard. It's better to hit your opponent with it than your fist, depending on where you want to hit him. If you want to go for the forehead for instance, then the palm end is better than the fist.

    I'm sure the real martial artists here will have more details for you. I was just a lazy bum when I was at that school ^_^ and now I'm only good with keyboard martial arts.
    "Anything you can't say NO to is your MASTER, and you are its SLAVE."

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    On purely physical terms, I think the portrayal of palm techniques, i.e. flat of the palm impacts, on wuxia TV series is wrong- unless of course you're interested in chi effects.

    When you hit someone, you're focusing your force/energy at a specific point in space and time. The smaller both are, the greater the concentration and effect.

    Fists over palms? The alignment of the wrist relative to the fist is very important both to support the punch and to avoid injuring the wrist and knuckles. Also, without adequate conditioning it is easy to crack or misalign your knuckles when hitting a hard object like the skull. So all said, you have to be careful with your targets. For the punch safer targets are: nose, throat, floating ribs, arm joints, solar plexus, kidneys.

    When hitting with the palms, I'm normally using the heel of the palm - it is just naturally aligned with the wrist. Can go for targets on the head with less fear of damage to myself: nose, jaw, eyes. The flat of the palm, or perhaps the cupped palm, is good for a smack around the ears which can cause a pretty disjarring effect. The only real use for a flat palm attack is a slap around the cheeks which wuxia females tend to employ against male antagonists they want to humiliate.

    Of course the palm edge is useful for chops to the throat. Other good weapons are the elbows, which I think are excellent force concentrators and are difficult bits of the body to break when used as weapons.

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    Senior Member Yeung Gor's Avatar
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    It's quite simple. Paper beats rock.

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    Palms also let you grab.

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    Good observation Dennis. I was going to edit my previous post to incorporate that, but I'll just leave it now.

    Also, you can use palms to trap your opponents arms against their torso - press at the elbows.

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    Member Jeren of all Trades's Avatar
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    I remember in one of the wuxia movie, a master nun was explaining why the palm is used over the fist. The reason is the palm is move versatile. As mention by other, you could grab using the palm and others. The palm has many usage such as chopping down using the base of the palm, using your finger as weapon by thrusting it forward and also, you could hit someone 3 times in a row using a palm technique. its kinda hard to explain, so hear goes: using the four fingers together and thrust forward, when contact is made, bend your fingers in one time, and thrust foward again, and when contact is made again bend your fingers into a fist and hit again. That kinda sounds wierd but hope everybody got what i was describing.

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    I'm also studying martail art and I generally agree with CFT. I'm not probably very good with the information in the novel + adaptation. Therefore, I will try to share a little bit of my understanding (below) only on the perspective of the real martial art.

    The martial styles with palm (zhang) in their names do not necessary used only palm. The same goes for the styles with fist (quan) in their names. When the style name is palm, it usually means the style uses more (or sometimes only) opened hand techniques and the definition of plam in Chinese martial art, many times, means the whole arm(s) (from shoulder to the figer tip). They also said "the palm is not a palm, the whole body is the palm".

    When the techniques/styles name is fist, it does not necessarily mean using only fist. Like chopping/splitting fist (pi quan) or tiger-shape fist (& many more) in Xing Yi Quan (Xing Yi Fist), it uses opened hand (also not necessarily to be only palm) to deliver the technique, i.e., not fist. In Bagua Zhang (Bagua Palm, which is also called Bagua Quan/Fist), there are many techniques that using fist to deliver the technique (also not necessarity using fist to strike).

    Note that striking is not an only technique in any martial art.

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