Even though martial artists learn how to “strike” an opponent, our purpose as Christian martial artists is to “stop” a physical attack. That’s why our early lessons are about how to escape and block attacks. We look at personal safety in this order:
- Escape and run
- Stun and run
- Fight and run
Running drills are good for students, as are escape and run drills. However, there are times when someone who is attacked is not able to run away or escape and run away. They may have to throw, kick, or punch someone before they are able to run to safety. That’s what we mean by “stun and run.” The throw, kick, or punch is the stun that may allow the victim of an attack to escape to safety.
The last thing we want our Grace Martial Arts students to do is “fight.” So, we work on running, escaping, and stunning drills first. Fighting drills come later in training for those situations where fighting their way out of an attack is a student’s only option.
The first “punch” a Yon Ch’uan student learns is called Seiken. That’s a Japanese word that means “forefist.” The student makes a fist and strikes so that the back of the hand is facing up. That places the knuckles facing the opponent. Seiken Tsuki (forefist punch) strikes the opponent using the two largest knuckles on the fist.
The first drill is simply to stand in a modified horse stance (kiba dachi) with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. Your instructor will probably start the drill with a command to begin (Hajime), followed by counting. Without stepping, punch forward with your right fist, then your left fist. Continue punching as many times as your instructor tells you. Don’t allow your shoulders to lean forward as you punch. Bring your punching hand back to your hip after each punch with the palm portion of your fist facing upward. The punch rotates like a coiling/uncoiling that some martial artists call a “corkscrew” or “twisting” punch. You can do this as a solo drill or a class drill.
You can practice drilling the punches at various target angles:
- Middle punch (Seiken Chudan Tsuki)
- High punch (Seiken Jodan Tsuki)
- Low punch (Seiken Gedan Tsuki)
You can build leg strength with the low punch drills by widening your stance into Shiko Dachi (straddle leg stance).
Instructors may also want to encourage competition among students by seeing who can punch left and right fastest with proper technique. I used to enjoy challenging the winner of the competition to see if they could punch faster than me. Students seemed to enjoy that. Allowing students to win once in awhile is fun for them.
Another drill is to step into a front stance (Zenkutsu Dachi) with the right leg and punch forward with the right fist 20 times .. change legs so that the left leg is in front of the right leg and punch forward with the left fist 20 times .. repeat the drill five times for a total of 200 punches.
A standing/turning punching drill is also fun to do and helpful in learning how to defend on either side of the body. Stand in Fudo Dachi or Kiba Dachi and punch with the right hand, then do a circular step with the left leg to face the right side and punch with your left fist .. circle the left back to the beginning stance and punch with the right fist .. do that drill 20 times .. then do the same on the other side .. punch with the left fist, circle the right leg to face the left side and punch with your right fist .. circle the right leg back to the beginning stance and punch with the left fist .. do that drill 20 times.
The next drill is to start in a ready position (Fudo Dachi), then punch as you step forward into a front stance (Zenkutsu Dachi). You will punch with the right fist when you step forward with the right foot. You will punch with the left fist when you step forward with the left foot. Continue to step and punch forward across the floor or mat. Turn around when you reach the end of the floor or mat, perform a low block (Gedan Uke) with the fist that matches the front leg (right fist to right leg, left fist to left leg), then step and punch back to where you started. You can do this as a solo drill or a class drill. Practice punching middle (Chudan), high (Jodan), and low (Gedan) as you step across the floor.
Instructors may also want to encourage competition among students by seeing who can punch left and right fastest with proper technique. I used to enjoy challenging the winner of the competition to see if they could step/punch faster than me. Allowing students to win once in awhile is fun for them.
You can also do the stepping punch drill with a partner. Student #1 faces student #2 .. student #1 steps forward and punches at partner’s chest (Chudan) .. student #2 backs up and blocks the punch with an inside middle palm block (Shotei Chudan Uke) .. partners continue until they’ve punched/blocked ten times .. partners immediately reverse direction so that student #2 punches at partner’s chest .. student #1 backs up and blocks punch .. partners continue until they’ve punched/blocked ten times .. when they return to where they began.
If you want to make the partner drill into a team competition drill, divide the students into teams. Two members of each team line up as described above. When the instructor says Hajime, the students punch and block together across the floor, then return to where they started (as described above) .. they tag out with the second two students who do the same thing .. the team that is first to have all their students complete the forward/backward stepping middle punches and inside blocks is the winner .. teams repeat the drill until one of the teams gets a total or two or three wins.
You can also do the above team drill with high punches and low punches. Blocking partners will use high blocks with high punches and low blocks with low punches.
Types of Punches
You can do these drills with any of the punches you will learn during your training in Yon Ch’uan Martial Arts. Some are done with a closed hand (fist), while others are done with an open hand (e.g. palm strike, knife hand), forearm, or elbow. Here are some examples of what you will learn after many years of training.
- Tate Tsuki (Vertical punch)
- Gyaku Tsuki (Reverse punch)
- Oi Tsuki (Lunge punch)
- Age Tsuki (Rising punch)
- Choku Tsuki (Straight punch)
- Sakasa Tsuki (Inverted punch)
- Kagi Tsuki (Hook punch)
- Mawashi Tsuki (Round hook punch)
- Heiko Tsuki (Parallel punch)
- Nihon Tsuki (Double punch)
- Sanbon Tsuki (Triple punch)
- Yama Tsuki (Mountain punch)
- Awase Tsuki (U-punch)
- Hasami Tsuki (Scissors punch)
- Uke Tsuki (Blocking punch)
- Tsuru Kuchibashi (Crane’s beak)
- Hyoken Tsuki (Leopard fist punch)
- Hyote (Leopard paw strike)
- Tora Tsume (Tiger claw)
- Shotei Uchi (Palm heel strike)
- Shotei Tsuki (Palm heel thrust)
- Koken Uchi (Bent wrist strike, also called Kakuto)
- Keikoken Tsuki (One knuckle punch)
- Kizami Tsuki (Jabbing punch)
- Tobikomi Tsuki (Snap punch)
- Hirate Uchi (Slap)
- Furi Ken Uchi (Flare punch)
- Uraken Uchi (Back fist strike)
- Haishu Uchi (Backhand strike)
- Tettsui Uchi (Hammer fist, bottom fist strike)
- Shuto Uchi (Knife hand strike)
- Gyaku Shuto (Reverse knife hand strike)
- Oyayubi Uchi (Thumb knuckle strike)
- Ippon Ken (One finger strike)
- Nukite Tsuki (Spearhand strike)
- Nihon-nukite uchi (Two-finger spearhand strike)
- Yohon-nukite uchi (Four-finger spearhand strike)
- Haito Uchi (Ridge hand strike)
- Kote Uchi (Forearm strike)
- Empi (Elbow strike .. also known as Hiji Uchi – forward, backward, upward, downward)
We will move to striking/blocking drills in the next part of our special series.
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