11 August 2019

The Long Fist Punch (aka Leopard Fist)

The Long Fist Punch (긴주먹)

The long fist (gin-jumeok 긴주먹) is one of ITF Taekwon-Do’s less known “fist” postures. It is not a particularly common striking method although I think it could prove devastating if used appropriately.

The long fist is formed by curling the front and middle knuckles of the fingers and pulling the thumb back, similar to the knife-hand posture. The result is a flattened hand position, with the middle knuckles protruded as the attacking surface. The name “long fist” is due to the slightly longer reach than the regular front forefist punch.

The main targets to attack with the long fist are the Adam’s apple and temple. Secondary targets may include other soft target areas such as the nerves on the side of the neck and Jugular veins, the trachea, the spaces between the ribs, the armpit, philtrum, bridge of the nose and even the eyes. The hand position need not be horizontal; it can be turned vertically, for instance, or diagonally, depending on the target. The long first also works well in a raking motion: raking the knuckles up and down the sternum creates quite a nasty sensation that causes people to retreat, or quickly raking the knuckles over the back of someone’s hand that is holding onto you often causes them to release their grip.

The long fist should not be used to punch hard targets like the skull as one is likely to injure one’s own hand.

The long fist works well for narrow targets such as the philtrum.

For people with long nails that can’t roll the hand into a full fist, the long fist may be a compromised alternative, although it doesn’t have the same range of targets as a front forefist punch does. Nevertheless, the same long fist hand posture may also work like a knife-hand strike with hardly any disadvantages. Also, with only minor adjustments the long fist hand posture can become a bear hand, under-fist, and back-hand strike. Alternatively, with the wrist pulled back it becomes an open fist. It is therefore a very useful default hand posture because it can so comfortably morph into other hand-weapons.

The long fist was most likely inherited from Karate where it is known as hiraken tsuki. It is very likely that Karate got the technique from Chinese martial arts, where it is often known as the leopard fist, which is a primary hand technique of Leopard Kung Fu, one of the Five Animal Styles. One can also find it in Choi Li Fut, and in more modern combat systems like Krav Maga where it is referred to as a half fist punch. 

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