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Bare-Knuckle Bag Work (Tough Or Stupid?)

Question: Do you recommend a vertical (old, pugilist style) or horizontal ( modern, corkscrew boxing style) fist for self defense punching (on the street, no gloves)? Also, is there a heavy bag or heavy bag equivalent that one can use with bare knuckles, simulating a real street confrontation?

Answer: I learned to punch with a vertical fist and feel its the best way to learn for people new to punching because it keeps the elbow down during a straight punch and provides more power sooner.

When people rotate their fist over into a horizontal position, they usually do so at the expense of keeping their elbows down and being able to deliver the punch from the ground up.

Bio-mechanically, the “best” position in my opinion is a punch with a “quarter turn.”  That places the bones in your forearm in the optimal position, keeps your elbows down and makes for good clean contact with the punching knuckles.

What I mean by a “quarter turn” is, if you make a fist with a pen in your hand, that pen would form a 45 degree angle to the ground.

As far as hitting the heavy bag with bare knuckles, I’m against it.  Ongoing pounding on the bag is hard enough on the body without destroying your hands too.

If you get in a scrap on the street, your hands will be tougher from impact work anyway, AND you will probably end up with some pretty sore and tender hands regardless of how you train.

My philosophy is train smart on an ongoing basis and do everything you can to condition and protect your body. 

Chances are you’ll never get in a street fight but you train on a daily, regular basis.

If the shit hits the fan on the street and you have to mess up your hands a bit to get yourself out of a bad situation then do it.  Heal up and start training again.

About the Author:

Randy LaHaie is a trainer, consultant and author of the ” Toughen Up Combative Training Series.” He has been studying and teaching self-defense for over 30 years and has instructed thousands of people in dealing with dangerous, volatile and violent situations.

About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

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  • This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title Bare-Knuckle Bag Work (Tough Or Stupid?). Thanks for informative article

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