You Can’t Catch a Punch!

Catching a punch
Catching a punch.
Catching a punch

Catching a punch?

One of the fundamental principles of defense against punches in Hammerhead Hapkido is that we do not try to catch punches out of the air in order to apply joint locks or other techniques!

(Unless you are whoever this anime character is in the image. In that case feel free).

Let me say this again, because there is so much bad Hapkido out there, so much bad Karate and bad Jujitsu and plenty of other arts as well, in which people are making precisely this mistake:

We do not try to catch punches out of the air!

There are innumerable dojo techniques built on this idea that you can grab a punch in flight. In the studio, with people punching at half speed or a quarter speed or in ultra slo-mo, sure, grab away. You can do all sorts of magic. You can be the ultimate grandmaster. You can catch punches like they’re Big Macs being handed to you at the drive through.

I’ll take that punch, and an order of fries.

Real Life

In real life, disciplined strikers punch at lightning-fast speed and retract, while wild street fighters windmill their arms crazily. No one punches in slow motion and holds it out for you to grab. GRABBING PUNCHES IS NOT BASED IN REALITY. If your instructor does this, I suggest you find a different teacher.

Punches are not butterflies. In fact, catching a butterfly is hard too, but still easier than catching a fast punch.

So what do we at Hammerhead Martial Arts do differently?

We block, cover up, slip or parry the punch – any of the above – and advance to close quarters. From there we strike with open hands, fists, elbows, knees, headbutts, or whatever. Only then do we look to apply our technique, whether it’s a joint lock or takedown.

Once you’ve bridged the gap to close quarters, everything is there. Are you afraid that if you don’t catch the punch, your cute wrist lock will no longer be available? Guess what? The attacker’s arms are attached to his shoulders. They’re not going anywhere.

We do not enter with preconceived finishes in mind. Instead we move to close quarters, counter-strike, then take what is available. We respond to the our position and the attacker’s position as they are, not as we wish them to be.

This is reality based training.

Wael Abdelgawad, Founder
Hammerhead Hapkido

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