Tag Archives: taekwondo fist

How to Put the Empty in the Fist

Karate means empty hand.

And some people say it means

you don’t hold a weapon.

That’s cool,

but there’s a heck of a lot more to it.

empty hands

Do you know this Okinawan Karate Master?


the mechanics.

From a horse stance,

one hand goes out

and the other comes back.

This is balance.


beginners are taught to twist the fist,

palm up at the chamber position,

palm down

when you extend and tighten the fist.

This is a method to create more loose-tight.

More focus.

To focus the energy.


with the subject of energy

we have left the mechanics.

One of the things people should do

is sink into a horse,

and use the retracting hand

to pull an opponent.

This is fascinating stuff.

You pull the hand,

you pull the weight,

and the core  has to shrink,

and the tan tien has to explode,

even while it is pulling.

Very interesting stuff.

How do you pull while exploding?

The thing is,

this is where it all opens up.

This is where you start to examine

the fist as a line of energy.

This is where you start examining

blocks as planes of energy

that sheer the line of energy that is a punch.

This is where you examine

how to compress the triangular energy of the stance

while you do what you do

on the top half of the body.

And these things lead to such concepts as

the arms as cones,

sucking blocks,

paralleling motions to create harmony

sucking energy from stances,

and ALL sorts of other things.

I should write a book on these specifics,

maybe I will some day,

but right now…

all we care about is lesson number one,

how to explode energy in a straight line

with the fist actually becoming empty.



this data

and a LOT more

is in ‘The Punch,’

which is here,



let’s just take one narrow slice of the procedure.

I realized,

at a certain point,

that what I was trying to do

when I punched somebody

was stick a stick (of bones)

through a watermelon.

I then wondered if it was really necessary to tighten the fist.


it wasn’t.


before you get all excited,

you SHOULD do all the basics exercises,

and that includes learning how to make the fist tight.


I didn’t understand this

until after I had learned how to make a tight fist.


I learned how to stick that fist out

and tighten it

an inch or two

inside the other person’s body.

Almost like grabbing something

rib deep.

Really worked.


having the power,

I could go for the softer,

less powerful

but more intense


So I practiced simple things like push ups

on non tight fists.

Just balancing on the foreknuckles,

trying to use no energy in the hands.

I got mixed results.

Try it.

you’ll see.


I tried to break things

while holding thumbtacks.

Good results.


you need to break with a hard fist

before you try with a soft fist,

or you’ll break your hand.

I finally found that my soft fist,

or my empty fist

came about

more from learning finer control

than anything else.

So you put a thumbtack on a piece of soft material.

plasterboard is good.

And you punch it in with your fist,

without denting the board.


sort of hard.

You keep denting.


a thousand times,

and you will appreciate a finer distance

with your fist.


here’s the funny thing,

control leads to power.

Power doesn’t lead to control

But control leads to power.

And I found I was able to stick my soft and untightened fist

into other bodies

with ease.


here is where it gets interesting,

it hurts more!

When you see me punch somebody

on one of the training videos

and they suddenly wince in pain,

it is not because I punched them harder,

it is because I punched them softer.

Which is to say,

I used a soft fist.


to this day,

I still practice the tight fist,

because it leads me to the soft fist,

but I practice control,

and thus get more power.

The only time I ever really hurt somebody

I punched them with a soft fist.

This was right after I started figuring this stuff out.

It was back in Santa Rosa,

and I broke a student’s rib.

I was sorry,

felt bad,

and realized that I had reached a point

where the softer I hit

the more careful I had to be.


I hope this tells you something

about the fist

and how to empty it.

The principles are true for any art,


if you want the whole line up

so you don’t have any missing pieces


‘The Punch.’

The thing is,

if you do what I have told you here,

you should have a good, soft punch.


if you don’t,

then you are simply missing pieces,

and all the pieces of the punch

are in

‘The Punch.’

Oinky Donkey,

time to see a man about a work out.

You guys and gals,

have yourself a most glorious week end,

filled with nothing but the glory of you

made pure by the work out.


Check out THE PUNCH!

zen martial arts