T Nation

Punching From the Hip


Wanted to get some other opinions on this, something I've been thinking about today.

In many traditional MA's, you are first taught to punch from the hip.
Then to punch from a guard position.

Until today, always thought that the reason for this was to teach quick hand retraction and proper hip application to the technique, which are good reasons..

However, thinking about it today I came up with another possible use.

In self defence, a guy raising his fists is a pretty good sign he's about to punch you. If some guy raises his fist at me, I tend to take a backwacks step, raise my guard and be ready. Or just strike pre-emptively.

So I was thinking, in self defence it could be a good thing to use. If you punch from the hip, there is less pre-warning that you are about to strike. Obviously it is limited in it's application. But say a guy has his fist up, then he steps into range, BANG you hit him from the hip and he hasn't had a chance to see it comming. No pre-warning like if you were to raise the hands into a guard position first.

Quite often I have practiced punching from a passive guard- hands open, palms facing towards the guy, like "I don't want no trouble", then explode forward from that position, use the outstretched leading hand to guage range and as a distraction and come in hard with the right straight. Very important to not re-tract the punching hand first, dead giveaway that you are going to strike.

So that is another application of the punching from the hip, that the hand starts from a position and doesn't move backwards before you strike. Although in practice we are encouraged to turn the hip away first, then strike. This is usually done is "horse riding" stance, with the hips square on to the target. However if you are in a stance with one foot forward, the hip is already "cocked", turned away, ready to be snapped through with the punch.

What do you guys think?


You should just shank him


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I think that might work. The only problem though is that you might instinctively retract the punch to the hip if you practice that way, and that can get you KO'd quick if the person defends your strike and counter strikes you (is a decent boxer for example). If you punched from a hands down position and then retracted your hand to your head like you're supposed to, then it could work.


Well..for defense purposes...and IF you're already in confrontation with the guy..I was always taught in Hapkido to keep an attention stance with my arms crossed on top of each other. That way we could parry,deflect and/or strike without being in a compromised(hands down)position...AND to not look as if I was engaging in a fight(important!)...just my two cents on the matter.


We are taught several "non threatening combative postures", one of which is similar to the one you describe above. Another one is a hands up "I don't want any trouble" stance. Another is a "thinking" stance. I personally prefer the second stance and practice the most using that, but the arms crossed stance can work too.

But, those are all "intentional" positions/postures and assume that you have the opportunity to get into such a position. A hands down position might be an "incidental" position/posture that you just happen to be in when someone attempts to assault you. In such a case punching from the hip might be a better option than first getting into one of the above postures and then attempting to defend against the attack.

Not disagreeing with you, just offering some context.


I don't like the hands from your hip position. I don't even like chambering it in the armpit the way many forms of karate do it.

While I absolutely think that learning to punch from your hip is necessary in that if you're caught off guard, that's probably whereabouts your hand will be coming from, I think it should be taught after the basics are learned. Teaching guys to punch from the hip all the time (intially) is just going to ingrain bad, bad habits.

I haven't used this, but I do like what Bas Rutten and some other folks say- when a confrontation is imminent (and rarely will you not see it coming) put on one hand across your body, the other one up by your face. You can see it in about 7:20 of Rutten's video (which I think is really an excellent little video about barfighting).

If you drop your right and raise your left, you're pretty much in a Philly shell. It brings your hands and elbows into positions for strikes, but does not look threatening on a security camera or to witnesses watching.


No offense taken...in fact,I naturally tend to assume a thinking stance just in everyday occurrence. But like we both touched on,this is assuming that the opportunity is there.


Didnt think alot of people knew about the philly shell... where abouts in Jersey are you?

On topic, in a true street fight, the guy you see isnt the problem, its the guy just behind you to your left or right that is. Keep your hands up, cover the spot where your jaw meets your skull or your getting the infamous 'sucker punch'



Paterson. And the Philly shell was introduced by my idol, Pretty Boy. haha

Didn't watch the clip but sure as shit know what you mean.


Thanks guys for the responses!

I can see what you mean about instintively retracting the hand to the hip. Although the majority of our practice is from a guard position, we do some practice from the hip. But never mix the two. So it doesn't feel natural at this point to do so. However I'm sure that with some practice it could feel that way.

thanks for the comment. I agree that if you are already in confrontation with someone, and they are within striking range, that you should def. adapt some sort of hands up/passive guard position. Crossing arms one on top of eachother is not a bad idea. I see alot of bouncers and security guys standing like this, not with there arms actually folded like most people would "cross" their arms, but one simply ontop of the other.

Yeah that "thinking" stance could be really good if someone is in close range. I haven't watched all of that bas rutten video but looks good! It doesn't show any sort of "fear" or "readiness" that the "i don't want trouble" stance.

Personally I have used the "don't want trouble" stance, usually when someone steps into range with clenched or raised fists. I like the stance because to the attacker takes this stance to be a sign that you are surrendering, or that you are showing fear or intimidation, then BANG! you crack them with a punch they never saw coming!

But it requires you to decide that, yes, this guy is going to start something. The thinking or crossed arm stances are more of a "ready stance" than "non-threatening guard", if you see what I mean? It's like the first step, is being aware that an attack could happen, and being in a position that you can make some sort of move to defend yourself, and then the passive guards (I don't want no trouble!!) are when you are quite sure the guy is going to come into range and you will have to defend yourself.

We actually practice alot of our blocks from the hip too, and although it might be useful in the situation that you are caught completely off guard, I'm sure most of you have already read our in depth discussion about the problems with blocks in general over in the "weakness in your style" thread. So I believe that these have even less real-life application than blocks from a guard.
However the benefits that I mentioned previously about learning to have things come from the hip (hip turning properly into the attack, hand retracts as fast as it strikes/blocks etc.) still stand. So it's not completely useless.

Champ 1989,
I see your point about not always knowing who your attacker is going to be. Hopefully the guy behind, to the left and to the right are your mates, who are watching your back, almost literally. If the situation is really so bad that you could be attacked from all angles, yes, get those hands up!
And get into the practice of standing in a "ready" stance naturally where-ever you are, rather than hands down.

So, in conclusion!

Striking from the hip still retains is usefulness in teaching beginners some important lessons about the mechanics of a strike. Hip application, retracting the hand quickly, straight striking, not "cocking" the hand back before you strike.

Striking may be useful if you happen to be caught in a situation where you just happen to have your hands down, but you should avoid this if at all possible. Of course, your can't just walk around with your hands glued to your jaw at all times. Especially if you are actually walking.

"ready" stances are the preffered way to be standing if you are in a public area where violence is likely, or even possible. eg. crossed arms or "thinking"

Passive guards can be very useful when you think a situation can turn bad. They keep your opponent more off guard because you aren't making a fist at him. And the security camera likes you to have a non-agressive, open hand guard, too. So will the witnesses. Especially if you really do say "hey man, I don't want trouble!" :wink:



Well..I was a correction officer/jailer for years....and this was a common thing for me. I stood like that ALL of the time whenever surrounded by inmates and/or talking to them. Kept me from getting clocked with a mop handle once.

Of course this is not always feasible...as Sento pointed out.


Most of the Gracie seminars I have been to start the Self Defence bit with some variation on the prayer stance (hands together in front of your face, looks non threatening but is pretty good defensively because the other guy has to throw a looping punch to hit you.

As for punching from the hip, I was always taught that jabbing from low was OK as long as you always train to bring your hands back to your face. I love boxing from the Philly shell though only against people I am pretty confident against.


Most of the Gracie seminars I have been to start the Self Defence bit with some variation on the prayer stance (hands together in front of your face, looks non threatening but is pretty good defensively because the other guy has to throw a looping punch to hit you.

As for punching from the hip, I was always taught that jabbing from low was OK as long as you always train to bring your hands back to your face. I love boxing from the Philly shell though only against people I am pretty confident against.


Hey Guys!
With the exception of the shank comment, an awesome thread. here's my two cents. I was taught early on by my Karate teacher that anytime you chamber a fist, you're actually pulling something in. Maybe a wrist, maybe a lapel, maybe an ear. and that otherwise, pulling the fists back to a chamber don't make sense, except for training an over exagerated body dynamic.




Thanks for bringing that up petercook! It had completley slipped my mind that that "chambering" position is actually used quite a bit by our system in that way, but not after a punch, usually after a block or sweep etc.. Don't know why I hadn't thought of it!