Hook punch

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Kagi tsuki, the hook punch, hits from the side, so they are often used against an opponent’s temples, the side of their chin, the bridge of their nose, or sometimes their floating ribs.

Hook punches start out like any other punch, to prevent you from telegraphing. However, instead of “turning over” like a straight punch, you raise your elbow to shoulder-level. This snaps your fist over, palm-down, to your opposite-side shoulder with your forearm and upper arm both parallel to the floor. Your forearm makes a 90° angle with respect to your upper arm; and your upper arm makes a 90° angle with respect to your chest. Simultaneously pull your opposite-side hand to its hip, for reciprocal action. Focus on raising the elbow, because trying to throw your fist in an arc results in a haymaker, which should be avoided.

[video of a hook punch from the front and side, fast and slow]

Hook punches are a “round technique,” like the roundhouse kick; as such, all of the rules governing roundhouse kick usage also apply to hook punches:

  • Avoid throwing hook punches with your rear hand. The hook punch's semicircular path is, by definition, π-times longer than that of a straight punch. Therefore, performing hook punches takes about three times than a reverse punches of equal speed, and you will telegraph your attack. Training to develop speedy punches lessens the effect of this geometrically-imposed hard limit, but this problem cannot be eliminated, it can only be mitigated. Because their arcing paths will consume the length of your arm, hook punches will have a shorter range than straight punches. Any attempt to stretch out and/or increase a hook punch’s rage will result in haymaker, which are not recommended. Hook punches should only be thrown from the clinch.
  • Never lead with round techniques. Round or circular techniques should never be the first in a series of attacks. Hook punches work best after several straight punches, when the opponent is lulled into complacency, and expects more straight punches to follow. Hook punches are powerful when used in this way, because they literally blindside the opponent by attacking where they did not think to defend.