Kagi tsuki, the hook punch, will hit the side of your opponent, 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” as in a straight punch, you raise your elbow to shoulder-level. This will snap your fist over to your opposite-side shoulder, palm-down, and your forearm and upper arm are 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. The key point is to focus on raising the elbow --if you try to throw your fist in an arc, you’ll end up throwing 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 the usage of roundhouse kicks also apply to hook punches:
- Avoid throwing hook punches with the rear hand. The semicircular path of a hook punch is, by definition, π-times longer than those of a straight punch. As a result, hook punches will take about three times longer to perform than reverse punches of equal speed, leading you to inadvertently telegraph your moves. Training to develop speedy punches can only mitigate the hard limits imposed by geometry; this problem cannot be eliminated. 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 haymakers, which are not recommended. Hook punches should only be thrown from the clinch.
- Round or circular techniques should never be the first in a series of attacks. Hook punches work best after several straight punches, because the opponent will be lulled into complacency, and expect the net technique to also be a straight punch. Hook punches are powerful when used in this way, because they will literally blindside the opponent, attacking where they did not think to defend.