I’ve occasionally written some posts that have elicited some pretty “strong” responses from people. Especially within certain sports and martial arts circles, some old school practitioners aren’t always game to hear about things they don’t want to change.
That being said, I want to discuss a particular bad habit that some modern martial arts practitioners have adopted in the past two decades: holding one’s hands on front of one’s face.
There is a significant difference between boxing and the martial arts. Boxers train for hours on end to endure repeated hits to the face and body, all while delivering them to their opponent as well. It is a sport. Mixed Martial Arts, or “mixed up” martial arts as some associates of mine have called it, have included these aspects into their fights as well. Although not boxing specifically (I’m guessing this is where the “mixed” part comes in), MMA includes many of the characteristics of boxing.
Boxers and some MMA fighters tend to square off by keeping their hands close to the sides of their faces. This is intended as a means of guarding the face and making it easy to block incoming strikes to the head and the deep bend of the elbows helps to block shots to the body. Unfortunately, to the traditional martial artist, this is a HORRIBLE way to face an opponent.
The big problem with this type of “face guarding” is that it has a tendency of blocking part of your field of vision. You’re effectively preventing yourself from seeing all around you. The other big downside is that you’re leaving your hands very close to your face, which can lead to an unintentional game of “why are you hitting yourself.” Especially when your opponent crushed your own fists and forearms against your face because you didn’t see their attacks coming due to the decreased field of vision. From your hands. Because of your shitty fighting posture.
When squaring off in a proper fighting stance, one needs to stand comfortably with the feet equidistant apart. the hands should be closed into fists and the arms should have a slight bend and at chin level. The hands will be well away from the face in front of the body. This allows a full field of vision around your immediate area and also allows you to respond and block much quicker than if your hands are right in front of your face.
Obviously, this information is based on opinion and the techniques used by my specific style of karate. I’m certain that some of my counterparts would have some “corrections” or style-specific differences. The takeaway here is that when practicing, you must train yourself to keep your hands at a relaxed posture, away from you face. this allows for the best field of view and best ability to properly execute blocks in a real fight situation. Although the normal human reflex is to cover up when someone is throwing punches, overcoming that fear and being able to trust your hands will help ensure you prevent getting smacked in the face. ☯