Hay, Don’t Be A Maker…

There’s nothing like a good, solid workout on a punching bag. Some motivational music on the Bluetooth speaker (I like instrumentals, personally. Audio Machine or Two Steps From Hell are pretty good), a thin pair of bag gloves or bare knuckles and the sweat dripping off my nose as I hammer combination after combination on the bag. I usually use a workout timer app called Seconds Pro, which I’ve written about in previous posts. But if you’re on the iOS platform, you can check it out on the App Store. I don’t know what the Android translation for that would be. But I digress…

I’m a big fan of using striking surfaces of varying types, as it allows you to build and develop your strikes against an actual surface/target as opposed to simple shadow boxing, which can only provide so much. I’ve seen people train for long years and become extremely fast and efficient in their strikes, only to falter, sprain a wrist or have no impact strength when it came to striking an actual object/opponent.

I’ve described different methods of striking such as using the punching bag, which carries the weight and yields somewhat like a live opponent would (and moves, so it challenges you to adjust since opponents don’t sit still). There’s also wall-mounted pads, which still allow for some solid striking power while providing a specific target, which one does not typically worry about on the punching bag. The last is the makiwara. Really, any hard, static striking surface. This would apply for specific targeting, certainly. But mostly, I use the makiwara to develop proper striking posture and knuckle development. As you may have heard, we Okinawan karate types are pretty nuts about our knuckles.

Although I favour the punching bag above all these options (having someone hold a pad for me in the dojo, notwithstanding), I’ll sometimes find myself using a technique that isn’t really favoured in my style and that I consider to be something of a risky proposition in an actual fight situation: the haymaker. Ahh, haymaker…. The go-to for drunks looking to end a fight quickly…

For those of you who may not be familiar with the fighting arts or who don’t watch boxing, a “haymaker” is basically a wide, whipping punch that’s thrown from the shoulder, coming from the outside in towards an opponent. There’s very little bend to the elbow and it has the potential to be a very strong, devastating blow. If you can land it. And under the right circumstances. Enter: my opinion…

Many of you may never have experienced a situation where you’ve gotten into a real fight. Consider yourselves lucky. As Dalton said in the movie Roadhouse, no one ever wins a fight. There have been many times when I’ve been stuck in a situation, both professionally and personally, where despite my best efforts to talk my way out, a fight was coming. And although I haven’t really made much use of the haymaker, I’ve seen others foolishly try to put it in action. Although it has the potential to provide some power, here are the disadvantages:

1. It Causes You To Telegraph Your Movements: There’s nothing worse in a fight than giving your opponent information about what you’re going to do next. That’s what telegraphing is, as it relates to a fight. The problem with a strike like the haymaker, is that you need to blade your stance in order to do it. Try executing a haymaker from a normal, standing position. Go ahead, I’ll wait…. You’ll notice that you’re able to swing your arm in the arc that constitutes a haymaker, but it will cause your entire body to twist and there’ll be no power behind the punch. This means that if you’ve reached the point of no return and it becomes either them or you, you’ll need to back a foot up in order to blade your stance to throw this bad boy out. And nothing quite lets your opponent know that something’s coming like blading your stance…
2. It Leaves You Exposed: It’s no secret that Uechi-Ryu Okinawan karate favours strikes kept within the boundaries of the practitioner’s body, so maybe I’m a bit biased in this regard. But it’s for good reason. If you ever see someone execute a haymaker (I was unable to find a stock photo of one) you’ll notice that their entire rib cage and the side of their face is open and exposed. An opponent who knows it’s coming will definitely take advantage of that and deliver a strike themselves, before your haymaker has the opportunity to land. One of the concepts behind striking while staying within the outer boundaries of one’s body, is to prevent opening up in such ways
3. It Takes An Eternity: Fights are something akin to a horse race; the ending is calculated in seconds or less. One of the biggest problems with a haymaker, besides the telegraphing and exposure, is that it takes far longer than other strikes. It should come as no surprise that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. A haymaker is pretty much the antithesis of that. It’s wide, far-reaching arc combined with the additional distance it must travel before making contact, makes it less-than-ideal if you’re facing an opponent who may be on the ball and has any level of fight training as well.

I absolutely believe that there’s no such thing as a bad technique; simply how one uses it. So, I think the important detail about this technique is that it shouldn’t be used at the beginning, or even during an actual fight. Perhaps as a Hail Mary move or a finishing move when the fight is over. But then one needs to ask oneself: should I be striking an opponent with that much ferocity if the fight is all but over? The totality of your circumstances may dictate that. But this is a good time to point out that fighting should always be considered ONLY as a last resort. Be safe. ☯️

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

One thought on “Hay, Don’t Be A Maker…”

  1. Much like those high kicks we batted around (lol) earlier, it does indeed come down to a fighter’s speed, proper use (such as an finisher), and the ability to create openings / stagger an opponent. 😉

    Like

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