Glossary of Kempo Terms
Front Punch: The basic chambered karate punch where the hand is in a closed fist, palm up at the hip or ribs and pronates / rotates to palm down at the end of the strike. Often called a Front Two Knuckle punch, as that is the preferred striking surface.
Thrust Punch: This punch starts like a front punch, but only rotates 90 degrees, so that the palm is facing inward at the end of the strike. This is also commonly called a vertical fist. Debate is ongoing on whether the first two knuckles or the second and third are the preferred surface.
Back Two Knuckle Punch: This punch also starts from the same chamber as the front and thrust punch, but does not rotate at all, finishing the strike with the palm up. It is a linear strike using the same power generation as the first two, which distinguishes it from the uppercut.
Uppercut: An upward punch with an arcing trajectory delivered with a bent arm, related to the hook punch.
Jab: A quick, flicking punch delivered off the lead hand.
Cross: A boxing style ‘power punch’ delivered off the rear hand in which the body’s mass shifts to the front leg and the rear foot comes up onto the toe as the heel rotates outward.
Reverse Punch: This is a punch delivered in a thrusting manner driving off the heel of the rear leg. This may look similar to the cross, but has very different power generation technique.
Hook Punch: An arcing punch with a horizontal trajectory. It can be delivered off the lead or rear hand.
Overhand Right (or left): Delivered somewhat like a cross, the overhand right takes a more arcing trajectory.
Backfist: An outward whipping strike making contact with the top surface of the knuckles.
Riken ( Ree-ken): A strike using the same striking surface as the backfist, using a relaxed wrist for more ‘whipping’ action. This strike is more dependent on the shoulder and forearm rotation for acceleration, and can be applied in a variety of directions. It is most commonly used as a downward strike to the bridge of the nose.
Chamber: A preparatory position preceding a strike. For kicks, it is typically the raised knee ‘crane’ or ‘flamingo’ position; for hand strikes it is typically the the fist at hip or ribs. Some downward hand strikes like hammers or knifehands chamber above the shoulder.
Hammer (or hammer fist): A strike using the fleshy base of the fist as a contact area. They can be delivered in a variety of directions, and this is commonly attached to the name as a modifier, e.g. inward, outward, downward.
Tiger Claw: A strike that starts in the same chamber as a front punch, and follows the same movement pattern, but at the end of the strike the hand opens into a claw shape. Often the palm heel is used for impact with the fingertips being used for secondary damage to targets like the eyes.
Tiger’s Mouth: A strike with the hand position as if holding a beverage can using the thumb and fingers to grab in a pincer-like manner after impact. The initial impact area is often the webbed area between the thumb and forefinger.
Eagles Claw: A strike nearly identical to the Tiger’s Mouth, but with more emphasis on the index and second finger, and more use of the fingertips in striking.
Knifehand Strike: This strike uses the open hand as a weapon striking with the ‘pinky side’ edge of the palm. As with the hammer, the knifehand can be delivered in a variety of directions and the direction is often attached as a modifier, e.g. downward, inward, outward, cross.
Ridgehand Strike: This strike uses the outside of the knuckle at the base of the index finger as a striking surface and is delivered in a whipping fashion.
Inverted: This is a modifier typically indicating that the strike is delivered with a hand position opposite of the standard position.
Palm Heel: A strike using the base of the palm as a striking surface, typically as a thrusting strike using the mechanics of a punch.
Willow Palm: A palm heel strike done in a whipping manner.
Closed Tiger Mouth: A strike using the flat area at the top of the fist as a striking surface. This strike often looks like the movements of an underhand volleyball serve, and the striking area is mainly the outside of the knuckle at the base of the index finger. This strike is sometimes called a closed ridgehand.