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Self Defense/Why did Eastern traditional martial arts lack a hook and uppercut (and many striking techniques associated with boxing) until boxing was introduced to Asia?


One thing I noticed was that every TMA I came across in their undiluted forms lacked a variation of hooks and uppercuts. Not even what we call "kickboxing styles" today such as Muay Thai had the uppercut and hook in their predecessor forms and its only exposure with western boxing that such kickboxing styles developed variations.

In fact its precisely because western boxing gave predecessors of kickboxing styles immense trouble in rings and duels that eventually MT and such adopted hooks and uppercuts and even the basic boxing guard modified to also fit in with the style's techniques at least according to what I read.

Considering all the rich styles that remain preserved throughout much of Asia, why didn't Eastern forms develop boxing style techniques without the influence of the West? What exactly is unique about western culture that led to such two unique variations of punching?

I mean you even stated this in your NoNoneSenseSelfDefense website ¨Even first generation, trained by Orientals martial artists were getting their lunches eaten by boxer's hand work. Even though it was sport fighting, the boxing method was still winning.¨

Which shows to the lack of variety of punching Asian styles had.

I mean even the Bare Knuckle era boxing (when punches were so radically different) had a hooks and uppercuts (that were altered specifically to accommodate the lack of gloves in early boxing. I recall to state an example, that John L. Sullivan knocked out an  braggart pro boxer (who pissed him off prior to their fight)- Sullivan used a scarily powerful uppercut that really so hard it threw the guy into a piano nearby the ring . YES using a vertical fist that the bare knuckle style is so famed for. As in literally the guy was hit so hard the piano got crashed with visiable damage.

I seen arguments saying that its because uppercuts and hooks and other boxing style punches lose their power when thrown vertically and without gloves on but this incident alone SHOWS that its BS.  If an Sullivan (who was at that time not even a prize fighter yet but just an enthusiastic amateur of the sport) could throw an uppercut that could literally send a man out the ring with such force that the piano he landed on was crushed,  that proves all the more of how much more powerful even pre-glove boxing style punches where-especially the hook and uppercut.

Okay I tried answering this earlier and All Experts ate my reply.

Short version, a lot, and I do mean a LOT of stuff has been lost from Asian Martial Arts. Both home and on the way over here.

I have a friend who breaks Japanese systems down into three categoties
Classical - pre WWII
Traditional -- modified post WWII
Commercial -- especially U.S.

Classical arts have ALL kinds of things that worked really well -- including their version of an uppercut/close range punch. Believe it or not, they also had some serious anti-grappling techniques.

Traditional arts were modified to be taught in schools -- like to kids as PE. A lot of the really effective stuff was taken out. For example, stuff that was really brutally effective in classic versions was watered down by closing hands into fists. What was a really bad ass grabby and throwing system was made much, much safer (for the kids) by reducing it to just punching and kicking. Punches and kicks are WAY less effective for hurting people than grab, twist, pull and then hit. That's why all that other stuff was dropped from the stuff being taught to school children. And, at the same time, why the over emphasis on the self-discipline, self-regulation and good citizenship that are associated with traditional martial arts. The key point of this is recognizing that the watering down started back in Japan -- before it was exported.

Commercial  martial arts. These -- especially in the US -- are even more watered down for safety. With a sports/tournament emphasis added. It doesn't have to work, what matters is it's flashy. (Which is why I saw a 9 y.o. take his age division in weapons doing sinawali with wakizashis.)People don't even try to hit hard in commercial MA because it's point oriented.

I tell you this to help you understand how complicated what is a seemingly simple question, really isn't.

Starting with an uppercut is a sports punching technique. A sport where if the fighters get into a clinch the ref will break them up. So boxing is close, but not too close. Unlike old bareknuckle boxing -- where most of the hits were to the body anyway -- but you had to keep the guy at a distance because clinching was allowed.  The structure of the old bare knuckles stances kept the dude at a distance when you used it.

Meanwhile the circular uppercut is great for hitting up close -- when you're operating in circumstances where clinching, much less grabbing and throwing, aren't allowed.

Which brings us back to that goofy from the hip karate punch.

How many punches is that? Seriously, answer the question.

It's actually a whole lot of them. While we're at it, it blows the whole 'how do you hold your hand when you're punching' argument out the window.  

Breaking it down to only three. With the thumb up on your hip and coming out, it's a structured close ranged punch. It's the equivalent to an uppercut, but with structure to keep someone from clinching with you.

The vertical fist occurs during the rotation as the punch passes through midrange. Again, with structure to keep the guy from closing with you.

The horizontal, thumb down phase is long range.

Now the question is, were those orginally open hand or close handed? Before it was modified into traditional karate?

You also asked about hooks. There are all kinds of circular attacks. Originally the were done open handed. Question is how many of what are now circular backfists were originally done open handed?

See it's not as simple as you first thought.

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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