The Backfist Strike
Pat Munk, Judan
10th Degree Black Belt
The backfist strike is Karate's jab. There is a difference however between the backfist and the jab. That difference is the backfist can do much more damage, making it very practical. The backfist gives us maximum protection since we do not have to compromise our body position in order to use it effectively. The backfist also gives us maximum range, and executed properly even 6 feet can be too close to stop it. The backfist is virtually unstoppable if used properly.
There are three secrets to delivering a fast and effective backfist. The first is: Form, Second: The fist must move in a straight line, and Third: The distance between you and your opponent must be closed as fast as possible.
Let’s look at these three secret elements of a backfist.
The first element: Form: Most instructors when teaching the backfist will have you bring your elbow up and cock your arm first, before throwing the backfist. Although this is not necessarily wrong, it does give your opponent a signal that you are going to do something. Plus when we bring our elbow up and we cock our arm, we create a big target for our opponent to counter strike to. If we can remove the signal; and move the hand towards the opponent first, no signal is given and we maintain maximum protection.
The second element: The fist must move in a straight line: As mentioned before most instructors teach the traditional way of throwing the backfist, elbow up, arm cocked and throw the backfist as if your elbow and arm were a hinge. This movement is too mechanical and takes too much time to reach the opponent. There should not be any arc in the line that the hand will travel during the execution of the backfist technique. Remember that the shortest and quickest distance between two points is a straight line.
The third element: The distance between you and your opponent must be closed as fast as possible: The way you accomplish this is to move your hand FIRST. Most people think that if you move the body before, or at the same time you throw the backfist, you will achieve maximum efficiency. My experience has found that this is not, in fact, the case. If you want to have an effective backfist and hit your opponent consistently, the hand must move first and then the body follows. When executing a backfist, do not make a real tight fist, it will slow down your backfist. Keep your fist and wrist loose and relaxed and deliver the backfist with a whipping and snapping movement. At the exact moment of impact with your target, a quick and focused tightening of the fist should occur to create maximum focus and power. Like the cracking of a whip. The backfist should then retreat quickly to its starting point in a straight line.
Since a backfist, like a jab, is thrown with the front hand it is not usually considered a knockout strike but it can knock out opponents.