Martial Arts Ezine Issue 58 The Perfect Backfist

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The Perfect Backfist

My friend's martial arts ezine Martial Arts Mastery, had been discussing various nuances about the backfist. I thought I would describe the best way to execute a backfist from a physiological and kinesthetic (the study of movement) perspective. From this description of the backfist you may be able to improve on your backfist.

Definition of the Backfist

For the purposes of this martial arts article, we will define the backfist as a snapping strike done with the back of the hand meant to stun an attacker. I realize the power backfist could be discussed here or the spinning backfist, but we will discuss the snapping backfist.

As an example if I were facing Master Pascal (perhaps in a nightmare) and I were to snap my left hand from the center of my chest into his nose striking him with the back two knuckles of my hand, this would be the backfist I am discussing (as this may be my only shot at him I'd better read my article to make sure it's a well executed backfist). The backfist, in this context of this martial arts ezine article, should be used as a stunning blow to set your attacker up for a more devastating technique (see Kirkham's Combat Ezine) unless you smashed his nose with the backfist, he's down, and you have time to run away.

What I am going to do is describe some physiological principals that apply to the backfist and then tell you how they apply to the backfist.

A stretched muscle is more efficient than a relaxed muscle.

Thus the windup in a pitch, the chamber in a classical reverse punch, bringing the racket back in a tennis serve. In this case we want to analyze the execution of the backfist and bring in backwards into its most stretched possible point as a starting position. Now I am not discussing actually assuming this position before executing the backfist in a life threatening situation, unless you want to be laughed at and tossed head over heels into a thorn bush.

For practice, in order to get a sense of how the technique, when executed properly, should feel, the stretched starting position should be practiced.

Your two main upper body muscles involved in the backfist are the triceps femorous and the rear deltoids. So basically the stretched position for the backfist would have the back of the arm of the striking hand pointed at your target with your fingers (if they were not in a fist) flexed towards your wrist. You may now snap your backfist out from there. To feel this stretch you may temporarily commit the sin of drawing back to that position and executing your backfist immediately to feel the rubberband type of effect a stretched muscle has.


The formula for kinetic energy (energy of motion) is 1/2MV^2. That's ½ the mass or weight (interchangeable in this instance) times the speed of the strike squared. Which is the more important factor in the backfist therefore? Right a good meal first – NO speed!

Antagonist Vs Tagonist Muscle Groups

See my ebook on Internal Energy Strikes for a better explanation of this, but basically antagonistic muscle groups impede a movement while tagonistic muscle groups aid in a movement. Therefore the more relaxed you are during your backfist, the more efficient and faster your backfist will be. Try snapping your backfist while you are very tense and then snap your backfist while as relaxed as possible.

Here's a little exercise to loosen yourself up. Stick your elbow out to your side and fan yourself. Feel the rhythm of the fanning motion with your loose wrist and extend your arm out into a backfist like movement without closing your fist. Now practice the same movement with a closed fist trying to remain just as relaxed. I use a similar exercise to teach students to snap better for knifehand blocks and knifehand strikes.

I also do not recommend practicing the backfist on a heavybag. I believe the tendancy toward striking a heavybag with a backfist would be to power into it as opposed to snap into it. A focus mitt would be an excellent target for a backfist. It gives (if your partner will hold it with one hand) and it makes a cool sound when you hit it to give you some good feedback.


The greater the distance of a movement the greater the chance for other tagonistic muscle groups to aid in the movement. I am an economy of motion freak. If I sense a flicker of unnecessary movement (see my ebook on internal energy strikes to develop this kinesthetic sense) I do repetition after repetition until I am no longer telegraphing. Yet the above is a physiological principle so I must ,for the purposes of this martial arts article, mention it. A greater distance is almost always necessary to learn or improve a martial arts technique or any type of movements speed and power for that matter.


At first glance it doe not look like I told you anything you do not already know about backfist, but read it again, think about and try some of the principles. You will only improve by going back to basics and keeping an open mind. I hope this martial arts article helps you to do that.

Copyright 2001 James Richard Kirkham all rights reserved

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Martial Arts Ezine Issue 58 The Perfect Backfist

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 57 The 10 Minute Martial Arts Workout

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 56 Fighter's Attitude, Fighter's Pyschology, and Facts About Testerone, Adrenaline, and Endorphines

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 55 A Great Principle for Getting Your Martial Arts Students To Learn Faster

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 54 Karate Camp A Martial Artist's Experience

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 53 One of the Real Secrets of Martial Arts The Way of the Intercepting Fist

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 52 Teaching Techniques for Teaching Children Martial Arts

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 51 The Dwindling Practice of Martial Arts Forms

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 50 Recovering from Long Term Injuries

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 49 History in the making of Kuntaw The Fillpino Art of Hand & Foot Fighting

Martial arts Striking Drill Air Shield Ecomony Drill Martial Arts Ezine Issue 48

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 47 Using Your Opponents Strength Against Him and Saving Energy with Circles

Martial arts Ezine Issue 46 The Benefits of Family Self-Defense Training

Martial arts Ezine Issue 45 The Water Mind

Martial arts Ezine Issue 44 One Step Sparring A Versatle Martial Arts Drill

Martial arts Ezine Issue 43 Making Your Wrist Locks Work:A Training Exercise for Skeptics by Keith Pascal

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 42 Continuous Blocking Drill

Martial arts Ezine Issue 41Becoming a Master Martial Artists

A Martial Artist's Survival of Spouse Abuse Martial arts Ezine Issue 40

Martial arts Ezine Issue 39 Internal Energy A Rational Explanation and What is Realistic Martial Arts

Martial Arts Ezine 38 King Sejong: Korea's Finest Ruler

Traditional Martial Arts Martial Arts Ezine 37

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Martial Arts Ezine Issue 32 Martial Arts, Crime, Our Children

The Myth of Internal Energy Strikes in Martial Arts


Shower Power Martial Arts Quick Training Methods for Martial Artists with No Time for Martial Art Training

Admiral Yi Sun-shin A Historical Warrior

Training Your Unwilling Spouse in Realistic Martial Arts


Modern Teaching Methods of an Ancient Art, A Humble Courtesy to All Martial Arts Instructors


Martial Arts Swindlers and Martial Arts Egomaniacs

Rape A True Story Of Survival

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