While sparring, Taekwondo students wear hand protectors. In class, they strike padded bags, padded target paddles, and padded body shields. When breaking with hand techniques, most students prefer to use elbow, hammer fist, or palm heel, avoiding the fore fist punch. None of these things prepare the student for punching something hard with a bar hand. When sparring, most students use the fore fist punch, so, on the street, most will use a fore fist punch to the head. When this happens, the knuckles, hand, or wrist is usually damaged more than the attackers face. For self-defense purposes, students need to learn to punch with bare knuckles.
Humans are really the only animal an opposing thumb. This position of the thumb provides increased gripping which is why grappling moves are much more natural than punching ones. Humans do not need training on how to grab, pull, pinch, nip, yank hair, hold etc. However, they do need instruction on how to punch properly. When young children hit, it is usually with open slaps or hammer fist type strikes, rather than forward punching.
Look at the structure of the hand. It is designed for gripping, not punching. When you make a fist, there is a small but discernable gap in the finger/palm area. This is because nature intended some object to be in that gap. To hold a tight closed fist requires a great degree of muscle contraction. The natural position of the hand is a relaxed ball not a tight club. Proper punching requires a properly formed fist, not a deformed fist. Deformation by building large calluses on the knuckles may be achieved but is almost impossible to undo.
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