This is a big-secret-revealed kind of post. The question – What are the two deadliest fists of karate?

Is it the seiken, or two-knuckle fist?

Seiken, two knuckle fist

That would be a good guess. The seiken is used very heavily in most karate styles and can be an utterly devastating weapon. But that is not one of the two.

Is it the shuto, or knife hand?

shuto, knife hand strike

This technique is also very common and embodies karate’s empty handed nature. The ridge end of a shuto strike can often be found breaking boards and roofing tiles in exhibitions. Unfortunately, this is also not one of the deadliest fists.

It must be the ippon nukite, or single finger?

ippon nukite, single finger strike

The ippon nukite uchi, or single finger strike, can be extraordinarily unpleasant when used properly. The Bubishi refers to it as the “one blade of grass hand,” and anything that poetic has to be good. Used for jabbing into vital areas such as the eyes, ippon nukite is formidable…but not one of the two deadliest fists.

So what are the two??

Distancing and Timing.

The dual fists of distancing and timing are more deadly than any hand or foot formation ever devised by man. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Matt, you cheated. You didn’t tell us you were going to use metaphor.” That’s true, I did cheat a little bit. But we learned something about fists anyway, right?

Distancing and timing are such an effective combination that the fanciest flying kick and the most bulldozing punch are helpless against them.

A practitioner who properly utilizes distance is able to maintain a zone of safety around himself/herself by avoiding attacks and cutting angles. When that same practitioner uses timing, he can then evade and intercept attacks as they happen. A person who masters distancing and timing can place themselves at the perfect distance away to strike their enemy, while knowing how much their enemy must move to strike them back.

While in that perfect distance, the expert exponent of timing can read his opponents intentions of attack – when the decision of attack is made, when the body begins to move, and when the body finally executes a technique. A proper counterattack can be made while the opponent is making decisions, while they are initiating attack, while the attack climaxes, or while the attack recoils and the opponent prepares his next attack.

It becomes a matter of when, not if.

Much more on distancing and timing later…because they REALLY ARE that important.