It is undeniable that the ability to punch hard in self defence is important. Logically, if you can throw a powerful punch then you should have the stopping power. However, all of this means nothing if your hands are not conditioned enough to absorb the impact. Poorly conditioned hands will result in injury or worse if caught in a self defence situation. In fact, the harder your hands the more dangerous your punches will be.
So Why Do You Need Conditioned Hands?
Some of the greatest boxers in the world have broken their hands in self defence. This may be a result of the tendency of boxers to wrap their hands in bandages before they insert their hands into boxing gloves. Wrapping your hands definitely gives you support and additional weight in your fists. Yet it is not something that we can rely upon in a self defence situation in the street (see In Self Defence: What type of martial arts punch do you need?).
Unlike boxing or kickboxing, Wing Chun is a bare handed style of fighting. This means that it is vital to have well conditioned hands if it becomes necessary to hit someone in self defence. Put simply hand conditioning is the practice of increasing the density of your knuckles while preparing the hand for impact. You are literally hardening and sharpening the knuckles of your hand. However, it is not just the knuckles but various regions of the hand that can also be conditioned for self defence (see Punching in Self Defence: How to form a fist).
Hand conditioning is seen as an essential practice in traditional martial arts such as Karate and Kung Fu. Originally referred to as Iron Palm training, ancient Kung Fu practitioners would drive their hands into bowls of sand in order to condition their hands. In the present day, modern forms of Kung Fu such as Wing Chun condition different parts of their hands, knuckles, edge of hands, and palm on a Wall Bag instead. Wall bags being a canvass sandbag mounted on a wall. Wall bags are preferable to boxing heavy bags as they do not move around when punched, hence the wall bag absorbs the full impact of your punch. Basically, you develop a harder punch on a wall bag.
How to Start Training on a Wall Bag
We strongly advise that you seek advice from a qualified Wing Chun instructor (Sifu) before embarking on this type of training. Conditioning must be a gentle and an accumulative form of training in the beginning. While this is not a complete guide this basic introduction simply serves to get you started in the gym.
The first stage is to learn how to form a correct fist, while striking with the knuckles, and ensuring that your fist is not hollow. This can be achieved by simply seizing the air out of your hands when hitting the wall bag (see video demonstration). This stage will improve the density of your fist and is vital for the production of weight in your hands.
Stage two, simply requires you to rest or throw your fist on to the wall bag. Make sure that your fist remains in contact with the bag for a couple of seconds. This develops a greater sense of weight transference from your fist to the bag.
The final stage requires you to punch the bag from various ranges and combinations of strikes. Start with Man Sao as a guide, then practice hitting the bag with centreline punches (see The Wing Chun Battle Punch: Chain punching self defence). Key here is to work the acceleration of the strike. Repeat varying the distance to the bag, as well as the amount of chained punches.
When stating out. Never over train, keep your hand conditioning sessions to around 10 to 15 minutes every few days. You will find with time you will be able to punch harder for longer, this will naturally increase with experience. Lastly, always massage your hands when you have finished. This encourages the circulation of blood around the area and the removal of waste by-products in your hands.
The London Wing Chun Academy is a martial arts and functional fitness gym based in North London. Open 7 days a week with gym and functional fitness equipment. Our gym provides group fitness and martial arts classes in Wing Chun, San Shou Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Functional Fitness, and non contact Fitness kick Boxing.