Vertical and Horizontal Fist
The vertical fist is related very closely to the lifecycle of the front lunge punch. Look at each of the 'snapshots' of the lunge punch, and about past halfway mark, you see the fist rotating into the 'vertical fist'.
White belts keep their punches tight to the side of their ribs, drive with their bodies, and send the strike linearly into their centreline. Yellow belts get to unhinge the arm, and rotate the roundhouse punch with their shoulders.
There is no one right way to drive the fist into the opponent. Having the ability to 'unhinge' the arm from the side of the body means you can track the opponent and choose a flight path perpendicularly to the target, and therefore reduce the risk of breaking your fist and allowing you to sink more of your power into the target.
The vertical fist has the advantage of 'cycling' in the centreline like pistons. It allows you strike on the centreline - which is tactically advantageous, and in this way allows you to use the arm in a tighter cycle than the fully extended fist. This makes the arm more functional as a short range cover, block and counter tool.
There is an opportunity for Taekwondo practitioners to develop functionality in the short range centreline in order to cover the body and head. Especially up close, this allows the practitioner to protect himself from attacks, and to counter more efficiently. Raising the arm from the side of the body and over the shoulder means the practitioner may lose the coverage from the forearm and elbow.
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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