I had a brand new beginner train with our Traditional Taekwondo group last Sunday. To teach him the beginnings of a down block and to work on his timing, I put him at the receiving end of a garden-variety forward lunge punch at solar plexus. He was to stand with his fists held close to his head and all he had to do was to deflect the oncoming punch with a sideways jerk of the elbow. This would suffice as the 'folding' of the down block required for the first pattern of Taekwondo.
Anyway, he was doing fairly well on the first day.
The uke performing the "garden variety lunge punch" however was not faring so well. When the punches got faster and the elbow deflection is mis-timed, the elbow hits the back of the fist or the fingers and is painful.
What do you expect? If you were to try and hit someone's solar plexus, there's a high chance it'll get blocked by even the least skilled practitioner. Of course this was a drill and it was under instruction that my yellow belt was performing the lunge punch at that height.
My two cents on the subject is that the punch needs to be really good - it can't be telegraphed before hand (basically fired at point black range). Also in terms of targetting, it is far harder for an inexperienced person to block a punch at head height or a punch slightly below the solar plexus.
At head height, the aim is to knock out the opponent. Be careful of the angles of the head and mouth - the last thing you want to do is to break your knuckles or fingers on bony corners and teeth. Below solar plexus, the aim is to send the opponent toward the floor (see Punching Angles). Be careful to hit the body core perpendicularly. A bad angle of entry could mean a bunged up wrist.
Both are legitimate objectives.
When we drill this punch, there are two main targets - high is at your own nose height and low is at your own solar plexus high. So if you're in a low forward stance and the opponent is standing up, these two heights translate to the opponent's solar plexus and the dantien/hara or just under the belt knot.
The low punch matches what I described - your solar plexus height translates to opponent's belt knot. The upper punch however, may increase the probability that you may end up breaking your hand - just because of the decreasing angle of entry as you reach that high up. To mitigate this, I suggest for those who are unused to contact- the head high punch is better used as a gap closing strategy done faster with less power. Once you cross the gap then you can then of repositioning yourself and strike more accessible targets.
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