Open hand striking

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Open hand

The taijiquan form does not use fists very often.
Most of the movements involve the open hand and translate into a variety of open-handed strikes.
The open hand is more versatile than a closed hand.
You can switch between re-directing the blow and striking without any need to open and close the hand itself.


Hands are relaxed by nature and can adhere easily if you are required to change strategy upon impact.
Be careful not to push.
The wrist must always be allowed to flex as you strike, cycling through a yin/yang phase vertically or horizontally.
This can be seen as opening and closing the joint.


Although the heel of the hand is innately hard, this is not your primary striking tool with a palm.
We can strike with the back of the hand (only against soft targets), the small bone at the base of the hand, with the mount of the hand (just below the fingers), the fingers themselves (either dragging or poking) and with the thumb.

Don't tense up

Remember that the hand must remain soft at all times.
Do not strike a rooted opponent by trying to force the blow through them.
That is an external attitude.
Use a heavy, percussive palm instead.


It is important to angle your fingers relative to the wrist when striking using a palm.
Palm strikes are not suitable for the centreline (zip line) of the body if you want to strike below the sternum.
Aim to the sides and turn the fingers accordingly.
Low strikes are better performed with a closed hand.


There are a variety of open-handed strikes in taijiquan:

  1. Heel palm
    - bottom of the palm
    - firm
    - potential targets: under the jaw, forehead or sternum

  2. Mount palm
    - top of the palm
    - stretching
    - potential target: temple

  3. Back palm
    - back of the hand, to either side of the big knuckle
    - fingers are an alternative
    - potential targets: nose or eye socket

  4. Knife-edge strike
    - outside of hand or thumb-side
    - heavy, deep, soft, angled
    - potential targets: neck, nose, back of head or elbow

  5. Finger strike
    - fingers are slightly bent, in a bow shape
    - bow tension is present but the hand is not tense
    - fingers can drag up or down, slap to either side and poke forwards
    - potential targets: anywhere soft 

The strikes vary in terms of which part of the hand is used for striking.
Each type of palm can be applied in a variety of different directions - relative to purpose - up, down and sideways.


There are also different ways in which the palms may strike:

  1. Penetration

  2. Spiralling

  3. Chopping

  4. Seizing

  5. Slapping

  6. Reversal/percussive

  7. Vibrating

  8. Condensing

  9. Soft

  10. Waving

Open hand striking is extremely versatile and needs to be explored at length.

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.

(Albert Einstein)

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Page created 6 April 1994
Last updated 29 August 2019