Hammer Fist: How to use it Effectively

The hammer fist is a strike delivered using the side part of your fist or arm where there is an accumulation of more muscles and less accessible bones. In karate, the hammer fist is referred to as tetsui uke and is taught as part of the introductory classes in karate. It is a useful move because it is easy to deliver and has a massive impact on your opponent. 

This move is also used in a traditional form of Karate, Gōjū-ryū, developed by master Okinawan in Japan during the 19th century. Gō refers to using the techniques with a closed hand technique while Jū refers to open hand techniques. The move focuses on pressure points located on the arms, groin, collarbone, neck, and throat.

Benefits of the Hammer Fist

It has a massive impact and can easily knock out your opponent because of the energy used to deliver it. The hammer fist can be delivered from different angles such as a lying position if your opponent is straddling you. It is also a natural move because it is based on gross motor skills, which also explains why karate beginners easily learn it.

When fighting with a stronger opponent, the larger the person, the higher your likelihood of hitting them with the hammer fist if you are fast enough.

As a transition move, you can use the hammer fist combined with a turn to move into the space vacated by the opponent after they have thrown the first punch and deliver an unexpected follow-up punch. It is also easy to focus on using single downwards hammer fist movements than multiple well-executed straight punches when your opponent is lying beneath you.

The hammer fist is a transitional move, meaning that it can be used after you have delivered a straight punch. For instance, after being hit on the chin with a straight punch, a descending hammer fist can be used to hit the person’s collarbone or neck area as both a defense mechanism and an attack.

Some of the other best places to strike with a hammer fist include the nose and jaw because being hit on these areas is painful and could lead to bleeding or a fractured nose. A hit on the throat can disable the opponent or even kill the person if targeted on the trachea. 

When to Use Hammer Fist

The hammer fist can be used as an alternative to the other punches. When delivering the hammer fist while standing, you can use it as the first hit to deliver a strong punch by twisting your body away from your opponent, rotating you’re your arm and delivering a side hammer fist on the target’s chin.

If the opponent is bending downwards, you can use the hammer fist to hit the back of your opponent’s head or neck. Inward hammer fists can be used when you have an additional weapon like a pen or another pointed weapon as this could cause bodily harm like stabbing the neck or eyes, which would subject the opponent to excruciating pain.

When using the hammer fist in Gōjū-ryū karate, the blows can be delivered downwards to target the joint near the groin. It is also used in the ground and pound techniques in mixed martial arts as a way to ensure that the opponent stays down.

Some of the mixed martial arts fighters who have effectively used this move include Branden Lee Hinkle and Mark Coleman while fighting in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). In mixed martial arts, hammer fists can be combined with other moves such as straight punches and spinning kicks.

What are Pros and Con of Hammer Fist


When compared to a hit delivered through the knuckles, hammer fists will hurt your arm unless and have maximum effect on the other person. They are also more solid because the muscle in this area has a higher likelihood of protecting the ulna and radius bones on the arm when compared to the knuckles and phalanges, which are located near the skin and can easily be fractured.

This can also be an effective comeback when someone tries to hit you, and you miss the hit because the person will be closer to you.

Unlike the punches delivered with the knuckles facing the target, hammer fists can be used when you are on top of your opponent, and you are fighting with an opponent on concrete.

In such cases, you would be less likely to hit your arm on the concrete if the opponent misses the hit. If you are not a trained fighter, you can still rely on hammer fists because they do not require complicated techniques.


The muscles in this area are more prone to bruising in a case where you hit a hard object like concrete. You could easily kill your opponent or cause excessive bodily harm like a fracture if the punch is delivered fast.

If not delivered well, you could easily hurt yourself or end up with a fractured elbow. This injury is common in cases where you try to strike someone with a hammer fist while your arm is straight.

Related article: Neko Ashi Dachi Stance

Consequences of Performing the Hammer Fist

If you perform the hammer when the arm is straight instead of being bent at the elbow joint, you risk dislocating your elbow, which might render your incapable of continuing the fight. It is also a very powerful hit, when delivered at full speed and knock out your opponent, cause bleeding, a fracture, or kill the opponent.

Jesse Arnett has used hammer fists before to knock out his opponents and win a UFC match. Using hammer fists in boxing is illegal and get you disqualified from the match.

You can easily break a person’s clavicle (the horizontal bone that serves as a support structure for the shoulder blade and the sternum). For instance, in the UFC fight against Niko Prince and KO of Randy Brown, Price hammer fisted KO while he was straddling him and managed to knock him out.

The hits were delivered on the side of KO’s neck and could have easily broken his clavicle.