One of the dangers of striking to the head of a human being is that the skull and jaw (with teeth in it) present some very real dangers to the striking hand. One can easily break a closed fist when hitting the skull. Punching someone in the mouth can cut you badly — or leave the other party’s teeth embedded in your hand. (Nasty infections can result from that kind of thing.) Even if no serious damage is done, the pain of striking a hard surface with a clenched fist can cause you enough shock or distraction that you’ll lose the initiative.
A great technique that solves this problem is to use your palm to slap the opponent. This is not, however, a simple slap to the cheek, which does no real harm. Instead, we’re going to use a power slap — a technique that starts from the low line to take the opponent by surprise, delivering serious force that should take him off balance and may even knock him down or knock him out.
The photos below are captures from a video sequence in which I perform a power slap. From a neutral stance, I let my right arm fall to my side (if you’re just standing there, your arm is probably already in this position) as my left arm comes up to guard. In this photo I’ve already got my palm ready to strike the right side of the opponent’s face, just over the ear and upper part of the jaw hinge.
My arm arcs up, extended, starting to bend as my palm reaches the side of the opponent’s head. In the photo below, you can see the head of the Body Opponent Bag (BOB) compressing as the shock of my strike travels through it. My body has begun to torque to my left as I step into the strike and twist.
An instant after the strike lands, my arm is starting to pull through the slap…
…and you can see it start to slide down and off the opponent. I’m still twisting, turning through to my left.
When I’ve completed my follow-through, my arm has retracted and is up in a guard position, while I’ve completed stepping through the strike and am now oriented at a forty-five degree angle to the left (compared to where I started, facing the BOB straight-on). You’ll notice also that I’m much lower now than when I started. It is this sinking into the strike as you turn and torque that makes the slap quite powerful.
Comparing BOB’s position from photo to photo should show you that he moves significantly from this slap to the head — no small thing considering how high-up he’s been struck. (He’s returned to his resting state in the last photograph.)
Slaps of this type are used in many martial arts, such as Silat, and can be used to good effect without undue risk of injury to the practitioner. With a little practice you can deliver these strikes without telegraphing them and while generating a great deal of power.