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  • Writer's pictureThe M Word Consulting


One of our favourite and most recommended self defence strikes is the palm heel. The reason we like it is because you can hit with a lot of power and you won't damage your hand because the soft part of your palm is cushioned. The heel palm is an extremely versatile strike and one of the techniques we teach at COBRA. Today we talk about this powerful self defence technique, and why it can be even better than a punch if you are forced to physically fight off an attacker.


Essentially, this is a strike using the palm of the hand. Whether the hand is open or the fingertips are folded against the bottom knuckles, palm strikes hit with the bottom part of the palm where the hand meets the wrist. The hand is held perpendicular to the wrist to avoid hitting the softer inner wrist tissue against the target.

A palm heel strike is delivered in a straight forward thrusting motion, with the hand flexed backwards, and the fingers pointing upward. Your fingers should not make contact with your target during the strike; only your palm should touch your attacker.


There are many reasons the palm heel strike is such a valuable, effective and applicable self defence technique. Often times, you’ll find it superior to a punch, however remember that in a self defence situation you should react as furiously and instinctively as possible. We love the palm heel strike, but if you are being attacked and your hands barrel into fists instinctively, that is ok, go ahead and hit or punch!

But we love to teach the palm heel technique as a valuable tool to have in your self defence toolbelt. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. Strength

The bottom ridge of the palm is a surprisingly solid striking surface, and can do just as much damage as a closed fist when utilised properly. The heel of the palm is the area of the palm at the point where the forearm bones (radius and ulna) end, and large bones of the hand (metacarpals) begin. It’s the part of the hand that bears the most weight when you perform a bench press or a handstand. Being the strongest part of your hand, this means your palm can deliver the most force without self injury.

2. Force

Some studies have shown that a palm strike actually can produce more energy than a punch with far less risk of injury to the striker's own hand. A quick palm to the forehead or side of the temple is almost guaranteed to cause a few second blackout and knock a person off balance. Assuming you have at least a little bit of strength and good aim, this is likely to work much better than a punch would.

3. Tactical flexibility

After a palm strike to the jaw, your fingers are strategically available to gouge or scratch eyes, grab and grapple at hair and body parts, and to seize your attackers limbs, clothing etc.

4. De-escalation

Keeping your hands open instead of balled up in fists looks less aggressive and might help de-escalate situation. It may also make it more clear to anyone who sees what’s going that you are not the aggressor.

5. Protection

The physiology of the hand is such that there are a few dozen small, delicate bones in the hand, as well as the wrist. It is something all people who perform kick and punch systems know—if you go to a bathroom wall, a tree or other unyielding surface you can unload pretty hard with your palm but not with your fist. Most boxers and kickboxers won’t even hit a heavy bag without gloves on.

6. Weapon defence

An open palm allows you to grab an improvised weapon easily, something that is hindered with a closed fist. In addition, if you get into a dangerous situation and the guy turns to be armed, having a closed fist will impact your ability to deal with the weapon or to find a shield.

7. Masked intentions

Your intentions are more telegraphed with a closed fist than an open hand; when you close your fist people know you want to punch them. However, with an open palm you can mask your intentions. For instance, you can hold your hands up and pretend to say “don’t hurt me” and then explode into a palm strike because your open “surrender” hands are already in palm strike position.

8. Faster time to delivery

We are talking less than a second, but micro seconds count in real-life situations and you moving your hand from open to closed fist costs you time. Maybe it won’t matter and maybe it will, that is hard to say. But it does cost a small amount of time.

9. Diversity

A palm strike enables you to articulate more angles and more diversity in use. You can use it from a multitude of different positions. In fact, the variety of angles you can pull off with a palm strike should be the envy of anybody who uses the boxing orthodoxy to perform concussive hand strikes.

10. Easy to use

You don’t need huge amounts of training to thrust you palm out in front of you; in fact, we teach this technique to both children and woman of all ages, sizes and strength at our courses. It is uncomplicated and simple. If you are trying to avoid an attack and you have your hands up in front of your face, it's really easy to just launch a palm heel straight ahead. It can come high down on a guy's head. It can shoot up almost like an uppercut. It can come from the left. It can come from the right. You can choose from combos, and you're never going to hurt your hands.

Like this post if you found this information useful, and be sure to share so your friends and family can advantage from some self defence know-how as well. Because one hurt person is one too many.

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