Clenched fists

Ever look at a boxer demonstrating a combination of punches?

Make a fist with the tips of your fingers touching your palm. Now open a gap between your fingers and palm. Oh, maybe a half inch. That’s the way I´ve seen pro boxers holds their hands - at least when he´s demonstrating.

What strikes me is, whether it´s Muhammed Ali or journeyman fighter, I have never seen one of them clench his fists tightly.

So, that´s my question. Do boxers keep their fists loose like that throughout a fight?

How about street fighting? I cannot imagine being in a bare knuckle brawl with loose fists.

As a very amateur boxer, I’ll give my take.

Basically, unless you’re actually punching something (and punching it hard, i.e. bags, focus mitts, your opponent in a full-contact match), you generally keep your fists “open.” This is because clenching your fists 1) tenses up your forearms (which leads to your upper arms and shoulders), tiring you out quickly 2) you do a lot of stuff open-handed (catching punches, parrying, etc.) 3) if you’re doing some light sparring, you keep your fists open so you don’t throw a full-strength punch at your partner, knocking him silly.

The other thing that you have to remember is that when boxing, you generally don’t get a tight fist anyway because you have wrist wraps and the gloves which keep you from closing your fist as tightly as you could without the encumbrance. The amount of time that a boxer spends taped and/or with the gloves on, this position becomes natural and just what you adopt even when shadowboxing.

I should add that really the only time you clench your fist tightly (as stated, as tightly as you can with all that stuff on them) is about the last few inches before you actually punch your opponent - even en route, the fist is open. The idea being that when you’re tense you are using a lot of energy doing essentially nothing and restricting your mobility. Thus the only two times you want to tense are 1) when a punch lands or 2) when you are hit with certain types of punches.

Unprotected (ie, no tape/gloves) full-force punches with unclenched fists = very very bad. It’s a very bad habit to get into. If you hit something hard like that, fingers can break/be dislocated way more easily than with a proper fist.

Sensible inputs.

When I imitate the pros, i.e., shadow with box ‘loose’ fists, it seems I can punch faster. Anyone else experience this?

And if I´m not mistaken, boxing gloves were developed, to protect the boxer’s hands, not to soften a punch. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the gloves increase the devastation of a punch.

This is psychological, like when guys in high school said you could run faster by keeping your hand open rather than clenching. (Guys in my HS anyway) Boxing gloves will never allow you to form a fully clenched fist due to tape and padding.

In addition the fights I’ve been in were never boxing matches. There’s something to be said for “brass knuckles” but they are rare in honest fights. I once saw a guy use a pipe (smoking type, not plumbing to give you an idea of size) and he thought it would, by holding it, give his fist an extra advantage.

You should have seen those fingers when the flesh and bones couldn’t absorb the shock. shudder

I think they’re actually to protect your opponent’s face… In regulation 6/8 oz gloves, there’s surprisingly little padding.

Ancient Greek boxing matches had these studded leather hand wraps that were specifically for turning your opponent’s face to hamburger.

Re: punching speed: see my comment about keeping your fist open until the last second. Boxing’s all about the snap not the push.

Re: punching with your fingers: punching with anything other than your first two knuckles is a bad idea, but you have a surprisingly wide berth as far as how open your fingers can be and still hit with the knuckles. That said, the tighter the fist the better.

I never understood the brass knux. I always figured they’d break your hands.

Boxing gloves are to prevent cuts – making boxing a less bloody, more “civilized” sport. They do, however, protect the hands somewhat, allowing greater force to be used, and – according to some – increasing the incidence of brain damage in boxers.

A properly made set of brass knuckles will fit solidly in the hand, and will transmit all of the impact to your palm. The “ring” types are not intended for hitting harder as much as for making a relatively light punch more devastating.

I bought some brass knuckles when I was younger not because I planned on hurting someone but because I thought they were nifty and I found them recently and punched a brick wall a couple of times very hard and it chipped the wall, It did not really hurt my hand but I noticed later I did break the skin, let’s just the person who gets punched in the face with brass knuckles is going to be in a lot more pain than the person who punches them.

make that let’s just say the person who gets punched in the face with brass knuckles is going to be in a lot more pain than the person who punches them.