I recently came across an email in Best Self Defense Weapons Mailbag which asks, “Which is better in a self defense situation between using palm strike vs closed fist?”
The Effectiveness of Closed Fist Punch vs Open Palm Strike Depends on Your Training or Preference
The effectiveness of using palm strike vs closed fist depends on the martial arts or combat training that you had. If you are more of a boxer or your fighting style favors punching, striking with closed fist can be a very effective way to fight an aggressor in a self defense situation. However, if you are not well-trained in using punches, a good recourse would be to use open palm strikes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Palm Strike Vs Closed Fist
An article in Israeli Krav International website provides the key advantages and disadvantages of palm strike vs closed fist. According to the article, using a palm strike is safer than closed fist punching if you are not trained in using punches during a fight. Then, you can use palm strike in hitting the bony parts of the body with lesser risk of hurting yourself.
Personally, as a practitioner of martial arts, I also find that open palm fighting lets me transition my technique easily from striking, grappling, blocking and using submission holds.
On the other hand, a punch or a closed fist strike carries a better possibility to knock down or knock out your opponent. It is also more damaging in most circumstances than hitting with an open palm.
But one of the problems in using a closed fist technique is that the knuckles have the tendency to get cut with continuous strikes to the hard portions of the body. The friction generated upon continuous contact to the target can also cause cuts to the skin of the puncher. This has been very evident even with martial artists and boxers who are punching without gloves or protection to their knuckles.