A Karate Sensei Revived a ‘Lost’ Punch

YouTuber Jesse Enkamp, sensei and self-branded “karate nerd” is on a mission to bring back a ‘lost’ karate move: the body jab.

“This is one of the most effective punches in a real fight,” says Enkamp. “It’s widely taught as a great way to stop aggressive opponents. But it’s almost never used in modern Karate. In fact, it doesn’t even score a point in the Olympic Karate rules. Yet some of the world’s greatest fighters use it all the time. And guess what? So did the old Karate masters—because they knew how well it works.”

So to bring back the body jab, Enkamp is going to pressure test the technique in live sparring. To start, he needs a lesson in how to execute the body jab from someone who knows it well. He starts with a lesson from MMA legend Omar Bouiche.

To generate power for the technique, Bouiche teaches Enkamp how to implement the ‘drop step’, and also shows him a combination movement to provide him some protection while throwing the body jab (in short: shoulder up). To practice the movement on his own, Enkamp uses the Makiwara tool, which originated in Okinawa, Japan, the birthplace of Karate.

“I punched and I punched and I punched some more,” says Enkamp about his Makiwara practice. Then, he moved on to training the body jab against real humans, including his brother Oliver Enkamp, a professional fighter. While Jesse struggled at first, he picked up on landing the jabs against various sparring partners.

“Once I landed one body jab, I started landing two, then three, then four,” he says. “And before I knew it, it was part of my arsenal.”

But Jesse was still struggling with how to defend against the move, not just deliver it. So he consulted his brother Oliver.

“First and foremost, you should not put your hand down. If you move your hands, you need to replace them with your shoulders,” says Oliver. “Because if you punch, I can shoulder this and come back (with a hit).”

Oliver says that the defense is called a Philly Shell, which is a boxing move that is used by boxers like Floyd Mayweather, as well as Bruce Lee. It also has roots in Karate, where it’s known as the ‘Sword and Shield Stance’. Oliver explains that you use your lead shoulder to black everything, while using his rear hand for the counter hits.

“In other words, this is an ancient Karate posture,” says Enkamp.

The brothers go to work practicing this, and Oliver ties up Jesse’s right arm so he is forced to close off his body and shoulder to practice the Philly Shell. Then Oliver shows him some combination strikes to make the Philly Shell even more successful, including using his elbow for a jab and a hammer fist.

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