Kudos to reader and radio listener Ryan (from Parts Unknown) who sent along this wonderful story from the Los Angeles Times, discussing recent biological research investigating the evolution of the human hand.
A small cutaway, giving you some sense about what David Carrier and Michael Morgan were seeking with their research:
"The duo tested their hypothesis in a series of experiments in which men pounded punching bags, squeezed pressure sensors or performed one-handed push-ups on top of pressure sensors. From this, the scientists learned that force meted out by the hand is about the same when a bag is punched by a fist versus slapped, but nearly twice as great when you consider that the fist delivers its force to a smaller surface area. The study also found that the knuckle joint of the index finger is rendered stiffer and more stable -- transferring force more effectively and protecting the hand -- when a tight fist is made."
In an MMA world where we're rife with injuries, hand injuries included, and where there is such a great variance in the techniques of great strikers from one another, never mind great ground-and-pounders to one another, it behooves anyone interested in the sport to take a peek. What if Cain Velasquez figures out how to more stably transfer immense force through the knuckle joints of his index fingers? Can we take anything away from ideas about flexural stiffness that offer anything substantive to MMA technique? I am clueless, but endlessly interested.
The full paper, titled ”Protective buttressing of the human fist and the evolution of hominid hands" is available for full reading -- along with some helpful high school physics-style diagrams -- at the Journal of Experimental Biology. Read up; it's one of the few times that eggheaded pursuits will make you a more efficient killer.