Ever wonder about that weird Star Trek double-fist punch?

By: H&I Staff     Posted: September 21, 2017, 12:41PM

There are a lot of unexplained aspects of the Star Trek universe — though that doesn’t stop Trekkies from trying to explain it all. Perhaps one of the most puzzling details is the weird, two-handed punch that seems to arise whenever there’s a physical conflict. You know, this one.

And this one.

Now, I’m not a martial artist, but if I were to get into an altercation, I would never think to clasp my hand together into a sort of makeshift wrecking ball made out of body parts. This has been a question for quite some time, with plenty of Reddit threads dedicated to explaining this awkward moves. Some of the best explanations include:

  • “The fight scenes are choreographed by people who don't know how to fight and are performed by people who don't know how to fight to impress viewers who don't know how to fight.”
  • "I believe the out of universe reason is that the more bombastic a fight scene was depicted the more the public would enjoy it."
  • "The most enjoyable fight techniques [for the viewer] was of course the neck pinch and that is anything but bombastic. Then again, its elegance becomes even more impressive when dramaturgically contrasted to others doing double axe strikes."

Many people just chalk its use in The Original Series as typical Star Trek camp, but it doesn’t end there. The website Motherboard took this question past speculation and dug deep into its origin, and why it’s used in later series like The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.

The move, the “double ax-handle,” originated in early professional wrestling, Motherboard reported. While it stands out as a staple of Star Trek: The Original Series, it’s was actually just a staple in fight scenes in old TV shows and movies, especially Westerns. 

The reporter also reached out to Dennis Madalone, a stunt coordinator who worked on the set of over 400 episodes of Star Trek in the '80s and '90s. He told Motherboard that he had a lot of creative control when it came to choreographing fight scenes and wanted to establish a move that seemed futuristic but was also a nod to TOS.

"It was something I saw as a kid — when I saw Kirk fighting back then, that was the one move that stuck in my mind," Madalone explained. “That was a move that looked more realistic [for Star Trek] than the old cowboy punches, because those didn't work for me in any futuristic context."