A 60kg female hits the pads like an 80kg bloke! What is it that makes this girl punch with as much power? She listens to her coach, she is fit, she is fast and she has amazing technique. You can feel the results, she has punching power! The 80kg bloke maybe fit and strong, but it is no guarantee he is going to hit efficiently. It all comes down to technique, correct body mechanics, speed, targeting and hitting through the target.
Martial Arts styles offer so many styles of punching; Kung Fu with its fast rapid fire punching, Karate with bare-knuckle strikes that break boards, tiles & ribs. Muay Thai fighters use punches to KO opponents or set up for a kick, knee, elbow or clinch, and with MMA & martial arts instructors cross training and evolving methods to enhance what they’ve got, they are finding answers in the noble art of Boxing, without doubt the punching power specialists.
Power punching can be applied to any strike using scientific principles and truckloads of practice on a heavy bag or focus pads. Here are some power-punching principles to get more bounce per ounce…
When should I Power Punch?
You could punch anytime of course, but if you’re in range of your opponent he could be punching you! If you’re in range you should be punching! You can punch to defensively maintain range or to set up for another strike (kick/knee/elbow/head butt/etc), but when an opening presents for a well targeted strike the power punch comes to the rescue.
A power punch when unleashed and hits the right target at the right range can equal an indisputable KO win.
I personally like Tony Blauer ‘Closest Weapon Closest Target’ concept. That is, with your arsenal of various angled strikes (straight jab, cross, hook, uppercuts, shovel hooks, rips, over arm bolo) you hit the closest target with the closest strike as soon as the opportunity presents and hone in on that target like a guided missile.
This will be dictated by where your opponent holds his guard. Primarily for KO power the tip of the chin offers great leverage for head displacement leading to accelerated brain shake and unconsciousness. Other great targets include solar plexus, ribs, kidney, eyes, ears, nose & throat (Be aware of your style/sport’s legal and illegal targets).
Bait an opening by double or triple punching to set up his defensive guard and then work a different line (e.g. Left jab set up for left hook power punch). Other baiting and set up tactics include; using feints, or boxers classic favourite of striking upstairs (head) downstairs (body) or visa versa.
When to Strike?
Be proactive! Be first, be fast, be fit and fight off the front foot, However if you are facing a heavier, taller, faster, fitter or younger opponent you may have little choice rather than to counter strike with your power punch, or preferably a power punching combination flurry (for insurance if you miss or if he blocks)
Front foot slight inward angle to protect groin, and reduce your body target area (Go check out the mirror). The rear foot heel should be raised for mobility for drive to get in (or out) of range. Slight flexion in knees allows for utilizing legs to power upward strikes, and lowers your centre of gravity which should be over a shoulder width base. Weight distribution should be even so you can power punch off any strike.
Don’t over-reach when striking (if you miss, you’re history). Use footwork to get into correct range. When striking, thrust your hip and shoulder forward, pivot and keep your head centered. Beware your head does not come forward, instead keep your chin tucked in and let your hip & shoulder drive the power (not your head! Unless of course you enjoy getting a blood nose). Utilize your striking shoulder to protect your chin/jaw. Get your coach/partner to watch you side on whilst you practice.
This will vary depending on height of opponent but generally front (lead) hand points at target and rear hand stays close to face for protection. Pillar style (forearms vertical) recommended, as well as offering tighter protection this also helps keeping elbows centered and ability to lever body weight rotation behind your punch. Try push starting a car with a flat battery and look where your arms give you the greatest pushing power.
Avoid bad habit anchors like tapping of gloves before a punch. Hand should not be so static that you telegraph any subtle movement whereby your opponent can predict when you are about to execute. Front hand faces target, back hand guards chin, working in very small zone
Body Mechanics & Laws of Motion.
(You can’t beat science!)
Force = Mass (Your weight) x Acceleration (Speed over distance).
The heavier you are the stronger you will punch, The longer the distance the more time you have to build momentum, however too much distance and your opponent will see it coming. A short punch delivered properly will work if you use your body correctly. Practice long range punching, and then progress into mid and finally short range.
Summation of Forces
Torso generates the power of the strike (Hip in particular), Large gross movements lead. That is your body precedes your limbs for power punching (as opposed to a quick limb extension for a fast set up strike).
Focus through Target
A well focused strike should not just hit but also penetrate and drive through the target.
Exhale on impact, preferably out your nose rather than mouth as you can keep your jaw closed. (Any snot or blood exhaled may also distract opponent, but don’t do that to your trainer or training partner or you wont have one for long!)
Agonist/ Antagonist Relationship
Shoulders and body are kept relaxed ready to power into target. Example: When punching a straight jab or cross on extension we want our biceps (antagonist muscles) relaxed as the triceps explode. If your biceps are tense they will inhibit speed and power of your triceps! Sounds confusing? Get out on your bag now, tense your body and punch… Feel what I mean! Now relax and blast away. You will feel and see the difference. 10,000 punches later you are punching fast, hard and have awesome retraction ready for your next punch. But that’s not all! You are almost there on the road to your PB Power punch. On impact momentarily tighten all muscles (both agonist and antagonists), this explosion of power along with the above principles will get your punching to maximum efficiency and effectiveness. Now wrap those hands and go pump out another 1000 on the bag.