How to punch seems a simple question as from childhood we learn what a punch is and often how to use it. But as with anything else there is an optimal way of punching and this can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of the punch. Let’s stay away from Martial Arts for the moment and take a look one of the most recognized sports – boxing. A boxer makes his living learning how to punch, that is of course if he a professional. When a boxer first enters the gym, he or she is taught how to stand, footwork, how to hold his or hands up in a defensive position and then how to throw the basic punches of a jab, cross, hook and uppercut. So what we are talking about here are four very simple punches and a foundation of stance, footwork and then the last part of how to move – forward, back, left and right etc. I am looking at this simplistically because learning how to punch is a very simple process, it’s the application of the punch or punching that is difficult. But lets get back to the boxing training. Next come the slipping, weaving and ducking so that you can learn how to avoid punching and then counter punching so you can strike back. I am not going to go into the physical conditioning aspect here, just the punching and of course physical conditioning is very important. Sparring is next so that the boxer get’s to feel the ‘real thing’ or as close as possible and then on to the fight. Now to the fight and we have all watched great fighters and apart from their ability to avoid punches and deliver them, they all have one thing in common – they are able to generate power by relaxing and it seems effortless in the best of the fighters.
So aside from the basics of stance, movement etc. the first key component is relaxation. Notice that I am not covering the specific technique here as it would take too long, but I will say that in my system there are many, many ways of delivering punches – two, three or even more punches with just one hand and from more angles than you would find in geometry! What I am trying to get over to you is that you have to learn the basic fundamentals of relaxation and then we move on to positioning. How you position yourself to deliver a punch is critical. Don’t get me wrong here because in a confrontation, you cannot learn position, for obvious reasons and you should practice punching from each and every angle, but in training you must also learn how to punch from a balanced position before you try to adapt, so at least you will learn the optimal way.
Try this: Stand with your feet together and let your arms hang naturally by your sides. Make a fist with both hands, but don’t tense up your arms. Now bend one elbow to 90 degrees and keep your fist at hip/waist height. From here just extend your arm forward by simply straightening your elbow and keep your fist vertical. This is a simple and very effective way of punching and if you hit a punching bag I guarantee that initially, you will be tense and throw your body forward to generate power.
Don’t. Simply extend your elbow and keep your body back and have the feeling that you are ‘throwing’ your arm off your body by keeping your shoulder back and down. Punch through the target in a relaxed manner and then you can add power by turning the whole fist, arm and elbow and shoulder over but try not to lift it out of position and don’t over extend it and allow your body to go forward. These are two very effective punches and the first will take out most attackers if you stay relaxed – a relaxed muscle is a fast one, so practice these and keep them in your mind! How to punch is a simple concept, but you have to keep practicing, just like everything else and I will cover specific punching techniques in future articles.