If you have not already, please read my previous post “How To Punch” before moving on to this post! Who does not want to learn to punch harder? Punching hard is one of the most sought-after components of almost all Martial Arts or systems and actually it’s very easy to do. What I am going to do here is talk about the key aspects of how to punch harder rather than the specific techniques and applications, which I will cover in future articles. Also, I going to talk about it from an ‘ideal’ perspective and by ideal, I mean from a training one. Real combat is extremely nasty, dangerous and you will often find yourself in a ‘compromised’ position – back up against the wall, out of balance etc. From the training perspective you can learn the full technique, with the correct balance and motion and from there, you can start to put it into practice. The first aspect to learn in how to punch harder is form, or structure of the body and this will be dependent upon the art you are practicing or learning. A boxer for example will have a stance, his chin tucked down and will be in a strong position to deliver as well as defend against strikes. A Thai Kick-boxer may have a much more rounded look at the top of his back and so on. I teach a more straight up position with the head, shoulders, back, hips, legs and feet all aligned because I am teaching from a self-defense perspective where you will not be able to take a stance, but there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, just make sure it is relevant to your art or sport. Next comes position and balance – again, make sure it is in line with what you do and for me, it will be a centered stance with the feet in line with the shoulders as a rough guide because it will vary from person to person, so you are evenly balanced between both feet.
Now comes breathing and it is too much to explain in this article, but I will devote a future one solely to breathing. The object here is to breathe in line with your effort and to make sure that you don’t ‘run out of breath’. You don’t want to breathe too high up in the chest as it will leave your mid section are exposed and it will be difficult to control if you get hit, nor do you want to breathe too low so that you don’t utilize your lungs correctly. The faster you punch and harder you hit, the ‘sharper’ the breath, but as I said I will go into more detail in future and the same applies as you get hit, but breathing is one of the most vital components in learning how to punch harder. Now we come to the technique itself and whatever system, art or style that you do, it is essential to learn how to punch with your arms only – yes this is not a misprint, you must learn to punch with just your arms.
In self-defense situations, you almost never have time to ‘wind the body up’ to produce a powerful shot and I can tell you that a correct, ‘heavy’ arm strike is more often than not, all you need. In boxing, a lightening quick, heavy arm jab, can stun your opponent to line up the second shot. I am not saying that the arm punch is the most powerful because of course it is not – the more body weight you add the more powerful your punch will be.
There are two ways you can do this and that is to start with a full total body motion and gradually use less and less and in my system, I will work from a total full body motion all the way down to a punch that only uses the wrist, taking out components on the way. You can also work the other way round and start with an arm motion and gradually add the body – I teach both depending on whom I teach. Now the next component is speed and this is essential as a fast strike can buy you those valuable seconds in any situation. You have probably heard the phrase ‘lead with speed follow with power’ and it is true to a degree as what you want is a very fast, heavy, powerful strike.
The last and most important component is relaxation – a relaxed muscle is a fast muscle and it allows you to have a ‘heavy’ feeling as you deliver your strike. You want to feel as if you are striking with your tendons, ligaments and bones, not your muscles and that is why many arm wrestling champions at the lighter and mid weights are very ‘wiry’. Putting it all together takes work and practice and always remember that for training purposes to keep your form or structure. Practice very slowly and look for a relaxed heavy feeling in your punches and when you have found that at all ranges, you will feel the power in your strikes and then you can gradually build up the speed.