Thursday, April 9, 2009

10 Ways to Improve your Punch

Many think that punching is the simplest thing. Ask any boxer or martial artist and they'll tell you that to punch well is far from easy. There are, literally, thousands of ways to do this. It would be impossible to discuss them all here, so we decided to list our top 10 favorites. These are simply the drills that work for us the most and are for instructional purposes only.

* is working on a video blog on this topic to demonstrate the following drills.

1. Hit the Bag
Alright, not the most scientific method in the world, but it is necessary. No matter how many times people tell you to keep your wrist straight, newbies always hurt their hand the first time they hit the bag. Might as well get this over with and you will never make that mistake again. Aside from teaching good form, the bag is good for generating power. Stupid bag...smash him!

2. Strengthen your Swing
Adding weights to your training is another good way to add power to your punch when done correctly. In my experience, free-weights seemed to make my arms stiffer and my range of motion became limited. As soon as I learned how to work out with a Kettle Bell, I could instantly feel the difference. The swinging motions allow your body to grow strong, while allowing the freedom of movement. I've also noticed this change in some of my training partners as well.

3. Vital Point Striking
A wide, barbarian swing might look good in the movies, but just might be one of the easiest things to avoid. It is important to know where to hit and how. Studying the body's vital points is a good way of finding those little spots that knock your opponent down. Having a knowledge base of the sensitive areas in the body also gives you options to adapt to different scenarios, from sport fighting to self defense.

4. Taking Away the Fear
In order to understand what a well-placed hit can do, you must have felt it at some time. It's hard to get the desired effects if you don't know what they are. This means that at some point you're just going to have to suck it up and explore some punch absorbing methods. There are safe drills available to learn how to take a hit.

5. Good Structure Behind the Punch
Without proper form behind the punch, you might as well be hitting your opponent with a face cloth. The arms (as well as the rest of you) has to maintain proper form at all times. Closed fist push-ups are a good way of working on this. We explore new and funky was of doing this all the time at the Scrapyard.

6. Hitting a Person
Bags are therapeutic to wail on, but it's rare that you're going to hit an actual, moving person like that. You're best bet is to train some pushing drills with a closed fist to feel how the fist naturally falls into a person's structure. This can be done at slow and comfortable pace; that way you give your central nervous system a chance to program this.

7. Tendon Power
This is something that is often skipped. I'm guessing people don't understand this concept, because it is one of the most important and difficult aspects of striking power. Any kind of resistance training will build strong tendons, so that when your muscles have given up on you, you'll see that you still have devastating force and no problem maintaining form. Grab some bungy cords and start shadow boxing!

8. Rhythm
We've all seen that Rocky movie where he has to learn some rhythm (if you haven't you should!). Muhammed Ali showed us the same, but decades earlier and in real life! This doesn't mean that you have to dance all around the ring, but you should be familiar with your own rhythm and also to how to break it. Nothing messes the other guy up more than starting a rhythmic pattern and then hitting on half-beats! Put on some of your favorite training tunes next time your shadow boxing or hitting the bag.

9. Slow Sparring
This is something that I really belive in and like to practice often. It's very tricky to do well and very easy to mess up. The trick is to spar with your partner at a very slow pace. This will work your timing, because you'll always have to be in the right place at the right time. You'll instantly want to speed up and fighting this urge is part of the challenge. It gets even harder when your heart rate rises (usually due to frustration) and a true master of this drill will keep the focus and pace.

10. Fight!
Of course, in the end, there is just so much you can believe in something without putting it to the test! Take all of the concepts above, find a training partner you can trust, get all the appropriate safety gear, agree on some rules and let those fists fly. Pressure testing is necessary when you want to know how well (or poorly) you are training. Some styles only pressure test, but that's as bad as never doing it. Remember, while you stress the body and mind to see what sticks, you're not learning anything new, just testing what you already know. Your brain is in survival mode, so it won't really let you try something new that might not work.

I hope these ideas and drills are useful to you at some point. These are simply some of the excercises that have worked for us and we thought we would share them with you. Any feedback on this will be greatly appreciaeted.

If you have any questions:

Stay tuned for the Video!!