Have you ever lined up opposite someone relatively small or slight in a boxing class and been surprised by how much power they have in their punches? Where does this power come from and how can we all learn to punch above our weight-class?
Strength and speed will always have an effect on punching power, however there is a lot to be said for correct technique.
Foot position and Grounding
While a traditional boxing stance has the boxer standing relatively side-on to his opposition in order to decrease their vulnerability to being hit, I prefer a hybrid/kickboxing type stance for my boxing class participants. Standing in a traditional boxing stance makes it much more challenging to mix up your strikes with elbows, knees and kicks. A more front-on or square stance allows a multitude of strikes to be thrown.
In order to set up the stance to suit, I use the following analogy: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Imagine your feet are on the top left and right corners of a square that extends behind you. From there a natural stance boxer (left foot leading) will step their right foot to the back right corner to the imaginary square, while a southpaw (right foot leading) will step their left foot the back left hand corner. Essentially you will stand at a 45 degree angle to your original shoulder width placement. From here you have the ability to apply power to punches, but still have access to other striking tools such as elbows and knees.
Once in our stance, our weight must travel through the balls of our feet and our knees remain soft and slightly bent. Our legs are like springs in boxing; They give and take to maintain equilibrium of the upper body and limbs, while allowing power to be transferred from the ground to our strikes.
The core is the link between our feet and hands. If you watch a good boxer you can see the energy travel like a wave from their toes, through their legs, hips, torso, shoulders and into their arms to deliver a fast, strong strike. If our core is not set and strong, the power is diminished or lost entirely and we end up throwing an arm punch that causes the shoulders to fatigue quickly and possess much less power.
In order to make the most out of our power transfer from the ground and into our strike, we must maintain a ‘stacked’ elbow and wrist position. By this I mean the elbow should always be as close to directly behind the wrist in the direction of strike as possible. This will allow power transfer and also help to protect the wrist from twists and sprains.
As mentioned above, correct wrist position protects us from injury now that we’re throwing power punches. Maintain a slight downward cock of the wrist (straight line along the top of the hand and down the forearm) and clench the fist just before impact.
Hips Make Big Hits
I’ve left this until last because it is of utmost importance! Shifting our weight from forefoot to back foot and vice versa depending on our punch will cause our hips to rotate and bring everything together. Rotation of hips allows strong rotation of the shoulders and ensures every ounce of your power is utilized.
Bringing all of the above points together takes time and practice. But believe me, as you add each of the steps to your punching game, you’ll unlock explosive power you never thought you possessed. And here is the kicker; The more power and effort you put into each punch….the more calories you will burn during a workout and the greater your cardiovascular fitness improvements will be!
Work just as hard on the collecting of a punch as the throwing. If it goes out fast, bring it back to the chin fast. Double the work, double the workout!