Back when I was testing for green belt, I had to write a green belt paper on the topic of “how to maximize punching power”. I remember very clearly writing this paper on our super-fancy automatic typewriter over and over again, going through multiple drafts, because my parents would not let me turn something in that was not correct.
I thought I would take this blog post as an opportunity to try to re-write this paper now, so many years later as a 4th dan. So, how exactly does a martial artist maximize punching power?
Let’s start with the feet. Wait, how are feet involved, you are asking? Whether you are taking a front stance, fighting stance, or horse stance, your power, in fact, comes from your base, and your base comes from your feet. If you are not balanced and steady, your power will not be maximized. Imagine how ineffective a punch to break a board would be if you were falling away from the target.
Next, think of the knees. Knees play an important role here, in that they help accelerate your offensive hip rotation towards your target. Knees are also the key part of most stances. In a horse stance, if your knees are not correctly bent, you will be off balance and not centered for the punches. The same can be said about front stance, where so much power comes from the weight on your front leg.
The next part – hips – should be obvious. There are 2 types of hip rotation in Tang Soo Do – defensive hip rotation and offensive hip rotation. Offensive hip rotation adds more power by “winding up” your entire body towards the target.
You may be surprised to read that your arms are actually not a large player in the game of maximizing punching power. Most crucial may be a well-formed fist that is not flimsy. Raw arm strength and bulk is honestly of secondary importance.
Finally, your head is where all of this comes together. Maximizing your punching power requires you to focus all of the preceding elements together in a single cohesive movement. And, in the case of breaking boards, your brain is where your break is successful or not. If you do not believe you will break the board, then it will not happen. If you fear the possible physical pain or the barrier represented by the board, then it will not happen. You must be focused.
Think about this before your next punch. Ask yourself if you really are maximizing your punching power. Remember to focus and give it all you have!