Power Punching Tips from a Tai Chi Master

The following video was posted on Facebook a little while ago which shows results from lab tests on a Tai Chi master using some highly sophisticated equipment (thanks Steve). This post covers the first insight from the clip which illustrates how ground reaction force contributes to powering a punch.


Assuming the tai chi master is able to transfer the force produced into the target, I’m sure he can, potentially there is 2200 Newtons heading into the bad guy, which as the clip says is equal to about 3x his body weight – 220kg. That’s pretty good and is some target to aim for! With practice similar levels of force should be possible to all of us.

While I am a huge advocate of ‘punching with your feet’ and having been doing so for some time this video encouraged me to reconsider the role of ground reaction force in punching. It occurred to me that maximizing the force production at the feet was more important than merely producing force there. It reminded me of something a friend who does soft Chinese Martial Arts showed me. Whether it is from Xing Yi or Bag Hua, I’m not sure which, it involved stamping the front foot and punching with the stamp, if that makes sense…..

Power Punching Tips – Ground reaction force and stamping

The punch follows a sequential action starting with the stamp, followed by a rotation and ending with a straight punch. This is similar to the sequential whipping punching action but with greater emphasis on the involvement of the foot, however, the stamp can power any type of punch there doesn’t need to be a sequential action per se.

Focusing on stamping with the foot can increase punching power, certainly this video suggests it while subsequent testing confirms it. When trying it on the pads some people get the timing wrong and struggle a little with alignment until they get used to it. Another mistake is to merely turn the foot toward the target without stamping which misses out a significant portion of power, the result is a weaker punch.

When moving in relation to the target and using tiny steps to align to it correctly GRF plays its part again. By connecting the feet to the hands (or elbows, head etc) each tiny adjustment step can precipitate and provide force for a punch. It’s a little like sprinting on the spot, which is how I start off teaching kids to use their feet in their punches, and most adults too…..

The greater force at the foot the greater the increase in punching power at the target. There are limits of course but if the Tai chi master can muster 220kg of force what can you manage?

Originally posted 2011-02-17 12:18:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Ground Work: Martial Success Through Failure

After years of karate and very little in the way of ground fighting at all, I started learning this side of things in earnest at Primal. It was a struggle, everyone always seemed better than be and it was so much hard work. Really hard, I seemed to always be gasping and I would ache for days afterwards. Something like the video below, a lamb to the slaughter!

Being an optimistic sorta bloke I’d find little rays of hope within the experience, such as managing a reversal or by lasting on top for a little longer .  I would always glean a certain success within overall the failure, despite being dominated time after time.


However, whilst I did have the little glimmers of hope they always seemed to be about defence. I would go into a defensive ‘frame of mind’ and despite protestations about having to attack and not just defending, I really couldn’t do it. I was always one step, or more likely two or three, behind the other bloke and was so abosorbed in defending that I just couldn’t see the attacking wood for the defensive trees.

The first time I started to get a sense that success was possible was when we were doing a drill where you had 20 seconds to submit the other bloke with a nominated technique. It didn’t matter what submission you chose you just had to get it on in the time frame. Now on this occasion I didn’t actually get the sub on but I came pretty close. Importantly, this was against someone who I always had trouble with. But this time I was faring much better and it was down to the ‘urgency’ created by the time limit.

Now this epiphany didn’t translate into immediate success all round. Far from it but it gave me an insight into what was needed to do better. This glimmer of success was reinforced by one of the lads at Primal. I was talking about how, when rolling with someone else I just couldn’t shift him, he was always on top, his weight pressing on me. He’d just sit on me until I moved and then attack the space my movement created.  The Primal bloke just said “I know what you mean, it’s difficult but just keep going” and that was it, however, within that short sentence there is plenty to work with.

“Just keep going” can mean a lot of different things but in this instance it meant keep exploding, pushing, pulling, moving, twisting and whatever you need to do with urgency and just keep at it. I think of it as being like a Staffordshire bull terrier or similar, attacking. A bit like the dog barking, which I’ve written about previously but specifically moving in the manner of the dog attacking. Difficult to describe but if you enact the impression of a dog  attacking you can make a bit of room to turn into the other bloke or whatever. No literal interpretations, biting limbs is not allowed!


It’s quite hard work but reveals further rays of hope.

What this means is that I can cope better with some of the blokes I train with, I am not Matt Hughes or anything. However, it seems like I am enforcing a defence mode on some of those lesser able than myself, which is an interesting twist. Point is I had to put up with a lot of failure to get to where I am with the groundwork and while there is a long way to go it’s encouraging. There is hope.

Originally posted 2010-09-07 08:05:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

BAMMA 7 Middleweight Lonsdale Belt – Carl Noon vs Jack Marshman

BAMMA 7 Main Event 394x281 BAMMA 7 Middleweight Lonsdale Belt   Carl Noon vs Jack Marshman
Attended the BAMMA show at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham last night. I’ve been to a BAMMA show before and it is some way below the level of the UFC but the organisation are having a good go and seem to want to create the best MMA shows in Europe, which could make it a feeder for the UFC one day. Tonight we had Paul Daley and Twinkle Trigg but with Nate Marquardt signed as well they are making a decent fist of it. Although they need a new presenter!

Last night was BAMMA 7 and the show was good, especially the televised fights, with Trigg being edged out against Jimmy ‘Judo’ Wallhead in the main event. This was a decent fight once it got going and Judo deserved the win, although the judges scoring the split decision were some way from unanimous. Paul Daley deservedly took the decision against his Bulgarian opponent Jordan Radev, who’s head must be constructed from concrete. Daley blasted away at Radev, a former Olympic wrestler, and managed to stuff all takedown attempts during the first two rounds. In the third Radev had him on his back but wasn’t able to do a fat lot with positional advantage. This fight is worth a look as Daley gives a great demonstration of how to fight a good wrestler in the clinch, a lot of Muay Thai knees going in to the head and punching on the release.

Carl Noon vs Jack Marshman, Middleweight Lonsdale Belt

Easily the best fight of the night was Noon vs Marshman. Carl Noon is a very big Middleweight, I don’t mean in a Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson kind of way, while Jack Marshman is a serving paratroop regiment soldier from Wales. Both very tough guys and both motivated to win the vacant Middleweight belt. It was a classic clash of styles, MArshman undefeated going into the fight is a KO merchant and likes stand up, with this in mind Noon wanted to take it to the ground. The first round was dominated by Noon who charged Marshman, clinched and took his man down. From there it was one way traffic, and the traffic was full of massive clubbing strikes to Marshman’s head.

By the end of the first round Marshman’s face was messy but he had been defending himself, certainly intelligently enough for the ref. He was striking from the floor, to little effect, it has to be said, and attempted submissions two or three times. The best attempt almost had Noon in an armbar and had me out of my seat, I love a come back! He almost had it but Noon rolled, escaped and was back in the guard throwing big heavy punches again. A lot of these came from standing with the added leverage this position brings it wasn’t looking good for Marshman.

After such a one sided first round, it makes you wonder at the advice a corner can give, beyond the obvious, don’t let him take you down! The doctor had a good look at the left eye of Marshman but allowed him to continue which was a good job. Marshman came back into it and started to control the fight with his superior boxing and better takedown defence. Noon got him on his back again and it looked like we were in for a repeat of round 1, except that Noon was punched out. He just didn’t have sufficient energy to finish Marshman or put anything like the same pressure on him as before. The ref stood them up and form then on it was all Marshman and his boxing.

Amazingly, Noon was so tired that he was moving out of range and holding himself up on his knees like sprinters do at the end of a race. He did this several times in the final round and wasn’t really punished as much as he should have been. Marshman was fatigued too but he had the excuse of being battered, Noon simply hadn’t trained correctly for the fight. He probably though he could finish it from ground and pound early on. Noon needs to tweak his training.

The fight finished with Marshman on top pounding away and Noon unable to do anything constructive about it. Marshman refused the opportunity to choke or otherwise submit Noon in order to continue pounding him. He probably wanted to even up the eye damage!

Great fight, the only one that got me on my feet and comfortably the best. Huge congratulations to Jack Marshman and commiserations to Carl Noon. BAMMA are putting on decent shows so fair play to them.

Originally posted 2011-09-11 13:07:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mike Zambidis punching power against Chahid Oulad El Hadj in the K1 Final 2010

chahid zambidis 150x150 Mike Zambidis punching power against Chahid Oulad El Hadj in the K1 Final 2010Sometimes watching the UFC can lead you to forget how exciting kickboxing can be. For sure, Silva and Belfort has a kickboxing match recently but it was a bit cagey, certainly for the first few minutes and was over in a flash. Other times the excitement may be high but the skill level isn’t as high as in the K-1 fights in Japan. Last years K1 final between Mike Zambidis and Chahid Oulad El Hadj was a kickboxing treat but with a great skill level and incredible intensity.

To say these two fighters gave it their all is hardly doing them service. They blast it out right from the off, with the momentum swinging between the pair of them, even the loser knicked the winner down! While they do stand pretty much exclusively toe to toe and smash lumps out of each other the intensity in their fighting is incredible. Their toughness, strong chins and will to win is outstanding. Their fitness is incredible and to be able to continue at the same rate in the extra round is just amazing.

Just imagine standing there thinking it’s over, the split decision is about to come and then, off you go again mate! Phew, not for the feint hearted….


I do like Zambidis, he has a great whipping punch, moves enough to avoid too much damage and can kick too. Most of all he is very well conditioned and can take punishment when he gets it and he does take a fair bit in this fight. The power he delivers with those punches, clearly illustrated in this video, is sufficient reason for any martial artist to learn this method of throwing a punch.

His movement in and out of range is great, allowing him to deliver strikes without taking too many in return, he has nice sharp movement skills. However, his opponent Chahid just soaks it all up and does manage to return some punshment to Zambidis, especially to the front leg! So this is a brilliant fight and a brilliant K1 final!

Originally posted 2011-02-12 20:43:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Burmese Boxing – Myanmar Traditional Boxing

burmese boxing2 Burmese Boxing – Myanmar Traditional BoxingI first watched a Burmese Boxing fight after someone posted a link from the old United Goju Forum. These fights are frantic impressive affairs, with few rules; no gloves, takedowns and head butts allowed! An extreme style of Muay Thai, if you like!  There is a three knockout rule, not three knockdowns, three knockouts. If you are knocked out they wake you up and you have a minute to decide whether you want to carry on. After the third knockout you are deemed beaten, there is no points system, if both fighters are standing by the end of the fight time allocation, it is a draw. These Burmese Boxing rules have been adapted over time, but the underlying violent exchange is intact.

A little controversial in the safety conscious world we live in, but they make for exciting fights, while serving a specific martial purpose. It seems that the Martial Arts in Burma have always been related to war, with the sport side of training used to develop distancing, timing and contact conditioning rather than being a means in itself. These Burmese Boxing events are traditionally held at festivals throughout the country, being fought in sandpits originally, but now in regular boxing rings.

Burmese Boxing Documentary

burmese boxing4a Burmese Boxing – Myanmar Traditional Boxing

I discovered a short documentary, see below, concerning a specific strand of Brumese Boxing known as Kachin Thiang – ‘total combat’ from the Kachin region of Burma. As the translation of the name implies it incorporates different ranges of fighting; boxing, grappling/groundwork and weapons. Illegal techniques such as gouging and biting are included making the system a kind of warlike MMA with self-defence and weapons. These are divided into the following categories; bladed, impact, flexible and projectile. Kachin Thiang has 16 animal sets which represent styles of fighting suitable for individual body types, so a person does not have to adapt to the system, a style of fighting can be matched to the person. Each animal set has specific fighting attributes incorporating stand-up and grappling techniques.


Phil Dunlap of Advance Fighting Systems in the US has a great site* with a lot of information on Burmese Boxing and is well worth a read. There are clips from fights too and an insight into how he inherited the system from his grandfather. I like how the martial aspects of the system are emphasised, retained and used in the training to ensure the student gets a full system to learn from. There is no wandering off topic it’s all directed to producing good fighters with solid all round skills. Great stuff. Burmese Boxing – Myanmar Traditional Boxing



Originally posted 2009-03-22 09:00:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mushin #2

mushin2 Mushin #2


In a previous post I postulated that the preferential level of physiological arousal required for MMA or a fight is similar to the concept of mushin in Japanese Martial Arts, rather than a raging state. The following quote is from a short piece on developing mushin through makiwara training

Makiwara training also develops mushin, which literally means “no mind”. If you only concentrate on the pad in front of you, your sense of awareness is limited to the board alone. The moment you make impact the mind, the spirit, and the body must join together and then instantly relax, again allowing the spirit to absorb whatever is going on around you. This total physical/spiritual contraction and then relaxation is essential to develop the ability to defend yourself against multiple opponents. Commit just as fully to the completion of the technique as you commit to the execution. The mind should be the same throughout and only with mushin can this be accomplished.

I don’t know the person who wrote the above quote, and as such I have no idea as to the training advocated by the club/association he represents. I am fairly certain though that this approach to mushin is on the esoteric side and not really set up for defence against multiple opponents at all. It all sounds a bit airy fairy to me.

At Primal Steve Morris would get us into a heightened state of physiological arousal, by performing drills intended to set the CNS (Central Nervous System) to a high level of motor unit recruitment so we could strike with increased power. That sentence doesn’t do the drills justice, it’s very difficult to get the feeling over in the written word. He wrote on his blog about how the sprinter Ben Johnson would do heavy squats prior to running the 100m, in order to prepare the CNS for full explosive power.

(You can read what Steve Morris says about this here, here and here.)

It sounds counterintuitive, as you’d think the squatting would fatigue the muscles. Its an approach that works and enables you to get more than you think you can get. I first described the one drill on the old Shikon forum and will try again in a later post. But it’s not just the drill, it’s a case of using the drill to reach a level of intense power, an impression of which can then be “memorized” and repeated. This impression is then surpassed and a new impression “memorized”. The main outcome of the drill was very powerful strikes, but also along with the impression of power was the impression of the heightened arousal required to enable the expression of the power in the strike. Hopefully, that makes sense, you could even think of it as a mushin like coming together of the mind, spirit and body, because all of that happens. The mind is clear, you’re just observing whats happening, the spirit is high, you’re highly aroused, the CNS is set to fire at a high rate and the body fires off the shot. It’s a release, a big big release.

So while you could fit that description of mushin to what we did, it’s a giant leap, and there’s no actual indication in that description of the amplitude of arousal required, which is high, although not raging. In the previous mushin post I suggested that people may be inclined to develop a kata performance mushin, which seems to be more in line with the description above, and kata mushin is not whats needed for MMA or a fight.

Originally posted 2009-04-17 08:00:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Combatives in an MMA Setting

Army Combatives Championships 300x237 Combatives in an MMA SettingI saw this clip posted on Facebook (thanks Steve) and was intrigued because here’s the Army using cage fighting as a model to test the Combatives ability of their soldiers, both males and females. It’s interesting because there are many out there who suggest, in fact more than suggest, that cage fighting or MMA is hopeless for reality self-defence, street fighting or whatever you want to call it.

I’m not in that camp because I think there are enormous self-defence related benefits to MMA training. Of course, it is not directly transferable AND, of course, there are certain skills that should be avoided in a real street fight; shooting on an attacker with his mates watching would not be advisable. That’s pretty much accepted across the board.

The video is of the 2011 Combatives Championships for the US Army. The first thing to notice is that the people taking part are in great shape and are taking it all very seriously and they clearly need to go through a hell of a lot to win. The video illustrates the blood, sweat and tears required to compete.

Army Combatives Championship 2011

Of course, MMA training has applicable skills to real fighting and as mentioned others that are less applicable. But also, what it really has, that is completely transferable is the chaos of having someone coming at you wanting to cave your head in. It’s all in this video and in some ways seems more pertinent when it’s soldiers in the cage or on the mat.

Highly trained individuals, testing their skills in the relative safety of the cage. It’s clearly a good test of their skills, which admittedly do include some of the less applicable techniques. However, the army choose to use the cage environment to test these skills. It would seem that the army have faith in the cage environment as a useful testing environment. This would then suggest that the environment has something to offer in terms of preparation for real fighting. And of course it does.

It seems fairly obvious that experience of the chaos of the combatives competition depicted in the video, provides these soldiers with something of value that can be taken to the battlefield. Alternatively, for non-soldiers experience of the chaos of the cage can be transferred to a street fight. To underplay the importance of this experience in preparing someone for reality self defence is a bit daft, in my opinion.

Originally posted 2011-08-19 07:56:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Karate Stance or Muay Thai Stance, the Difference is Activation

kata kick Karate Stance or Muay Thai Stance, the Difference is Activation

Static karate stance

The importance allotted to historical tradition by karate, and similar arts, results in something similar to the historical weapons used in battle re-enactments such as those of the sealed knot, i.e. sub-optimal in modern times. This post shows how karate’s emphasis on form over function results in a ‘flat’ inactive ‘fighting’ stance which is in stark contrast to the activated, primed posture of the Muay Thai stance.

The irony is that while traditional karate generally favours historically accurate technique, form, it fails to do so accurately. Karate progressed from the secret training in the back gardens of Okinawan masters to the universities of Japan where training methods were altered. In a nation preparing for war there was an emphasis for militaristic precision in technique.

mt stance Karate Stance or Muay Thai Stance, the Difference is Activation

Dynamic Muay Thai stance

Over time performance of the kata, which supposedly contain the essence of the karate fighting systems, was (and is) emphasised over the useful elements of the movements. The outcome is an emphasis of form over function and a perfection of that form. This is clearly a drifting of purpose from the martial to the art, with effectiveness being compromised for the sake of form.

In contrast the progression of Muay Thai technique reflects the requirements of the contest; damage your opponent or get damaged! These requirements ensure that essential elements, or function, are retained, at least potentially, rather than superseded by the need for perfect form.

Activated Muay Thai Stance

An example of this contrast, form v. function, can be seen in karate stances and Muay Thai fighting postures. While karate stances undoubtedly provide a solid base from which to fire off strikes they tend to hamper rather than support movement, while Muay Thai fighting stances deliver on both counts.

In addition, any decent Muay Thai fighter is activated in his fighting stance whereas the karate fighter in his traditional stance is not. This difference can be thought of as the difference between being ‘on your toes’ and ‘on your heels’. One is actively engaging the muscles while the other is rather flat footed.

cycling good poor Karate Stance or Muay Thai Stance, the Difference is Activation

Pedalling foot position

The traditional karate stances such as zenkutsu dachi and neko ashi dachi are like cycling with the saddle too low and the centre of your feet pressing into the pedals. To optimally transfer the force generated from the whole of the lower limb the saddle should be high enough to allow the leg and foot to extend with the ball of the foot pressing into the pedal. Try this on a bike and you will notice the difference immediately.

Humans tend to stand ‘lazily’ with body weight supported by bones rather than anti-gravity muscles. By standing back on the heels with the legs straight the thighs are soft and inactive, analogous to waiting at the bus stop. However, if the bus is in and you need to get on, you shift your body weight, bend the legs and activate the leg muscles to move.

Karate v MT stance Karate Stance or Muay Thai Stance, the Difference is Activation

Karate Stance v Muay Thai stance

Karate stances such as zenkutsu dachi and neko ashi dachi are not active in nature, like you’re waiting for the bus, while Muay Thai fighting stances are active and similar to getting on the bus. The anti gravity muscles in the legs are firm, ‘sprung’ and ready to produce force, as a runners would be at the start of a race, ready for the gun.

The structure of the Muay Thai stance is set up with the muscles activated, or spring loaded and primed for action,  while traditional Karate stances are somewhat flat-footed and static in comparison. This observation is clearly illustrated in the picture from the UFC fight between Machida and Shogun

Originally posted 2010-10-02 00:18:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Bruce Lee’s One Inch Punch

Following the recent one inch punch post I found a short documentary on the wing chung approach, which, of course, was Bruce Lee’s approach at least initially. I know very little about Wing Chung so I found it an interesting seven minutes or so.


Interestingly, the one bloke in the video said that on it’s own it offers little value, other than a great party trick of course. The value comes in applying the one inch punch movement. He said when you learn it you discover “invaluable lessons”.

If you manage to learn how to one inch punch successfully, that’s all well and good. The value comes in applying the same power movement in other ways. If you can do so in one context you must be able to do so in another.

Furthermore, it surely opens the door to further discoveries regarding the generation and application of short range power, without having to rely on “centering the chi” or whatever. One bloke in the video intimates using the one inch punch from a combat perspective, firing it from a blocking move without pulling the arm back first. Another mentions the importance of getting the mass into the target. Some sensible stuff here.

 Bruce Lees One Inch Punch

Lee's one inch punch

Right at the end of the video the last bloke to speak says that the one inch punch “keeps opening doors”. That’s the take home point, referred to above, learn it and apply it!

When we look at getting power over a short range we try to take what we know to work and condense it. So to get the mass into a short range strike you can use the same, or almost the same, body movement that powers a longer range punch to power a shorter movement. Add the explosive finish and you’ve got something to work with.

That would be one approach that may prove successful or may not depending on the context. Of course, if you manage to develop a new short range power generation movement, it only has value if it can be applied in a fight. If not it’s just a party trick.

Originally posted 2010-05-07 13:39:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

UFC Fight Night 24: 10th Planet Ju Jitsu with the Korean Zombie

For a while I had a bit of an obsession with the Twister and I do mean the one made famous by Eddie Bravo of 10th Planet Ju jitsu rather than the party game! When we were set the submission challenge at Primal there was a lot of twister stuff going on. I always had trouble with it but it did inspire me to work my way up to the 100 required. It’s a bit tricky to get the hang of but forces the other person to tap out if caught in it. The spine is locked and twisted with the head section of the spine (cervical spine) turning in the opposite direction to the hip section (lumbar spine). It’s a pretty tough place to be.

I’m not sure I have ever fully understood this move and haven’t thought about it for some time, until someone was discussing the UFC Fight Night 24 (thanks Rams). The Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, managed to finish his contest with Leonard Garcia by Twister. It’s a great fight the highlights of which can be seen online but only on forums, it seems. It’s even mentioned on the Eddie Bravo wiki page! If you go to the second ‘box’ on the mmafv forum page you can watch the full fight. The twister finish itself is up on Youtube and is below.


You have to say he sets it up very neatly moving from a failed attempt at RNC from back control. The other bloke’s ground game is a lot less sophisticated, enabling the Korean Zombie the opportunity to pull it off. Joe Rogan certainly seemed to enjoy it!

Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu

Bravo bases his entire 10th Planet ‘top game’ around this spectacular move. I’ve watched a peculiar video where Bravo narrates you through many BJJ fights where he continually attempts and generally gets the Twister. The clips are great but the entire video has an odd feel about it as Bravo is pretending to have a luxurious ‘crib’ and presents the clips from there….. I think you need to see it to appreciate the oddness. In a similar vein of oddness Bravo presents a breakdown of the Twister as done by the Korean Zombie and shows how to get past various defensive efforts. It’s pretty good.


And more coverage of him twisting in competition, a real time illustration of some of the previous breakdown


To keep up to date with all things Eddie you could subscribe to his Youtube channel or get his book Mastering the Twister: Jiu-Jitsu for Mixed Martial Arts Competition UFC Fight Night 24: 10th Planet Ju Jitsu with the Korean Zombie. It’s great, although I found it a bit difficult to follow initially. However, in conjunction with these videos it’s getting a lot easier, to follow at least. I’m looking forward to seeing more from the Zombie and more of the Twister in MMA!

Originally posted 2011-03-31 02:01:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter