Increasing Punching Power by Opening and Closing
The waist area is packed with muscle and potentially will add substantially to your power punching. In karate Senseis often tell you to use your hips but they should really be interested in the waist. After all the hip is no more than a joint between leg and pelvis. There is a lot of muscle working across and around this joint which can contribute to the power and force produced in a punch if it is applied correctly. And that’s probably what those Senseis actually mean though.
Opening and Closing separates the actions within the whipping punch sequence
When performing a whipping punch a defined sequence is performed; the snapping action at the waist causes the hip to snap toward the target quickly followed by the shoulder and then the arm. At the waist, this action involves a stretch, opening it up, and then a contraction causing it to close again. This opening and closing process is a critical part of the whipping punch and is apparent across other joints too. When learning this punch the most difficult part, or one of them, was ‘leaving the shoulder behind’. Differentiating between the hip and shoulder actions within the sequence is key, doing so will produce the desired whipping action and hugely improve power. Opening and then closing actions at a joint precipitate the next opening and closing actions in the sequence….
Years of punching in stance had negated this opening and closing action, certainly at the waist. Emphasising pushing the hip and shoulder through, towards the target, left my punches, well frankly substandard. Differentiating the hip and shoulder action was the first step in improving this part of delivering a punch. It took a fair bit of practice but I got it eventually. Pulling back the shoulder to produce a stretch across the pecs, opening the area, causes the shoulder action to follow the hip creating the sequential feel to the whipping action.
Improving Power Punching requires tension!
If the shoulder is just opened and the muscle is not activated, power potential will not be achieved. The muscle stretched must be done so under tension. It’s awkward even typing that word as the general association when using it is of a stiff puncher relying on arm muscles to produce power by pushing the punch. The feeling of stretching under tension is a little like the following:
Imagine someone is pushing against your arm, you stand still and resist but the arm is pushed backward stretching the pec under tension as it is resisting the push. If it wasn’t under tension the arm would just shoot back and you would follow. Probably not the best analogy but it gives you an idea. The opening and closing actions must be performed under tension to optimise your power punching. Of course you have no-one providing the resistance so you need to produce your own tension.
This process can be repeated at the waist by opening and closing it under tension. The action is not as obvious here but it is possible. The opening action involves stretching open the thighs, a kind of drawing back of the rear hip, if punching with the rear hand. This produces a stretch, which can be done under tension, this produces the potential for power. This must then be transferred toward the target by the hip closing rapidly. The front and rear hips perform different actions, one forward the other back to open and stretch the waist.
The interesting thing is that this opening and closing action is present in saifa kata and although I was told to perform this action in the kata it was not emphasised in regular training. It’s a great pity. I always enjoyed that part of the kata, it felt good because it felt like I was power punching!
Originally posted 2011-03-17 15:08:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter