punching technique

my former instructor always said we should have fast snappy punches. the only way i can get fast snappy jabs is to flick my arm out like i am trying to snatch a fly in the air - my hand is open going out and at the final moment my fist closes (grab the fly in the air) and then on the way back it is opened again. This looks exactly like what one of the better guys who use to go to my gym did.

Is this technique proper or should I use my normal slower jabs where i keep my fist clenched the entire time? I think my punch is harder the slower way but i can't get fast double or triple jabs.

I was taught to relax until right before impact for fast jabs.

i've also heard "always relax and make fist only just before impact and not before"


Without doubt, you need to relax your hand before impact, or rather, let me put it this way:

If you throw a punch with everything all tight and clenched, it will be a slower punch and ultimately less powerful.

Punching power is measured by how fast a punch flies + the mass of that object and it's relative hardness upon impact.

The slower your punch, the worse, and tensing your arm partially, or fully tensing your fist as you're throwing the punch will slow you down since fully tensing the fist will cause at least your entire forearm to tighten which does have the effect of tensing your triceps and other arm muscles.

The reason you're supposed to rhrow a relaxed hand and then tighten just before impact is because you want the punch to fly towards the target as fast as it can, but have as much hardness (impact) when it finally hits. You can't have both at the same time...you deliver punch quickly but tense the relevant muscles/fist at the right moment so the opponent is actually affected by the strike. If you don't tense at teh last moment, your opponent only feels your speed+mass, which is definitely not nearly as powerful as speed+mass+hardness.

Sorry for the long-winded response, I'm sure it could be shortened but I don't feel like rewriting it right now :)

Let me add though that when keeping the first unclenched doesn't mean you loosen your hand to a point where the fingers are dangling around or something. You keep a fist, you just don't tighten it at all, but the fingers and thumb are still curled. There's more than one reason for this...

1. It means less tiem from relaxed fist to hard fist when your fingers are almost already there.
2. If your hand is struck in some way before you make your impact punch, you won't have outstretched fingers or poor hand structure that might result in breaks or sprains.

Frost remained relaxed until the moment of impact while mercilessly pummelling the Correct...

muscle tension is the enemy of speed, power, and cardio. As a teacher I can actually see when somebody's tense just in their stance, and it just screams at me when someone's punching!

Also, like frost said you want to form a fist, you just don't want to be tense. If you look at your hand you should be able to hold a roll of pennies in your loose fist. Personally I don't recommend tensing even at "the moment of impact" while punching in the air, but you certainly should whenever you actually hit something.

Furthermore, make sure you exhale sharply at the moment of impact (in the air, or when making contact). Sharp, through the teeth, "CHSHH!!"

This does two things: It helps you stay relaxed until you hit, then when you hit it tightens your core muscles explosively which adds to the practice of "hitting with every muscle in your body." The same principle as a kiai in TMA.

As a side note and in addition, make sure your punches come back faster than they go out. One useful thing I got from my old Karate instructor was, "punches go out at sixty miles-per-hour, and return at a hundred." Think of your punches sinking back to your body, with the cross it's the return-rotation which naturally pulls the punch back, for example. For hooking punches I like to pull the hand back to my face at the moment of impact which tightens the arc of the punch.

These things are important to speed, power, and cardio, and are what you were seeing at some level in those more advanced people.

Another trick I learned to help relax was to think
of your fist as a baseball and your shoulder is
throwing it out there. Your arm and fist end up like
a rock on a rubber band, all your power's coming from
that shoulder roll and then they snap back.

Awesome thread already. I have the same problem with relaxation. I find the more I try to hit hard, the more tense and less powerful I am.

anybody watch ali, in his prime, demonstrating hand speed informally? His hands stay loose, open, even flicky.

Hard to explain, but good, solid punches are more the result of proper alignment, technique, and timing. If you feel you're muscling ANY portion of a strike, you're doing something wrong.

KS, instead of trying "hit" hard, try to "throw"
hard like you were trying to KO a guy with a baseball.
That'll help the muscles that should be tense, and
help you relax the ones that shouldn't be.

4 ranges has it correct as well, the better your structure and timing, the better the strike will be but I think all these things are required of a good strike. The better coordinated all these things are the better the striker will be.

How is it best to objectively measure the strengh of a punch. Obviously by the motion of the bag but is there a better way?

Personally I judge by the sound, provided it's on the
same bag. The best punches make a "crack" sound and
you hardly feel them in your arm. It's like the punch
equivilent of a dead-solid-perfect drive in golf.

Combine that with seeing the bag fold, and jump
straight up and you know you just did something right.

Actuaaly, the bag shouldn't move so much with GOOD punches because you are not pushing them.

nice thread-ttt

No, I never said that. You do punch through the bag (i.e. your fist should impact inside his face or right out of the back of his head, but it shouldn't be where you're PUSHING the punch. It should be a crisp, snappy punch that comes back as fast (if not faster) than it goes out to the target. Your arm should be back to your chin by the time the bag moves.

Have someone watch your crosses. Are your shoulders rotating like that drum on Karate kid, or are you throwing your arm into the target and pushing it? Though it makes the bag dance, that isn't a powerful punch.

Like I said, watch Trinidad or Joe Louis. You'll see what role speed and mechanics plays instead of trying to "muscle" your punches.

A really good boxing punch is best experienced if you hold pads for a true boxer, amateur or pro.

Once you experience that, then you'll understand what "punching through" yet "not pushing" means. You'll understand what "crisp" punching means.

Although the descriptions here are good, you won't be able to replicate the results for yourself unless you experience it.

The part mentioned above about how when you do a good punch it hardly feels like you made any effort at all is completely correct. Everytime I'm able to snap off a great punch, it goes through the target like a hot knife through butter and doesn't feel like I did much, yet it has great effect. The hard part is being able to replicate this on every punch which is definitely something I am not able to do, and I would imagine is very hard to do in an actual fight even for the best strikers out there.

I also have not really experienced this feeling doing hook punches to the bag...only on punches that require straight alignment of the arm bones on impact like a cross, jab or vertical fist chung choi.

One more thing about moving the bag. Your punches should "fold" the bag and cause it to jiggle. It should not take big long swings from one side of the room to the next (that means you are "pushing" your punches.)