I wrote this “How to Increase Your Punching Power in Five Minutes” article as a guest post over at the Paladin-Press blog.
In that post, I explain the reasoning behind this type of training and how exactly to go about it. This video is meant as a visual aid to help you put into practice the guidelines I described there. I’ll go into a little bit more detail here below but please read that blog post first and then watch the video:
Here are some more thoughts about this type of training:
- It only takes five minutes. You don’t have to spend hours on end on this, five minutes is plenty. However, you need to focus intently on the task during those five minutes. You’re looking for micro-movements and that’s more difficult than it seems at first. So spend a little bit of time on this and then file all the corrections you find away for future training.
- However, you need to ingrain the corrections for them to work. If you only do the slow, searching for those parasite movements without ingraining the corrections, you can forget about making any progress with your punching power. As with anything, the real work is in the repetitions. Not mindless repetitions but targeted ones, repetitions that have a specific purpose every single time.
- Don’t do strength training. The goal is not to get stronger muscles or increase the strength of every part of the technique. That kind of training is totally different (though also very valuable) from what I’m doing here. Keep in mind that the resistance from the elastic band is meant to teach you where you are losing power in your punches. No more, no less.
- The procedure is the key. I firmly believe that you get not only the fastest but also the best and longer lasting results by following the procedure I showed here instead of skipping steps and jumping ahead to the scenario or pad training. You get those results by progressively increasing the intensity and difficulty of your repetitions while only advancing to the next step if the previous one is as good as you can make it. In other words, your punching power increases because you teach your body to not lose power in every component of the technique. I wrote about this before in my Martial Arts Basics post, so for more information on how to train like that I suggest you take a look at that post too.
- You don’t need to use the elastic band forever. The goal is not to keep on using the resistance band, the goal is to punch harder. The band is just a tool. So if you’re spending loads of time on using that band, you’re not spending enough time drilling in corrections. To avoid this from happening, keep a training log in which you keep track of how much time you spend on which part of your training.
- Putting it all together is where it’s at. The goal is to use this type of training for every technique and then putting it all together so every move you make is as good as it can possibly be. As you get rid of those parasite movements that rob you of power, you’ll have to use the elastic band less and less. That’s as it should be.
- Buy the elastic band you can afford. There’s no need to buy expensive brands if you can find a cheap alternative. I use the blue Can do ones you see in the video because I also use them with clients for other types of training. So they need to be good enough for that too and are a bit more expensive. You can also get some cheaper ones from Thera-band right here. Or you can go to your local Home Depot and get some bungee cord. Use whatever works best for you.
I have done this kind of training a lot over the years and it always helps me in improving not only my techniques but it also increases the power I can put in them every single time. It may not be a flashy or spectacular way of training, but it sure works.
Have fun training!
I really like the video Wim, great job!! I never thought of using a resistance band like that. By the way i just want to ask, would you recommmend doing this type of training blindfolded or with eyes closed so then I really develop good body awarenss and literally feel out where the tension is using my kinesthetic sense. Along with that would you think that working at this with my eyes closed in slow motion would help out my coordination of movement, body unity, and movement efficency? I heard that once people learn the do forms in tai chi well enough there teacher would have them do it with eyes closed to really work their proprioception? I just want your take in this, thanks.
My tai chi teacher had us do forms with eyes closed relatively quickly after completing it. There’s a lot of value in training that way but it’s difficult. The same goes for the elastic band training: It can be helpful at first to close your eyes but I wouldn’t do it all the time. The end goal is to use the techniques in a realistic context and you usually don’t fight with eyes closed… :-)
I see what you mean haha :), and honestly this video is a really good explanation of teaching people how to put structure behind their strikes. I kind of reminds me of a ground path exercises I was shown before where you do what you do here except you keep your fist against a wall, and make adjustments from there. I just have a question regarding strikes in tai chi and boxing. When it comes to power generation and power delivery how is tai chi different from boxing, which uses the same mechanics of the leg drive and hip rotation you mentioned? How are the mechanics in those two martial arts different? The internal arts have always interested me :)
Denis, that’s a question that would take way too long to answer in a comment. There are similarities and differences for both. Also, just like you have different styles in tai chi with different mechanics, the same is true for boxing. Not all boxers punch the same way. It gets complex pretty quickly.
Personally, I think it’s all good. You just have to find a way that works for you and stick with it.
Dennis Dilday says
Wim – could you comment briefly on the distinctions between the body mechanics in this video of yours and the body mechanics of 7-Star Step. Specifically, I refer to the lifting of the heel and coming up on the ball of the foot. And, I guess, the timing of that, since eventually the heel comes up in 7-Star Step as well. It’s the generating and delivering of force I’m asking about, if it makes any sense.
I always considered that the mechanics of a reverse punch were being engrained along with everything else being trained in 7-Star Step. Am I wrong? Or is this one of those, some do it one way, others do it another way, things? I ask because this is not a subtle of tai chi, it’s among the basic concepts – at least in our style.
“Few of us have the time we really need to devote to all the skills needed to make us truly prepared for conflict.”
– From Dave Spaulding’s “Simple is Best” Post
Caveat: this is my opinion and my personal take on it. Other PTCCI people will see it differently so please take this with a grain of salt.
In 7-star step pushing hands, you lift the back heel and slide it up to the lead leg. This works because you put all your weight on the lead leg. In boxing or MMA, you don’t do this (barring exceptions) and normally center your weight at all times. So there’s a huge difference right there.
The way I show it in the video, the kinetic chain goes from the ball of the foot, through the body, into the fist. The whole right side of the body is generating force, the left side is channeling and controlling it: the right leg pushes, the left leg makes sure the push doesn’t throw you off balance. The right side punches, the left side pulls and stops you from twisting your spine too much, etc. There are other ways to punch “externally” but that’s what I’m doing in the video here.
Regardless, there is a continuous force driving forward from the back leg to create torque. The back leg is never empty.
When using 7-stars in SD applications (and not as a pushing hands drill), you can obviously do it like this too. But you can also punch with a cross-like technique while emptying the back leg for additional footwork or kicking with it. Then the power cannot keep coming from that back leg. So even though you can generate it from the back leg, you then need to switch to pulling from the lead leg as you slide up the back one. Otherwise the back leg is still full while you land the punch and therefor cannot be used the way you want it to. At least, not without wasting time.
The trick is aligning your body so you can use that lead leg while making sure you don’t lose any of the generated power from the back leg. All the postural work and inner strength stuff is necessary for that. Hard to do but when it works, even a slow punch packs way more power than seems possible.
There are more differences (how to ripple the power through your body like a wave, tension levels in the body, using “yi” to get it right, etc.) But I usually don’t write about this stuff anymore. I’m tired of the tai chi fascist police twisting my words to suit their agenda, to attack Dan and our style or to steal it and claim it as their own. I’ll gladly teach those who are willing to learn in person, so they can feel how it works. As an added benefit, then I only have to hit people once before they accept what might sound like woo-woo stuff in writing. Cuts down on the bullshit levels for everybody. :-)
I really like the way you put things here Wim. I’m so glad I know someone like you who can explain tai chi body mechanics without any of the mystical/esoteric wording I see other people use when talking Internal MA. Also I think the Dennis above me raised a really good question on tai chi mechanics.
I actually experimented with what you mentioned in pulling with the lead leg before, and yes it is hard to do, but I hope I can possibly find a god teacher to guide me on the right path. I just have a quick question regarding shockwave impact. When practicing shockwave impact, can that impact cause organ damage? Or does it only overload the nervous system and possibly shut it down if enough kinetic energy is transferred? When I practiced shockwave impact with my friend just using my arm with a shockwave impact can’t really take more than one strike, due to the amount of pain it gives him, and he told me if he got hit in the face with it he probably wouldn’t be able to take it. And this is me only accelerating my arm and not my whole body. I honestly really like the explanation you gave in combat sanshou on shockwaves, and I practiced them with all sorts of strikes, and learned how to get that loose and heavy feeling with striking so once I make contact I stick the strike properly. So yeah what type of damage can shockwave impacts cause? is it just the nervous system, or can the kinetic energy transfer also damage organs?
The reason I’m asking this is because 1. I’m curious on how things work in shockwave impacts and 2. Is because I know I’m gonna be receiving a lot of them once I get into sanshou competitions and face high level fighters :)
Shockwave impact is actually pretty rare in sanshou competitions. The protective gear makes it very difficult to pull that off. You’ll mostly encounter penetrating impact.
As for organ damage, it’s possible but you need a lot of training before getting to that point. It also depends on technique selection, targeting and even more factors. Usually, you’re both overloading the nervous system and trying to “shake up” the guy. Hard to explain, easy to show.
That said: I would against advise training to damage organs. In a civilian self defense context, there is no place for this. The contexts where it is applicable is not something you want to spend your life in.
I understand Wim, I wouldn’t want to spend my life in those type of high risk situations. As for shockwave impact, what you just mentioned kind of reminds me of the vibrating palm concept I’ve seen people in Internal MA talk about. Is the high level shockwave impact basically similar to what people think of as a vibrating palm?
As for general shockwave impact, when you do a normal shockwave you always have the whole “shaking the guy up” part happen right? I remember reading in one of your books, I think it was the heavy bag training one, on how shockwave is more acceptable in court, when it comes to civilian self defense, since it doesn’t necessarily destroy the guy like a powerful penetrating impact would.
Finally I want to say thanks for all of the help so far.
I don’t practice vibrating palm so I can’t comment on that. You don’t always shake the other guy up but it works well if you do. This stuff is hard to describe but very easy to show in person.
Dennis Dilday says
Sounds like my understanding of it is not too nuanced. And this isn’t the place for a detailed discussion of 7-Star Step. I like how your detailed description of the weight shifts made me think through some things though. Very helpful.
Again, this is just my very own take on things and not PTCCI gospel. Nor is it a complete explanation of what I mean, only a small part of it. But I don’t want to expand on it here for the reasons given before. Next time we meet, remind me and I’ll gladly talk at length.