Learn to punch properly – Why punching is just like driving a car
By now, most adults will have had the experience of driving a car, or at the very least sat in the passenger seat on many occasions. You will be able to tell pretty quickly whether they are a good or terrible driver. Jerky acceleration or braking, lack of awareness around them, poor turning lines, too aggressive or too passive, or some are just downright dangerous. If you can’t think of any drivers like that…then maybe it’s you!
Here are some analogies that spring to mind when I am teaching my PT clients or Taekwondo students how to punch and kick properly – you might even get some good driving tips out of it!
Car analogies #1. Accelerate smoothly and work through the gears – From a complete stop, a car works through the lower gears to get momentum building up to peak speed. Similarly say for a punch, the low gears for your body start with the feet, through the hips, then core, shoulder and finally quick elbow extension. If all the joints move together, the movement becomes too heavy and slow.
Car analogies #2. Contact with the ground when punching and moving around – cars steer, accelerate and brake best when there is maximum traction with the ground. Rather than jumping or stepping your your feet when moving in the stance, slide your feet to maintain feel on the ground to allow even weight distribution and change of direction quickly. Bonus analogy, don’t let the hips and toes raise too high when punching, keep the balls of the feet on the ground. Lower hips means better stability and control, just like low suspension on sports cars.
Car analogies #3 Uncontrolled power leads to loss of control – great drivers are able to balance acceleration and braking with steering control, whereas inexperienced drivers will carry too much speed for the corner, brake late and lose control. Too much weight in the action, overbalancing on the front foot, or no retraction on the kick can lead to the practitioner landing with too much forward momentum and become unbalanced
Car analogies #4 – Turning circle is better in a small car – Changing direction in formal patterns or sparring is easier when you bring the stance, hands and feet back to the body. Trying to turn with extremities extended is like a big truck turning, versus a nippy hatchback.
Car analogies #5 – Chambering kicks, blocks and punches is like selecting the right gear – if you slow down into a corner but don’t shift down to the correct gear, you won’t have enough power for the exit. Using punching as an example, drive the left jab forward with good hip rotation, which means the right hip is back ready and chambered for the right cross, which can smoothly accelerate to the focus. A flat hip profile on the left cross requires the right hip to shift down/back before any power can be generated on the right cross.