How To Punch Harder: The Ultimate Guide To Devastating Power

 

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There is no substitute for power and regardless of if you are punching in the street for self-defence or punching for success in MMA or boxing, power matters.

And for that reason, we asked former professional boxing coach Neil Holland to co-author this explosive guide on how to punch harder.

He has coached amateurs and professionals (including champions in both categories), been an Inspector for the British boxing board of control and been a boxing journalist.

In short, he has been around boxing since he was 17 and now he is 65 he is sharing his knowledge for free here.

This guide is in 4 parts:

Part 1 Is The Science of punching harder.

Part 2 Is The Tips from A Pro boxing coach

Part 3 Is How To Hit Hard On The Ground

Part 4 Is How To Hit Hard In Self Defence

But for those of you looking for the short answer here is the condensed version of the tips:

How To Punch Harder

1. Improve and work on defence.

2. Improve your footwork

3. Use weights to train for speed, not muscle. (Less weight, more reps, in shorter times)

4. Practise punching that involves rotation of the body.

5. Concentrate on fitness and conditioning.

6. Learn the difference between pulled punches and driven punches.

7. Learn the difference between weight balanced evenly on both legs and weight transferred over the front leg or the back leg.

8. Master timing. Learn to punch as the target moves towards you or onto any favoured shot. It will amplify the power you already have.

9. Lie on your back with shoulders flat on the floor and punch upwards.

10. Get a good coach with a good analytical ability regarding technique.

Ok, so there are the basic tips.  Now, let’s break down what Power striking actually is:

The Science of Punching Harder

When we start to break down what Power Striking actually is we see that there is a science behind striking.

In fact, the scientific equation for force is:

MASS X ACCELERATION = FORCE

And this is the first part of our article that requires investigation.

Because if we are talking about hitting harder we need to know the difference between force and power because these play an important part in any sporting or self-defence situation.

Most people will describe someone as hitting with ‘power’ such as “he hits with serious power” rather than “he has some serious force behind his punches”.

In fact, power and force are different things.

The difference between force and power can be described as follows:

Force = A push or a pull resulting from an interaction between objects.

Power = Power is the rate at which work is done, or energy is transmitted.

To sum it up nicely, force is the result of an interaction between two objects such as your fist and the opponents head.

Power, however, is the rate at which work is done, or energy is transmitted.

The equation for power is:

WORK/ (DIVIDED) BY TIME = POWER

These equations are essential to understand if you want to increase your punching ability because you can focus on training your muscles to increase your power and thus delivering more force.

If we were to give more analogies, we could say this: Person A walks up the stairs to the office on Monday morning. On Tuesday morning he runs up the stairs, the same work is being done (going up the stairs) but because the time is being reduced he generates more power on Tuesday.

And as such we know that speed makes a difference in the delivery of powerful strikes.

Think about it, stand in your fighting stance and throw a strike at a punch bag at super slow motion speed.

The bag doesn’t move.

Throw the same punch at speed and boom the bag moves.

But that is only half of the story because we have the issue of force.

We know that force = mass x acceleration and by understanding this you will learn how a knockout occurs.

Our brains sit inside our skull within a cerebral fluid.

When we have been punched hard the brain shifts inside the fluid and as the skull cannot move fast enough the brain knocks against the side of the skull causing a knockout.

So when we talk about punching harder we need to balance the need for powerful striking and also landing on target.

We know that striking on the chin is called ‘the sweet spot’ by many because it causes the knockout faster or in even simpler terms ‘it rattles the brain more violently’

So when punching harder we also need to balance the need for accuracy as well.

Ok so now we know the ‘science’ behind punching hard let’s look at the pro boxing coaches tips for more powerful punches.

Pro Boxing Coaches Ten Tips For Powerful Punches

1. Improve and work on defence.

Why?

This will give you more opportunities and better positions.

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2. Improve your footwork

Why?

This will compliment your defence and improve your striking positions.

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3. Use weights to train for speed not muscle. (Less weight, more reps, in shorter times)

Why?

Muscle strength dissipates with muscle fatigue. Correct whole-body mechanics delivers power more through technique than strength and is still there during fatigue.

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4. Practise punching that involves rotation of the body.

Why?

This generates good technique that feeds off good speed and footwork.

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5. Concentrate on fitness and conditioning.

Why?

Believe me, everything in performance comes off the back of this.

6. Learn the difference between pulled punches and driven punches.

Why?

Pulled punches follow the commitment of the body direction. The body weight pulls the punch through and accelerates it like a hammer thrower does. The driven punch uses the body weight to push the punch into the opponent. Both are much more powerful than arm punching alone.

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7. Learn the difference between weight balanced evenly on both legs and weight transferred over the front leg or the back leg.

Why?

This is a crucial sensation to master because it leads to small, fast and powerful shifts of body weight that enhance the punch. It seems an obvious skill but this subtle mastery is crucial to control of power involving timing.

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8. Master timing. Learn to punch as the target moves towards you or onto any favoured shot. It will amplify the power you already have.

Why?

It’s the car crash principle, the combining of the mass of two bodies plus their acceleration.

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9. Lie on your back with shoulders flat on the floor and punch upwards.

Why?

This will show you how power punching relies on body mechanics and is the best way to remind anyone that simply jumping on the weights does not deliver the best power.

You will feel useless and robbed of nearly all power. Try it!

10. Get a good coach with a good analytical ability regarding technique.

Why?

The sculptor Michelangelo was once asked how he carved such beautiful sculptures.

He said that he didn’t, he merely chipped away at the block of marble until the sculpture revealed itself……..You already have what God has given you.

Find a good coach who can help you to blossom! It will not come in a weekend, but it WILL come if you work at it.

Some great tips there that come from experience of working in boxing.

But what if the fight goes to the ground in the street or MMA.

How To Hit Hard On The Ground

We know that fights go to the ground both in the cage and the street and what follows are my tips for those situations.

Ok, the first port of call is that when you are on the ground the risk to your hands is far higher.

In vertical striking, the risk of damage comes to your hands from the impact with the skull.

When on the ground you have the floor behind the target (if you land on top).

Therefore accuracy becomes the number one tool for anyone on the ground. You want your strikes to count.

As we saw in Neil Hollands boxing tips, if you try and lie on your back and place your shoulders on the floor you will see you have no power so when on the ground you need to realise that your hips are also out of the equation, so the torso rotation is largely down to the chest and shoulders.

While it is difficult to explain in writing you need to study how MMA fighter strikes on the ground.

First, a lot of referencing is done by placing a hand near the opponents head to turn it sideways. This opens up the skull for striking and as such allows for a shot to land.

Othe tricks and techniques include trapping hands and of course the use of elbows and hammer strikes.

Possibly the best video on MMA/ self defence ground striking is this one from Andy Norman:

One my top tips for power on the ground is to get your shoulders either off the floor if you are on the bottom or to pull your shoulders slightly back if you are on top.

But above all else, accuracy is the key.

How To Hit Hard In Self Defence

One of the major issues in self-defence is the debate as to using your open hand (slaps) or a closed fist. I have no issues with saying that if you start using open hand strikes you might get lucky but more often than not you will lose.

The fist is like attaching a brick to the end of your arms.

The open hand is like having a ping-pong paddle on your arm, sure a ping pong paddle will sting but at the end of the day, it ain’t no brick!

But in self-defence you do not have a huge glove protecting your hands, it is bone on bone when you strike and for that reason, accuracy is again essential.

Hammer strikes and also elbows are equally powerful when close up but if we stick to punches you need to make sure that your strikes land below the eye line.

Any higher up and you will risk breaking your own hand on the thicker parts of the skull.

As with Neil’s tips, I suggest that you focus on timing and speed of delivery rather than winding up.

I use a simple checklist before any physical altercation.

Balance: Am I on balance?

Distance: Am I close enough or should I bridge the distance with footwork?

Opportunity to take a shot: Can they hit me back equally hard, if they can I need to reposition.

Conclusion

Punching hard is a skill and science but you can get better if you work hard at it.

Only through regular training will you be able to increase your punching ability.

 

Andrew Holland