Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Whence the power? How do you apply force in fighting?

Bruce Lee said it so succinctly when he deadpanned, "Boards don't hit back." He's right. Just me hitting my friends again...Perfect form on a stationary target, or (for forms specialists) in the air, doesn't translate to knockout power. I have noticed for years that some fighters have a ton of power on the pads or the bag, but couldn't knock anyone out if their lives depended on it (a subject for another post). The question of the day, then, is how do you translate that tremendous "gym power" from the equipment to an opponent? My answers assume you do have that hitting power spoken of earlier, but here they are:

  1. Timing

  2. Distance

I consider both answers to be one and the same, though they are synergistic components. If I have great timing, but keep missing, my timing is wasted. If I have perfect distancing, but fire too early or late, I will be in a heap of trouble fast. One doesn't work without the other. This is the answer to why some fighters have effective power (on a live opponent), and some do not. I once had a head instructor at one of my schools with all the attributes- decent speed, timing, distancing, and good technique. What was missing though, was strength. He was rather small (about 130 pounds), and didn't have that power on the equipment or on a live opponent.


  • Drill versus moving targets, as opposed to stationary. In other words, if you're drilling punches on hand mitts, make sure you have your holder move toward or away from you during the drills. Drill leading off from a distance. Drill counters against an aggressive opponent. I had one instructor, Master Mike Ocampo, who drill thousands of side kicks versus a swinging bag, and consequently could damage you even if you blocked it due to his timing. There are tons of ideas out there.

  • Do timing drills where you have to "squeeze the trigger" precisely to hit you opponent. Stop-hits are great equalizers for a smaller or lighter fighter, and the timing actually creates a lot of power in your strikes. Try 'em.

  • Last, don't rely on power. It will let you down when you need it most. When you are tired, it's gone. When you are fighting someone in great shape or with a granite chin, it's ineffective. Versus a counterfighter, it can be useless. Rely instead on combinations, conditioning, and targeting. Combinations create openings. Conditioning keeps you in the fight, and the right targets (eyes, throat, groin, legs, to name a few) don't require power to be effective.

Power is impressive, it's the icing on the cake, but it ain't everything! I'd appreciate comments with specific drills or any other related feedback. Back to work!
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Anonymous said...

i have an opponent who is way bigger that and taller who wants to fight me
the way he throws punches is by hooking you and grabbing you what should i do to knock him out

Anonymous said...

pull his pants down then when he goes to pull them up kick him in the face