Three Important Concepts For Power Punching In Self-Defense


In order to have a strong knockout punch for self-defense, you not only need proper techinque, timing, and speed, but there are some other important principles of power punching you need to know about. So here I want to talk about three important concepts that you need to know for power punching. The concepts are relaxation, penetration and snapping back.

Power Punching Concept #1: Relaxation

Relaxation is the first of the most important concepts you need to know for power punching. The reason why is because you have to relax to hit hard. Power is determined by mass and speed. But if you’re tense and you punch in a tense mode with your muscles tight, your teeth clinched – and have all this tightness in your arms- it slows you down. It also makes you tire more quickly. So don’t do that. If you want to be a powerful puncher you have to learn how to relax when you hit.

So just loosen up when you punch and practice hitting with relaxed muscles. It is perfectly acceptable however to tighten everything up at the point of impact. In fact, it’s a good idea to tighten your fist up at the point of impact. But in the meantime, while the punch is traveling towards its target, stay nice and relaxed. Remember, TIGHT MUSCLES ARE SLOW. The tightness in the arms acts like a brake. So you really have to relax in order to maximize your speed.

Punch With Relaxed Muscles

Power Punching Concept #2: Penetration

The second important concept of power punching is penetration. You MUST have proper penetration in order to hit hard. The point here should be pretty obvious. You can’t hit hard by hitting just the surface. Rather, you need to penetrate through the target. Just punch through the target, like you are making a deep hole in their head with your fist.

Without proper penetration, your punches will only strike “skin deep” and retract without causing the opponent’s head or body to receive the full impact of your strike.

Penetrate Through The Target

Power Punching Concept #3: Snapping Back

The last of the most important concepts of power punching is “snapping Back”. To be an effective puncher, you simply must snap your punches back. Don’t leave your punch just dangling out there after you hit waiting for someone to take your picture. Snap it back immediately.

The reason for snapping your punches back are twofold. The first one is defensive. If you leave your hand out there after you hit, you’re exposing your head unnecessarily. When you snap it back, your fist is in place for protecting your head.

The second reason is offensive. When you snap your punch back quickly, you’re also ready for another counter-punch. Moreover, snapping your punches back like this tends to actually increase the impact of your blow.

An old boxing coach of mine put it this way: act like you are breaking an egg with your punch, but don’t get any yolk on your hands!

So as soon as you punch lands, snap your hand back to where it was.

After punching, get your hand back

So, there you have it. To be a great puncher, you have to have relaxation, penetration, and snap your punches back.

Summary: Three Important Concepts For Power Punching:

In order to have strong punching skills for self-defense, remember the following points:

  1. The three important concepts of power-punching are relaxation, penetration and snapping back.
  2. Relaxation is key if you’re to hit hard because speed is essential for power and tight muscles move slower.
  3. Penetrating through the target with your fist will increase the impact of your blow.
  4. After you land the punch, snap it back to protect your face, increase your power, and be ready for a counter punch. 
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Father of eight, Dr. Scott Sullivan is the chief instructor at Bam Bam Martial Arts in Houston, TX. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas and is a seasoned martial arts instructor with over 30 years of experience. A firm believer that martial arts really does help people become more fit, safe, and happy, he remains vigilant about helping people improve their lives through martial arts.