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Instantly boost your punching power

Yesterday I was in conversation with one of my conditioning guys. He’s a Kenpo practitioner and as he’d arrived early asked if he could hang a bag for a while.

Of course I approved and off he went to get in some extra practice.

After a few minutes I went in and had a look. I love watching my guys working on stuff, just the fact that they come in and mess around before training puts a smile on my face, Podge was playing with the indian clubs and monkey bars, Darrin was working on his handstand push up, Kev was being “Hardcore” and Phil was practising a combination on the bag.

After a few minutes I went over to give Phil a hand, he was putting effort into his strikes but wasn’t getting the return, the body-mechanics weren’t quite there. So we discussed, tried again, discussed, tried each time improving. Then I told him to relax his shoulders.

This caused some concern. Relax the shoulders? Yes, relax the shoulders. “Imagine, if you will,” I said, “performing a kettlebell jerk with tense shoulders.” He did and, then looked me and said, “Oh, Yeah!” He then hit the bag with about 50% more force than he had done only minutes before.

You see, you don’t punch with the shoulders, they only come in at the end of the

movement. A punch comes from the big muscles of the body. The throw a right hand first the right claves extend the ankle, the quads extend the knee, the hammies and Glutes extend the hip, your bodyweight is shifting forwards into your left leg. The lats and abdominals tighten to stiffen the torso and stabilise the shoulder and finally the arm shoots forwards. As each joint unfolds it adds speed and force to the movement. The closest analogy you will get is that of a whip cracking, the wave starts at the handle but gains momentum as it travels down the whip ultimately breaking the sound barrier at the tip.

This cannot be achieved via high tension training. Ok so we have to develop the strength of the body and high tension work is great start point, but too much of it will cause us to become slow in our general or sports specific practice. This is where more relaxed, faster movements need to be applied in out strength & conditioning work.

The single best lift for any fighter, at least in my opinion, is the single kettlebell clean & jerk. It is the closest lift I’ve come across for throwing a punch.

Other talk about angled barbell pressing and band work, but both of these options are anchored at one end, the kettle is free to move and fight back. While the technique may be a little technical to learn (details on this at the end of the post) it is well worth it. Once you have it and are lifting a decent weight, you will notice the effect on your striking. Utilise the lift across a variety of reps with a variety of weights, then hit the bags. You’ll see an immediate change in power output.

Here’s a video I made a while ago showing the 1KB clean & jerk with a 44kg. I slowed a section down so you can really see the technique and notice that just as in a punch, the arm and shoulder only take part at the end of the lift.


Now, you can’t learn properly from a video.

You can learn this lift properly from me or Steve Cotter on the following dates:

Levels 3 & 4 Kettlebell Lifting Workshop – 15th April Level 3 – 10am-12noon: Loaded Mobility, Snatch, Jerk Level 4 – 12.15 – 2(ish)pm: Double Kettlebell Training & Long Cycle €35/workshop or €60 for both, pdf manuals included.

Steve Cotter CKT Levels 1 & 2 – 2-4 June 2012 Steve’s last Irish CKT event was back in 2009, the course was Level 1 only and it was an intense learning experience. This next one will be better again. For more details click here 


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