It’s amazing to me that any karate person can watch a clip of someone like Mike Tyson or any number of other top tier boxers in their primes and think to herself “if only he trained and punched like we do then he’d be a more effective and powerful puncher.” I’ve actually had conversions with karate people who claim that their punches are more powerful than a boxer’s punches because “karate teaches you to use your hips, and boxers just punch from their shoulders.” I can only assume these people have never been to a real boxing gym.
Getting this good required lots of time on bags, lots of time running drills, lots of aerobic, strength, speed and power training, and amazing natural talent. Even with similar training very few people can expect to ever be able to punch as effectively.
There’s a school in my area that advertises that it can train you to punch with more force than that of a bullet. Students are told that their punches will become so dangerous that no contact can be allowed between people as they train. I’ve driven by and seen the classes—lots of punching from a static position with long stances, feet rooted flat on the ground, lots of karate marching (ichi, ni, san…) lots of kata, very little reactive training, or open drills, and very little time spent hitting targets. The students are mostly just moderately athletic suburban family types. There’s nothing remarkable about their level of athleticism.
- If you want to be able to punch effectively train more like a boxer. That includes working on mobility (forget about those rooted stances), bag work and target training, power and strength training, and making sure that the lion’s share of your training involves a reactive element. Dynamic punching is almost always more powerful that static sight and discharge punching.
- Unless you posses the unique physical talents of someone like Mike Tyson, don’t base your fighting strategy on the false belief that you are likely to be able to take down an attacker with just one or two blows, it could get you killed.
- The smaller your frame the more important it is that you’re a hard target to hit. Move for heaven’s sake—and mostly in the frontal and transverse planes (lateral and twisting motions). Get quick. Dance, dance, dance!
- Bear in mind that it is really difficult to hit someone solidly who is determinedly coming at you. Train assuming they are likely to close distance.
- Occasionally do a little cost/benefit analysis of the the various components of your training regime. What are you spending most of your time doing? You only have so much training time. Make the best possible use of it.
- Consider whether the techniques you are training are applicable in a wide or narrow range of possible encounters? Aim for techniques and strategies that have wide application and have a good margin for error.
- Are you training the techniques that you are committed to in a way that maximizes your ability to actually use them in real world encounters? Train on a variety of surfaces. Include SAQ training. Modify your technical training so that it has a reactive component whenever possible.
- Do the techniques you are practicing require you to develop superhuman-like abilities (iron bodies, palms, touch knockouts) to ever be able to really use? Generally these have high acquisition costs (lots of time to train, arthritis, reductions in body control, reductions in ability to produce force quickly) and few real world benefits. A realistic assessment of the costs has to include the opportunity costs associated with devoting time and resources to high cost/low benefit training—the time and money you devote to this sort of training could be spent doing something more realistic and likely to improve your fighting ability.
- Although earlier I recommended training like a boxer it’s a good idea to do what you can to reduce your exposure to head shots. Concussions are common in boxing training and can reduce your balance, speed, and cognitive functions. Wear headgear when working with partners. Gloves are not enough.
Give these a look.