Punch Force Comes From The Hips
In this episode we breakdown exactly how to use your hips to generate the greatest punch power possible. A secret many pro fighters and coaches don’t understand…Making it difficult to teach, and even harder to learn!
It involves getting your head around some basic applied physics. But don’t worry, I’ll keep it super simple. You’ll get it, and I’ll have you punching holes in punch bags today.
We’ll jump right into the hip mechanics first, so you can feel exactly how this really works. Then I’ll explain how you can best create these mechanics using your physiology – that’s efficiently applying your coordinated strength, power, and speed into your punching technique.
Punching power comes from twisting your hips. This rotation transfers up through your core to your shoulder girdle, and out through your arm into your target.
The engine room for all this is the torquing rotation of your hips. The more torque the better, and the mechanism used is a force couple.
The direction you apply your force matters hugely. A force moving forwards, met head-on by the same amount of force cancels out and stops – just like a head on car crash. But when those forces are misaligned and don’t meet exactly head on, you create a spin!
And those forces don’t just create a spin (or torque), the more misaligned they are, the more they multiply each other, creating bonus torque!
That’s why you can undo a lid on a tight jar, or why you both pull and push when using a basic wheel wrench. Two equal forces acting as levers in opposite directions about a single turning point or axis of rotation create twice the torque.
Here we can see Nong O using exactly this principle to rapidly summon punch force by torquing his hips with a hip dominant drive forwards with his right leg, and a knee dominant drive backwards with his left leg.
Now you’ve grasped how a force couple works, it’s vital we use another mechanical principle to maximise the timing of your movement to multiply the power of your strike even more.
The Secret To Maximising Punch Momentum
When throwing your punch, you throw your bodyweight into it. Your body mass accelerates toward your opponent creating momentum. The more momentum you build, the harder it is to stop your movement and the more energy you’ve created.
And this momentum is conserved, even when you attempt to stop. If your whole body is moving forwards, and your lower body is suddenly braked (like when you’re wearing a lap-belt in the back of a car), your upper body is thrown forwards.
This is exactly how Nong O creates extra torque in his hips to throw his punch.
He begins with a hip dominant acceleration toward his opponent with his right leg. Then at the right timing (when he wants to snap his hips into the punch), he stomps a knee dominant braking action with his left leg.
The momentum is carried through into the upper body (just like the lap-belt braking effect) to add power to the punch.
But even greater than that, because the right leg and left leg attach to either side of the pelvis, the forces create a couple that torques the hips too – just like the misaligned car crash – creating even more power!
The amount of contribution from hip dominant acceleration or knee dominant braking depends on the punch (or elbow) thrown, the distance from your opponent, and your relative movement to each other. Are you punching moving forwards, backwards, or on the spot? This becomes something that you “feel” with practice, but the mechanics all apply.
And if you want to better understand hip and knee dominant movements, there’s a link to a video on this on the show notes page, along with a load of other relevant resources for you too.
When practising any new technique:
- First develop the general movement patterns in isolation
- Next build them into the correct sequence or order
- Then work them with the correct timing, and
- Finally, turn up the strength, power and speed applied.
But always be mindful that over-efforting will result in “driving with the brakes on”. It’s both efficient muscle contraction and relaxation that transfers the most power. Coordination is key, raw explosiveness is secondary.
Build your striking skill in your technical and tactical Muay Thai training, while enhancing the raw strength, power, speed, and endurance you can add to the movement in your supplemental S&C training.
And now go punch some holes in that heavy bag!