I often wondered why Bruce Lee used to perform exercises such as quarter lock out and a lot of inch punch work. There are many methods that we all are aware of to help improve our strikes, and different ones are used by us as different ones. It is common know how that using a full range of motion is the correct way is most exercises, however those who are at an advanced stage of their training can play around with tweaking experimentation. These practitioners are creative and fearless in their quest for self discovery, so let's have a look then.
A good example of this is a body builder who is not experimenting with partial reps in order to gain more burn. My Sensei would teach us the ridge hand strike like you were throwing a discus, this felt like a hook and more powerful.
I recall hearing Someone saying one time... "You don't hit people with your muscles."
When muscle is mentioned people often think external muscles of a body we can see, but the body has over 600 muscles and there are minor ones we don't know exist. Decent punching is mechanics of the body working under the flesh, so the skeleton is right from tendon and ligament guidence.In a previous posts I mention Isometrics and mentioned pushing your fist against the wall to train the punch 3inchs in and then with the fist closer to the body. At times when the fist is close to the body there is more muscular tension, like in hooks. A good way to gain power apart from brute force is the use of something I call DISTANCE - INCH - FOLLOW THROUGH. Now of course fighting is not really that clever to try by having your tools extended enough so you can use the last extension, so what we will do is a few exercises to work the explosive contractions of the extension and then incorporate the distance for follow through. Although at times certain minor training methods may come across as gimmicky to the judges out there, never forget that if it help then it helped. The jolts and thrusts of an explosive nature within our body's combines Plyometrics with Isometrics, these shock methods wake up fibres and joints.
Learn to explode from the nothingness and gain a body feel that only you can explain through movement.
Personally I find kata a great method for dynamic activations, only because much pad and bag work requires you to relax. When you play around with your own mechanics you can swiftly perform blocks or strikes through the air and use stopping power to jolt all your energy into one snap.
The first drill is our beloved basic press up, only this time the elbows are kept it and fists closed using the first two or last three knuckles. Again palms facing in or towards your feet is your call. Exhale on pushing and only lower about 3inches and then explode up. I highly recommend them rotating push up handles to train the inches of your corkscrew.
The second is the bench press with the same aim as the press up for those who enjoy the weights. Again, lower 3 inches and explode up. Because of the shorter range or motion more weight can be handled. This is not normal weight training, you are on the job of martial interactions and interchanged mechanics.
Next we will use some equipment, this serves to strengthen the wrist and forearms so I use some basic hand grips for making a fist, and of course a dumbbell or bar with a weight of the end for training one inch punch methods. In regards to the long bar with a weight on the end, make a stance and snap the wrist, elbow should powered by the waist, legs and foot pivot. Try to get the weight plate to make a chime for feedback. You can use a barbel bar or some safe type of pole. Good thing it is like a creative activity that is your own blue peter, think unlike the rest for they are a rest
If you have not got any hand grippers then get ready for it... Roll a pair of socks up into a ball and wrap masking tape around it, there's your poor mans gripper.
Now it's time to apply these mechanics in skill to the punch bag. I've chose the heavy bag to to power and feedback principles, pads may be used but the bag will make you feel the felt shock more at the end of your moves. This is not to be used to lock out your joint as such but seconds away from that. Stance in front of your bag, extend a jab to gauge the distance until you can rest your glove on the surface. Your arm should be dead straight, now just step in a few inches. Your arm should be bent and the bag will push back or roll off your glove this is fine. Now just shoot jabs through the bag from your boxing guard, Work from both sides, ensure your in a position and distance to get them final three inches exploding through and make that bag hop the scotch. Next try it with crosses and then try jab - cross.
And finally some kicks, we will hammer some front kicks. Basic thrust or snap the choice is yours, but same dynamics will apply. The art is in the final three inches, for this drill we are minimising the big muscle input of the quads and hamstrings. Although they make great power, we are using more connective tendon at the point of the hinge joints. Get that skeleton behind the blows. Time the bag, blast left and right, ball foot toe poke provoke. These are drills you try when solo training, because in class you may be in format. Take your time and enjoy your self, feel your own body and be aware and grateful for your ability you have no matter how great or small. Make the best of your own time and environment, the very fact you was born is a great achievement.
True inner power is in the solo realm, people always preach to look forwards but sometimes a visit to the past is called for. Remember when Christopher Reeve lost his powers in Superman II? He had to go back to find himself and get that power back. He walked in that blizzard and nobody stopped to help him. This can be compared to returning from a loss or anything in life, but when all the good and bad people in your life are no longer there then it's you alone. Just like Adrian said in Rocky III, "Just you, for you alone."
Inspirations come and go, foes come and go and friends come and go, the only one is you who must show, who must be there for yourself. It is lonely and you need to stay focused. One life that's why I'm writing these words now. Listen to advice but know when to take your own also, people will try to destroy you by having your best interests at heart. You own your own heart and know your own way of being. Waking up early or late is not always a matter of sleep... It can be a matter of conscious realisation and awakening. You don't even have to follow another's example and why? Because even if they are faultless you still have to be you. We all have a way but choose to follows another's way, try it out but move on and develop. That's real self improvement. You don't have to be an expert or a maverick, in training we tend to push the limits but what if we don't have to all the time? Sometimes easy is good, easy is nice and at times easy does not mean not trying hard enough or being weak. In times of ease we are at our happiest. Our bodies were not designed to follow a diet or use machines, we are a born functioning organism of muscle and fat burning already. Of course don't be greedy, but remember.. Sugar, takeaways and beer will not make you fat! Too much of them and lack of activity will. So with your lifestyle just make adjustments you can stick to and above all forgive yourself for having to much or saying to much or doing to little. I've never met a person who is made of gold, made of a few other things maybe and remember, we all go a little crazy sometimes... That's what keeps you sane. The thing that sets my articles apart is that I write for you, not as a world champion or teacher but a student and a friend, an everyday martial artist and I'm eternally grateful to be able to share with you all.