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bfit 12-12-08 10:10 PM

is there a trick to doing boxing punches correctly?
I have been doing kickboxing workouts for years, and I enjoy them, but I still can't seem to get my punches right. My kicks look fine, but there is just something off about my punches (any of them). I look like I'm flailing around in sort of an uncoordinated fashion and without any power. If I do punches very slowly (like in the upper body portion of Kickbox Bootcamp where Keli Roberts uses weights) I'm OK, but as soon as there is any speed involved (like in Powerstrike) I'm hopeless. My husband says it looks like I'm not extending my arm enough, but I don't want to extend my elbow all the way straight, do I? I have followed the tutorial in Kickboxing for Dummies a couple of times now but still nothing has clicked. By the way, I have fairly good upper body strength, and my arms are not getting tired so that's not the problem I don't think. Also, I feel fairly coordinated on other workouts and can follow Cathe choreography and so on. Any suggestions?

RedPanda 12-13-08 01:29 AM

Hi Bfit

I have been working out with professional boxers, and they teach us to fully extend our arm. I'm not sure why some video instructors tell us not to do so.

There's a discussion about this here, in my boxing thread:

It also helps if you imagine that you are punching an imaginary opponent. That way, your fist will stop short with some force at the end of the punch, then you bring it back quickly.


Kyra 12-13-08 07:27 AM

There is absolutely NO trick to punching correctly, there is just punching correctly. IMO, a lot of kickboxing DVDs are done by fitness people and are geared toward being "active" and not toward actual training in MA, boxing, etc., hence the tempo is too fast, especially for beginners, and encourages bad habits/bad form. Also, the fact that you're never actually hitting anything/anyone will negatively impact your form.

If you are really concerned about this, I'd suggest going to an actual boxing class (with, like, boxers, as has Red Panda) or a karate class.

As for fully extending the arm - I've never been taught not to do that. It has nothing to do with punching.

I'm sorry I can't be more helpful, but I don't know how to teach punching (or kicking) over the internet. Mostly it's seeing what someone is doing and refining their technique.

Helen S 12-13-08 10:35 AM

I wrote this in RedPanda's journal but I'll repeat it here since her journal has lots of posts. :) I think DVD/video instructors are being cautious since they can't see you. So when they are saying to not fully extend your arm, I think they are just trying to prevent people from locking their elbows. So you would extend your arm short of locking.

Other tips I can give (which I don't know if you need) is to make contact with your first two knucles (your pointer and middle finger knuckles). You definitely don't want any contact with your thumbs but they're not tucked underneath your fingers either. Have a strong wrist, retract your punches, no elbows sticking out between punches. Use your hips (basically your whole body) for power and not just your arms. I don't have KB for Dummies but I'll assume that it tutors you on how to do each punch. Since you and your husband think your punches look fine going slowly, I would just practice punches slowly and just gradually increase your speed. I think going to a boxing or martial arts studio is a really good idea too. Most of them either let you try a class for free or have intro packages.

Kathryn 12-13-08 10:50 AM

One thing to look for is keeping your elbows in (if you look at Cathe's earlier boxing/kickboxing workouts, she doesn't do this, but her form improves with each workout. It's actually very good in 4DS).

Try this: stand facing a mirror and punch while keeping your palms facing each other (it's easier to keep the elbows in this way.) After you've got the feel, now add the hand rotation, so the palm face down at the extension of the punch. Be sure not to let your elbows flair out.

As for extending the arm, you should never hyperextend the elbow in whatever you do. Extending the arm fully is fine if you are making contact with something (a bag, a person) which stops the mometum.

If you are shadowboxing (punching in the air, as most kb/bx workouts do), then stopping short of full extension is a safety measure to keep from hyperextending (which would be easier to do because you are not making contact with something to stop the momentum).

Focus on the recoil to keep from extending fully. and to work on speed. Think about the tongue of a snake going out and in quickly. Or imagine you are punching into fire (you want to get your hands back as fast as you can to keep from getting burned.)

It just takes practice. Your body has to have the repetition of the move to develop a sort of muscle memory. If you can't go at the speed the instructor is doing for now, find your own speed: as fast as you can with good form (to train that muscle memory). Speed will come with time. You can practice punches in front of the mirror. Start slowly. Then every 10 punches or so, speed up a little. You will discover the speed at which your form starts to go.

When I first started boxing/kb, it was with some Stephanie Steele videos (anyone remember her? very dry presentation, an absolutely horrible and boring warm-up, but good form and lots of drills). The punches felt so fast to me, and I couldn't keep up. And at times I felt like I was flailing. My body didn't want to work together the way it has to to throw a punch (which isn't just an arm move, but starts with leg power being taken through the core into the upper body).

A couple of years later, I dusted off my SS videos to try them again, and I was able to go FASTER than SS with good form!

Look at instructors like Amy Bento and Cathe. Their form wasn't that good at first, and it improved. Even ultra-fit instructors needed the practice and time spent doing the moves to get better.

RedPanda 12-13-08 01:52 PM

I'll just add a few comments to the excellent advice which has already been provided.

In boxing class, the trainers teach us to do everything in slow motion at first so that we train our muscle memory. Only when we have the movements exactly right, do we speed up, but even then we're not going at full pace. It's a bit boring and frustrating, but it trains you to use good form from the start. Kathryn makes a good point about the training time needed to punch fast with good form - as our boxing classes have been cancelled until the New Year, I have been subbing Michael Olajide's Savage. In that video, Michael punches so fast, especially in the later rounds, that his hands are a blur. There's no way most home exercisers could keep up with him, but I noted that the back of the box says the workout is "professional-grade". So I have been punching at my own pace in front of a mirror and using Michael's cueing more as a motivational tool.

Bfit - if you don't do this already, I would suggest practising your punches in front of a mirror. Start off in slo-mo and up the pace only when you feel that you have the form down pat.

HTH :)

laurajhawk 12-13-08 05:39 PM

imagine your ex ;)

I'm only half kidding. For me it's critical to focus my eyes & attention on the place that I'm punching. If I'm distracted or, say, watching the TV screen, I feel like I'm doing as you describe -- flailing.

pattyd0319 12-13-08 05:45 PM

I have a lot of kickboxing & boxing workouts but the first one that really helped me with form is Gaiam Core Cross Train Kickbox, particularly the punches warmup. She really takes time to instruct on form and go slowly before moving into combinations & her tips help me with other workouts. I remember the first time I did this I was thinking "oh, so that's what I need to do".

RedPanda 12-13-08 06:00 PM


Originally Posted by pattyd0319
I have a lot of kickboxing & boxing workouts but the first one that really helped me with form is Gaiam Core Cross Train Kickbox, particularly the punches warmup. She really takes time to instruct on form and go slowly before moving into combinations & her tips help me with other workouts. I remember the first time I did this I was thinking "oh, so that's what I need to do".

Yep - that's a good one for working on your form. :)

angel nee nee 12-13-08 06:53 PM

IF you want to do kickboxing for exercise purpose and not self defence or sports purpose, it does not really matter what form you have as long as you don't hurt yourself (or others. lol!)

If you do want to do kickboxing for self defence of sports, then you do want to work on correct form in slow motion until you get it. Speed will come later.

There are more than one way to punch. Jab, Cross, Uppercut, and Hooks are basic punches, and there are more than one way to throw Jab.

I will try to explain the best in my own way. others might have different opinion.

Each instructors will teach you to throw punches differently.
For example, Some might liek to turn fist from vertical to horizontal as he/she punch (for boxers, this could rub against the skin of opponent and could irritate the opponent.). You don't have to though. Others migh be taught to do it otherwise without twisting and just throwing vertial or horizontal punch. They are both fine.

As for extending your arms, yes, you want to extend your arm fully (unless you are throwing hooks or uppercuts, that is. extending your arm fully applies to jab and cross.) But be careful of jerky movements (extending, then quickly retructing) and hurting your elbow.

Throw your punch from just where your hand is (which should always be right at your face, unless you are using your hand to excute something, or your punch follows right after other punch, i.e. throwing hook right after jab). Don't retract your hand, then punch. Don't drop your hand, then punch. Don't swing your elbow, then punch... etc.

Don't stick your elbows out, but try to punch as straight as possible.
Don't flick your knuckle as you punch.

Contact of the punch, if there is any, should come with your four fingers.

Keep tight fist. Do not put your thumb inside other four fingers. It could be very painful in self defence> you can basically break your thumb.

Don't don't really need a whole log of hip or leg movement while throwing a jab. If you wanted to throw a punch jab, you could put little bit of your body weight into it. this will be slower jab than other type of jab. As with otehr punches, always keep your chin tucked in, and keep "the other hand" at your chin.

Right after throwing the punch, you want the hand to retract right back to in front of our face (unless you are excuting another punch with that same hand right after. This depends on what type of punch you are throwing and in what way you want to use that punch. For example, if you were to throw ar jab, hook combo with same hand, you will throw a jab, retract half way just to bendyour elbow, and throw a hook. of course hand comes right back to in front of your face after that.)

You will need a lot of hip and feet movement with throwing a cross. (by the way, for self defence purpose, we don't throw our punches right to your side across your body and call it "cross." at this time) In order to throw a cross, you will have to have a lead leg and rear leg. your lead leg won't turn much, but you will need a good twist on your rear leg. Food twisting will cause your hip to create a movement, you will want to extend your hook as far as you can extend while you tuck your chin in. Right after the punch, retract your hand back to the starting position.

In order to throw an uppercut, you will want to drop your body a little by bending yoru knees a little bit, drop your arm a little bit (the one you want to use for punch), and come up. Your arm won't extend fully. Most of your punch power comes from your knees.

In order to throw a hook, you will want to retract a little bit to the opposite side of where you want to throw the punch. You will bend your elbow in 90 degree angle, (don't drop the other hand.), twist your body and excute the punch. (don't extend your arms fully.) Most of the punching power comes from twisting of your body. Don't forget to bring your hand back to your face. (but don't punc yourself in the face.)

Don't crose your eyes while excuting the punch.
exhale everytime you punch, Exhaling loudly is preferble so you will know and hear you are exheling.
Always keep your eyes on your target unless you are coveing your head for protection during certain techniques.

If you are wanting to do this for sports or self defence, you don't want to give out what you are about to do with your habit. for example, some people have a habit of putting the fist together once right before punching, or some people have a habit of dropping the hand before punching, etc. So avoid those habits if you have one. (Good way to find out is asking someone to take a look at your while you punch. Punch.... stop for a while..... punch.... stop for awhile... in a broken rhythm, see if the person can recognize when you are punching, and how he/she wans able to recognize it.)

In my opinion, it's very, very challenging to throw punches in correct form (as far as self defence goes) along with exercise videos. YOu will need to adjust your stance to right lead or left lead. You might have to slow down the tempo or even do your own exercise on your own while video instructors are doing something else and do your own combo.

If you want to take this seriously, punching bag is a tool you can use to work on your power. (not focus mitts with friends. They are used for other purposes like coordinations, target training, etc.)

Have fun. :)

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