So what’s the “secret” behind two-legged punching? Well, the idea is to punch on 2 legs. Some of you are already thinking, “What? That’s it?! That’s your big secret? I already punch on 2 legs!”
I would even estimate that at least 90% of the people reading this are punching on one leg. You might THINK you’re punching on two legs but you’re really not. Most fighters right now don’t even know how to use their non-pivoting leg!
If you’re shifting your weight while punching, this guide is for you!
THE PROBLEM: One-legged Punching
Most beginners are taught to throw punches by shifting their weight from one foot to the other. See how my body weight tranfers entirely to the front foot during the right cross? And then shifted back to the back foot during the left hook? Trust me, it’s bad technique.
So what’s the problem with one-legged punching?
- POOR BALANCE – the body’s center is passed around from one leg to the other instead of staying in the middle
- SLOW SPEED – the body has to move back and forth with every punch forcing you to throw either hard OR fast, but unable to do both at the same time
- DECREASED POWER – your punches have less power because you’re basically trying to transfer power while staying on one leg
Bad things happen when you shift your weight back and forth. You might THINK you’re on two legs but you’re really not. One leg is probably taking 75% of your weight while the other takes only 25%. The real problem is that neither leg will be able to apply 100% force because you’d be off balance. Moreso, one side of your body is unable to generate force because it isn’t fully grounded.
Punching while off-balanced,
results in LESS THAN 50% of your maximum power.
Think about this for a second. You can’t explode with the pushing leg because your body would fall in the other direction. Which means the only way to explode your legs AND stay balanced is to explode both legs at the same time, but this is only possible if your weight is evenly distributed between both legs. With that in mind, a 1-legged punch has LESS THAN 50% power of a 2-legged punch!
Why are beginners taught this “mistake”?
Many trainers teach beginners to punch like this because it forces them to move their entire body with the punch. After all, punching power is increased when you put more body weight into it. Most beginners lack the coordination to consciously move every part of their body. So it’s easier to teach a beginner the concept of punching with body weight by shifting the body back and forth.
What beginners don’t realize is that shifting the weight back and forth is really FALLING back and forth. Think about it, if you’re pushing with only one leg but not the other, what you’re really doing is pushing yourself off balance (to one side). Beginners are taught to “fall” back and forth because that’s the easiest way for them to get their whole body weight into a punch. The technique is helpful at first but fundamentally flawed on so many levels.
As soon as you have the coordination to do so, you should move to 2-legged punching ASAP.
Power Punching Secret #1 – Punch on 2 Legs
The number one (predominant/dominant) force in our environment is gravity. The force of gravity will act more powerfully upon you than any other force in your environment. If you look at the way the human body is built, the legs were designed to give you movement against gravity. Not just movement against gravity but the muscle ability to transfer power in relation to gravity.
To be a more powerful athlete in regards to gravity,
put yourself on two legs!
With that said, standing on two legs makes you a more functional athlete. Standing on two legs will give you better balance, more power, and more speed. Anything you do on two legs will almost always be better than on one leg.
So Johnny, are you saying we should NEVER shift weight?
Well, I can’t say “NEVER” because there are strategic reasons for being on one leg at certain times. The rule of keeping the head and body in the center is for anytime that you want maximum rotational power using both legs.
Being on two legs will mean less work for you and more balance and power for your punch! Stay perfectly centered, anchor your body with both legs, and rotate hard! It’s not just dividing your weight 50/50. The ultimate goal is to apply maximum force with both legs, and again, it’s only possible if your weight is perfectly balanced. There are 2 critical reasons for punching on two legs.
Reason #1 – punching on 2 legs maximizes rotational power
True punching power is a rotational force,
not a linear force.
With every punch but the jab, the true power comes from rotation. Mainly, it is the rotation of the spine that generates all the punch’s power. Your core which is connected to the base of the spine is what rotates the spine (with the help of BOTH your legs spinning your body along the ground). Once the spine is powerfully rotated, you only have to reach out with a limb to transfer this power.
Now with the common (one-legged) way of punching, fighters would generate power by pushing their spine back and forth between two legs. It’s like one leg pushes the body to the other leg, like a pingpong ball, passing it back and forth. The one-legged pushing isn’t even, it’s usually tilting the spine back and forth. Unfortunately this slight falling effect only drops the upper body weight into the punch (leaving the heavier lower body unloaded). It’s not possible to load your lower body into a punch by “falling”, you can only do so by rotating.
Sure there’s SOME body rotation when you push, but most of the work done by each leg is to pass the body to the other leg. Again…”pushing” works and it’s powerful but it’s not as fast and nowhere near as powerful as a proper rotation.
Try this right now. Stand on one leg and try to twist your upper body while keeping your lower body still.
Now try doing this on two legs.
Which one felt more powerful?
The answer is a no-brainer. It’s so much easier to generate rotational force on two legs than it is on one leg. Stand on two legs to generate the maximum rotational power. This rule goes for anything really. Place a cellphone on the table and see if you can rotate it (without moving it from the center) using only one finger. It’s very hard to do, right? You need 2 points of force to rotate an object without moving off the center.
Reason #2 – punching on 2 legs maximizes power delivery
After you’ve generated all that beautiful rotational power, I’m sure you don’t want it to go to waste by having that power projected back at you. But this is exactly what happens if you punch on one leg.
Standing on two legs allows you to push INTO your opponent,
instead of you being pushed OFF your opponent.
Try pushing a wall while standing on one leg, and then on two legs.
*** Don’t be like me and push a chair full of laundry. Try this on a wall.
Did you see the difference when I was on one leg? All my power was wasted because I couldn’t project it into my opponent. I can have all the energy in the world but without being properly grounded, I will simply bounce off my opponent instead of vice versa. When I pushed with 2 legs, my body stayed still while the object was pushed away from me.
1-legged punching vs 2-legged punching
- poor balance because body is moving off the center
- combination punches are slower because the body has to move more while punching
- decreased power because the body is not fully grounded; one leg is “lifted” and unable to aid the punch
It’s obvious you’re one-legged if one foot is lifting off the ground during a punch. Even if both feet are down, you should feel like the foot on the punching side is able to push down into the ground. This is one of the big secrets to punching: pivot your foot INTO the ground and not off the ground.
One-legged punching fails on so many levels. For now, forget about what happens if you land a punch. Try imagining what happens when you miss. If you miss, you will REALLY fall off balance! I would say the number reason for beginners becoming 1-legged is too much punching on the heavy bag. The heavy bag prevents them from falling when they have bad balance. Most boxers should be shadowboxing more. Learn to stand on your own 2 feet!
- maximum balance and control because the body is perfectly grounded
- maximum speed and less energy required because the body doesn’t have to move much
- maximum punching power because body is using 2 legs to generate power
Your body was built with two legs so the only way to be most balanced and powerful is to use both legs. Two legged punching is not the “secret” way but the NATURAL way. If you feel more powerful using one-legged punching, it’s because you’re still “pushing & falling” instead of “grounding and rotating”. Two-legged punching doesn’t let you “fall”, it only lets you rotate which is harder at first because it requires more coordination.
*** Watch my video demonstration on the concept of two-legged punching.
The Secret Behind 2-Legged Punching
A 2-point rotation equals BALANCED rotation.
The real problem is not one-legged punching but one-sided punching.
2-legged punching is more than just standing on 2 legs while you punch. Many fighters will think only about the right side of their body when they throw a right hand, and then think only about the left side of their body when they throw a left hand. It’s like they have an “active side” and a “dead side”. Usually one leg will stand still while the other leg pivots for the power.
Activate BOTH sides of your body
Here’s a challenge question: WHAT IS THE #1 biggest muscle left unused in a punch?
- ANSWER: It’s the standing leg hamstring!
The standing leg hamstring is a HUGE muscle that can help your rotational power yet hardly anyone ever thinks about it because they’re too busy trying to PUSH with the quadriceps from the pivoting leg. Again, think back to the rule of rotation: you need 2 POINTS OF FORCE for a well-balanced maximum-power rotation.
HUGE punching secret: one leg will “push”, while the other leg “pulls”.
Now that you learned to plant both legs, make sure you use both legs to help the rotation. Don’t just leave the other leg there like a dead leg. Generate punching power from BOTH sides of your body by keeping your body between both legs. Instead of the legs pushing your body back and forth, have both legs apply immediate rotational force.
Have one leg pushing, while the other leg pulling. Use the leg (quads) of the punching side to “PUSH” your hips into yourself. And then use the leg (hamstring) of the non-punching side to “PULL” your hips into yourself. If you don’t understand what this means, don’t worry. It will make sense maybe a year from now. If you can explain this concept more concise than I did, feel free to post it below! (Thank you in advance.)
Quick recap of punching on two legs:
- true power comes from a rotation, not a push
- standing on two legs gives better balance, more rotational power, and faster POWER combinations
- use legs to rotate the body, not push the body from one foot to the other
- one leg pushes while the other leg pulls
*** Here’s a video of Ike Quartey throwing fast powerful punches on the mitts. One-legged or two-legged? Is he shifting weight? You tell me.
If you guys enjoy these power punching secrets. Let me know and I’ll write some more. If you don’t enjoy them, say nothing and I’ll move on to other boxing tips.
Read the other parts of this series:
- Power Punching Secrets, PART 2: Implosive Punching
- Power Punching Secrets, PART 3 (not yet written…)