I’m about to start a war against “explosive punching”. “Explosive punching” is the reason why so many fighters fall off balance. It’s the reason why fighters punch so slow. It’s the reason why fighters get tired so fast. Explosive punching isn’t even the most powerful way to punch!
THE TRUTH IS: true power punches aren’t explosive, they’re IMPLOSIVE!
Implosive Punching VS Explosive Punching
About 99% of what’s taught about power punching is horribly inefficient. And the problem is that so many fighters are training so hard with inefficient technique. Inefficient technique works, but YOU have to work so much harder for it to work. And fighters wonder why they take forever to learn how to punch. They come up with ridiculous exercises or techniques when the movement itself is supposed to be natural.
Power punching is like the easiest (most natural) thing in the world. Some people are even born with the natural ability to punch hard! The more rare natural ability you’ll find is probably someone with good balance and footwork. Unskilled fighters will trade off power for balance/footwork, or vice versa. What they don’t understand is that balance and power go hand-in-hand. There are very few fighters with both and the ones that do have far more balance AND far more power.
The only really hard thing about boxing is the fighting ability itself. But anyway, let’s go back to solving one of the easiest skills in boxing—POWER PUNCHING!
The problem with explosive punching
This position right here is the problem with explosive punching.
“Explosive punching” is the reason why so many fighters fall off balance after missing a punch. It’s the reason why they get tired so quickly from punching and the reason why they can’t throw a punch without sacrificing their balance. Worst of all, explosive punching doesn’t give you the maximum power possible.
I’m not trying to say that explosive punching is useless. Not at all, explosive punching technique is still useful in many tactical situations. But why use a punching technique that generates only sub-maximal power AND sacrifices your balance and energy efficiency?
Explosive punching is not
the most powerful way to punch.
Explosive punching happens in 4 sequences:
Explosive punching is all about spreading and getting wider. The first mistake is to try and go UP and OUT. That’s how most beginners punch. They start out in a compact stance and then explode upwards and outwards to blast power toward the opponent. Beginners are taught that power comes from the legs (which isn’t wrong, btw). And they’re taught to pivot the feet, explode the legs, rotate hips and body and hit the opponent.
The problem is that the word “explosive” gives the wrong imagery. It tells boxers to start from the middle of their body and then using EXPLOSIVE muscle (muscles that project outwards), to project power UP (off the ground) and outwards (toward the opponent).
The drawbacks to punching explosively
Look, your body can only go TOWARDS your center or AWAY from your center. If you go UP off the ground, you will make yourself easier to fall (less grounded). If you go AWAY from your center, and you don’t move your feet, you will fall! You can prevent the fall by taking a wider stance but it still doesn’t mean you’re balanced.
Less power is the result of less grounding and less compaction.
- Now how can you have more power when you’re more lifted off the ground during your punch? It depends what technique you’re using. Now using your legs creates more power than not using your legs. BUT, using your legs to push down against the ground creates more power than using your legs to push off the ground. You need contact with the ground to transfer power.
- You also have less power because your body is looser when you explode outwards. Tell me what hits harder, a brick fragmenting into an opponent? Or the same fragments compacting into a solid brick upon impact? Sure, you may have made a tight fist but what about your body? How can you hit with your entire body if it SPREADS outwards upon impact? Releasing your body outwards prevents your body from ever completely compacting, allowing energy loss through your disconnected limbs.
SLOWER COMBINATION SPEED
If you project power outwards, you will have to pull it back in before you can send it out again. It will feel like OUT-in-OUT-in-OUT-in. But if you project power inwards, you will always be able to keep projecting it inwards. It will feel like IN-IN-IN-IN-IN-IN! It will feel faster
DECREASED ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Because the explosive punching has less balance, power, and speed, you need more energy to be as effective.
Intro to Implosive Punching
Implosive punching is all about
generating inwards force.
You want to explode inwards, in other words, IMPLODE! Power punching should have move implosive force than explosive force.
- All your limbs should be generating inwards force except for the one fist going outwards!
- If you focus all your energy into going outwards, you lose power/speed/balance/energy-efficiency!
Look at figure skaters when they spin. They don’t start closed, and then open. They start open, and then they close. The implosive force is what makes them spin faster AND maintain balance while spinning faster. They open up when the want to slow down. What about your hand. When you punch powerfully, do you close your hand to make a tighter fist? Or do you open your hand and release all your fingers outwards? Do the same with punching, contract inwards, explode inwards…IMPLODE!
Implosive punching happens in 3 sequences:
The first part is going down and grounding yourself for more balance. The second part is compacting yourself inwards to become even more balanced, more solid, and more powerful. The third part is rotating yourself for maximum power generation. I teach implosive punching technique because being implosive gives you the most rotational power. It’s about going DOWN-AND-IN, instead of up-and-out.
Implosive movement generates
the most rotational power.
The first step is the visualization and theory. If you can visualize projecting energy downwards and towards your center, you WILL have more balance and power. The second step is to learn the right techniques to help you project energy downwards and towards your center. In fact, all techniques for powerful movements should use implosive movement principles! The third step is to condition your implosive muscles and develop their muscle memory in drills.
Now let’s break down the 3 sequences of implosive punching…
The first mistake of any punch,
is to decrease grounding during the punch.
If you’re punching, you’re exerting outwards force right?
And if so, then I have to ask?
- are you pushing your opponent away from you?
- or are you pushing yourself away from your opponent?
- what determines which one will happen?
The answer to the last question is: the least grounded person is affected the most. If I stand on two legs and you stand on one, and you push me—you’re gonna be the one falling. It doesn’t matter how powerful your pushing muscles are; you cannot transfer that power to me if you are not better grounded than me.
You must ground harder to punch harder
The first step of generating power is to exert downwards force. In order to exert more force outwards, you must exert more force downwards. Here’s a quick demonstration:
Here I push the wall while lifting my hips.
And here, I push the wall while dropping my hips.
Do you see the difference? If I lift my hips during the push, I lose my grounding and fall. If I lowered my hips during the push, I was better grounded and more importantly: WAS ABLE TO PUSH HARDER AGAINST THE WALL!
Punching is very much the same way. If you lift your hips, you punch lighter AND you fall off balance. If you drop your hips, you punch harder AND you have more balance. It’s as simple as that—GO DOWN, not up.
*** What many beginners like to do is go FORWARD. While going forward helps since you’re falling into the opponent, it’s actually still no as powerful as going down. Going down gives you the best grounding whereas going forward still requires you to uproot yourself and give up your grounding.
Grounding is Easy!
So many fighters give up their ground in effort to be more powerful. What they don’t realize is that staying grounded is what makes them powerful! Instead of developing leg strength to ground themselves, they develop leg strength to push themselves off the ground!
Grounding force is easy and free thanks to gravity. All you have to do is let your hips drop instead of lifting them upwards during punches. It’s not just easier, it’s better. And if you still insist on using muscle, then use your muscles to GROUND YOURSELF downwards (working with gravity) instead of using your muscles to lift yourself upwards (working against gravity).
True Grounding Technique
The real technique to grounding is not really to GO DOWN, or to actually lower yourself. True grounding means only to exert downward force. Now the trick is how to exert downward force WITHOUT pushing yourself upwards. It’s a skill that most fighters weren’t taught.
In order to exert downwards force without lifting yourself upwards, you have to first RELAX YOUR HIPS. In the moment of punching, you have to quickly release your hips so that they begin to fall and then you counter the fall by exerting downwards force. This all happens in a split second–it’s a quick release and quick counter-catch all while you’re throwing the punch.
A skilled puncher will punch in a way where his hips don’t move up or down, although he is exerting downwards force! An intermediate puncher will punch in a way where his hips drop. The beginner puncher will punch in a way where his hips rise or come forward!
- It’s ok to punch like an intermediate puncher at first. The skill will come with time.
After learning how to stay grounded, the next step is to implode your power inwards. Imagine yourself swinging a bag of bricks at your opponent. Wouldn’t it hit harder if the bricks were first compacted into ONE SOLID BRICK?
Let’s analyze a technique you may have already learned:
- before the punch, keep your hands relaxed
- during the punch, tighten your hands
- right at impact, hit with a completely tight fist
“Compacting the fist at the moment of impact”…you remember that technique, right? Now imagine if you were to apply this technique to your ENTIRE BODY. Why hit with only a tight fist? Why not hit with a tight body?
You hit with a tight fist so that the power is transferred completely instead of being spread into the many bones of your hand. Your body is the same. If you leave it loose while punching, it’s no different than if you hit with a loose hand. A loose body doesn’t contain and direct energy well. It’s like throwing a handful of dirt vs throwing a bag of dirt.
How to Compact Your Body (IMPLODE) During a Punch
You implode a punch by sending your force inwards. Instead of imagining that your force is pushing your opponent, try to imagine all the force in your limbs projecting inwards towards your core! I know it’s difficult to understand if you’ve never been taught this way. Here are some visuals…
“Explosive punching” sends your power UP and OUT.
90% of the boxers I see at the gym punch like this. They try to spread their body, even visualizing their bodies spreading and fragmenting outwards. You can always tell when a guy is exploding too… he’s the one that loads up, jumps off the ground, straightens his legs, over-reaches and over-commits.
This kind of punching can still be powerful but it’s much weaker and throws you off balance. It can be useful if you need to move while punching or cover ground but it doesn’t generate maximum power. If you absolutely must move from your position, try to move downwards as you punch.
“Implosive punching” sends your power IN and DOWN.
It might not look that much different but trust me, it is. I am projecting energy inwards towards my core so I have rock solid balance and much more punching power. My arm is being released outwards but the rest of my body is whipping that arm out powerfully by projecting inwards.
Tighten your body
just like you tighten your fist.
Be Tightening, not Tight
Now I want to clarify that the compaction theory doesn’t mean to “hit with the tightest body possible”. If you think that way, you will always be tense and tired and stiff and although you might punch harder, you still won’t punch as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Compaction power means to hit as you tighten the body,
instead of hitting with a “tight” body.
The correct understanding means to “hit with a tightening body”. In other words, your punches hit hard because you are always tightening as you punch, not because you are tight. So it’s critical that you loosen your whole body before the punch. Then when it’s time, you starts to sharply exhale and imagine all your power vacuuming towards your core as you tighten endlessly into a punch.
Now it’s important that you don’t take this the wrong way and try to tighten your body beyond the impact. Tightening your body beyond the impact only wastes energy and doesn’t cause any more damage because you’ve already impacted your opponent. The moment you make impact, it’s time to immediately “release” and let your hand “bounce” back from the impact. Your body is relaxed the entire time except for that tiny moment of impact. It helps to exhale sharply and tightly.
Always remember that you are always in motion! Either you’re moving outwards (explosively) or moving inwards (implosively). If you try to hold a position, you will only get stiff and tired!
Implosive punching increases combination speed
The beauty of compaction is that your power is generated towards the center which then naturally bounces you out for an easy automatic recovery. Comparing would implosive punching to explosive punching would be like dribbling a basketball vs hitting a volleyball into the sky.
- When I hit a volleyball upwards, there is nothing that returns the volleyball to me except gravity. So if I punch with UPWARDS movement, I have to wait until my body comes down for me to punch again. If I punch with OUTWARDS movement, I have to use my own muscle to pull my arm back.
- Dribbling a basketball is different because the ground bounces the ball back at me. Dribbling faster is possible because the ground will return the ball as fast as I send it. If I punch with INWARDS movement, my body will naturally reset itself by bouncing outwards after it completely compacts itself.
Not only is imploding FASTER, but it’s also more energy efficient. With the volleyball, I have to keep generating new energy with every hit whereas with the basketball, my energy is being bounced and recycled back to me.
Implosive punching increase energy efficiency
Imploding saves so much more energy than exploding because the ready position is relaxed. Think about it. If you wanted to stay ready for exploding punches, you’d have to walk around all tight and stiff until the time came to explode. ORR you could be relaxed but you’d have to quickly tighten up before you could explode. Either way it’s a waste of energy trying to walk around.
- Imagine if I always punched with a “JUMP”. If that was the case, I’d have to be walking around with my knees bent all the time in order to be ready to jump. It’s a waste of energy and would tire me out EVEN WITHOUT PUNCHING.
If I was an implosive puncher on the other hand, the natural ready position is to be relaxed so that I can implode inwards. And so implosive punching is faster and uses less energy because I can do it from a relaxed position.
Now you know how to stay grounded and you know how to compact yourself. The last part of the punch is the rotation!
Here is the golden question:
Q: In what direction is a rotational force traveling?
A: If you answered:
- in a circle
- or any answer describing a circular motion around your body…then you are wrong.
Ok well, you’re not wrong but your answer could be better. I’ll continue to explain.
Explosive Rotation VS Implosive Rotation
First off, there are 2 ways to rotate your body. The way most people try to rotate is through what I call “explosive rotation” or sometimes call “circular rotation”. Explosive rotation is achieved when you have multiple forces traveling in a circular motion counter-balancing each other to create a perfectly balanced rotation.
Explosive rotation starts with my arms in, and then I swing my arms out and around to start spinning!
As fun as it seems, this isn’t the best way to rotate. First off, this kind of rotation has horrible balance because your arms are pulling you off your center. When you throw your arms away from you, you are forced to rely on the evenness of your arms for balance. Secondly, “circular rotation” will always be slow because your arms are working in opposite directions of each other. If you try to spin any faster, you WILL fall off center.
So Johnny, what’s the best way to rotate?
The BEST way to rotate is using “implosive rotation”. Implosive rotation is achieved by sending your weight INWARDS to rotate, instead of around (like with an explosive circular rotation).
This time, my arms are out but I swing my arms to spin myself! (Creating an implosive rotation.)
Before I go any further, I want you to get up and try both methods of rotation. (Spin on the ball of one foot, while trying to keep the whole foot flat against the ground.) So which is better, explosive rotation or implosive rotation? You’ll notice that implosive rotation is easily the faster and more powerful rotation. You’ll also notice that it’s so much easier to get more spins using implosive rotation. And all you did was send your arms INWARDS, instead of outwards.
- Explosive rotation failed because you were throwing your arms away from you—which slows your rotation and pulls you off center.
- Implosive rotation is superior because you were throwing your arms INTO you—which increases your balance and rotational power.
It’s easy to see why throwing the arms inwards instead of outwards creates better balance. But how does bringing the arms inwards create better rotation? I made some top view diagrams so you can see how implosive rotation is so much more powerful.
Here using explosive (circular) rotation, I spin by sending my arms around. Centripetal force then projects the power outwards and away from me creating a wide and slow rotation. The harder you try to hold your arms in an outstretched position, the more they will pull against each other and slow you down.
Here using implosive rotation, I’m sending my arms INTO me. Centripetal force then projects the power tangent (more towards) to my center creating a tighter, faster, more balanced, and more powerful rotation. The tighter I bring my arms to me, the faster I will spin. This is how figure skaters spin so fast!
The not-so-obvious discovery is that: in a explosive (circular) rotation, your act of balancing slows down your rotation. In a circular rotation, your balance (your need to stay centered) works against your rotation. Whereas in an implosive rotation, your act of balancing(centering forces) actually increases your rotation!
You have to understand that the spin comes from movement, not position. I’m not spinning faster because my arms are AT the center. I’m spinning faster because my arms are MOVING TOWARDS the center. The stronger my core muscles, the longer and faster I can spin before falling off balance. Even though it looks like I’m just resting my arms at center, I’m actually still trying to pull them in closer and tighter.
Some logical relationships between balance and rotational power:
- you need more balance to rotate faster
- you need more balance to generate maximum rotation
- you need more balance (grounding) to transfer power to your opponent
- the most effective way to create more balance is by moving TOWARDS your center
In case you’re learning how to spin, I would recommend for you:
- relax your arms as you spin so they feel as heavy as possible
- slowly bring your arms in while spinning (exhale slowly all along)
- try to ground yourself, imagine your body weight getting heavier and drilling DOWNWARDS into the ground
Explosive rotation has less balance and power
because it is going AROUND.
Implosive rotation has more balance and power
because it is going INWARDS (TO THE CENTER).
Ok great, Johnny. You taught us how to spin like a ballerina but now how does that apply to punching?
1. Open up
Start off in a loose relaxed position.
Don’t squeeze yourself in like a ball. How can you implode if you’re already completely compacted? Remember, a tight position is for “exploding” which may not be what you want. Leave some “space” at your center so you can “hit” your opponent by imploding your entire body. I don’t mean for you to stand lazy. I’m saying to relax the core and your whole body, and then activate all your core muscles simultaneously to project power inwards when you punch.
Center AND GROUND while you punch!
Go inwards and downwards (implosion), instead of upwards and outwards (explosion). Every punch you throw, you should be trying to center and ground yourself harder. The “inwards force” comes from all your limbs and especially your core muscles (abdominals, back, lats, adductors). The more powerful your implosion, the more balance and power you have.
You should feel all your power in your core, NOT in your fist. The arm is only for connecting the power generated by your body, to your opponent. Exploding technique throws you into the fist. Imploding technique centers you and grounds you.
Watch my video to see a live demonstration of implosive punching technique and theory in action.
Implosive punching requires a strong core
True implosive force comes from your core,
not your limbs.
I know I was toting up above that implosive punching was the most effective and efficient way to punch. Well that’s not entirely true in all cases. I was demonstrating implosive force using my arms but in reality, implosive force comes from your core. If you have a well-conditioned core, then you will be able to benefit from the strength of your core. The core muscles are incredibly powerful muscles MUCH STRONGER than your limbs and apply direct force to your core!
Now if you have a weak core, then you will not benefit as greatly from implosive punching technique. You will rely more on your limbs to generate power. Now limbs are for outwards (explosive) movements which means you have to use explosive punching technique. You will suffer from decreased power and more tired limbs because you’re relying on arms and legs to generate punching power.
- throws your energy outwards away from your center
- loosens and releases the punch
- rotates your slower
- pulls you off center, off balance
- uses limb strength from the easily fatigued (explosive muscles)
- slows your punch recovery because you feel like you have to keep pulling your arms back
- makes you bounce off your opponent (if he’s better grounded than you are)
- throws your energy inwards into the ground, into the punch
- compacts and solidifies the punch
- rotates you faster
- centers you for better balance
- uses core strength from the more efficient (implosive muscles)
- faster/easier punch recovery because the arm power is project inwards and easily bounced off your core
- creates the best power transfer possible!
That’s all it is! GO IN AND DOWN! IMPLODE INWARDS AND DOWN! (Instead of exploding upwards and out like everybody else.)
Read the other parts of this series:
- Power Punching Secrets, PART 1: Two-Legged Punching
- Power Punching Secrets, PART 3 (not yet written…)