Basic Punching Techniques: The Falling Step
Developing powerful punches is a step-by-step process. And as with any step-by-step process, you have to start somewhere, right?
One of the best ways to learn power punching techniques is to start with the falling step.This expression – the falling step – was coined by Jack Dempsey in his famous boxing manual entitled “Championship Punching”. Although the technique itself has been around forever, Dempsey was the first to codify it in writing so that even folks without access to a martial arts or boxing instructor can learn how to develop a powerful punch.
When you step with a punch, you substantially increase its power. This is because you naturally get your body weight behind the punch. In this way, even a small man can knock out a heavyweight if he lands the punch cleanly.
Here is how Jack Dempsey describes his “falling step”:
“Let your arms dangle loosely at your sides; you won’t need to use [them yet]. Bend your body slightly forward as you shift your weight forward onto your front foot so that your [rear] foot is resting only on the ball… Now without any preliminary movements take a long, quick step forward with your front foot toward the object at which your front foot had been pointing at. I emphasize ‘no preliminary movement’ before the step. (You unquestionably will be tempted to shift some of the weight…NO PRELIMINARY MOVEMENT!) Just lift the foot and let the body fall forward in a long, quick step.”
When you incorporate this falling step into your strikes, you will get a good part of your bodyweight behind the punches. Your power will immediately increase.
However, you may find it difficult to use a long, falling step in an actual fight. After all, it is difficult to actually hit someone during a fight or a boxing match, and the falling step takes a bit more time to execute than does simply sticking out your arm.
But don’t let this fool you. The falling step is very, very useful when it comes to developing your power during shadow boxing or heavybag work.
Here’s how to use the falling step to increase your punching power:
- With a heavy bag or a partner holding a pad, take a fighting stance in front of your target.
- Begin by using the “falling step” without any arm movement. Just hit the target (the heavy bag or the pad) with your lead shoulder.
- In this way, you can get a “feel” for how you use bodyweight to add power to your strikes.
- Once you get the hang of it, add your arms. Use both hands to strike against the target.
- Imagine that a rope connects your knees and your elbows. Immediately as your knees move, your elbows should move too. This sort of coordinated, non-telegraphed, explosive movement is what made Jack Dempsey –who was small by heavyweight standards– such a powerful puncher.
- When you are ready, use a single arm to push or strike the target.
- Finally, use your fist to punch the target with power. Adding the arm punch to this falling step is like putting a point on a battering ram; it’ll increase your power significantly.
So there you have it: the “falling step”. Try to incorporate a step (even if it’s only an inch or two) into your punches and your punching technique will be better than ever.