Basic punching techniques: the torso twist
The basic punching technique most often neglected by beginners is twisting the torso. Most people who have no formal boxing or martial arts training punch with arm power only. Experienced fighters, however, know that power comes from rotating the torso.
It’s pretty obvious that hook punches like hooks and uppercuts derive their power from the turning of the torso. But straight punches – especially the straight right hand – also get really powerful when you turn your torso. As a case in point, Karate people emphasize the torso twist to an absurd degree. And this is because it’s the number one way to generate massive power in your punches.In his famous boxing manual, Jack Dempsey called this technique the “shoulder whirl”. He started his students out by having them stand up and turn their torsos so the arms flipped around like whips. This was a good way to demonstrate the power that could be generated through twisting the torso.
Pivoting the feet (or, more specifically, pivoting the foot that isn’t bearing the majority of your bodyweight) is a way to get an extra bit of power out of this torso twist. When you pivot, you avoid injury to the joints and you gain a certain suppleness that translates to increased power, speed, and balance.
How to practice twisting for increased power
- To practice this basic punching technique, start out in front of the heavybag (or in front of a partner holding a striking pad).
- Next, twist your waist and torso while you lightly tap the heavy bag.
- Move with speed and concentrate on the torso twist. The power (not that there will be much power at this point) comes from the midsection, not the arms.
- You may have to continue this drill for a few weeks if you have an especially weak midsection. The rotational ab muscles need to strengthen and adapt to this new way of moving.
- Later, you can add some more power to the movement, but the real work is done in the early stages as you build up the strength and endurance in your core and midsection.
Well, there you have it. The torso twist (or shoulder whirl as Jack Dempsey called it) is one of the basic punching techniques that’s sure to add power to your punches once you develop the conditioning to use it effectively.