This article originally appeared on Evolve-MMA.com
Whether we are practicing kickboxing, boxing, Muay Thai, or any martial art with a heavy focus on striking, it is important not to just go through the motions but also to focus on improving our skills for real-world application. You never know, someday you might get that urge to compete. If and when you do, power is essential, along with technique.
Right now, as you begin your martial arts journey, things can get a little convoluted. There are many aspects of your discipline that you need to go over. It takes some practitioners years before they can get over the hump and reach that next step that takes them from beginner to advanced.
Luckily, your professors and instructors have reached the pinnacle ahead of you, and are ready to teach you the lessons they learned when they were just starting out.
Today, Evolve Daily shares 6 Easy Ways To Improve Your Striking.
1) Determine if you are an orthodox or southpaw fighter
The first step in improving your striking is determining your stance. Are you a righty or a lefty?
Most people are right handed, hence their lead foot is their left foot and the hand that they use to jab is the left hand. But sometimes, people like to stand in a southpaw stance, which is the complete opposite, even if they are right handed.
The same goes with your legs. In the orthodox stance, your strongest kick is with your rear right leg, and vice versa.
Now, it’s up to you to experiment with your style. Whatever you are most comfortable with is the way to go. The most important thing, however, is establishing your identity. Whether you stand in the orthodox stance or in the southpaw stance, make sure you work in one stance first before experimenting with the other.
If you can concentrate on one stance initially, it will make it easier to focus on learning the basics.
2) Focus on proper technique
It goes without saying, that any martial arts workout or training session should be accompanied with a sharp focus on proper technique.
Proper technique is essential to generating the most amount of power in your strikes, whether it is delivering that knockout punch in boxing, or unloading that devastating leg kick in kickboxing. There are certain details that every martial artist should pay attention to in order to improve their striking effectiveness.
However, not only does focusing on proper technique bring about an enhanced striking game, it also makes sure that you avoid injury. Following instructions from your professor or instructor is key, so listen carefully and take the proper technique to heart.
3) Build strength through physical workouts
Yes, technique is extremely important, but so is power. In order to be effective with your striking, your opponent has to respect your power. There are various ways to enhance your power, but one of the most important things to take note of is to focus on explosive movement.
Train the proper way and pay close attention to how you use your muscles. Focus on exercises that target the large muscle groups, as well as the fast twitch muscle fibers, such as push ups and pull ups.
To increase power in your legs, hit the squats and calf raises. These workouts focus on strengthening your leg muscles and stabilizing your balance. A punch starts with your legs, and they are the arguably most important part of generating powering in a punch. For Muay Thai and kickboxing, kicking the bag is also very effective because you can max out on power.
4) Remember to breathe
One of the most often overlooked aspects of striking is proper breathing. Beginners usually focus on just throwing their strikes as hard as they can, without understanding that a lot of the power is generated from their core or diaphragm.
Inhaling oxygen deeply through the nose is essential, even when training without a mouthguard. Practice breathing through your nose during training, so that it becomes a force of habit. In martial arts competition, whether amateur or professional, competitors are required to wear a mouthguard, so breathing through your nose is the only way to go.
Exhale when you throw each strike and don’t be afraid to make noises. The better you breathe when you strike, the more powerful your strikes become. In addition, proper breathing means you have more energy in your sessions and you can last more rounds. Neglect your breathing, and you can gas out pretty quickly.
5) Develop your speed
The velocity at which your strikes travel is directly proportionate to the amount of power they generate. Speed is an essential component in striking because oftentimes speed is the number one advantage you can have going into a fight.
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘Speed Kills?’. It’s absolutely true. In combat sports, speed is one of the most difficult things to deal with. Developing your speed means setting yourself up for success, no matter what the odds.
Of course, in order to develop good speed, you’re going to have to improve your stamina. Strive to throw an exorbitant amount of strikes during training to develop your stamina, so that when you’re in a real fight, you will have a deep reservoir of energy to draw upon to deliver your lightning quick strikes.
6) Enhance your footwork
Last, but certainly not the least, is footwork. Oftentimes, beginners are so enamored with practicing their striking, that they forget all about their movement and footwork. Footwork is essential to striking because it sets up most of your combinations.
If you can’t get to where you need to be on your feet, how do you expect to be able to chain your powerful strikes? Movement is perhaps the most important part of striking, and one that everyone should focus on.
Practice shuffling your feet. Move forwards and backwards, and side to side. Attack in angles, retreat the same. Learn to pivot. Most important of all, stay light on your feet, ready to jump in and out of battle when necessary. These are all essential parts of developing your footwork.
Everyone, whether beginner or advanced, should take the time out each training session to develop their footwork. It’s one of the most important parts of the game and will help you greatly improve your striking.
So, which of these do you feel you need to focus the most on?