A common problem when people learn boxing is that they think they need to be tense through their whole body.
They lumber forward, both fists clenched, every muscle clenched like they’re bracing for impact. Or posing at a bodybuilding show.
But look at someone like Anderson Silva, who, in his prime, was considered the best striker who had ever set foot inside the Octagon.
He’s relaxed, so relaxed!
This prevented unnecessary burning of energy, but it also meant that his own muscles weren’t fighting him when it came time to punch. All of his pushing muscles were activated, all at once, and none of the pulling muscles were holding his fist back.
That resulted in very fast punches and a TON of knockouts!
It doesn’t get much smoother than that!
So why do people get all tensed up when it comes to striking? It can come from a number of things…
Maybe they weren’t taught properly…
Getting tense can be a natural reaction to the stress of getting punched in the face, or even just the fear of getting punched in the face…
Maybe the person did a ton of bench pressing, where every muscle has to lock together into a powerful whole…
Or maybe it comes from starting out your martial arts career as a grappler!
Let’s dwell on that last point for a while: grappling.
Obviously I’m a huge fan of grappling and consider it essential for self defense in the modern era. I even written multiple books about why it’s so important (some of which you can download here for free).
But even I have to admit the limitations of grappling, and one of those is a tendency to promote muscular tension in the body.
That’s because much of the muscular effort in ground fighting comes from holding your opponent isometrically.
Maybe you’re trying to control one of his limbs, maybe you’re trying to hold him down, maybe you’re trying to stop him from choking you but quite often you’re squeezing, squeezing, squeezing.
Even when you’re pushing your opponent away on the ground it’s usually not a sharp, snapping motion.
For example, you might be pushing someone’s their chest down while trying to make posture… pushing their foot off your hip… attempting to extract your leg from an entanglement. But you might need to fight for that push for a long time, making it largely isometric once again.
All of these are relatively slow movements which are fine in grappling, but can work against you – initially at least.
But these problems ARE surmountable. You CAN be good at both striking and grappling as hundreds of successfully cross-trained MMA fighters have proven.
How do you do it?
Awareness of the potential problem is the first step.
And taking concrete steps to fix the problem is the next step.
In this video my friend, kickboxer, and Self Defense Tutorials guest instructor Ritchie Yip first diagnosis the problem of stiff shoulders while striking.
Then he shows several drills you can use to loosen up your shoulders to make your punches snappy, fast and sharp.
Then he gives you some tips on shadowboxing effectively so that you’re training this relaxation at the same time as you’re learning to develop your power, footwork, and punching combinations.
You’ll learn how to let your shoulders move independently of your torso, how to prevent damage to your elbows while punching, and why your biceps should be alongside your face at the apex of your punch.
It’s not just for grapplers; in fact it’s a great video for anyone who has ever wanted to become smooth, smooth, smooth with their striking!
Check it out right below here: