Not all punches kicks are created equal. Just because a punch or foot files does not necessarily mean that there is any significant force behind it. Newcomers to striking sports like MMA or boxing will often throw their strikes with their extremities. Along with casual spectators, these people believe merely swinging arms and legs is what constitutes a significant strike. They are mistaken, very much so. Those who train in the martial arts know that strikes are supposed to be delivered with a blend of speed, precision, and power.
Accurate striking is a learned trait that can be attained with enough training and experience. Speed can be increased by developing the right muscle groups and practicing timing. Yes, power can also be increased by developing certain muscle groups, but learning how to properly throw the strikes using a correct rotation of the hips and shoulders are key to developing not only bigger muscles but a better fighter.
It is often said that along with the head, the shoulders and hips are the steering wheels of the body. Where they turn, the body turns. Martial arts that heavily rely on kicking like muay thai, taekwondo and karate, often emphasize to their students the importance of turning their hip or kicking through their opponent. This forces the student to instinctively rotate their hips to hit their targets. Boxers will often employ a similar tactic only they will have to use both hips and shoulders to generate the kind of torque that will allow them to fire their fists like coiled snakes.
But why does rotating one’s hips and shoulders generate so much force? The answer; kinetic energy. When a fighter winds up their hips they are storing a tremendous amount of kinetic energy for their strike. Then when they release this force, all the pent-up kinetic energy unwinds in their hips or shoulders. This force is further strengthened by the flexion of the groin, quads and core muscles in the hips, and the deltoids, pectorals and abdominal muscles for the shoulders.
Like a piece of metal that has been bent and is now released, the arms or legs come screaming out towards the opponent like the end of a whip. Torsional rotation provides great speed to attacks, but it is the root of powerful strikes.
Strikers will want to learn this skill if they have any plans of progressing in their martial art or sport. However, it is best to exercise caution when first learning this subtle yet devastating skill. Fighters who have never done it before will first need to develop the smaller supporting muscles surrounding their joints, not just in the hips or shoulders, but also in their knees, ankles, lower back, and elbows. Just like any physical endeavor, it is best to take a slow and methodical approach. Using 50% of speed and effort during training and gradually increasing the output as their body and proficiency develop. And always remember, if it is the power you desire you must be willing to move and to rotate.