Cocking a punch
IntroThe traditional punching concepts of cocking (chambering) a punch and pullback are controversial subjects. Some martial artists think the concepts are useless or old-fashioned, while others think they add power to techniques and are vital to modern martial arts.
CockingCocking or chambering is pulling the arm and fist back to give the punch more power. When beginning taekwondo students are taught to punch, they are taught to chamber a punch at its hip and, as the punch is fired, to simultaneously pull the other hand back to a chamber position at its hip.
This extreme version of chambering is used to teach the theories of punching and to put artistic expression into the performance of patterns. Since it signals that a punch is coming it is not used in free-sparring and is only used in self-defense under certain conditions, such as when the opponent is stunned and the punch is a finishing blow. When sparring or defending yourself, chambering is accomplished by holding the hands in a basic guard position which essentially places them in a modified chamber.
PullbackPullback is pulling one hand back into chamber while the other hand is punching from its chamber position. When punching from the hip, this is also an extreme movement. In actual usage, as in free-sparring, the pullback is a subtle movement that occurs during a punch, not as a separate motion as it is in performing patterns. For example, when you fire jab from a fighting guard position, the opposite arm is contracted for an instant. It does not move much but the pulling reflex learned as a beginner is still there doing its job.
Reasons for using the pullback include:
- It extends the movement of the torso to add power to the technique.
- It helps maintain balance by making a counter move to the punch.
- It helps in contracting the whole body at impact.
- It helps connect the punch to the strong base foot of the stance.
- It helps center the mind on the centerline of the body rather than on just the punching side.
- When punching, the tendency is to reach forward so that the arms move independently from the body. This tendency is called being "top heavy." The pullback helps keep the punch rooted in the feet and expressed at the top.
- It uses the equal and opposite movement to add power to the technique.
- It adds rotational energy to the technique.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Pulling from one side of the body rotates the mass around your centerline and helps propel the other side forward, thus increasing the power of a punch.