Focused vs. follow-through
Some players use follow-through when performing their sports. For example, when a golfer swings a club; no matter if contact is made or not, the punch or club continues along its path until its energy is depleted. If contact is made, the follow-through action keeps the club in contact with the ball as long as possible to give the ball more momentum and thus causes it to travel further.
With golfers this is not a problem since they don’t have another golfer facing them, waiting for an opening so they can whack them on the head with a golf club. In a fight, if you follow through with a punch and it misses its target, then you have left yourself open for a counterattack. Follow-through punches are seen in the wide, swinging punches of drunks and untrained fighters.
Some fighting arts, such as boxing, teach students to follow-through with punches. Boxers also punch quickly and powerfully. They throw punches with follow-through to gain maximum momentum so they can knock an opponent off-balance or down. However, they find it difficult to break a concrete block that is standing on one end because of their technique. They simply knock the block across the room
A punch that uses follow-through builds up a level of momentum, maintains the level for most of its motion, and then momentum fades away. Thus, the impact of this type t is diffuse. The energy of the punch sets the block in motion and continues to push the block until all the energy is transferred.
A taekwondo or karate punch has no follow-through, it lashes out like a cobra at maximum speed, transfers all its energy to the target, and then withdraws instantly. When a black belt hits a block of concrete, the fist touches the block for fewer than five milliseconds, so all the striking forces are transferred to the block and are not used to simply move the block. Usually, the block does not move, it just shatters. The punches are a "focused" to terminate a few centimeters into or past the target and then they are quickly retracted to the guard position, leaving no opening for a counterattack.
Focused punchesThere are scientific reasons why focused punches are better than wide swinging, follow-through punches.
- If contact is made at some point during a wide swing, significant torque will be produced that may throw the puncher off balance. Also, if contact is made during the follow-through, then energy will be transferred to the target via pushing rather than by deformation. Pushing generally does less damage than does deformation.
- In a standard focused punch, the fist begins from the guard and terminates with the arm fully extended, but not locked. The punch is focused (aimed) at a point. This point can be just short of the target, on the surface of the target, or a predetermined point inside or past the target. If the target moves before the fist arrives, the fist will still stop at the point of focus and retract to the guard position. The focused punch is a quick out and back motion, unlike an extended follow-through punch that is pulled back to its guard after it runs out of energy.
- In a graph of the velocity of the fist as a function of its position (measured as a percentage of the total arm length), you will notice that the maximum velocity is attained at about 75% of the distance to the stopping point. This corresponds to roughly 10-14 cm. Thus, by focusing the punch several centimeters inside the target, the focus punchers ensure that they make contact closer to the point where the fist has its maximum velocity to maximize the potential for damage.