IntroThe chamber-extend-retract action is used in hand and foot techniques to prepare the limb for action, generate speed and power during the action, to retract the limb to prevent the opponent from grabbing it, and to reset the limb for further actions. This chamber-extend-retract action is usually performed in a snapping motion; the use of snap when executing techniques is also discussed other articles.
Snapping motionFor maximum power, before executing a technique such as a punch, you should chamber (coil, cock, pull back) the punching arm. This provides more distance over which the muscles can apply power to the punch, and it lengthens the punching muscles prior to use so they can contract over a longer distance and add more power to the punch.
To perform a punch, you first chamber the arm; you can incorporate the chamber into a feint or block, so it does not telegraph your intentions. Then execute the punch and allow the arm to reach its full extension, while keeping the elbow unlocked. Do not stop the arm short of full extension but adjust the position of the body so the punch terminates at your point of focus. The only difference between a punch that stops short, just touches, or destroys its target, is range. Range is discussed in more detail in the free-sparring topic. Immediately after reaching full extension, quickly retract the arm to the guard position to prepare for the next technique. From the chamber position, the extend and retract motions are in a snapping motion.
An example of this snapping motion is the action a snake handler who milks venomous snakes uses to grab the head of a snake. To keep from getting bitten, the handler must move very quickly and be prepared to grab the snake when contact is made. However, the handler must also be prepared to retract instantly the hand if the grab cannot be competed. To have any chance of grabbing the snake and to prevent receiving a bite, the handler must commit to the grab while simultaneously being prepared to snap the hand back if unsuccessful. To executing a punch, you use a similar action. You fully commit to the punch and plan on it hitting the target with full power, but you also plan on quickly retracting the hand if it misses the target or at contact with the target.
Snapping a punch seems contradictory. You are thrusting the fist forward as quickly and powerfully as possible while simultaneously planning on retracting it was quickly as possible, but this action adds power and speed to the punch doesn’t leave you open for a counter attack. Adding snap to a technique is difficult to do properly and requires much mental and physical training to perform correctly.