IntroFor a punch to generate maximum power at impact with the target, hand, foot, and hip movements must be correctly timed so each applies power to the technique at the precise moment it is required. If their movements are applied too early, the power generated will not be maximized. If their movements are applied too late, they will add little power and may counteract and subtract from the power already generated.
Hand/foot timingHand-foot timing is stressed to beginning students, and even black belts must be reminded periodically. Hand-foot timing occurs as you are stepping into a hand technique (attack or block) and the hand movement is coordinated so it reaches the target at the same moment the foot touches the floor. For maximum power, both must touch simultaneously. If the hand reaches the target before or after foot contact, its power will be greatly reduced.
However, there are some advantages to mistiming. If the foot lands early, it may provide the punch with more stability when striking a person with a large mass. When stepping backward while punching, having the foot land early delays the punch, giving time for the foot to plant, stop your backward momentum, and then add power to the punch.
Hand-foot timing is especially critical with performing patterns. Since you are moving at a slower pace than when sparring and since judges know the next movement you will be performing, they are sensitive to any hand-foot mistiming. Proper chambering before each technique aids adds to the performance and helps ensure hand-foot timing.
Hand/hip timingThere are four approaches to how hand-hip timing should be accomplished. Some say the hip should move first and finish its movement before the fist moves. Others say the fist should start first, followed by the hip, and they both arrive at the target simultaneously. Other say everything just fires explosively at the target simultaneously. Others say a punch starts at the floor and then muscles and parts of the body add power sequentially toward the target until the fist impacts the target.
Hip-starts-firstIn this approach, the theory is that the larger, more powerful muscles of the lower body begin the technique and, then as the hip movement reaches maximum velocity, it stops, and its inertia propels the fist to the target resulting in a faster arm movement. The hip completes its rotation and tenses before the arm moves, so if the lower body is properly tensed throughout the arm's movement, thus providing a stable, stronger punch as the arm is launched off a strong base. Even though the punch doesn’t fire until the hip stops, the fist is actually moving toward the target since the shoulder is moving forward due to the hip movement. However, since the hip completes its rotation well before the fist contacts the target, they are not both moving forward at impact. The only mass moving into the target at impact is that of the arm.
Fist-starts-firstIn this approach, the fist starts first and the fist and hip motion finish at the target at the same time. The fist's velocity at impact may not be as great as in the hip-finishes-first method, but the overall speed of the technique (elapsed time) is usually faster. In addition, since the fist and hip movements arrive at the same time and are tensed at the impact, a greater force is transferred to the target. Also, since the hip continues moving until impact, the mass of the entire body is moving into the target.
SimultaneousIn this approach, the entire body fires explosively at the target instantly; there is no concern as to what starts first. The brain says punch and body punch instantly as a sort of an instinctive action.
SequentialIn this approach, the movement of the various muscle groups occurs like falling dominoes where the dominos are standing on end in a row and the first domino starts falling and hits the next one, which hits the next one, etc. In this approach, when executing a punch, the muscles closest to the floor start the punch by moving first, then muscles up the legs start moving, then muscles through the torso start moving and the torso and hip start twisting, and then muscles down the arm start moving. All the muscles add their movement and power sequentially until everything culminates at the fist’s impact with the target.
Which approach is the best?The one that works best for you.