Punching power - natural ability or learned?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by The Decay of Meaning, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. The Decay of Meaning

    The Decay of Meaning Valued Member

    A lot of people, including boxing coaches such as Freddie Roach, say punching power is a natural ability. It can be improved, but either you are born a powerful striker, or you are not. You cannot learn how to posess knockout power.

    I disagree. Here is why. Say you have two people weighing 205. One has a devastating punch, the other apparently hasn't the ability of knocking someone out, and has to rely on punches in bunches.

    Say these are of pretty much the same size, power and speed. What seperates them?

    Surely it has to be how they use their bodies, after all it is one part of the body connecting to another place on the opponents body (be it the body, the chin, cheek, tempel, etc.)
    So it's about how they land the punch, where they land it, and how they transfer power into the punch.

    To take a personal example: I remember back in 2005, being in a few fights where I had to defend myself. One of them pulled the muscles in their neck, the other started crying. But they were never knocked down. I could punch someone and they would keep standing perfectly fine.

    The past five years I've improved my boxing and added a bit of muscle (though not a whole lot). This year I was playfighting with the son of our national champion in boxing. I didn't even try to land the hook, but he got floored and rolled around like a shrimp. Then, I was attacked outside a bar and on the first punch I knocked him down, and on the second, he got up half a minute later with extremely wobbly. I actually have a hairline fracture because of that last punch.

    So what's the point of this? The same person with roughly the same speed, size, but better boxing skills, went from not knocking out anyone to knocking people down or out with the first punch. If punching power is a natural ability, how can this be explained?

    Could Tyson knock out top heavyweights without the boxing skills that learned him how to time a punch, how to drive the punch through, how to be explosive in a punch?

    Could Anderson Silva have knocked out Forrest Griffin without his boxing skills? Of course not. And why does Anderson have knockout power and Forrest doesn't? I'd say it's simply because Anderson is the superior striker.

    There are a few other minor points. A superior striker will have superior punches just because he knows he is superior. He feels more relaxed when fighting, and when you can relax in your hands, you'll get the knockout easier than if you try to push it and try to add a lot of power to the punch. Also, the punches that takes the most toll on you is the punch you don't see. So when an experienced striker see an opening and lands a shot with surprise, it will cause more damage than if the opponent could see the shot coming. Again, superior striking is the key to the knockout.

    In grappling, your choke will probably be weak the first time you try to apply a rear naked choke. But after a while you train for the choke to be applied harder and more correctly, when you learn what muscles to flex and how to stretch out, you will be able to do the same choke without using as much force.

    This is why I think punching power is something to be learned, and something which in most cases is not a natural ability. But I'm open to anyone who would refuse this and give a few examples of why it isn't the case.

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2010
  2. Kuma

    Kuma Lurking about

    One of the most powerful punchers in history, Jack Dempsey, stated punchers were made, not born. I believe this.
  3. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    How can we obtain punching power without training? We don't punch when we were in our mom's belley (pre-birth). We don't punch in our daily job either (post-birth).
  4. The Decay of Meaning

    The Decay of Meaning Valued Member

    Plenty of prominent people do, but can you back it up or document it in any way?
  5. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Our body is like 3 springs, without training, all 3 springs will function individually. Only through "training", we can compress all 3 springs at the same time, and then release all 3 springs at the same time to generate the maximum power.
  6. Kuma

    Kuma Lurking about

    From Chapter 3: "Punchers Are Made, Not Born" of Dempsey's book "Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense":

  7. The Decay of Meaning

    The Decay of Meaning Valued Member

    Awesome, thanks :)
  8. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    You can teach someone how to punch for sure. Someone who has no clue and never had to swing for the rafters to save his ass and such. Sure can totally be taught I do it just about all day.. every day.

    Will most of those people ever match up to someone who's a natural puncher with heavy hands? Nope.

    Look at a puncher Julian Jackson... heavy hands. Naturally. Sure he's trained as a boxer... but he's got natural punch ability and heavy hands. You can teach someone to improve their punching ability...but not make them heavy handed.

    It's not scientific... just what I've seen over the years.
  9. fire cobra

    fire cobra Valued Member

    Great topic of conversation this one guys and one thats been at the front of my mind for years on and off.

    I coach daily and have for 30 years,over that time I have had all sorts of people young and old, big and small, male and female etc come in the gym and the way some of them can hit just blows me away sometimes and has always made me step back and wonder how they do it.

    There doesnt seem to be that much of a patern to it,I mean one of the hardest hitters I have ever had in the gym was 9 stone wet through but could punch like a mule! and then Ive had heavies who couldnt punch their weight at all.

    Also Ive had a fair few females that can hit hard over the years to.

    Some of the commonalities that I have noticed is a lot of big hitters have good trapezius muscles(natural) and also quite often good legs(not in every case),also the mental aspects come into play to,some people just seem to have the confidence to "let it go" and not worry about what may happen after!.

    The majority of people can be improved by giving correct technique of course,foot,hip and shoulder rotation,use of weight etc,but a few of the natural hitters ive had can be spoiled by coaching to much,its almost like you can coach it out of them.

    Anyway as I said its a great topic and I thought Id just add a few of my observations,whether punchers are born not made Im unsure I think its probably a bit of both.:)
  10. AndyCTB

    AndyCTB Valued Member

    In my opinion. Largely learned, although natural physical attributes help.
  11. AndrewTheAndroid

    AndrewTheAndroid A hero for fun.

    You know what they say "Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a life time. Teach a man to punch and no one will call him a liar about how big the fish was."
  12. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    The thing about what you can learn and train is, it only goes so far. The rest is in you, or is your potential I think.

    It's the "stuff" that defines you. You can't teach everyone to be Tyson or be Ali. What we can learn is to maximise our potential.

    So, like pretty much all these questions, it's a bit of both. this nature vs. nurture pops up in other fields of study. It's not clear cut that it is one or the other - it's a bit of both.

    But it has been shown that nurture can influence and change our nature. But it's not like you can grow a couple of inches(taller), so there are limitations.

    In the case of punching power, if it was only about nurture, then it would be reasonable to expect to train anyone and everyone to the same level of punching power. This seems not to be the case in defined weight classes.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010
  13. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Another thing is that KO's are not just about power a lot of the time. It's often the one you don't see coming, or the one that lands on the sweet spot etc.

    So things like timing and accuracy come into play. Which is technique and not power.

    I don't believe you can take out natural abilities, attributes and aptitude from the equation.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010
  14. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    Much of it becomes irrelevant because if you have all the power in the world or the heaviest hands... but no timing.. or no heart... or strategy.. then it's not going to get you very far.

    This is why it seems to me that people spend far too much time focused on power and not enough on timing. Both arts like Aikido and Daito ryu Aikijujutsu are both largely based on the ability to enter... which is timing... no timing and you are lost. It sets up everything else... even my DRAJJ sensei used to say... if you happen to be up against a Judo guy or a BJJ guy and your timing is off... you are dead.

    To further reinforce the point he'd often exploit our bad timing to employ the short sword to sever the head once pinned... obviously it's an example... but in days of old... it would have been a very grim reality about the importance of timing.

    So power on its own is relatively useless. Timing and power are what it's all about.
  15. Ace of Clubs

    Ace of Clubs Banned Banned

    Respectfully disagree.

    Strategy is king. Without strategy, timing and power are wasted.
  16. Rhizome

    Rhizome Super Valued Member

    i reckon its abit of both, there will be powerful punchers who are both with the skills and the tools and others can train for it.
  17. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    but no strategy matters if you can't go and DO what you plan to do.

    and if you're slow and weak, it's very likely you won't be able to
  18. boards

    boards Its all in the reflexes!

    I have to go with a bit of natural and trained. I've met people with no training and have a good strong punch, but when they trained their punch became so much better. But I have also seen people who have trained but just have less power in their strikes for what ever reason.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010
  19. Body Sushi

    Body Sushi Valued Member

    Proportion of fast-twitch muscle fiber?
    Very largely genetically determined, and you will have a very hard time teaching anybody explosiveness...
  20. Ace of Clubs

    Ace of Clubs Banned Banned

    If you are slow and weak you need to make up for it with good strategy.

    There are many ways to multiply the force and speed of a strike.

Share This Page