In this blog post I am going to take you through what, so far, I have found to be the best way to properly learn a technique. This technique could be anything, a jab, a hook, a teep. The method and steps to become proficient will be the same. But for the sake of this post i'm going to be using the example of the straight left jab. Which, for those who are completely new to the sport, is a straight punch with your lead hand, which if you are right handed will be your left.
Start from the bottom up!
The first thing you need to do is focus on your feet. My trainers taught me and I teach all my students that footwork is key. Most people are capable of throwing a shot with all of their power but how long it takes you to position yourself in order to throw that shot and where you end up after you've thrown the shot is determined by your footwork. So make sure your feet are doing the right thing. In the case of a jab you should be stepping forward on to the ball of your front foot and then returning it to it's start position.
Once you've figured out what your feet are doing next you need to look at your hips. The vast majority of the power for most techniques is generated from the hips so it's important to make sure they are moving correctly. When punching, your hips should always stay centred and in the middle of your feet. The position of your hips dictate where the rest of your upper body will be. Centred hips mean a good straight torso and strong core which is necessary to enable the transfer of power from your legs to your arms. If you are leaning forward when you throw the jab then your hips are in the wrong place and you will not be able to generate maximum power. Also you will be off balance and so any subsequent shots will be thrown without power and you'll be vulnerable to counters.
A to B not ABC
Next is where most people start and that is with the actual striking limb in this case the left arm. By now you should have placed your feet and body in the correct position to generate all the power for the technique. All that remains now is to move your fist from point A to point B. As simple as this sounds many people mess up here in various ways. A lot of people will add a point C so rather than throwing the punch directly from your guard to the target there will be some extra added movement, most commonly a drawing back of the fist before the strike which adds nothing in the way of power and alerts your opponent to the imminent strike giving him extra time to react. So make sure your strike goes directly from point A to point B. Also here is where you need to make sure your guard isn't dropping as you throw your strike leaving you open to counters.
So we've looked at all the different elements that make up this strike. Now it's time to put them together. But slow down! Because there is a correct way to do this and an incorrect way to do this that will often lead to ingrained poor technique which will have to be corrected and relearned in the future. So to save time and energy it's better to just get it right the first time by following this process.
Technique/Slow motion > Power > Speed
Always practice the technique in slow motion first. This will ensure that you notice every thing your body is and isn't doing and can correct it. Using a mirror is a must. Also having a trainer present will be invaluable as they can tell you exactly what you are doing wrong and what adjustments are needed. Once you've corrected any mistakes you can then practise the strike on the bag or pads and add...
At this stage its best to take your time and drill the technique over and over making sure you're still in the correct position. If you get bored and give up or do something else thats ok but just know that you will never perfect that technique because even fighters who have years of experience will still spend hours in the gym drilling single techniques over and over again. There are no short cuts unfortunately. But if you skip this step you will miss out on the satisfaction that comes with becoming proficient in the use of that technique.
Finally once you've learned how to perform the technique with power it's time to add speed. Now you can practice throwing and landing the strike with precision and fast reactions using the pads and sparring. This is the fun part that makes all the hard work worth while.
And that is how to learn a technique. But it's not done there. That's just how to learn the technique and be able to use it. To become truly proficient you have to keep going through these three steps constantly. Even when you think you've nailed it one day you'll notice a tiny detail you missed and then the whole process starts again. And that is the beauty of it. Just like polishing a diamond.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you enjoyed and found this post informative. Please share your thoughts below in the comments section and share with anyone who you think might enjoy this post also.