One of the challenges I've been running into lately is proper chaining around a reverse punch, especially with my off hand. I continue to practice, but there are some fundamental difficulties with getting my off hand to fully cooperate.

I have a good feel for how to correct this through practice–slowing down, more practice, etc–but I am wondering what are the elements, including the subtle details, that make a good reverse punch and are there any specific drills for improving those elements?

  • 1
    Could you explain, in more detail, your "fundamental difficulties"? For example, is the problem within the rotation of the fist (turning over too late or too early)?
    – Sheph
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 2:52

1 Answer 1


A - Elements of good punch

  1. Hit with your shoulder not hand (focus on the shoulder and not the peripherals).

  2. Hips turning in the direction of the attack

  3. Rear leg pushing hips in the direction of the attack (on ball of the foot)

  4. Position of front leg should be enough to hold you in place and not falling forwards or becoming stuck in place. As a general rule: let your feet spread - to the front - one shoulder or a little more at first, once you get used to it, go wider and lower till you get all hitting stances in the comfort zone, then you can learn how to slide into the jump.

  5. Aiming behind the target

  6. Releasing the punch at the end of the rotation, this is like stretching an elastic band to full extend and then releasing.Result: maximal speed in minimum distance and spent energy - this is a result of relaxed and controlled practice

B- Mistakes (some not all)

  1. Hitting with hands not using the shoulders or even the whole body weight
  2. Having a centre of gravity leaning either to the front or the back It should be to the middle, however, all of your body weight should go behind the punch) So no leaning forwards (don't have your head as first point of contact after your hand let it be within the same vertical axe as your body, always front foot should be ahead of head) and no leaning backwards (you'll fall at contact).

  3. Hips should be horizontal if watched from the front

  4. Too much tension in the hands, only clench your fist tight at impact - which should be at best on 75% of your full extension if a straight punch or 75% of the path any other type of punch is taking (75% is your where you fist will be travelling at highest speed).

  5. Let your punch drag you (it should be controlled with the shoulders and hips)

  6. of course useless movement before and after and not protecting yourself with the other hand or exposing the head or the body to dangerous openings.

C - Steps

Beginner - feel the hips

  1. Have your feet spread about a shoulder space
  2. Push with the ball of your rear foot forward - direction of the punch - while at the same time bending a little bit the front foot (just a little)

    1. Keep head straight (chin a little down)
    2. Hands in place (you should be able to move your lower body with little to no effect on your hands except for rotation - this does not mean being stiff)
  3. Once you complete your leg push (you might notice that your hips will be moving forwards) get to feel your hips and continue from there with the hips

  4. Practice having a single motion starting from foot to hip

Intermediate - feeling shoulder

  1. Start with steps for beginner now just add a simulated punch with the shoulder i.e. hit as if your are hitting with your shoulder (keep hands relaxed in your guard and just attack with your shoulder like the boxers do when they warm up - very small hand movement)

  2. Practice until you have a fluid movement from foot to shoulder and you can feel the weight coming from the lower body to the shoulder and the shoulder getting more and more loose in motion

Advanced - Full punch

  1. Start with the previous and then just add the punch to it (Keep your focus on hitting with shoulder here and not hands)

Stretches and notes

  1. Warm up (any type you like)

  2. Make sure to have your shoulder fully warm up(the most basic one is a circular motion of the hands) until they are a little sore (tired) this is best.

  3. Do some static and dynamic stretching

Systematically advance

  1. Practice slowly and then pick up the pace

  2. Start with one punch drills then add up

  3. Practice on the bag (don't push, hit, and withdraw your hand directly when you punch don't let it sink in the bag)

  4. Try to train the weak hand (your case) in other scenarios like brushing teeth, driving, etc..

Examples of Bad Shoulder forms

enter image description here

He is by coincidence the former many times Kata (WKF system) Karate world champ - notice that the punch looks as it could go much further and is stuck because of a stiff not extended shoulder.

same here only lunge punch

Better form

enter image description here

Other examples

enter image description here

This is good form, however, notice the little lean forwards (this is the effect of tucking in the chin)

This One is a great Example

enter image description here

This image is from this original page.

As as side note, in Karate (and probably most old martial arts) there is a misunderstanding regarding the pulling hand, (the one that rests on the hips) and this is due to bad interpretations of forms, in fact the most simple explanation of this hand's position is holding (or locking in) the opponent's assaulting hand (and somehow turning it to gain more control) and attacking with the punching hand, however; explanations differ and vary depending on the situation and the location in a certain sequence of movements and of course the analytical perspective of the practitioner.

  • 1
    I think most of your post is very valuable, but I don't think what you say about striking from the shoulder is correct. Maybe your meaning is right and your words are wrong. The shoulder should barely (if at all) be involved in a strike. If you strike from the shoulder, you are disconnecting yourself from your hips, which is where the most powerful muscles in the body are.
    – Anon
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 1:40
  • Not really, you should test it and feel it, using the shoulder or not has nothing to do with hips movement. In fact you would notice it pushing naturally if you extend your rotation, and not using it is counter productive in the case of a punch, as your punch is going forwards and the shoulder is pushing backwards.
    – nsawaya
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 6:25
  • 1
    thx for the edit @Sardathrion, I just understood what I wrote hehe
    – nsawaya
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 7:17
  • 1
    @nsawaya: You are most welcome. If I inadvertently changed your meaning, please do edit the post again. Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 7:27
  • @nsawaya I don't understand what you mean by "the shoulder is pushing backwards". Could you help me?
    – Anon
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 12:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.