How To Build Your Fighter’s Power With Punch Shields The Brandon Gibson Way
While there are many tools boxing and MMA trainers use to increase their fighter’s punching power and footwork, one stands out as a great way to gauge a fighter’s power while continuing to develop it—the punching shield.
In this video, Coach Brandon Gibson talks about why the punch shield is his favorite tool for developing striking power when training MMA legends like Jon Jones and gives his techniques for getting the most from this dynamic round pad.
Punch Shield Basics
“This is my favorite tool for generating punching power,” Gibson said. “This tool will get you exhausted, partly because when you’re hitting this it’s high pressure, high volume, all power.”
The coach has several techniques for building a fighter’s punching power with the punch shield. However, he does warn it only absorbs a portion of the power. The person holding the shield needs to be prepared to take a portion of the punch. Always hold the punch shield firm at all times and be prepared to eat shots while using it, said Gibson.
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When building power in your fighter’s jab, you’ll want to firmly hold the pad against the opposite shoulder that corresponds to which of your fighter’s arms you’re working on. Typically this would be your right shoulder if your fighter fights in an orthdox stance. If working with a southpaw, make sure to hold the shield on your left shoulder. For this article, we will focus on using the punching shield in the orthodox stance.
Gibson said to keep the pad tight against your right shoulder and chest—with your chest absorbing more than your shoulder—with your left hand holding the grip from the bottom and your right hand holding the grip at the top with the elbow high. Make sure to tuck your chin and have a good base while you are taking your fighter’s best shots, advises Gibson.
“The punch shield, you can definitely throw combinations on it, just like the paddles. I like to look for a lot of single shots and really pull the technique out of each punch,” Gibson said. “I like faints in, I like movement in and I like to make sure they’re [the fighter] giving a good defensive exit, as well.”
Training your fighter’s cross with the punching shield is similar to training their jab, but you reverse which shoulder you’re holding the pad on and reverse your hands on the grips of the shield. Again, Gibson stresses holding it tight, keeping your chin tucked, and setting up a good base to take what’s being thrown at you. He compares holding the shield and setting your base to holding a heavy bag. However, Gibson said he can get a lot more out of his fighter using the punching shield than a traditional heavy bag.
“The thing I like about the power shield is being able to pressure them, make them move, help them exit, or give,” Gibson said. “We get the footwork with it that you can’t necessarily get on a heavy bag and I get to feel my fighter’s power.”
Another reason Gibson said he prefers the punch shield the fighter doesn’t have to be super accurate when punching due to the shield’s surface size. The main goal is to develop punching power, not accuracy, according to the coach.
“This tool is a little forgiving. But, what we do want is that power developed with accuracy, with speed, with timing and with technique,” Gibson said.
When developing the hook, hold the shield firmly against your arm and at a 90-degree angle from where your fighter is standing. It should also be held against the opposite arm corresponding to which arm your fighter is throwing hooks with. Have your hip open and front leg out a little to let your body absorb the shot, said the coach.
“It’s my job as the shield holder to make sure I’m in a good position. That’s why I have it [the shield] high. I’m looking at the opponent’s chin level,” Gibson said. “I’m not holding it low where a realistic punch wouldn’t be. You got to be lined up. You have to be in position.”
Holding the shield to work the uppercut is similar to holding it for the hook shot. However, the shield needs to be turned diagonally while still being held at a 90-degree angle from your fighter’s stance. Gibson advises having your shoulder firmly pressed into the pad and get as close to your chest as you can. If you have the pad resting too much on your shoulder and arm you can get hurt, said the coach.
As A Defensive Tool
The punching shield can help your fighter build their power while on defense, too. You can simulate a hook and have your fighter roll under, then set the pad up on the side your stepping to and have your fighter throw a big cross or hook upon exiting.
“You can learn to start drawing out that power in motion that’s off the defensive movement,” Gibson said.
Another punching shield drill the coach likes is to pressure his fighter into taking a few steps back, having them finding an off-angle and throwing a shot as hard as they can, he said. This drill helps to train the fighter for rhythm changes while working on their defensive footwork and set up a powerful strike.
Hold the shield tightly against your chest and pressure your fighter to look for a few straight shots, then the fighter picks a side, pivots and throws the lead or power hook. Alternate to each side and repeat after the sequence is complete.
“The punch shield is a great tool. A lot of ways to use it. A lot of combinations can be built off of it,” Gibson said. “ Use it to draw that power out of your fighter.”
Who is Brandon Gibson
Coach Brandon Gibson is based at the prestigious Jackson Wink Professional MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has been the striking coach of UFC fighters like Jon Jones, Carlos Condit, and others. He started out training at the academy in 2005 and became a coach there in 2009. In 2012, UFC Magazine Gibson one of the Top 100 Coaches in MMA.
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