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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Cross Punches With Master Trainer Mike Winkeljohn

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Cross Punches With Master Trainer Mike Winkeljohn

Developing a razor-sharp straight punch—also known as a cross punch—is one of the first steps a fighter can do to become an excellent striker. The punch is a critical component of the one-two combo and has been known to ring more bells than Quasimodo. If executed properly, the cross can also deliver a knockout shot that will spin your opponent’s bill around like Daffy Duck, then drop them to the canvas. 

Master trainer Mike Winkeljohn, co-owner of the world-renowned Jackson Wink MMA Academy, teaches the fundamentals for throwing powerful cross punches that are sure to daze and astound your opponent...they’ll never know what hit ‘em. 


Pull And Punch

Far too often, novice fighters—and even some pros—fail to throw a quality cross because they’re not using much of their core strength and twisting their torso when they punch. The power from your cross comes from the rotation of your hips and shoulders. Otherwise, a fighter is just swinging their arms, said Winkeljohn. 

“The first thing I tell fighters when they come in is when he throws a punch here [with no core movement], it’s just an arm punch,” Winkeljohn said. “What he wants to do is get that body spinning because what people forget about is that front arm.”

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To throw a proper cross punch, Winkeljohn advises pulling your front arm back to your cheek while throwing your cross with the dominant arm (left arm in front and the right arm back if you fight in an orthodox stance/right arm in front and the left arm back if fighting southpaw). This movement will help you naturally turn your shoulders and torso into your cross and give the punch more power. 

“The faster this one [lead arm] goes back to his face, the faster this shoulder [back arm] can move forward,” Winkeljohn said. “So, he is going to actually yank that [lead arm] back every time he throws that punch [cross]. Instead of leaving it [lead arm] hanging, yank it back and it rotates your body.” 

The trainer said it is crucial to get back to your stance quickly after you punch so you can set up the next shot or defend against your opponent’s counterpunch. Winkeljohn cautions against over-rotating when throwing the cross because it can leave you off balance. Engage your core muscles when rotating to help bring you back to your starting stance, said Winkeljohn. 

Develop A Mean Lean

Now that you got the basics down to throw a proper cross, let’s make it more effective. Winkeljohn said a fighter should lean to the side they are throwing the straight from to add extra length to your punch while getting your head out of the danger zone. 

“If you have ever had those fights where you miss someone by that much [holds fingers at inch length]. Sometimes, if you would have just fallen off [to one side] and twisted your body more you would hit the guy,” Winkeljohn said. “It’s all about getting more length and the nice thing about getting more length is you have more time and momentum.”

The trainer also suggests pulling your elbow to your obliques as your lead hand comes back to your face to help protect the side that you will be leaning to. Bringing your elbow in also helps get more rotation in your shoulders and torso when throwing a cross. The faster you can bring it in will give more speed to your cross, said Winkeljohn. 

Who Is Mike Winkeljohn?

World-class MMA coach Mike Winkeljohn is the co-owner of Jackson Wink MMA Academy and has personally trained UFC Veterans like Jon Jones, Carlos Condit, and Holly Holm (just to name a few). His academy, co-owned with Greg Jackson, has been considered one of the MMA camps in the world and has produced numerous champions in the sport over the years. Before Winkeljohn began his coaching career, the trainer won several Muay Thai and kickboxing world championships from various organizations and is a 5th Degree Black Belt holder in Kempo Karate. 

Power Punching by Mike Winkeljohn

Want to develop better striking techniques and learn how to throw powerful punches that win matches? Check out “Punching Power With Mike Winkeljohn” and other great instructionals available at DynamicStriking.com!