Want to protect your knuckles? Place your punches!

Want to protect your knuckles? Place your punches!


Want to be the one-punch knockout contender? 


Stephen Whittier’s knowledge of when and where to throw a straight punch could make the difference between throwing a knockout punch or retracting a broken hand. It is this type of basic fight knowledge that, when understood by the right fighter, helps produce striking champions like Muhammed Ali, Bas Rutten, Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Amanda Nunes, and many more.


Here, Whittier explains the basics of attacking the center line, an imaginary target beginning at the nose, continuing straight down the body. It is your responsibility as a competent striker, to use basic, straight punch techniques, technically, to dismantle an opponent. Check out the video below!

 

 


When attacking the headline, fighters can protect their hands by striking vulnerable parts of an opponent’s face. Rather than attack harder, more protected surfaces of the skull like the forehead, it is more effective to strike at parts of the head that are more susceptible to damage. 


This is the exact reason Whittier states that the centerline starts at the nose, a notably weaker part of the face compared to the forehead. Even non athletes can empathize with a solid hit to the nose. Your eyes water and you feel the same pain two minutes in as you did on the initial hit, constantly checking to see if your bleeding but most the time, you’re not. The centerline is drawn from the nose to the chin, where most straight punches should be thrown when punching to the head from directly in front of an opponent. Susceptible parts of the head also include the temple, straight down the cheek to the jawline. To hit those areas with a straight punch, you must have a “superior angle” on your opponent. 


Striking is not just hitting an opponent, but finding the best way to hit them, while avoiding getting hit yourself, through footwork, head movement and other defensive skills. Fighters should always be looking for superior angles using footwork and head movement in order to get to a spot where not only are they out of reach of an opponent, but where their strikes can do maximum amounts of damage. Superior angle, superior placement of a strike, that’s just common sense. Imagine doing anything you want with a straight punch; with proper punch placement, head movement, and footwork you can. Imagine being able to do anything you want with a hook, an uppercut, elbows, knees, or kicks; with your dangerous straight punches you can.

The more someone is worried about your jab, a key punch in striking that while normally is used to find range, set up other strikes, or to bait an opponent for other strategies, when used correctly as seen when, Josh Emmett TKO’d Mirsad Bektic, it can completely stun an opponent and knock them down. Combined with an accurate and powerful cross punch, you will have the proper foundation to build off of with other striking techniques. 

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Is that all there is to placing a straight punch? No way! Don’t forget there are levels to this game. That centerline at the nose, it goes all the way down the chest to the stomach. Any decent striker knows there is a time to change levels from the head and hit the body. A right cross to the gut can be a nasty, fight ending punch. If you have ever had the “wind knocked out of you” then you understand. If you have never gotten the wind knocked out of you, it is just something you have to deal with, and frankly while you’ll survive, it just sucks. 


Whittier touches on other essential points, such as keeping your head the same level as your punches. This critical tip will help you punch at more of a straight angle, rather than punching at an upwards or downwards angle, which takes away power from your punches, and gets them back to your chin in an overall slower amount of time. It should be to confusing that the best angle for a straight punch is just that, straight. Keeping your head at the same level of your punches will keep your punches from getting countered as well. What good is your punch if you get hit with a harder one?  


The knowledge of punch placement that Whittier brings to the striking community combined with how it integrates into the extensive systems of striking is invaluable, He not only covers the importance of where the punches are placed but breaks down technical aspects such as staying in a defensive shell while throwing strikes, and pivoting the back foot on your cross punch which is not only is the correct technique, but it also is one of the main sources of power in the back hand punch. 


Keep these tips in mind whether you are sparring in the gym, fighting in the cage, or defending yourself in your local bar fight, and when you place your punches, do it with the mindset of a general deciding the best strategic location of each explosive strike on the enemy encampment, then finish them.

Fundamentals of Functional Striking by Stephen Whittier

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