Chain Punching Details

I never checked back on that page before now, so I didn’t notice this. So it’s time to make an answer pop up.

Nick Lo said…
Hi Ymar – Thanks for the video suggestion. I’ve watched some of china boxer’s videos before but unfortunately cannot right now due to a slow connection.

I’m not clear on what you mean by “Wing Chun cannot generate must (much) external power using muscles, so that’s why there will be a decrease on bags.”. My first thought is, if there is a decrease on a bag, why wouldn’t there be a decrease on a human body?

My second thought is that all punches use a combination of muscle, tendon, bone, weight transfer, etc to some degree. Wing Chun punches include the same use of the hip in the punch as most others. However, when it comes to fast chain punches I would argue that it IS just a muscle type punch as you cannot match the speed of your hand movements with a simultaneous transfer of body positioning. This is even more the case for examples like I mentioned where someone is bent forward at the hips chain punching a grounded opponent.

Ernie said “I’m not sure the heavy bag is the most accurate test of the chain punch” and I think that’s probably true which is perhaps what I’m getting at when I say I don’t understand the way it’s demonstrated e.g. on a grounded opponent. A chain punch in my opinion is a fast flurry of punches that may not be particularly powerful but would be somewhat disorientating while e.g. closing distance, changing position, etc, it’s surely not a “finishing” type punch. Perhaps, referring back to Rory’s article, the chain punch has the speed with the illusion of power?

Bags have a very high power absorption level due to the material. So they are much like boxing gloves. Originally Western boxing was bare hands and gloves were only used to protect the fists and to protect the opponent. The absorption material “cancels” out the first few miliseconds of the impact/shock force in a strike, then force is delivered to the target once the absorption level exceeds its maximum. This concept can be seen in needles vs skin. In order to surpass the absorption level of skin, an object the size of a bullet must be going near supersonic speeds to penetrate it. But a needle doesn’t need that much force, since all the force is concentrated on one area and it is applied against one part of the skin until the absorption level is exceeded and the needle breaks through. So bags, or heavy/light bags people punch at, absorb a specific level of force such that a very fast transfering strike will appear as if it did nothing to the bag because the bag sucked in all the power to the material. While a pushing type of force, using the exterior triceps and shoulder muscles in a boxing power hand, will actually move the bag around more.

So the reason why the human body is easier to break than a heavy bag is because the human body is mostly water that surrounds light tissue, cushioning nerves and organs, sitting on two gyros attached to two sticks. Thus a shock can pass through a person’s body and hit the spine, nerves, organs, etc even though externally there’s no sign of damage. The human body cannot absorb the same level of force without something breaking.

Since punches need the use of certain muscles to move the arm, technically every punch is powered by muscles. But that’s not optimal. At short range, without swinging the elbows and shoulder out, the fist doesn’t gain much momentum. So you get some power from your triceps and chest muscles, but compared to what you would gain if you powered that driving line fist with your mass and gravitational acceleration, there’s no comparison. So the punch shouldn’t be muscle focused, but gravity focused. And it’s definitely doable to synch up your momentum with your line attack, if you are moving in a line toward your enemy. It’s pretty difficult to shoot a jab if you are side stepping at the same time in a circle.

The chain punch can be done in different ways. Some are more efficient than others. The importance is in the details and in negating the visual illusion. One thing that contributes to illusion is the belief that a heavy bag simulates a human body; it doesn’t.

I’ve probably linked that too much, but it’s still an excellent primer on how “short range” power in Chinese kung fu (or Chinese boxing) is achieved. Well, the internal method at least. There is an external method to it, like Bruce Lee’s one inch punch.

Just ignore the playfulness in the beginning.

Explore posts in the same categories: Traditional Martial Arts

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