There are a few reasons for this.
- Your hands are part of your guard. If your hands aren’t in contact with your opponent’s body, causing pain or manipulating their guard and expectations, they should be on your face. You can’t get hit if your gloves are in the way. Simple.
- You’re far more accurate if your punches issue from your chin. Some people prefer to guard higher, keeping the hands near the top of the head for better coverage and effective use of the forearms for blocking. When you punch, however, lower the hands to your chin. Wild punches coming from your chest are going to be all over the show, as futile as trying to hit a pigeon with a roman candle.
- Lastly, yet of equal importance to the first two points is that if your hands do nothing other than travel to the target and then back to guard, there is little for your opponent to see and little indication that it’s coming.
The human animal is remarkably adept at reading movement for the purpose of defense. It’s a holdover from our primal inheritance for fleeing danger and is part of the excitement that keeps a ‘natural’ fighter engaged.
Any twitch of the elbow or shoulder, no matter how subtle, will be read by an opponent. Millimeters are the essential difference between a glancing blow and a knockout, so achieving one requires a mysterious combination of accuracy on your part and co-operation on behalf of your adversary.
Once again, we return to Bruce Lee’s maxim, ‘Simplicity is the last step in art and the beginning of nature’. You want to refine your body language so you do nothing other than what is absolutely essential. There are three qualities to this:
- You will generate maximum force
- You will indicate as little as possible, and
- You will be least susceptible to being hit in return.
Remember: effective striking isn’t difficult; it’s just unnatural. And if it were natural, then you wouldn’t have to practice. You’ve got a couple of hundred bad punches in you and the sooner you get rid of them, the better.
So keep punching!