INCREASING PUNCHING POWER
USING DROPPING ENERGY AND THE NO-INCH PUNCH
How would you like to generate more power in your strikes when you're in close with your opponent? You can, by developing the little known skill of Dropping Energy.
Dropping Energy is perfect for fighting nose-to-nose, where the most mayhem occurs and where there's no room to pull back and chamber a strike. It also delivers more energy in less time at any angle, and causes far more internal damage to the enemy without disrupting your relaxation, sensitivity, or balance; instead, it augments them.
Over the years I've probably gotten more letters on this single aspect of Guided Chaos (Ki Chuan Do) than anything else. So what I'm going to do here is reveal a very basic method for developing your Drop Hitting.
The One Inch Punch vs. The No Inch Punch
When people are first introduced to the concept of Drop Hitting it usually conjures up images of Bruce Lee's famous "One Inch Punch," however, drop hitting is completely different. Unless you understand how the phenomenon works you'll either perceive it to be some sort of magician's trick in which the student and instructor are in on it, or, if you are so inclined, believe it's some sort of mystical "force" or "energy" developed through years of meditation. In both cases you would be wrong. In fact, drop hitting is a very learn-able skill that virtually anyone can employ to great effect. Drop-hitting is trained on a moving opponent since generally speaking, people usually don't stand still waiting for you to throw a punch at them.
"In a boxing match you can win by points, in a real fight you have to knock people out"
-- Jack Dempsey
Probably no one knew this better than the legendary Jack Dempsey who was a master pugilist and a master at employing the Drop Punch or what became known as "The Dempsey Drop." The Drop Punch or Dempsey Drop is an extremely sudden penetration, which is very focused and localized as opposed to the One Inch Punch, which is more of a pushing-like motion in order to move people backwards. The problem with pushing people backwards (as anyone with real fighting experience can tell you) is that it generally makes them mad, allows them to come back and does not by any means end the fight. Remember that when people attack you on the street they mean business; rarely do they just walk up to you without at least trying to use some sort of subterfuge to get the drop on you.
Another difference between the Drop Punch and the One Inch Punch is that the Drop Punch can be employed at any range with any weapon including having your hand right against a person's body ( a "no-inch punch"), so as long as the person you are striking is within your sphere of influence it can be used from literally any position.
Developing the Drop Punch
Let's be honest, the Drop Punch is one of, if not the "coolest" technique we teach and until you've felt it for yourself you just would not believe how devastating a strike it is. I know that there are still people who will, even after reading this, remain skeptical. Those who have felt what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the Drop Punch can speak first hand to the power of the strike. About the only way to describe it is if you have ever played a contact sport where you got blindsided and the hit literally "rocks" your whole body, that's the way it feels.
When hit with a body shot you feel for a second that you are going to go unconscious. You become nauseous and your organs feel like jelly as a wave of kinetic force penetrates your body.
Understand that such demonstrations of dropping power, while devastating, are not designed to cause permanent damage. Anything more than that could cause serious injury or death. This is why we do not Drop Strike when working with each other to the head or to the neck and other vital areas, nor do we drop with full power for all of the reasons stated above.
In Tai Chi and other internal arts this technique is called "Cold Power." All Cold Power is, is the ability to suddenly bring all of your body into the strike at the right moment with compete relaxation and all of the physics behind it. You've seen this a million times yet probably never knew what it was. The explosiveness of dropping is the same effect as a football player blasting someone into the next world with a devastating hit, a hockey player checking someone into the boards or hitting a slap shot. In sports they are allowed to over commit on their shots or as in the case of football give up their entire body, whereas in a fight this is unacceptable since it makes you vulnerable to possible counterstrikes.
When striking people the Drop Punch feels like hitting a baseball on the sweet spot of the bat, or hitting a golf ball on the right spot of the club. In other words, when all of the physics and body unity come together upon contact the strike feels effortless yet the effect is extremely potent. In essence this is the purest application of Tai Chi "Fa Jing" and chi or as some books on the internal arts describe it "...the circulating point of finesse in the body."
How Do You Drop?
Simply put, Dropping Energy refers to a spasmodic lowering of the entire body weight into a current or new root. Whatever your body weight is, it becomes a formidable weapon when you get it moving all at once in accordance with gravity. The sensation of dropping is similar to having your legs kicked out from under you, stumbling off a curb, or falling asleep at the wheel of your car and then jerking awake. It resembles the effect when you sneeze: your diaphragm contracts violently and your whole body spasms and drops. The energy is explosive but involuntary. You want to be able to control it at will, directing it to any weapon. When fueled by your fear and permitted to flow by relaxation, the damage dished out by dropping can be substantial.
Dropping consists of two parts that happen simultaneously:
1. Stand with your knees slightly bent, then try to bend them more so quickly that for a split second your whole body becomes weightless, so that a slip of paper could actually be inserted between your feet and the ground. Most beginners make the mistake of actually jumping up first, which entirely misses the point. if you are a skier or play hockey, the sensation is similar to down-unweighting (the fastest way to change edges in a turn).
2. Halt the drop with a snap to start the shock wave of energy. You don't want to drop more than a couple of inches at most. Think of it as snapping a wet dish towel or cracking a whip; you're essentially trying to "catch the bounce" your body makes as it's stopped. Your momentum bounces off the floor through your feet and back up your body to be channeled into whatever weapon you're using, provided all your joints are perfectly aligned for maximum power generation from your foot all the way through your hand. Think of it this way: a whip will generate zero power if a) it's grabbed in the middle just as it's snapped or b) the timing is wrong gathering the entire length of the whip for a wave-like crack or c) the whip itself is dipped in water and rigidly frozen (this is akin to fighting in an external style using pure grunting muscular exertion). when you drop properly, all the loose flesh on your body shakes violently (you know what we mean...)
You can drop into one or both legs or from leg to leg, it doesn't matter.
Advantages of Dropping as a Source of Power
* It requires no continuous muscle tension or great strength
* It requires no windup or chamber
* It's perfect for fighting nose-to-nose, where the most mayhem occurs and where there's no room to pull back and chamber a strike
* It delivers more energy in less time
* You can deliver it at any angle, including upward
* It causes far more internal damage to the enemy
* It doesn't disrupt your relaxation, sensitivity, or balance; instead, it augments them
Seven Step Drop Program
There is a complete Dropping Energy Training Regimen on the Attackproof Companion Part 1 (available as a DVD or On Demand Download) and a full description and explanation of the 5 different Drop Steps on the Guided Chaos Combatives DVD or On Demand Download. For now, here's a series of progressive exercises that you can practice on your own. Please note: In order to develop the ability to drop on your strikes the most important thing you must develop is your balance. Without balance you can do nothing, for you need to be able to "catch" and control your body as you strike, since the power emanates from your root through your center of gravity. As you drop you must land with your foot flat with your center of gravity rooted over the foot you drop on.
STEP ONE - stand with your hands out in front of your arms, shoulder height and slightly bent with your wrists relaxed. This position looks exactly like the first move in the Tai Chi form. As you drop and catch yourself, perform a palm heel strike, focusing on timing your strike with your drop. Your arms should feel the contraction of the muscles with the hands "snapping" into the palm heel strike. Your hands should strike outward in front of you with no more than three to four inches of movement.
Start off slow, focusing on developing the timing and then gradually pick up the speed.
Resist the temptation to "launch" with your legs by jumping up in the air first. This is a common mistake and will not add one iota of power to your strikes.
Upon dropping, ensure that all motion in your body ceases and hold your position for two full seconds. You should feel yourself rooting to the ground with each drop, knees bent, ensuring that you do not hop forward or lean in any one direction dropping straight down. This will ensure that as you strike you are able to do so with maximum contraction of the muscles and balance. Make sure as you recover for your next drop that, as you return to the original position, you are totally "relaxed" between each drop.
Repeat this over and over for two minutes or until the point of fatigue.
STEP TWO - repeating all of the steps in step one, upon dropping, ensure that all motion in your body ceases and hold your position for one full second. In doing so you will now begin to cut down on the amount of time it takes between your strikes while ensuring that as you strike you are able to do so with maximum contraction and balance.
Repeat this over and over for one minute or until the point of fatigue.
STEP THREE - upon dropping, ensure that all motion in your body ceases and hold your position for one half a second cutting down even more on the amount of time it takes between your strikes to gather yourself, again focusing on striking with maximum contraction and balance.
STEP FOUR - stand with your hands out in front of your arms, shoulder height and slightly bent with your wrists relaxed. As you drop and catch yourself, perform a side chop or "shuto" strike focusing on timing your strike with your drop. Your arms should feel the contraction of the muscles with the hands "snapping" into the strike. Again your hands should strike outward in front of you with no more that three to four inches of movement.
Ensure that the hands are already in the proper position to make the strike work as if you were striking for real, focusing on hitting with the side of the hand, not the fingers. Now, you want to drop and strike as fast as you can, making sure you remain balanced as you strike and relaxed in between strikes.
Again do not lean forward or hop as you strike. Make sure that you are striking as you catch yourself when dropping.
STEP FIVE - repeat step four only now, drop on one leg, alternating the feet, and begin to develop the dropping on one leg. Do not lean forward or to the side and do not hop as you strike. Make sure that you are striking as you catch yourself when dropping, ensuring that your center of gravity is directly over the rooted leg. Once you gain proficiency at this, begin dropping employing various strikes, hitting within your sphere of influence with every possible weapon you can imagine.
STEP SIX - repeat step five, striking and moving in every possible direction, striking with every possible weapon within your sphere of influence. Ensure that as you step you maintain your body unity. Then begin the Guided Chaos exercise Polishing the Sphere (see Attackproof: the Ultimate Guide to Personal Protection), intermixing it with drop hitting.
STEP SEVEN - drop until you can't drop anymore and repeat several times a week until it is infused into every fiber of your being. You should mostly feel this in your legs, later you will want to do this against a heavy bag, then on the wobble board, then on the board against the heavy bag, on one leg etc...
These are simply beginner drills. There are many more advanced drills to develop Dropping Energy and apply it to dynamic combat under chaotic conditions.