Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense

The Power Line

Dempsey Jack
Глава 8. The Power Line
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Stand in the middle of the floor. Point your left foot at any distant object in the room. Place your right foot to the rear and slightly to the right of your left foot (Figure 3). For a chap about five feet 10 inches tall, the heel of his right foot should be about 18 inches back (and slightly to

The Power Line

Stand in the middle of the floor. Point your left foot at any distant object in the room. Place your right foot to the rear and slightly to the right of your left foot (Figure 3).

For a chap about five feet 10 inches tall, the heel of his right foot should be about 18 inches back (and slightly to the right) of the heel of his left foot.

Let your arms dangle loosely at your sides; you won't need to use them in the step.

Bend your knees slightly. Bend your body forward slightly as you shift your 'weight forward onto your left foot, so that your right foot is resting only lightly on the ball of the foot. Remember that the knees are still slightly bent. Teeter up and down easily (half-bouncing without leaving the floor) to make certain you're in a comfortable, balanced position. If your position does not feel balanced and comfortable, move your right foot about slightly- but not much-to get a better balance as you teeter. You are resting only lightly on the ball of your right foot, remember. Stop teetering, but keep the knees slightly bent and your arms at your side.

Now-without any preliminary movement-take a long, quick step forward with your left foot, toward the object at which your left toe had been pointing (Figure 4). I emphasize: NO PRELIMINARY MOVEMENT BEFORE THE STEP.

You unquestionably will be tempted to shift some of the weight from the left foot to the right foot just before you step. But don't do it. Do nothing with the right foot, which is resting lightly on its ball, NO PRELIMINARY MOVEMENT! Just lift the left foot and LET THE BODY FALL FORWARD IN A LONG, QUICK STEP. The left foot should land flat and solid on the floor at the end of the step.

It is a quick, convulsive and extremely awkward step. Yet, it's one of the most important steps of your fistic life; for that falling-forward lurch is the rough diamond out of which will be ground the beautiful, straight knockout jolt. It's the gem-movement of straight punching.

Try that falling step many times. Make certain, each time, that you start from a comfortably balanced position, that the body-weight is resting largely on the left leg, that the knees are slightly bent, that the arms are at your side, and that you make no preliminary movement with the right foot.

I call that forward lurch a "falling step." Actually, every step in walking involves a small "fall." Walking is a series of "falls." But in this particular step, the fall is exaggerated for two reasons: (1) your weight is well forward when you step off, and (2) the step is so long that it gives gravity a chance to impart unusual momentum to your body-weight. The solidity with which your left foot landed upon the floor was caused by your momentum. The late Joe Gans rarely missed with a long, straight punch; but, when he did you could hear for half a block the smack of his left sole on the canvas.

Although the weight of your body was resting largely upon your left foot when you stepped off, you didn't fall to the floor. Why? Because the alert ball of your right foot came to the rescue frantically and gave your body a forward spring in a desperate attempt to keep your body balanced upright-to maintain its equilibrium. Your rescuing right foot acted not only as did the slope of the hill for the sledding boy, but also as a springboard in the side of the hill might have functioned had the sledding boy whizzed onto a springboard on the side of the hill. The left foot serves as a "trigger" to spring the right foot. So, the falling step sometimes is called the Trigger Step.

I warned: DON'T MAKE A PRELIMINARY MOVEMENT before stepping off. Had you followed your natural inclination and shifted your weight to the right foot before stepping, that action would have started your body-weight moving backward-away from the direction in which you intended to step. Then you would have had to lose a split-second while your right foot was stopping the backward motion and shifting your weight forward again before the punching step could be taken.

Learn now and remember always that in fighting you cannot afford to give your body the luxury of a useless preliminary or preparatory movement before shooting a punch. In the first place, your target may be open for only a split-second, and you must take advantage of that opening like a bolt of lightning. Secondly, preliminary movements are give-aways-"tell-tales"-"telegraphs"-that treacherously betray to your opponent your own next action.

Joe Louis was knocked out in his first fight with Max Schmeling principally because tell-tale movements of Joe's left glove disclosed the fact that he was preparing to shoot a left jab. Schmeling timed Joe's telegraphs and smashed him again and again with straight rights to the head.

Herr Maxie smashed him every time that careless left hand beckoned.

You now know how to set your weight into motion for a straight jolt-by means of the falling step. Next we must consider the second part of the jolt: CONVEYING THE MOVING BODY-WEIGHT AND EXPLODING IT AGAINST YOUR OPPONENT.

However, before studying the movements in conveyance and explosion, it will be necessary for you to understand clearly the line of power that all successful conveyance and explosion must follow.

The Power Line

The movements in the second part of a straight jolt are just as simple as those in the "falling step"; yet, strangely enough, that part of the punch has been the big blind spot in hitting since the days of Jim Figg in the early 1700's. He was the father of modern boxing.

By the time John L. Sullivan and later "old masters" came along, many outstanding punchers had eliminated that blind spot with their knowledge of punching technique. But today that area of darkness is bigger than at any time since Corbett beat Sullivan.

At least nine of every ten fellows who try to box never become good punchers because they never learn how to make their arms and fists serve efficiently as conveyors and exploders. They become "powder-puff" punchers or, at best, only fair hitters. Their punches lack body-weight, explosion and follow-through.

Such failure can be prevented by power-line punching.

What is the power line?

THE POWER LINE RUNS FROM EITHER SHOULDER-STRAIGHT DOWN THE LENGTH OF THE ARM TO THE FIST KNUCKLE OF THE LITTLE FINGER, when the fist is doubled. Remember: The power line ends in the fist knuckle of the little finger on either hand. Gaze upon your "pinky" with new respect. You might call that pinky knuckle the exit of your power line- the muzzle of your cannon.

You'll understand the power line if you feel it out.

Stand up. Walk toward a wall until you're at arm's length from the wall when facing it. Put your heels together. You should be standing just far enough from the wall so that you can barely touch it with the tip of the middle finger of your right hand-at a point directly opposite your chin. Touch that chin-high point with your middle-finger tip.

Now, move back three or four inches, but keep the heels together.

Double your right fist firmly. In making a fist, close the fingers into the palm of the hand, and then close the thumb down over the outside of the fingers (Figure 5).

Extend the fist at arm's length toward the spot on the wall-only toward it. The fist should be upright, as if you were holding a stick running from ceiling to floor. The little knuckle is down, toward the floor.

With your arm stiffly extended, let your body sway slowly forward-without moving the feet-until your fist (still upright) is pressed so firmly against the chin-high spot on the wall that your fist and stiff arm are supporting the weight of your leaning body (Figure 6).

Note that the lower part of your fist (still upright)- particularly the little knuckle-provides the natural, solid end of the firm, straight line-from shoulder to fist-that is supporting your weight. Note particularly that this line runs unswervingly through your wrist to the little knuckle (Figure 7).

Now, with your upright fist still supporting your weight at the chin-high spot, try to shift your pressure from the little knuckle to the upper knuckles. Then turn your fist so that the palm of your hand is down. When you attempt those changes, you should feel immediately that both new pressure position of your fist "lack" the "solidity" of the first position. And you should feel and see that a change in position "swerved" the "power line" at the wrist - putting your wrist in a hazardous landing position.

Keeping your feet in the same position, go through the same procedure with your left fist. You'll find the "power line" in the same location -straight from the shoulder through the little knuckle. But, where would the power line be if you wished to lower your fist and punch at a man's stomach?

You can answer that by testing a spot on the wall just opposite of your own solar plexus - the vital body target just below the end of the breast bone. In making the lower test, sway forward from the same standing position - with either fist - toward the solar-plexus spot. But, before you sway, turn your fist palmdown so that the knuckles will be parallel to the ceiling when you press your fist against the wall. The power line still runs solidly through the little knuckle. Now that you have felt out the power line, you can appreciate that the greatest possible solidity would be achieved if you landed every punch with the little knuckle first.

Unfortunately, however, the hand-bone behind the little knuckle is the most fragile of the five backbones. It can be broken the most easily. You must not attempt to land first with the little knuckle. Instead you must try to land first with the knuckle next to your pinky (the ring finger). We'll call that the 2nd knuckle. Aiming with the 2nd knuckle usually brings about a three-knuckle landing. Those three-knuckles are: middle, second (ring) and pinky. If you aim with the second knuckle, those three knuckles usually will land together because the average fist slopes slightly from the middle knuckle to the pinky. Such a three-knuckle landing not only prevents the hand-bone behind any one knuckle from bearing all the punch-shock, but it also permits punching almost exactly along the power line. Rarely will one of those knuckles make a solo landing. But if you aim with the little knuckle, you risk a dangerous solo landing on forehead or blocking elbow.

Always aim with the second knuckle-the one next to your pinky-and LET THE OTHER KNUCKLES TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES. They'll take care of themselves all right; for the shape of the fist makes it impossible for them to do otherwise.

Clench your right fist and inspect its knuckles. Your thumb knuckle is "out of the way"-completely separated from your row of four knuckles on the striking edge of your fist. More than that, your thumb knuckle is farthest away from your pinky knuckle-farthest away from the end of the power line. Nature took care of that. Never double-cross nature by trying to hit with that thumb knuckle, under any circumstance. It breaks easily. Keep it out of the way.

The knuckle of your index finger (the one next to the thumb) is fairly prominent, but not as prominent as the knuckle of your middle finger. In some face-punches and in most body-blows, that index knuckle will land with the other three, for a four-knuckle landing. That's okay, let the index knuckle come along for the ride. Under no circumstances, however, try to land first with that index knuckle. If you do, you'll not only break your power line, but you may also break your wrist.

Beware likewise of trying to land first with the prominent middle knuckle-the source of most hand injuries. Such aiming will slant your hand off the power line and, at the same time, endanger the middle knuckle and its hand-bone. When that middle knuckle makes a solo landing, its prominence prevents the other knuckles from helping to absorb some of the punch-shock. That shock or pressure is terrific in any full-fledged punch, particularly when you nail an opponent with a head blow just as he is stepping into you. In that split-second, your fist must withstand the shock-pressure of an explosive collision between two hurtling body-weights.

Let me repeat: If your punch is landed correctly, in power-line fashion, the three knuckles-pinky, second and middle-will share the pressure and distribute it over the three hand-bones behind the knuckles. That lessens the chance of bruising or crushing any one knuckle, or of fracturing any one hand-bone.

Most professional and amateur boxers suffer hand injuries during their careers even though their fists are protected by bandages, tape and gloves, because of unfortunate landings. As I pointed out earlier, the hands HAVE NO SUCH PROTECTION IN A FIST-FIGHT. You must land correctly, not only for power-line explosiveness, but for hand protection.

We have examined the power line and second-knuckle aiming for long-range straight jolts; but what about other types of punches? What about medium-range straight punches, and hooks and uppercuts? Does the power line and the second-knuckle aim hold good for them?


The landing position of your fist may change from upright to sideways, in varying degrees, when shooting different types of punches for the head. And it may change in various degrees from sideways to upright in punching for the body, BUT ALWAYS YOU MUST PUNCH ALONG THE POWER LINE, AND ALWAYS YOU MUST AIM WITH THE SECOND KNUCKLE. You'll get the feel of that power line in other punches later. You'll discover that bending the elbow, in a hook for example, does not break the line of power. And you'll find out why.


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    Dempsey Jack — The Power Line // Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense. - 1983.Глава 8. The Power Line. C. 17-19

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