The ability to generate explosive power quickly, and efficiently is arguably one of the most important aspects of the martial arts. From quickly sending out a powerful low leg kick, retracting it and following up, to sending out a mystical chi ball from 10 feet away – explosive power is crucial.
Disclaimer: I’m kidding about the mystical chi ball… Though given current circumstances an social distancing…
Delivering the big knockout punch is ultimately what many martial artists aim for. Whether this is for one hit stopping power for self defence, or K.O power for competition, explosive power is something we all strive for.
But what exactly is it….?
Simply put, it’s exerting more power, in less time. There are some AWESOME examples of this in all martial arts, hard styles and soft. From board breaking (boards… don’t hit back), to kata, all are examples of explosive power.
So how do we build this? Stand under a waterfall? Break chopsticks with your fingers? Grow a white goatee and name yourself Pai-Mei?
All valid and indeed I would encourage this… however there are some other ways too..
Martial Artists aren’t the only ones who need explosive power. Look as baseball players, American footballers, curlers…
Okay, maybe not curlers….
But almost all forms of professional sport require explosive power and there are a number of exercises we can do to build this type of power and improve our ability in any given sport – especially the martial arts.
Top Exercises for building Explosive Power!
The Kettlebell Snatch
Kettlebells are awesome for developing raw and functional power. Relatively cheap and easy to transport around, you can get a whole body workout in using just a kettle bell so they come highly recommended on my list of equipment.
To perform the kettlebell snatch, stand feet shoulder width apart, kettlebell on the floor. Squat down to pick it up, ensuring good form. Drive up using the legs and pick the kettlebell up through your centre and extend your arm straight above your head. Then lower the kettlebell down. This is one rep!
The explosiveness from this movement comes from pushing from the ground and extending the arm, using the feet, knees, hips and shoulders especially. A fantastic exercise to work multiple large muscle groups and develop explosive power.
Another fantastic exercise to really get the legs burning, the cardiovascular system fired up, and a great way to build EXPLOSIVE POWER! Which is something we would all like right?
To perform…. Find a box… Jump on it…. Repeat….
Okay it’s slightly more technical but not much. Awesome for plyometrics and developing fast twitch muscles (crucial for those genuine K.Os, not so much for the no touch…).
Find a raised surface, or a study, preferably weighted down box, the height of which will be dependent on your ability. New people, try a curb or something… athletes… a double decker bus, you get the idea.
Stand shoulder width apart again. Bend the knees and get your body ready for some air time! Swing your arms in the air like you just don’t care, drive up from the floor and (hopefully) launch yourself onto the box. Either you’ll make the jump and if so repeat.
Or you won’t make the jump, so ensure you film it first because that shit goes viral. Then go for a smaller box until you can complete it. Make sure you land softly, bend the knees and keep good form throughout so as to reduce injury.
Ah the good old push up! A great exercise for building multiple muscle groups again, and also one fantastic for building the explosive power we are all looking for.
The focus here is to perform your push up as usual, but really focus on pushing up as hard as you can, like you are pushing the ground away from you as you push your body up. Again, great for developing fast twitch muscles meaning you’ll be faster AND more powerful.
If this is just too easy and you’re too much of a pro for this amateur shit. Add on some clap push ups. Push off the floor, get some air time and clap your hands before you land!
Still too easy?
Double clap push ups! Clap in front of you, then clap behind your head before you land. Requires more air time, therefore more explosive power, therefore more chance of face plant.
Side note – want to be featured in a Martial View video? 100% guarantee of fame if you send me a video of you face planting while double clap push ups.
Because no fitness article is complete with a bastard burpee! Hated by many, loved by few, yet kind of usual as well, the burpee can be easily be compared to our current government, yet I digress.
Start standing, crouch down and hop back into a push up position. Perform said push up. Jump forward to a crouch, stand up. Jump in the air. Complete.
Lots of jumping. Lots of plyometrics, lots of cardio, lots of pain, lots of swearing, lots of explosive power.
A workout build around any of these exercises done consistently will build explosive power. Combine it with technique, pad work and bag work and you’re speed and power for martial arts is bound to increase.
Start slow if you’re a beginner and build up. For example
x10 Kettlebell snatch left and right
x10 Box Jumps
x10 Plyometric Push Ups
Rest for 1 minute and repeat 5 times, three times per week. As this becomes easier, either increase the reps, increase the sets or decrease the rest time and see your explosive power increase!