3 Common Problems with Chain Punches

The chain punch is one of the most easily recognizable techniques within Wing Chun.  Training chain punches works hand speed, endurance, cycling of the hand, and they can form a framework for innumerable partner drills.  More importantly they can be effective against a threat.  Unfortunately, as simple of a technique as it is, the chain punch gives many beginners problems.  Even worse, due to the high number of repetitions commonly done, bad habits easily become ingrained. 

 Here are some common problems students run into while practicing their chain punches:

 1. The punches are traveling on two separate lines and landing on different targets. 

This happens most easily when the punches are practiced in the air.   For these punches to work properly, they must travel on the centerline and land on the same target. 

 Check yourself in a mirror and on a wall bag or similar stationary target.  Makes sure each strike lands on the same spot and that each punch travels over (not next to) the previous.  These points will prevent your punches from traveling on separate lines.

 2. Rolling fists, no real punches.

Often I see beginners (and even some more senior practitioners) rolling their fists in the air and not really punching.  Or sometimes, in a set of 3’s or 5’s for example, just the last punch is fired.  This is a waste in an art about efficiency.  Every punch needs to actually be a punch for the concussive forces to develop.

 This problem occurs when the students get in a hurry or just do not know better.  The fix is simple.  Just………..slow…………down.  Enunciate every punch equally.  In the air or on a stationary target, every punch should have the same extension.  Whether done continuously or in sets every punch should be the same.  There should be a full extension, but not an overextension, and an immediate relaxation with every repetition. 

3. Punches drag down when striking a target.

While trying to punch over the previous punch, students will often drag their fist down on the target in an effort to make room for the next.  This robs power and will wear the skin off knuckles. 

 This issue can be related to the previous issue and so is the solution.  Make sure that every punch is fired and immediately relaxed.  The relaxation should drop the elbow slightly and bring the fist back off the target on the same line it arrived on. Additionally, do not try to over penetrate with your strikes. This will turn you punches into pushes, make it harder to relax, and increase drag on the target.

 Correcting these points will not only help with the speed, power, and effectiveness of chain punches but they injury prevention as well.  Focus on quality before speed or quantity and all your skills will be much better for it.

Nick Edmonds

Red Light Martial Arts



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