Often, the only way to know if a battle can still be won is to keep on fighting. Sometimes, when all seems lost, it only takes one punch to turn the tide.
A left hook, perhaps?
I first learned the power of the left hook at City Star Kickboxing Gym. I trained there—well before cable TV and the internet turned martial arts into a spectacle—with some contenders and some champions, but, like everyone else, I had to prove myself in the ring.
Early on, I was matched to spar with a guy named Phil. He was well liked, a little bigger than me, but I didn’t think much of him as a fighter. Insulted to be regarded in his class, I circled Phil deftly and waited for him to make a move. Once he committed, I evaded the strike and took advantage of the subsequent opening, putting him down with a short, sharp left hook that bloodied his nose—a good moment, in that macho, 20-year-old sort of way.
Contrary to popular opinion, cinematic fisticuffs and fighters with poor fundamentals, the hook is not a wide, looping punch that originates somewhere in left field and leaves the puncher exposed. They call it a “hook” precisely because your arm position should resemble a hook: A 90-degree angle at the elbow with your palm facing down at the point of impact.
• Tuck your chin down into your left shoulder.
• Pivot your hips, waist and front left foot in the direction of the punch. Torque your entire left side, but especially twist your lead left foot like you were putting out a cigarette. This will generate power without expending too much energy or movement.
• The hook can be thrown as part of a combination (e.g. jab-cross-hook or jab-hook) or as a single punch to catch an opponent who is on the attack.
• Mix up your targets: Hook to the head, the body or double up.
When using a left hand leading stance, your left hook is essentially thrown outside of your opponent’s vision. It’s an economical strike that, when executed properly, has the full force of your bodyweight behind it and is awfully tough to see coming. It’s a knockout blow that can stop a charging opponent in his or her tracks and change the momentum of any battle.
Final note: The advice presented above is not meant for anyone with contraindicated health problems. Please consult a medical or fitness professional.