Sports Guide

Punching above your weight

By Andre FroisEvents - 24 October 2012 6:10 PM | Updated 06 February 2014

Punching above your weight

Arming yourself with a powerful hooking punch is not just useful to fighting. The same train of muscles are also utilised when opening doors for the ladies and saving children from getting chomped up by closing MRT doors. These same muscles are used when lifting heavy objects and also consist of the hips and calves, which play indispensible roles in passing one’s IPPT (Individual Physical Proficiency Test)

Mixed martial artist Dan Henderon’s right hand has sold out shows in London, Las Vegas and arenas all over the world. The UFC main eventer “Hendo”, whose concussive “H-Bomb” right hook has made sleeping beauties out of the best in the business, is currently in Singapore to share his experience with the students of Evolve MMA. inSing  sat the 1.8-m tall, 92kg former UFC Light Heavyweight champion down to lend some insight into surpassing the roadblocks of one’s sporting performance.

Punching harder

The owner of one of the deadliest hooks in the entire sporting world, Dan Henderson attributes a good hook to both good genes and good technique.

“Spar more, train more and work on your technique more,” Henderson advises with a smile, “that’s all there is to it. It’s definitely about getting the mechanics to it right, but a strong striker also needs some natural ability.”

Place it right

dan hendo
Dan Henderson has one of the deadliest hooks in the entire sporting world

“My right hook (the ‘H-Bomb’) came naturally, but I had to slowly learn where to put it. Its effectiveness lies in landing it at the right places and also landing it with perfect timing. I work on these two aspects when I do basic sparring with mitts.”

In martial arts, strikes to the left and right temple have been proven to be the most likely to yield a knockout, while traditional Muay Thai practitioners believe that straight punches which buckle the jaw will floor an opponent for at least ten minutes.

A right hook is best used when an opponent’s guard is lowered, especially when he or she is tired and his or her left hand is visibly dropping from protecting his or her head. Right hooks are also extremely effective when thrown over an opponent’s left straight punch or hook. However, this should be done only if you are confident of not taking serious injury from the left punch and confident of landing your right hook first. Another perfect opportunity to strike is when the opponent is circling clockwise toward your right. This may be applied vice versa to a left hook.

Utilise all your muscles

“Use your whole body. Yes, punches mostly use upper body strength, but should be thrown together with the hips and be driven by the legs. The dynamics of it all make a stronger punch.”

The power of a solid punch originates from the glutes, which in turn pivot rigidly from the legs. Coupling with arm strength, the hips turn to throw one’s entire upper body weight into the punch. The hips and upper body should twist first. This motion should be followed up, finished off and followed through a split second later by pure arm strength.

One’s legs, the right leg in the case of a right hook, should be driving forward to add angular momentum and close on distance. In this instance, strong calf muscles play an important part in keeping one’s body stable and from being driven back by a counter hit or the pure opposite reactionary force of the right hook thrown.

dan hendo
Dan Henderson

Increasing endurance

Monitor your heart rate

“I always keep track of my heart rate,” Henderson reveals about his method of scrutinising his fitness and progress. Stamina is essential to MMA competitors, who need to wrestle and strike with great power even after three or five rounds of high-intensity physical activity. Henderson is very observant of any changes in his vital signs and always gets a medical professional opinion when he notices anything unusual and when he wants to push the ceiling of his physical stamina.


“I am very religious with my cross-training,” says the avid sports fan, who subscribes to this practice of playing other sports and reaping the physical and physiological benefits of doing other less related exercises, in order to improve his in-ring performance.

Aim higher

“I always tell myself that I need to do better in my present training camp as compared to the previous camp.” Training camps are specialised regimes that fighters live within for usually a few weeks to month, or more, leading to a fight. Within this holistic preparation, their diets, sleep patterns, lifestyle habits and training sessions are meticulously fine-tuned, in order to make the stipulated weight range of the fight, ingrain game plans that exploit their opponents’ weaknesses, and train techniques to thwart their opponents’ styles and strengths.

Put everything into it, plus more cardio

“Put everything into your repetitions and do lots of cardio,” he also recommends. “A lot of fighters don’t do enough endurance training and end up getting tired during long drawn battles against opponents like Shogun (Former UFC and Pride champion, as well as Sherdog Fighter of the Year 2005 Mauricio Rua), who can go the distance but not let up.”


42-year-old Henderson is celebrating his 15th year as a mixed martial artist and was also a college wrestler and representative of the United States in Olympic wrestling. Does he think he will exceed the fighting lifespan of his former Team Quest training partner 49-year-old Randy Couture, who just retired from the UFC last year? “Nah,” Henderson laughs.

Don’t push your body past its limit

“My secret is to not beat my body up too bad,” shares the MMA veteran, whose injuries would tend to cause permanent handicaps, given his age. “Be smart with your training.”

Nutrition and recovery

“Keep a good diet,” he adds about the formula to his inhuman strength and teenager-like stamina. “Getting enough rest is just as important, so as to let both your muscles and injuries recovery.”

You can learn more about proper punching techniques and Mixed Martial Arts at Evolve MMA, #01-01 China St. | 65364525; Impact Mixed Martial Arts, #03-06 Shenton House, 3 Shenton Way | 62238275; Fightworks Asia, 2/F 1018 East Coast Parkway | 64499821