How to Hit Like a Sledgehammer

Being in the military meant I never really got to stay in one place for all that long.

In my combatives training, that meant skipping around from style to style depending up what was available on the military base I was assigned to.

Back in the 80’s, before “reality based” stuff really caught on, that pretty much broke down to common traditional karate systems.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of disconnects between martial arts (even mixed martial arts!) and how to win a street fight.

Here’s what I mean…

The Martial Arts Mistake That Actually
Trains You To Hit Like A Girl Scout

Most of the martial arts schools I trained at built an entire attack philosophy around more of a “points” system rather than a “kick the sh-​​t out of the bad guy” approach.

For example, it’s common in many martial arts schools to use a “snapping” motion with both punches and kicks in which you strike and quickly retract your fist or foot to punch again.

Sound familiar?

This works great if all you have to do is touch a spot on your sparring partner to score a point and need to aim again in case you missed.

It sucks if your goal is to churn some gangbanger’s guts into hamburger!

Here’s why…

Striking Power Comparison
For Street Fighting

Think about the difference between using a hammer versus a sledgehammer.

With a hammer, your aim is to hit a nail and then quickly pick the hammer back up and hit the nail again and again until it finally goes in. Speed is a primary factor in getting the nail in as fast as possible.

When you use a sledgehammer however, your goal is to knock the living hell out of something with as few blows as possible, preferably just ONE.

Well, same goes with your strikes in a real fight.

Since your goal is to end an attack as quickly as possible, you don’t want to be messing around with rapid, “speed punches” that make contact but do little do inflict damage.

I’d much rather get in one good solid “sledgehammer” strike on a vital target that makes my attacker see stars than get in a bunch of faster, less powerful strikes.

Yet this is how most guys strike because they don’t understand how to deliver REAL power into their punches and kicks.

No worries, here’s how to do it…

How To Punch And Kick
Like A Sledgehammer

The secret is to NOT focus on the surface of your attacker’s body as the “contact point”.

Your ACTUAL target lies somewhere about 6 inches PAST his body.

So when you strike, you want to imagine that your fist or your foot is traveling THROUGH your attacker’s body and literally coming out the other side.

What takes place INSIDE your attacker’s body is nothing short of complete devastation!

First, the force behind your strike is condensed to a much smaller area, focusing all of your power into a tiny section versus diffusing your effort across a wider area like that from a strike that makes contact and then snaps back. (Think of it as the difference between getting shot with a shotgun using buckshot vs. a slug. Slugs leave big wide, gaping holes and do much more damage!)

Second, your strike, although it won’t actually pop out the other side of your attacker’s body, WILL drive deeper into their insides and do more damage.

Training for such a destructive blow is surprisingly easy (though a bit harder to reprogram for those of you who are used to snappy “point strikes”).

How To Train For Powerful
Punches And Kicks

When you punch or kick (a bag or a training partner), instead of quickly retracting your strike, make it “stick” to your target as if you were hitting fly paper.

This “stick striking” will very quickly reprogram your brain to avoid retracting your strike and you’ll be able to better mentally imagine your blow traveling THROUGH your target until it becomes second nature.

And that’s EXACTLY what you need to do…

If you’re attacking the ribs, Visualize your fist moving THROUGH your target, snapping bones like twigs and coming out the other side, leaving a wide hole in its wake!

If you’re attacking a leg with a roundhouse kick, imagine that you’re literally shearing off the leg in half.

Head shot? All you want left is shoulders…the head should snap right off.

Getting the picture (as morbid as it may sound)?

The goal here isn’t to actually visualize spurting blood and eyeballs flying through the air…but rather to simply train your body to think beyond surface targets to put more power into your strikes…

…and hit like a sledgehammer!



  1. DoubleDelta says:

    The guy is right on the money. When I was fighting for medals i did the wussie punches, but I learned back in the late 40’s and early 50’s that for me, the 4-​​eyed skinny kid,I had better use the technique he espouses to.

    Later on in the gym’s body bag I’d try to bend the bag in half by using a hammer punch aimed at going through the bag. Others would strike the surface and hurt their hands.

    Some say kick em in the genitals (note my political correctness) but I learned that a sharp down kick onto the knee with the goal of breaking the knee would take em out a lot faster.

    Listen to this guy. He just might save your life!

  2. Karliner says:

    ha ha I was very nervous once for a black belt test( 3rd dan I think, doesn’t matter0 and I was supposed to break three boards chest high on the other guy and I’m aiming about where the xiphiod process is. Well i let loose with a louf Ki-​​hjap and had to use reverse hand which means I had to hit directly with the outside part of the index fingers knuckle, as you know all the rest of that area is pretty soft muscle and bone.
    I hit the boards, borke them in a couple pieces and hit the guy so hard he flew back about four feet, just flew back, said,“BoooOOOOF” and went down air knocked out. Well I laughed, i mean i never used that ridge revese hand before and after that wouldn’t you know EVERY exhibition we did for a year i had to break boards or a brick with that danged move and it took a LONG time to control noot focusing THROUGH the whole body of the holdr, it’s an exhibition for crying out loud. Okay oi guess you had to be there but the first time was funny, and it took a lot of practice not to lay the guy holding the boards( bricks were on table)…oh well

  3. Karliner says:

    Sory about the misspels…okay it’s arthroitis and nerve damage from you gues it, too much hand to hand combat fighting. Oh well.

  4. kknifeman says:

    I haven’t been envolved in martial arts in over 20 years
    but 30 years ago I took Chinese Kenpo and this is almost the same as I was taught. I’ve also taken Shodokan and that’s what we were taught there as well.

  5. Miguel Marrero says:

    I got to say, I’ve been searching the internet for links on how to deliver more powerful punches and kicks and all I got was run around, from pressure points to traditional snap kicks and punches. Who wants to get into a fight on the street with blood thirsty thugs whose intention is to kill you and you are trained to hit with control? This site has really answered my questions on how to take out an attacker and that quickly.

  6. chris says:

    Hi I’m the kind of guy who gets pickd on a lot.. When I do get into a fight, its with someone 3 times my size. I’m incredbly strong when pumping with adrenlin so I force them to the ground.. But its like every atom in my body refuses to let my fist break his face… Why can I not strike?

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Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson is a 10 year veteran of the U.S. Army, a Master Fitness Trainer, and Master Instructor of Close Quarters Combat self defense. A full time fitness and self defense author, Jeff has trained thousands of men and women in the practical application of advanced military fitness methods as well as close combat tactics for "real life" self defense.

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