When we analyse the kinetic chain motion of the punch, there is an obvious contribution from the rotation of the hips and trunk. More proficient punchers tend to have superior utilization of these rotational elements, as the greater movement that occurs allows for greater force production and also allows the athlete to function more within their limits of range, where they likely exhibit greater strength and power. While this may be simply due to technical proficiency, it is also hypothesized that range of motion may also be an important contributing factor.


Sometimes it is useful to utilise knowledge from mechanically similar sports, and this study of golfers provides us with some interesting insights. 2 groups of golfers (=25), categorised as “proficient” or “average” based on their PGA handicap index, underwent analysis of their swing, as well as measurement of trunk, hip and shoulder range of motion.


Proficient golfers demonstrated superior range of motion in all 3 transverse plane measurements (trunk rotation, hip total rotation, shoulder total rotation). Hip rotation accounted for 48% of the variability in ball speed and 45% of the variability in ball distance. Trunk/pelvis separation was also greater in proficient golfers.


There was no difference in flexibility in other planes (sagittal and frontal) between groups. 


Due to the mechanical similarities between a punch and a golf swing, this research suggests that fighters should also endeavour to optimise hip and trunk movement to improve power in the punch. 


O’Mahoney, Catherine Ann, Karl F. Orishimo, Ian J. Kremenic, and Stephen J. Nicholas. “The Importance of Transverse Plane Flexibility for Proficiency in Golf.” In 2020 Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). APTA, 2020.


#rotation #biomechanics #punchingpower #boxing #karate #golf

About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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By Sam Gilbert