The Power of the Casting Punch
Resident combat historian and researcher Dan Kanagie explains the casting punch, an effective weapon for the modern Mixed Martial Artist.
Several years ago, I came across a little-known style of Russian Systema called Buza from the the Novgorod/St. Petersburg region. Buza is comprised of weapon work, Rukopashnii Boi (hand-to-hand fighting) and Kulachnya Boi (fisticuffs), which utilizes the casting punch.
Russian styles do not teach “techniques”, but focus on movements that can be used both offensively and defensively, focussing on circles, semi-circles and figure eights. Coming from a pugilistic background, this seemed anathema to the proper power generation I was taught. Despite my skepticism, I set out to learn how to throw a proper casting punch.
The casting punch is unfamiliar to most people, and many boxers deride it as not a real punch that can’t be used against a real boxer. After training in Buza for a couple years, I disagree. It is powerful, scientifically sound and sneaky as hell. It can be thrown in a number of ways, from multiple angles, and allows for power generation from close quarters where the drop step isn’t available. PRIDE veteran Igor “Ice Cold” Vovchanchyn used it to great effect, pummelling his opponents’ faces.
The casting punch takes its name from the casting of a fishing rod. The whipping motion used in fly fishing produces a figure 8 pattern, the same motion that generates the power of the casting punch. This allows you to attack different targets from the same starting point.
The guy I trained with threw one punch three times, first hitting my face, the next the side of my head, and the third under my chin. All from the exact same punch! I was blown away. I had to learn this sneaky strike.
When teaching and first learning it, we exaggerate the motions. This way all the elements can be seen and learned, but over time you need to tighten it up so that the movements are almost imperceptible.
- Movement starts with the shoulder going forward
- Next the elbow raises
- As the elbow nears its apex, start extending the arm
- As the arm is extending start to rotate the elbow down
- Your arm should reach full extension 1-2 inches behind the target
- Continue rotation as you start to retract your arm
- Bring the elbow to point down as the arm returns to starting position