Karate, Karate Equipment, Karate Tips

5 Ways Punching Bag Training will Massively Boost your Karate Striking Power

Karate training traditionally emphasizes techniques like katas and sparring, but integrating a punching bag can bring significant benefits, especially in striking power and stability. While not immediately obvious, the punching bag offers unique advantages. It allows for full-force strikes, improving power, accuracy, and timing. This is crucial as it enhances hand-eye coordination and reaction speed, making movements more efficient.

Training with a punching bag also boosts physical fitness. It’s a rigorous workout engaging multiple muscle groups, improving strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health. This is essential for the demanding nature of martial arts.

Moreover, a punching bag improves stability. Striking a moving target requires balance and poise, key in maintaining control during combat. This skill is invaluable in sparring, where balance often determines success. Adding a punching bag to Karate training elevates various skills – from striking power to overall fitness and stability, making it an effective tool for martial artists looking to enhance their abilities.

PS: I wrote a guide on how to choose the Best Punching Bag, you should check it out.

Why is a punching bag such a great tool for Karate?

As you’re going to see you later on in this article, there are many benefits of using a punching bag to improve your Karate, but there is one thing that makes the use of the punching bag extraordinary – the activation of deep muscles.

What makes the use of a punching bag so important for a Karate practitioner is that it actually activates deep muscles (that are required to hit powerfully) that cannot be activated otherwise. Let me clarify what I mean. The only way to activate the deep muscles responsible for power striking is to hit on a resisting target. Traditionally in Okinawa, the makiwara played that role, but today, the punching bag, especially free standing punching bags, is more convenient.

“Hitting a resisting target will activate your deep muscles that no other workout will.”

Practicing kihon, working drills with a partner, or practicing kata or kumite will NOT work on those muscles – they only activate when you resist (push) against something. That’s precisely those muscles – located deep in your hips and lower abdominals – that are responsible for your striking power. Working on those deep muscles through punching bag training will not only improve the power of your strikes, but it will also enhance the stability and rooting of your body when you launch your attacks.

Using the correct biomechanics, together with the strengthening of those deep muscles, is THE BEST way to improve the power of your strikes. Trust me, you’ll see amazing results, and you’ll hit like a tank after training with a punching bag for just a little while.

How to use a punching bag for Karate?

There are many ways to use a punching bag for improving your Karate, but remember, you don’t want to turn into a kickboxer when you do so. You’re a karate practitioner, and you want to stay a karate practitioner and maintain your form when you use your punching bag.

What does that mean? Well, when we start using a punching bag, we have a natural tendency to beat the hell out of the punching bag, but that’s going to help you much. You want to maintain your Karate form during the whole training. So when you hit your punching bag, make sure that you have the right position and that you apply the right biomechanic. Make sure to hit with your whole body, not just your arm or your leg. The goal of training with a punching bag is to support your biomechanics, your form, not to hit like crazy.

Remember: Don’t just throw punches at the bag; learn how to hit a punching bag the proper way. Here are a few punching bag training tips for Karate practitioners.

1. Assume a correct position

When you place yourself in front of the bag, be sure to take a proper posture. Whether you start from zen-kutsu-dachi, han-zen-kutsu-dachi or neko-ashi- dachi, make sure your stance is sound: correct feet positioning, hips towards the bag, back straight, etc. You don’t want to take bad habits with the punching bag, that would have a negative impact on your Karate.

2. Take the right distance

To avoid injuries, and to maximize the power of your strikes, make sure that you have the proper distance between you and the punching bag. As you know, having the right distance is crucial in delivering a powerful strike, both in real life and in training.

3. When punching, use the first two knuckles

There are tons of ways to punch or strike with your hands on a punching bag, but when you use techniques like seiken-tsuki, oi-zuki, gyaku-zuki or even ura-ken, make sure to strike with your first two knuckles, as they are the most solid ones. As you probably already know, the first two knuckles are “supported” by your two forearm bones, the radius, and cubitus. The other knuckles are pretty much on their own and cannot resist much impact.

4. Use your entire body to strike

In Karate, you never hit with just your arm or your leg; you hit with your whole body in order to have the maximum striking power. So when you hit, make sure that the power of your strike comes from the ground up to your supporting leg (or legs if you use your hands), hips and finally arm or leg.

5. Do combinations

When you train on the punching bag, it’s good to work on specific techniques for some time like 50 mae-geri or 75 tsuki, but also try to vary your training by doing combinations – the possibilities are endless. You can do a tsuki, followed by a gyaku-tsuki or a mae-geri followed by a mawashi-geri, you get to choose. Just make sure your transition between one movement to the other is realistic and correct in terms of biomechanics.

6. Show some spirit in your moves

You don’t want to do a sloppy job when you work your Karate on a punching bag, show some determination! Put your spirit and your will behind every strike! Invest yourself in each technique and give everything you have each time you hit that bag.

7. Be mindful

Applying mindfulness into martial art is essential – that’s no different when you hit the bag. When you hit, hit! Be fully there, be fully present and invested in every strike, in your training. Forget about the past, forget about the future, only now matters. When you train, if you’re “now” is perfect, your “then” will also be.

5 punching bag benefits for Karate

There are countless benefits of using a punching bag for Karate practitioners, from improving cardiovascular capacity to endurance and stamina development, but I have decided to focus on the benefits directly related to striking and striking power.

1. Improves on your breathing power

When you start to work on a punching bag , you’ll probably notice that your breathing is a little off. When hitting on the bag, you’ll have no choice but to adjust and improve your breathing so that it can match the moment of impact.

As I discussed in a previous article, many Karate people don’t breathe properly when delivering their punches, even skilled and experienced Karatekas. Most Karate practitioners are not breathing out while striking; instead, they hold their breath and tighten up their entire body, or they breathe out at the wrong time. If your breathing is incorrect, you are preventing your body its natural ability to fully release energy or power, resulting in a weak punch.

With time, punching bag training will naturally improve not only your breathing power (kokyu) but also the timing at which you breathe, and this will have a direct effect on your punching power.

2. Polishes up your Karate technique

It’s one thing to have a proper and polished technique when you’re doing drills or kihon (hitting air), but it’s another thing to do so when you hit on something. Obviously, before working on a punching bag, make sure that your technique is correct in the first place. Bad posture, poor ergonomics, and improper form or technique can cause lousy body mechanics, which will result is reduced speed, power, and stability.

When hitting your punching bag, execute your movement as correctly as possible, and don’t forget to use your whole body, tanden, and breathing when you hit. With time, you’ll notice that hitting on the punching bag will make your technique purer and more effective because it’s delivered with full impact on a target. Remember, your techniques will polish and improve only if your strikes are performed correctly.

3. Improves your overall core stability

Your core muscles are the foundation of every movement you make, not just during training but in your daily life. For your punches and kicks to be strong and effective, you need to have a strong core. And that’s exactly what using a punching bag will do. Your core muscles will be stimulated during punching, but especially during kicking. I hope you didn’t forget that you can kick on a punching bag too?

Regular punching bag training will activate and strengthen your deep abdominals and core muscles in such a way that every Karate move will become so much easier. Everything will feel more natural and effortless, kihon, kata, and kumite, because having strong core muscles improves the function of every peripheral muscles. You will experience a rooting strength that will make your punches and kicks more powerful and faster! After using a punching bag for as little as a few weeks, you’ll be amazed at how strong your punches and kicks will be.

4. Improves your balance and rooting when striking

Sometimes when we “hit the air” or when we work on drills with a partner, we’re not in total control of our balance. Worst of all, we’re not even aware were not in control; we often train on autopilot. That’s a shame. That’s why working with a punching bag is so valuable and unforgiving! If your balance is not perfect you’ll know right away! The punching bag will give you feedback, and you will have to adjust your strikes accordingly. Additionally, the more you going to keep your technique as textbook-perfect as possible, the more you’re going to apply them with the right biomechanics, the better your balance is going to become.

5. Improves striking power

As I told you before, the punching bag along with the makiwara are two of the best tools to improve you’re striking power! They activate deep muscles impossible to activate otherwise. I know I’m repeating myself here, but I just want to make sure you understand this – it’s ONLY by hitting on a resisting target (i.e., punching bag) that you’ll activate your deep muscles and that your striking will power will reach its full potential.

Trust me on this, through working with a punching bag, you will be able to unleash a crazy amount of force and power with punches and kicks. Working your strikes against the resisting target is a must if you want to take the power of your strikes to the next level!


After reading the article, I really hope that you understand how important it is to hit on a resisting target. Okinawan Karate Masters have been doing it for centuries and are still do it! That must count for something right?

Personally, I use a hanging punching bag at my dojo, but I’ve also bought a standing punching bag, and I can honestly tell you that it’s without any doubt, the best Karate equipment I’ve bought.

I own the Wavemaster XXL , and I use it 3-4 times a week, and I must say it’s a great buy. Since I started working on a punching bag regularly, I can see how powerful my strikes got, so do my training partners! I also noticed that my backaches have almost totally disappeared.

Do yourself a favor and start training on a punching bag, and you’ll see the difference. Don’t hesitate to send to contact me and tell me your experience with the punching bag, I love hearing from you guys.

Martin Jutras