Power Punch

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Power Punch is a term Tunch Ilkin and I adopted for the style of punching we used in pass protection. At my gym, the Martial Arts & Sports Complex, I have trained many a high school, college, and pro offensive linemen in the system. Dan Radakovich, “Bad Rad” to his former players he coached as line coach of the Steelers, had really brought using an offensive linemens hands as weapons in pass pro to the forefront upon the relaxing of the rules which essentially were “hands to the chest and act like a heavy bag on two feet for the defensive linemen.” Jon Kolb and Larry Brown, both great Steelers offensive linemen were great punchers.

Years ago, in my first NFL start, a pre-season game in Dallas in my second year with the Steelers lining up against future Hall-of-Famer Randy White, I had my first experience with a martial arts trained athlete. On the third play from scrimmage, a pass play, White “trapped” or knocked down my hands while on an outside rush. He blew by me so fast I didn’t even slow him down a lick. Next thing I know he’s got Terry Bradshaw in a belly-to-back suplex.

Ay caramba! Brad was so honked off at me he just glared all the way on the long jog back to the sidelines. Remember now, this was at a time in the NFL before Lawrence Taylor became the original “LT.”  Before speed rushers were the norm. Most guys were the club, uppercut, swim type after a major head-banging bull rush to tee it up. They usually excelled at one or the other, not both.

Randy not only was proficient in a slobber-knocking bull rush, but he was fast enough to get the edge. White also was very strong. He had a wicked club, swim combo, and he could ride a hard inside uppercut all the way to the QB dragging you with him. But Randy had added to his game. He had been working with Chai Sirasute, a former Thai kickboxing champ from Bangkok who had also studied under the great Dan Inosanto, successor to Bruce Lee’s JKD system. And he had learned well. He began attacking the hands and arms of offensive linemen, as a martial artist might employ in a fight with the obvious adjustments for football. Afterall, what is pass rush/pass pro/run blocking other than close quarter combat with pads?

After the season was over, this game became the catalyst for my study of martial disciplines. Tunch Ilkin and I began to seek out people to find a way to improve our hand skills in close quarter combat to better ourselves as football players. And it was the birth of Power Punch. Stay tuned.