Improving Punching Power for a One Hit Knockout- Workout Program

Ikken Hissatsu

Focus: Power

Specific goal: Improve punching power for a one hit knockout

By: Sensei Anthony Carrano





The goal of this program is to improve punching power, specifically for a one hit knockout. Nearly all arts have some type of punch included with in it and anyone looking to improve punching power no matter what art you are from will benefit from this program. Personally, I train with the Japanese martial arts and have found my inspiration for writing this program with in this style of training. The word ikken hissatsu is the Japanese word for one hit, one kill. In most cases, the goal in Japanese striking arts is to defeat or stop your opponent with one blow. It is not likely that you will always defeat your opponent with one hit, but you must attack with the intention to do so, and train with this attitude in mind. The Karate-ka of old would train with this serious intent every day.

Addition to their traditional training, ancient martial artists would also partake in supplementary training to improve strength, speed, and power. They called it Hojo Undo. They had wooden pools attached to concrete, weighted shoes, hand held stones, and much more. Today we call this type of training strength and conditioning, and we have all new types of equipment to use for our supplementary training. Ikken Hissatsu, in a sense, is a modern day Hojo Undo. It is meant to capitalize on our modern strength and conditioning knowledge and resources to really help bring you to the next level. I hope you enjoy the program, and as we say in the martial arts, Osu.

Before you begin your training

Technique is the first step to improving power- The first and most important way to improve power is by improving your technique. The more efficient your punch is, the more powerful it will be. You must develop your technique before moving on to secondary modes for improving it. This program is not intended to develop your technique. It is created for advanced athletes looking to improve punching power via secondary supplementary training.

Build mass before you develop power- The thicker the muscle, the more muscle fibers it has, the more fibers it has, the greater the potential for power. If you would like to maximize your gains within this program, it would be best to complete a volume phase (a phase created to develop your muscle mass and decrease body fat) before beginning a power phase. For an excellent program on volume, check out M.A.S.S. by Dr. Pat Davidson.


Specifics about the program

The program will be broken up into two phases, both lasting 4 weeks long. Phase 1 and phase 2 will have the same routine to be completed on every day. The routine should be completed anywhere from 2-3 days per week. This is done so to accommodate people with busy schedules. Ideally you would like to get in 3 days per week. For those that have busier schedules, 2 days a week will be the minimum. If you are really feeling good, you can hit 4 days a week on some weeks ( just be sure to rest a day in between each session) . Examples: 2 days per week (Wednesday and Saturday), 3 days per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), 4 days per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday). Remember, most of us are also in some type of martial art program additional to this program and it is important to leave time for those training days as well.


This routine will have three circuits, a strength circuit, a volume circuit and a power endurance circuit. In the following paragraphs, I will explain a little more about each one.

Strength training circuit – The strength circuit is meant to improve your ability to recruit high threshold muscle fibers (via heavy external load). Let me explain what this means. Pretend you are a king. You have 50 people in your city, but only 20 are willing to fight for you. Your goal is to recruit as many of your people into soldiers that you can. The more people you can recruit, the stronger your army will be. Muscle fibers work in a similar manner. We have a lot of them, but we do not use them all. This is one reason why two people of the same size may produce different strength levels. They appear to be the same on the outside, but internally, one person is recruiting more fibers than the other. Strength training helps to teach your body how to become better at recruiting more muscle fibers, specifically the high threshold ones (the ones that we use for speed, power, and strength). The more you can recruit, the higher levels of force you will produce, and the more powerful you will be

What does this mean for training?

Lift heavy- It is very important to lift heavy when doing your strength circuit. If you are not lifting heavy, you are not calling on your high threshold muscle fibers. I want you to get in 6 reps or less. If you are able to do 7 reps then the weight is not heavy enough.

Rest long- During a strength circuit you are not training your cardiovascular or energy systems, you are training your neuromuscular system. Energy system training tests to see how long you can last, neuromuscular training tests to see how much you can do in one shot (for example, how much can you lift in one rep, how high can you jump with one explosive jump, how fast can get from point A to point B). With neuromuscular training, you want to be completely recovered in between each set so you can give it your all again. Your first set and your last set should be able to produce the same amount of work.

Power endurance- Power endurance rounds are intended to help you maintain an explosive knockout punch even in the eye of fatigue. As I mentioned in the strength circuit, energy system training focuses on how long you can last, neuromuscular training focuses on how much you can do in one shot. Power endurance is a combination of the two, trying to give it your all, even when you are tired.Unlike the strength circuit, this circuit should fatigue you, make you feel uncomfortable, sweaty, hot, and out of breathe. During this moment of fatigue, you want to try and complete an explosive high threshold movement. (In our case this will be a knockout punch)

What does this mean for training?

Keep the rounds short and the intensity high- The difference between endurance training and power endurance training is that endurance training is aerobic in nature (oxygen/breathing is your primary fuel source) and power endurance is anaerobic in nature (oxygen is not your primary fuel source/ you will be out of breathe). For our power endurance rounds, we want to stay in an anaerobic state. We want to keep the intensity of whatever we are doing so high that we can only keep up the activity for 5 minutes or less. If you are not totally burnt by the end of 5 minutes you are probably not moving hard or fast enough to stay in an anaerobic state.



Plyometric circuit- The plyometric circuit is meant to improve your ability rebound with more efficiency, to improve speed and explosiveness, and to improve your ability to change directions. Let me explain. Plyometric training refers to training meant to improve the stretch shortening cycle of a muscle (the elastic component with in it). This includes any exercise that has a quick lengthening of a muscle (a stretch) immediately followed by a quick shortening of a muscle (concentric movement). Similar to a rubber band, as you pull it apart, it builds tension, as you let it go, it comes back together rapidly. Muscles have an elastic component just like a rubber band. They add extra power to a concentric movement because of the pre stretch before it. Unlike a rubber band, the longer you hold the stretch, the less power you will have. The shorter the transition time between the lengthening of your muscle, and the shortening of your muscle, the faster and more powerful you will be. As we perform this type of training the body also adapts to be better suited for the demand. One of the adaptations is something called tendon stiffness. The tendon that attaches to the calf on your foot actually stiffens and gets harder. This allows for less dissipation of energy and greater rebounds. Just think about the difference between a ball that is filled with air vs. a ball that is deflated. The ball that is filled with air is stiffer allowing it to propel further, whereas the ball that has less air is softer and does not rebound as high. For the purpose of our training, many one hit knockouts are performed as a counter strike. Most counter punches call for a quick bounce back, or to the side, and then immediately back in. Addition to this, by having a stiff tendon, we will also help improve the explosiveness of our initial attacks (in karate we call this a first attack). Even though a first attack happens from a dead stand still as opposed to a rebound, having a stiff tendon will still allow for less dissipation of energy as we propel forward.

Tips for training

Change direction quickly- Quickly explode from your pre stretch movement to your concentric movement (the intended direction you want to go). The shorter the time between the two, the more powerful you will be.

Long Rest and High Intensity- Just like our strength and power training we want quality over quantity.

Technique is key- Many people get injured during plyometric training because they do not have the proper technique. For lower body exercises, be sure to land on your toes, put your hips back, and slightly bend your knees.


Power circuit- The power circuit is meant to improve your ability to activate as many muscle fibers as possible (recruitment), in the shortest amount of time(rate of force development). Similar to the strength circuit, you want to teach your body how to recruit. The difference here is that you want to maximize recruitment by lifting at faster speeds as opposed to heavier weights. With power training you are still lifting against an external load, however, the load is not as heavy as strength training. In a strength circuit you are trying to move fast, but you cannot because the weight is too heavy. In a power circuit, the weight is lighter, allowing you to move at faster speeds. Once you teach your body to recruit high threshold muscle fibers by lifting a heavy external load, it is then time to decrease the load and activate those same fibers by moving explosively (a combination of strength and speed).

What does this mean for training?

Rest long: The same rules apply here as they do for strength training. You are training your neuromuscular system. This requires long rest and complete recovery in between each set. 

Your first set should be just as good as your last- Quality over quantity. This means if you were able press a 10 pound medicine ball 12 ft high on set one, you should still be pressing that medicine ball 12 feet high on set 2, 3, 4, etc... The weight, the amount of time it takes you to compete your set, and or the distance traveled, should all remain the same.

Always hit the gas- Speed is intentional. It takes mental focus and will power to constantly push yourself to move at fast speeds. You can do this program half assed, or you can crush it. Your intent will play a major role.

Power endurance circuit: same as phase 1

Final words- The program is short and sweet, which is exactly what I intended it to be. 2 months, 3 days a week, addition to your regular martial art training. Make sure you have adequate recovery, eat well, and sleep well to see better gains. Most people dismiss this component, but it is equally as important as your actual workout session. Feel free to check out my article “2016 secrets to weight loss-diet”. I know most of us are already in great shape, but within this article I talk a lot about a good healthy diet, which will also improve recovery in between your sessions.




Before you begin your training take a baseline assessment test and record your scores. When you complete the program in two months, take the same test again to see how much you actually improved.

  1. 6 lb med ball travel distance- best out of 10. Put it onto of a macho bag and hit it off as far as you can (put bag at perfect height). Measure the distance with a tape measure.

  2. Long jump (single leg and double)

  3. Chest med ball press (single arm and double)



Warm up:  It is important to get in a warm up before initiating your strength circuit. Increasing blood flow to the working muscles will increase force production. 

  • Makiwari training knuckle strikes (1 minute), Plank (1 minute), pri bo staff with breathing (1 minute), pri reverse push up (1 minute), jump rope (1 minute)


Strength Circuit:

  • Sets: 2

  • Reps: 6 or less

  • Weight: Heavy (if you are able to lift 7 reps the weight is too light)

  • Rest between sets : Subjective based on your heart rate, how you feel, and the work you are producing. Just so you have an idea most strength circuits are at least 1:5. Work to rest ratio. That means if my set takes me 10 seconds to complete, I should rest for 50 seconds.


  1.  Car Push (or sled push, or bear crawl partner with weight)

  2. Barbell in corner press in split stance

  3. Rear foot elevated split squat

  4. Weighted pull up

  5. Single leg deadlift

  6. Push/Pull anti rotational band press


Power Endurance Rounds : 5 rounds  1 minutes each followed by 5 reverse punches. No rest in between rounds Keeps swapping from a to b  


  1. Round one try to get your partner back or judo fit ins- 5 reverse punches on either a heavy bag or a hanging medicine ball (something you can hit full blast without holding back)

  2. Round two bag kicks (front, round, side kick)- 5 reverse punches on either a heavy bag or medicine ball (something you can hit full blast without holding back)




When it comes to speed training, one of the many things that makes someone faster is intent. You must be mentally prepared to push yourself. If I you are fatigued mentally, you will not give it your all. So each time I expect you to rest long enough until you are mentally and physically prepared to crush it (obviously with in reasonable time). Use your personal judgement. (we rely so much on outside factors we forget the importance of using our feelings as an objective tool to help monitor where we are at.

Warm up:  3 minute makiwari training, 1 minute 4 corner shuffle and jump (lateral forward and backward), 1 minute reverse punch with perfect technique right ,  1 minute reverse punch left


Plyometric circuit (utilize elastic component of muscle)

  • Sets: 2

  • Reps: 5 ( for cone hops go to the end and back, depth jumps complete 5 right and 5 left)

  • Rest: As long as you need

  • Weight: body weight

  1. Forward and back hop over cone

  2. Lateral side to side hop over cone

  3. Depth jumps and lateral reverse punch


Power Circuit

  •  Sets and Reps: week 1 and 2- 2 sets and 6 reps each side, week 3- 3 sets and 3 reps each side, week 4- 4 sets and 1 rep each side

  • Rest- Same as strength circuit

  • Weight- about 60 % of your max, don’t go crazy here. Just make sure the weight is moderate. 

  1. Jerk (or circus dumbbell press)

  2. Pull weighted rope to you while in a split stance (one arm at a time. Rotate your body) 

  3. Sled push

  4. Barbell in corner press with step

  5. Single leg broad jump

  6. Med ball side toss with step

  7. Sprint short distance

  8. Med ball rotational chest pass with breathing (180degree rotation- step, rotate, and press)



Power Endurance Rounds 6 rounds 1 minutes each followed by 5 reverse punches ( no rest).

  1. Round one try to pin partners back - reverse punch (bounce during rest period )

  2. Judo fit ins (half hip throws)- reverse punch

  3. Round two bag kicks (hook, creasant, back kick) - reverse punch (Bounce during rest period)