"A great left hook consists of a bunch of precise separate movements that come together and appear as one smooth movement."
-Joe Goosen, pro boxing trainer
Learning how to fight is not the same as promoting belligerent, anti-social behavior. We live in an exceedingly violent society. Our films, books, TV shows, and video games glorify mayhem and carnage. Our leaders (sic) solve most of their problems through aggression...or the threat thereof. While talk of non-violence is understandable and the struggle for peace has never been more essential, let's face it: The odds are that sooner or later you're going to end up in a confrontation that may escalate into physical violence. So, why not be prepared?
Power from the Left:
I first learned the power of the left hook at City Star Kickboxing Gym. I trained there-well before cable TV turned kickboxing into a spectacle-with some contenders and some champions. I also helped Enrique, the owner and head trainer, put out a pretty good kickboxing newsletter for a while...but like everyone else, I had to prove myself in the ring.
Early on, I got matched to spar with a guy named Phil. He was well liked, a little bigger than me, but I didn't think much of him as a fighter. Insulted to be regarded in his class, I circled Phil deftly and waited for him to make a move. Once he committed, I evaded the strike and took advantage of the subsequent opening...putting him down with a short, sharp left hook that bloodied his nose. I took a second to gaze at my gloved left hand in wonder while everyone in the gym went nuts and Phil struggled to his feet. They stopped it right there. A good moment...in that macho, 20-year-old sort of way.
Bruce Lee sez: "A smaller man who can swing faster may hit as hard or as far as the heavier man who swings slowly."
Contrary to popular opinion, cinematic fisticuffs, and fighters with poor fundamentals, the hook is not a wide, looping punch that originates somewhere in left field and leaves the puncher exposed. They call it a "hook" precisely because your arm position should resemble a hook: a 90-degree angle at the elbow with your palm facing down at the point of impact.
*Tuck your chin down into your left shoulder.
*Pivot your hips, waist, and front left foot in the direction of the punch: torque your whole left side. This will generate power without expending too much energy or movement.
*The hook can be thrown as part of a combination (e.g. jab-cross-hook or jab-hook) or as a single punch to catch an opponent who's on the attack.
*Mix up your targets: Hook to the head, the body, or double up.
When using a left hand leading stance, your left hook is essentially thrown outside of your opponent's vision. (Using a right hook in such a stance can leave you wide-open for a counter.) The hook is an economical blow that, when executed properly, has the full force of your body weight behind it and is awfully tough to see coming. It is a knockout blow that can stop a charging opponent in his or her tracks and change the momentum of any battle.
Postscript: City Star Kickboxing Gym eventually closed because Enrique went off to fight in El Salvador (but I'm not sure for which side).
Mickey Z. is the author of several books, most recently 50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation Books). He can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.