Chambering punches (and re-chambering) and pullback are other controversial areas of martial art styles.
Chambering is cocking the punch or starting the punch from a cocked position. While it is not good to chamber a punch, unless the opponent is stunned and the punch is finishing blow, it is good to start punches from a chambered position when possible since the chamber allows the punch to generate more power. When beginning Taekwondo students are taught to punch, they are taught to chamber the punch at the hip and to re-chamber (or pull-back) the other hand to the hip.
These are the extremes of the motions. If the muscles are trained in the extremes of movements, then less extreme movements are easier to perform. This extremes are used to teach the theories of punching and to put artistic expression into the performance of patterns, they are not used in free-sparring and only used in self-defense under certain conditions, such as the aforementioned finishing blow.
The pullback of one hand while punching with the other hand is also an extreme movement. In actual usage, the pullback is a subtle movement that occurs during a punch, not as a separate motion. Reasons for the pullback include:
- Extends movement of torso to add power to the technique.
- Helps maintain balance.
- Helps in contracting the whole body.
- Helps connect the technique to the strong base foot of the stance.
- Helps center the mind on the centerline of the body rather than on just the punching side. When punching, the tendency is to reach forward so that the arms move independently from the body. This tendency is called being "top heavy." We want techniques that are rooted in the feet and expressed at the top.
- Uses the equal and opposite movement to add power to the technique.
- Adds rotational energy to the technique.
- May be used to pull the opponent into the attack.
Have you ever tries to pull someone while you are punching? It is not easy, especially for a smaller person to pull a larger person. Actually, a grab while punching helps stabilize you and the opponent as you pull yourself into the opponent. Your pull inhibits the opponent's movement and adds the power of the pull to your attack. "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." Pulling one side of the body helps propel the other side forward adding to your power
In free-sparring, the opposite hand is not pulled back as it is in performing patterns, but it is still pulled back. From a fighting guard position, as we jab, the opposite arm is contracted for an instant. It does not move much but the pulling reflex learned as a beginner is still there doing its job.