Have you ever wondered what makes the difference between a normal punch and a strike that turns an opponent lights off?
When I was younger I saw a huge muscular man (who was being an intimidating ass-hole) get knocked the f**k out in one punch. The most interesting thing to me was that the individual who knocked this guys socks off was small and skinny.
As a child this fascinated the shit out of me. I was determined to figure out how this small skinny man was able to knock out this much larger muscular dude.
Ever since then I have been deeply intrigued (maybe even obsessed) by the mysterious ‘one punch knockout.’
Before I start you should know that I don’t advocate fighting, unless for protection. I think miss use of knowledge for arrogance purposes will only lead to you getting bit in the ass by karma. This post is for informational purposes and training only.
A very interesting story of a conversation comes to mind right now that I read about a long time ago. The conversation was between Bruce Lee and another man. I’m not sure how true the story is, never the less the message is still the same.
It goes like this,
Man: Bruce, you spend all day training and all night studying martial arts and fighting. Yet, you do not fight professionally. Whats the point, why even bother?
Bruce Lee: Let me ask you something, do you drive a car?
Bruce Lee: Are you a good driver?
Bruce Lee: Do you have insurance?
Bruce Lee: So why do you have insurance if you’re a good driver huh?
Man: In case someone hits me.
Bruce Lee: Exactly.
Bruce Lee had a way with words for sure. I love how he answered questions with questions and how he went deep on answers. Not many people think to that level now days.
I guess it was a huge benefit for his journey of martial arts, because combat sports are a thinking mans game!
Becoming a devastating puncher is actually not very hard. A perfect knockout punch can be executed by virtually anybody once they understand the top 5 fundamentals to throwing a devastating knockout punch.
In this post, I will be going into these elements and uncovering the real essence of the knockout punch.
This will allow you to understand and execute a devastating knockout punch of your own (when or if in times of desperate need of course!)
Many inexperienced people believe that the bigger a person’s muscles are, the more effective their punch is. All we need to do is look at boxers and mixed martial artists (MMA) to see that the above statement is a total B.S.
Professional fighters do not possess huge bulging muscles like bodybuilders.
In fact, they have no interest in muscle size when it comes to fighting. If you look at professional fighters, they have lean, agile and slender bodies. In actuality, bulky muscles are stiffer and shorter.
This hinders the effectiveness of a strike.
1 ) Accuracy
Accuracy is one of the most important factors to executing a knockout punch. To explain accuracy we need to first understand what a knockout punch is and how it affects the human body.
In professional fighting, a knockout punch is a punch that stops your opponent from continuing the fight.
These are punches that impact on the liver causing excruciating pain (like the left hook liver shot), the solar plexus which knock the wind out of the opponent and the head that disorientates an opponent or renders them unconscious.
In this article, we will be looking at the latter, rendering an opponent unconscious!
What Causes a Knockout ?
The brain is a floating organ in the skull. Brains are like extreme surfers that ride the flow of whichever direction our heads go. The fluid that the brain floats in is called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
CSF is a clear fluid that is produced by the ventricles of the brain. CSF serves as a cushion for the brain and protects it from any physical blows. However, the CSF isn’t strong enough to stop all brain trauma.
THINK OF IT AS PUNCHING A HOT WATER BOTTLE THAT’S ON A BRICK WALL.
- The brick wall is your skull
- The water bottle is the CSF
- Your fist is your brain
If you hit it the hot water bottle ever so slightly with your fist (the brain), the water pillow (CSF) would deform to accommodate the force of your fist; meaning the water bottle acts as a cushion so your fist does not impact the wall.
But, hit the pillow hard enough and your fist (brain) will go all the way through to the other side and impact the brick wall (skull). This is what happens when a knockout punch is delivered.
A sudden powerful hit causes the head to move rapidly in one direction. Because the brain is suspended, it takes a second to catch up and slow down, causing the brain to crash into the walls of the skull.
This is known as ‘trauma’ and it causes the nerves all over your body to go haywire, in turn, your brain short circuits and then its lights out.
Target Spots That Cause a Knockout
There are 3 main ‘sweet spots’ that you can strike that will enable you to send your opponent for a premature nap.
- The Temple
- The Jaw Line
- The Chin
Any one of the 3 targets when hit properly, will shake the head, causing the brain to impact the skull resulting in a knockout.
Hitting the temple directly is one way of knocking an opponent out, it also is a way to disturb the equilibrium (balance) leaving your opponent wobbling around like a newborn giraffe.
This has been seen many times before in boxing matches and MMA bouts. The temple is much thinner than the rest of the skull, making it venerable to a knockout punch.
A proper strike to the jaw will cause the brain to collide with the skull causing a knockout; because the jaw is attached to the skull near the ears.
The chin, however, is the best target for a knockout punch. When struck properly, the chin shakes the skull the most; giving the best chance for a knockout. You can test this by gently tapping your chin with your fist.
Can you feel your head shaking? The reason for this is LEVERAGE.
The point where the jaw connects to the skull is the pivot point. The further away you apply pressure from the pivot, the easier it gets to rock the skull.
Therefore, it takes a lot less force to shake the brain by striking the chin because your chin is the furthest point of contact away from the pivot (see figure 1 below).
Likewise, the closer you strike to the pivot point the harder it gets to shake the brain; hence getting a knockout by punching the skull would be difficult and probably result in a broken hand (figure 2).
There have been countless professional fights where a fighter has knocked out an opponent using very little force. The main reason for this is because an accurate punch was delivered directly to the opponent’s chin.
Being accurate and hitting one of the 3 targets is the first fundamental step in the knockout process.
When throwing a punch, be sure you are looking at your target (the chin) as you throw the punch. Try to visualize your punch landing on the chin as you throw your punch. This is very effective to aid accuracy.
Visualizing the punch landing is very important; it will increase the chance of you landing the punch. You can also practice your punching precision using various training methods.
In this post you can learn ‘Top 4 Methods to Improving Your Punching Precision’.
2 ) The Powerline
The late Jack Dempsey was a heavyweight boxing champion despite weighing only 185 lbs. He was one of the most feared boxers of his time and a proven devastating knockout artist.
Born in 1895 in Manassa Colorado, Dempsey left home at the age of 16. Due to his lack of money, he frequently traveled under trains and slept in ‘hobo camps’ (a camp for the impoverished and homeless).
Dempsey grew up in the rough and tough ‘wild west’ era.
Desperate for money, Dempsey would often walk into saloons and challenge for fights by saying,
I can’t sing and I can’t dance, but I can lick any SOB in the house.
If anyone accepted the challenge then bets would be made. Dempsey would even fight multiple men at one time. He didn’t give a shit.
Now that’s one bad ass dude right there.
Dempsey had 51 knockouts on record. And that was just the professional fights, many of his street fights resulted in his opponents kissing the floor.
Jack Dempsey was Mike Tyson’s idol growing up. The young Tyson would watch Dempsey’s fights and study them move for move. So you can guess that Dempsey knew a thing or two about knockout punching.
Dempsey wrote a few books before he died. In one of them, he explained a concept of knockout punching that has been widely forgotten in this modern era. He explains the importance of the ‘power line’.
What is the Powerline?
The power line runs from the centre of the shoulder straight down the arm to the baby finger knuckle; when the fist is clenched. It’s best for you to feel the power line so you can truly understand its use.
1) Walk toward a wall until you’re at arm’s length from the wall. You should be facing the wall and standing just far enough from the wall so that you can barely touch it with the tip of the middle finger of your right hand- at a point on the wall directly opposite your chin.
2) Now, move back half a foot length. Put your heels together. Make a fist with your left hand firmly.
3) Extend the fist at arm’s length aiming it towards the spot on the wall. The fist should be vertical (as if you were holding a stick running from ceiling to floor). The little knuckle is down, toward the floor.
4) With your arm stiffly extended, let your body sway slowly forward without moving the feet until your fist is pressed firmly against the chin-high spot on the wall. Now your fist and stiff arm should be supporting the weight of your leaning body.
Now you will feel the lower part of your fist particularly the little knuckle – provides the natural, solid end of the firm power line that is supporting your weight. This is your body’s natural power line.
To test the comparison to other knuckles, shift your pressure from the little knuckle to the upper knuckles by rolling onto them slowly. Then turn your fist so that the palm of your hand is down (still on the upper knuckles).
When you attempt these changes, you should feel immediately that both new pressure positions of your fist lack the solid base of the first position. You can feel that landing with the first two knuckles breaks the power line at the wrist and put’s your wrist in a hazardous landing position.
However, the pinky knuckle is the smallest and weakest of the hands bones. You should not aim to land a punch with the pinky knuckle. Instead aim to land the punch with the next knuckle up. This will cause the fist to land with a flat 3 knuckle landing of the middle and smaller two knuckles.
This 3 knuckle landing allows the power line to run in a straight line through your arm and then through your fist. This allows a solid connection and minimizes the chance of damaging your wrist dramatically.
I can personally vouch for this method as it is the way I land punches. I have also landed a punch with the first two knuckles and sprained my wrist once when training (yeah, I’m lucky I never bust it).
One of the most famous martial artists revered by many champion mixed martial arts fighter’s… The one and only Mr Bruce Lee, also used this method of punching and incorporated it into his martial arts style Jeet Kune Do.
That’s quite a bit of info to take in, are you with me so far? Good! give yourself a mental pat on the back. Now it’s time to move on to number 3 of the top 5 fundamentals to throwing a devastating knockout punch…
3 ) Acceleration of Body Mass
As I said previously a knockout punch is not due to big arms. It’s due to the acceleration of body mass hitting a target.
There are 4 ways in which you can accelerate your body mass;
1) Falling forward
2) Leaping forward
3) Surging upwards
4) Whirling the shoulders
A PUNCH SHOULD BE DELIVERED FROM MUSCLES IN A RELAXED STATE.
The reason you need to be relaxed is because muscular tension acts as a brake and causes friction during movement; thereby reducing the speed and power of your strikes. The only time your muscles should tighten while striking is the instant they impact the target.
- Accelerating your body mass properly for the perfect knockout punch is done by the use of ‘kinetic linking’. Kinetic linking is the process in which multiple muscle groups work in sequence to deliver the punch. Imagine a metal chain with links. Each link is a muscle that works with the next link, generating momentum of force as it travels down the line.
In a Knockout Punch the Kinetic Chain Is;
Bruce Lee was only 5 ft 7 inches and weighed 135 lbs. He performed amazing feats of strength that men twice his size and weight could not perform. He also had vicious punch.
This was proven when he sprung a 75-kilo opponent 6 meters away from a punch delivered at only one inch away. Bruce Lee’s amazing one-inch power punch was executed by using the kinetic linking principle explained above.
If you are a fan of Bruce Lee then checkout ‘Bruce Lee’s 8 top tips to getting better results in training and life’.
A punches power starts with a push off the back foot or twist of the foot (for hooks) then travels through each of the above body parts in sequence to deliver the knockout.
In powerlifting, it is known that the power for a lift starts at the base, with a solid connection of the feet on the ground. This is the same with punching. You need to plant down into the floor before you release a punch.
Twisting the hips is very important in knockout punching. This allows the power from your back and core to accelerate the speed and power of the punch.
In a boxing stance, you have your lead foot in front with your hips pointing to either the left or right side of the opponent. To use your hips you twist them as you punch so they are squared up to the opponent (facing them).
For more info on the boxing stance checkout this post – Boxing for Newbies- The Two Main Strikes!
AS YOU PUNCH YOU SHOULD ‘GROUND YOUR PUNCH’. THIS IS REFERRED TO SOMETIMES AS ‘SITTING ON YOUR PUNCH.’
Grounding your punch evolves breaking at your hips as you twist them when punching. You should always use the grounding method; it generates a huge amount of power in a punch.
How to Ground your Punch
1) Relax all the muscles in the body including the hips.
2) Your knees should always be slightly bent.
3) As you punch from a relaxed state into a high velocity, drop your body weight into your legs by breaking the tension in the hips slightly.
4) Tighten all of your muscles violently as you make an impact with the target (think of the short violent muscle contraction when you sneeze).
This does not mean to overly bend your knees and drop low. It’s a discreet movement of breaking at the hips that only you will notice as you do it.
Simply relax your hips, in the moment of punching quickly release your hips so that they begin to fall and then counter the fall by exerting downwards force.
Doing this will enable you to generate awesome power into your punch and transfer that to your opponent. If you practice this with the power line and accuracy you will already be a devastating puncher!
4) SNAPPING THE PUNCH
PULLING YOUR HAND BACK IS VERY IMPORTANT AFTER IMPACTING WITH THE TARGET.
- You should pull your punch back as fast as you sent it out.
Doing this causes a snapping effect like the crack of a whip. In turn, it shortens the impact time of the blow, which compresses the force and makes it all the more powerful.
The snapping punch has devastating power. When thrown properly, you can transfer a ton of energy from your body’s momentum to your opponent.
Instead of just pushing a punch into your target, snapping a punch uses acceleration and power to deliver a CRUSHING blow to your target. However, when some people pull their punches back they make one vital mistake.
They aim to hit the surface of the target.
- To deliver a devastating knockout punch there needs to be some follow through. This is done by aiming for an imaginary spot a few inches behind the target. This allows the punch to follow through effectively before it is pulled back to create the ‘whip cracking effect’.
5 ) SURPRISE
The Punch they don’t see coming is the one that knocks their socks off. An opponent that does not expect the punch cannot prepare for the punch; therefore the impact of the punch is maximized.
The best time to get a knockout is when the opponent’s neck and jaw muscles are loose and relaxed.
When the neck and jaw are not braced ready for a punch the shaking of the brain in the skull occurs with less force. If the opponent sees the punch coming he will brace himself (consciously or subconsciously) and the shaking of the brain is minimized.
Surprising the opponent can be done by;
- Combinations are a series of punches that land to different areas of the head/body so the opponent’s attention is on those particular punches.
This causes openings for the knockout punch to land. During the combination when the opponent least expects it, a punch is thrown to one of the 3 target areas explained above to secure the knockout. For combo ideas’s checkout ‘6 devastating knockout combinations for newbies; Learn from the old school.’
- Feints can be used by feinting with your punches or body movement. Feinting with a punch is simply starting a punch as if you were going to throw it and then quickly throwing another punch instead from a different angle.
Example- If you throw a feint to the body, the opponent may drop his hands and brace for the body shot at this point you suddenly deliver a knockout punch to the chin instead. Feinting is used to deceive the opponent so you can surprise them with your knockout punch.
If you implement the above elements and practice them when striking you will surely become a devastating knockout artist and a force to be reckoned with!
So there’s the top 5 fundamentals to throwing a devastating knockout punch. Whats your thoughts on power punching? Do you implement any other techniques when power punching? Let me know in the comments section below!