Punching is one of the most basic types of strikes you can learn for self-defense, and a straight punch is the most instinctual punching technique of them all. Learning to throw an effective punch is a fundamental striking technique that beginners and veteran Krav Maga practitioners alike should drill regularly.
Many people don’t know how to properly punch. Without proper training and practice, your punch can do more than lose effectiveness. It could open you to injury or counterattack, which is very dangerous in real-world self-defense situations. A good punching technique is not about reinventing the wheel. It’s about making the tools you have more powerful and efficient.
What Is A Punch?
To learn how to punch, understand that a proper punch is not just about striking with your fist. Instead, it’s about transferring the energy through your fist as you strike with your entire body. The power behind a punch is a sum of all the parts you put into it. Let’s look at a straight punch, and how its force is created.
It Starts At Your Feet
If you watch fighting programs, you’ve probably either seen training montages where a fighter is practicing moving their feet, or you’ve heard a color commentator mention a good fighter’s excellent footwork. When learning how to punch, your feet are incredibly important. They’re the foundation of your body, and where much of your kinetic energy comes from. Pushing with your feet as you punch lets you generate more power while keeping you mobile and in a position to follow up with other types of strikes.
A standard punching stance places your feet shoulder-width apart with your left foot about one step in front if you are right handed, or your right foot about one step in front if you are left handed. All ten toes should be pointing forward and the heel of your back foot should be slightly off of the ground so that your weight can shift easily from foot to foot.
Use Your Hips
With a good punching technique, your hips create power as they twist, a continuation of the power created in your legs. When throwing a straight punch, your hips should engage, rotating toward your assailant. Pivot your foot when punching. This creates a straight line of force from the ground, through your foot, leg, and hips, which transfer that energy into your upper body.
That’s why leg kicks disrupt striking attackers. If you don’t have a base to pivot on, you cannot generate nearly as much kinetic energy.
Keep a Tight Core
As you begin your punch, the kinetic energy transfers through your core. A tight, engaged core moves this energy along better than a relaxed core; this is how to punch with power. When you keep your abdominals tight and moving in sync with your hips, you create a more efficient link between your upper and lower body.
Your shoulders should largely mirror your hips, in that loading power moves them downward, while exploding into a punch technique lifting the striking shoulder. Your arms rotate as you throw, creating a straight line similar to that created by the partnership between your hips and legs. Just as the rotation of your hips affects your shoulders, your shoulders guide your hips. As you punch and reset, the two halves (upper and lower) should mirror each other.
Arms And Fists
Many people who don’t know how to punch properly rely solely on their arm power and strike their target flush along their knuckles. When you throw a punch, the striking surface should be the first two knuckles of your fist, the knuckles of the “pointer” and “middle” fingers. These two knuckles are better supported by the bones in your arm (the radius and ulna) than the knuckles of your “ring” and “pinkie”. A common injury among people who don’t know how to punch is breaking the knuckles of the “ring” and “pinky” fingers, which is called a “boxer’s break”.
The Ideal Punch
The ideal punch technique uses a complete transfer of energy from the ground, through your legs and hips, along your core and shoulder, through your arm, and into the first two knuckles of your hand as it impacts. As you reset, rotate to the other side of your body to build power for a follow-up punch with your other hand.
Advancing Straight Punch
An advancing straight punch is a solution for how to punch while closing distance with your attacker at the same time. Push off with your back foot as you strike. Your front foot should contact the ground at about the same time that you make contact with the target. An advancing punch is a technique that draws more on the momentum of your legs than the rotation of your body.
Once you have closed the distance to make your initial strike, follow up immediately with more punches or other combatives.
Learning How To Punch Better
It’s not enough to get the theory down, you need to put it into practice. How you train is how you fight. Contact your nearest Krav Maga Worldwide location or affiliate today & sign up for self-defense instruction for the real world.