Punch (combat)

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A jab

A punch is a striking blow with the fist.

It is used in most martial arts and combat sports, most notably boxing, where it is the only type of offensive technique allowed. In sports, hand wraps or other padding such as gloves may be used to protect athletes and practitioners from injuring themselves. [1] [2] The use of punches varies between different martial arts and combat sports. Styles such as boxing, Suntukan or Russian fist fighting use punches alone, while others such as Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Lethwei or karate may use both punches and kicks. Others such as wrestling (excluding professional wrestling) and judo (punches and other striking techniques, atemi, are present in judo kata, but are forbidden in competitions) do not use punches at all. There are many types of punches and as a result, different styles encompass varying types of punching techniques.


Basic types

An American soldier demonstrating an uppercut Lead hand uppercut.jpg
An American soldier demonstrating an uppercut

This is not a comprehensive list of all punches, due to the large diversity of schools of practice whose techniques, employing arm, shoulder, hip and leg work, may invariably differ.

BackfistA backfist is performed by forming a fist and striking with the backside of the fist. [3] A spinning backfist is performed when the attacker swivels 360 degrees before landing the punch, adding extra momentum to the attack. The fighter will lunge and begin spinning toward the side of the opponent of which fist he or she will attack with. Simpler terms, go to the left, spin to the left and connect with the left fist and vice versa. [4]
Chambered PunchA strike commonly performed in karate, kung fu, and tae kwon do, originating from a "chambered" position.
Cross or straightA direct straight punch similar to the jab, except delivered with the rear hand. Power is generated through the rotation of the hips. [5]
Jab The jab is a straight blow delivered (generally from a distance) with the arm above the lead foot ... The punch is quick and explosive. This punch must land from the very tips of the knuckles and not from a flat fist. " It is generally used for distraction, keeping distance, setting up, and defense. [6] [7]
Leopard Blow (Long Fist)By tucking the fingertips against the bottom knuckle of each finger, a long fist is formed. They offer decreased strength but increased reach. The striking surface is also narrower, which allows the fist to dig between ribs and other soft target areas.
Hammer Fist A compacted fist is brought down upon the target, usually using the outside area of the fist. [8]
HaymakerA punch in which the arm is whipped sideways from the shoulder joint with minimal elbow bend. The name is derived from the motion, which mimics the action of manually cutting hay by swinging a scythe. The haymaker is considered an imperfect/impure punch, as the angle of approach is unsupported by the remainder of the forearm. Since a haymaker's power is derived completely from weight transfer and momentum instead of muscle contraction, a long windup is required to generate sufficient force. Haymakers, in the form of shoulder punches, are frequently used from a mounted position in mixed martial arts as part of the "ground and pound" method, as the legs cannot be used to generate power. When thrown from standing, these punches leave the person vulnerable to a counter punch during the wind up, if blocked, or if the haymaker misses. [9] Haymaker is generally considered a street or barfighters punch, as it is the punch a person is most likely to use if they have not practiced martial arts and has little to no advantages over other punches such as the somewhat similar hook, making its use by martial artists rare.
Hook A punch involving the use of turning to aim toward the side of the head or body. This punch must land from the very tips of the knuckles and not from a flat fist. [10]
Knuckle sandwichAn idiom for a punch in the mouth. [11]
Drop (boxing) (Overhand)A semi-circular and vertical punch thrown with the rear hand. It is usually when the opponent is bobbing or slipping. The strategic utility of the drop relying on body weight can deliver a great deal of power. This punch must land from the very tips of the knuckles and not from a flat fist.
Shovel HookA close range punch that is halfway between a hook and an uppercut. Shovel hooks are most commonly used to strike the body at a 45 degree angle. For example, a liver shot can be done using a shovel hook. This punch must land from the very tips of the knuckles and not from a flat fist. [12]
Uppercut The fist is raised vertically towards the target, usually the head or upper body. Since most guards are held with the arms in a vertical position, the uppercut can be used to avoid the opponent's attempts at blocking. This punch must land from the very tips of the knuckles and not from a flat fist.
Upset PunchStarts with the fist in the chambered position, with the palm facing downwards, delivered to the abdomen or solar plexus.
Casting PunchThis is a punch used in Sambo and MMA that starts with a forward motion of the shoulders, which causes the bent arm to whip forward to the opponent. This punch can often cause the opponent to be put in a clinch if it misses at close range.
Superman Punch A superman punch or diving punch is a technique used in Muay Thai, ITF-style Taekwon-Do, full contact karate and mixed martial arts fighting. The striker will lunge toward the opponent pushing off with the back foot punching with the opposite arm of the leg used to push off with although there may be variations in the name and technique, depending on the fighting style. The pose should resemble that of Superman flying through the air, hence the name.
Sucker punch A punch that takes the enemy by surprise, possibly knocking them out or otherwise incapacitating them. Could be an unexpected blow to the stomach or a strike from behind that the victim did not see coming.


A man being punched in the abdomen.


In boxing, punches are classified according to the motion and direction of the strike; contact is always made with the knuckles. There are four primary punches in boxing: the jab, cross, hook, and uppercut.

A karateka performing a 'reverse punch' or gyaku zuki being performed by two young boys. JJS Karate Kids on Training.jpg
A karateka performing a 'reverse punch' or gyaku zuki being performed by two young boys.


Seiken Seiken.png

Punching techniques in karate are called tsuki or zuki. Contact is made with the first two knuckles (seiken). [13] If any other part of the hand is used to strike with, such as the back of the fist (uraken) or the bottom of the fist (tetsui), then the blow is classified as a strike (uchi).

Karate punches include the thrust punch oi-zuki made using the lead-hand, straight punch choku-zuki , reverse punch gyaku-zuki , made from the opposite (lead) hand, and many other variations. [14]

Related Research Articles

Boxing Full contact combat sport

Boxing is a combat sport in which two people, usually wearing protective gloves and other protective equipment such as hand wraps and mouthguards, throw punches at each other for a predetermined amount of time in a boxing ring.

Kickboxing Stand-up combat sports

Kickboxing is a stand-up combat sport based on kicking and punching, historically developed from karate mixed with boxing. Kickboxing is practiced for self-defence, general fitness, or as a contact sport.

Muay Thai Combat sport of Thailand (lit. "Thai boxing")

Muay Thai , sometimes referred to as "Thai boxing", is a martial art and combat sport that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. This discipline is known as the "art of eight limbs" as it is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees and shins. Muay Thai became widespread internationally in the late-20th to 21st century, when Westernized practitioners from Thailand began competing in kickboxing and mixed-rules matches as well as matches under muay Thai rules around the world. The professional league is governed by The Professional Boxing Association of Thailand (P.A.T), sanctioned by The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT).

Kyokushin Combat sports organization

Kyokushin (極真) is a style of stand-up fighting and was founded in 1964 by Korean-Japanese Masutatsu Oyama. "Kyokushin" is Japanese for "the ultimate truth". It is rooted in a philosophy of self-improvement, discipline and hard training. Its full contact style has international appeal.

Full contact karate Competition formats of karate where competitors spar full-contact and which allow a knockout as winning criterion

Full contact karate is any format of karate where competitors spar full-contact and allow a knockout as winning criterion.


A jab is a type of punch used in the martial arts. Several variations of the jab exist, but every jab shares these characteristics: while in a fighting stance, the lead fist is thrown straight ahead and the arm is fully extended from the side of the torso. This process also involves a quick turn of the torso. It is an overhand punch; at the moment of impact, the pronated fist is generally held in a horizontal orientation with the palm facing the ground.

Strike (attack) Directed physical attack

A strike is a directed physical attack with either a part of the human body or with an inanimate object intended to cause blunt trauma or penetrating trauma upon an opponent.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to martial arts:

Sanda (sport) Chinese self-defense system and combat sport

Sanda, formerly Sanshou, also known as Chinese boxing or Chinese kickboxing, is the official Chinese full contact combat sport. Sanda is a fighting system which was originally developed by the Chinese military based upon the study and practices of traditional Kung fu and modern combat fighting techniques; it combines full-contact kickboxing, which includes close range and rapid successive punches and kicks, with wrestling, takedowns, throws, sweeps, kick catches, and in some competitions, even elbow and knee strikes.


Tsuki (突き) derives from the verb tsuku (突く), meaning "to thrust". The second syllable is accented, with Japanese's unvoiced vowels making it pronounced almost like "ski". In Japanese martial arts and Okinawan martial arts, tsuki is used to refer to various thrusting techniques.

Combat sport

A combat sport, or fighting sport, is a competitive contact sport that usually involves one-on-one combat. In many combat sports, a contestant wins by scoring more points than the opponent or by disabling the opponent. Combat sports share a long pedigree with the martial arts.

The karate kataSeisan (十三) literally means '13'. Some people refer to the kata as '13 Hands', '13 Fists', '13 Techniques', '13 Steps' or even '13 killing positions'; however, these names have no historical basis.

Stand-up fighting

In martial arts and combat sports, stand-up fighting is hand-to-hand combat between opponents in a standing position, as distinguished from ground fighting. Clinch fighting is stand-up grappling. Fighters employ striking, including striking combinations, using either body parts or mêlée weapons, to incapacitate or injure the opponent. Combatants use blocking techniques to block the opponent's attacks.

Mas Oyama karate master

Masutatsu Ōyama, more commonly known as Mas Oyama, was a karate master who founded Kyokushin Karate, considered the first and most influential style of full contact karate. A Zainichi Korean, he spent most of his life living in Japan and acquired Japanese citizenship in 1968.

Knifehand strike

In martial arts, a knifehand strike is a strike using the part of the hand opposite the thumb, familiar to many people as a karate chop. This refers to strikes performed with the side of the knuckle of the small finger. Suitable targets for the knifehand strike include the mastoid muscles of the neck, the jugular, the throat, the collar bones, ribs, sides of the head, temple, jaw, the third vertebra, the upper arm, the wrist, the elbow, and the knee cap.

Boxing styles and technique

Throughout the history of gloved boxing styles, techniques and strategies have changed to varying degrees. Ring conditions, promoter demands, teaching techniques, and the influence of successful boxers are some of the reasons styles and strategies have fluctuated.

Terutomo Yamazaki is a Japanese karateka from the Kyokushin Kaikan (極真会館) and professional lightweight kickboxer. He is the founder of Gyakushin-Kai (逆真会館) and a Director of Karate in Japan. He presides over the International Budo Karate Organization Gyakushin-Kai from the headquarters of the organization (honbu) in Ōmiya-ku, Saitama, Japan. His title as head of the Gyakushin-Kai organization is “Kancho”.

Yoshiji Soeno is a Japanese karateka and a retired professional welterweight kickboxer.

Hatsuo Royama also known by his Korean name of Noh Cho Woong is a master of Kyokushin Karate and current Kancho (Director) of the Kyokushin-kan International Organization Honbu, one faction of the International Karate Organization (IKO) founded by Mas Oyama (1923–1994).


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