In the context of unarmed combat
, a punch
is "a thrusting blow, esp. with the fist
." In some sports and disciplines, such as boxing
or martial arts
, where punches
are regularly practiced, hand wraps
or other padding such as gloves may be employed to protect athletes and practitioners from injuring themselves.
Many martial arts such as karate, taekwondo, muay thai and wing chun, among others, combine punches with kicks and other strikes, whereas boxing and Fistfight utilize only punches. Punches vary in technique, speed, range, and momentum. A list of some types of punches may be seen as outlined below. Instructions on how to punch are beyond the scope of this article, though descriptive sentences may be used for illustrative purposes only.
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. For more information, see the article on "Boxing".
Punching techniques in Karate are called tsuki or zuki. Contact is made with the first two knuckles (seiken). 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 hand, and many other variations.
Wing Chun practitioners punch with a vertical fist, or "sun fist". The impact is made with the bottom three knuckles.
The most common and fundamental punch in Wing Chun, the straight punch, travels in a straight line from the striker's guard to the opponent's body or face. The punch typically travels through the center of the striker's body with the elbow pointed down. Wing Chun practitioners believe that this makes the punch faster and structurally stronger than a horizontal punch due to the whole body being directly behind the punch. Wing Chun practitioners do not usually practice wearing gloves or hand-wraps.
The One inch punch, made famous by Bruce Lee, is intended for use at very close quarters against an opponent who is close to the practitioner.
Various Types of Punches
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.
- 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.
- Cross / Straight: A direct punch, like the jab, delivered with the rear hand.
- Hook: A punch involving the use of turning to aim toward the side of the head or body.
- 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.
- Hammer Fist: A compacted fist is brought down upon the target, usually using the side of the hand or wrist.
- 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.
- Backfist: A backfist is performed by forming a fist and striking with the tops of the two largest knuckles. A spinning backfist is performed when the attacker swivels 360 degrees before landing the punch, adding extra momentum to the attack.
- Haymaker: A 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. Since a haymaker's power is derived from weight transfer and momentum instead of muscle contraction, a long windup is required to generate sufficient force. Haymakers 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.
- Overhand: The blow is thrown with the hand above the shoulder. Generally, the body is moving downwards, similar to a slipping motion. This is a punch that used commonly against taller opponents. For examples, see Rashad Evans vs. Chuck Liddell or Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia
- Chambered Punch: A strike commonly performed in karate, kung fu, and tae kwon do, originating from a "chambered" position.
- Upset Punch: Starts with the fist in the chambered position, with the palm facing downwards, delivered to the abdomen or solar plexus.
- Shovel Hook: A close range punch that is halfway between a hook and an uppercut.
- Chop Slap: A showboating move. Come down with an open hand and strike the face on the way to chopping the neck.
Other types of hand strikes
In multiple martial-art styles, other hand strikes are taught and used in combination with punches. More information can be found in the "strike" article.
Long-term effects on practitioners
Contrary to some opinions, it is joint overuse, in addition to other factors such as improper technique and protection, not punching as an activity in itself, that is responsible for the development of osteoarthritis.
The Guinness World Record for the most punches in one minute is held by Jim Fung's student, Robert Ardito, who performed 702 punches in one minute at the International Wing Chun Academy in Sydney on the 18th of March, 2007.