The science of throwing a good punch (all 5 styles)

Punching is the sort of skill that many people genuinely hope they never need, but is important to be capable should the occasion present itself.

Even as a fairly mild tempered person who knows better than to instigate, I found myself in the midst of a fight several times in college. Things inevitably go wrong when you combine high levels of alcohol and testosterone. At that point, you can either stay and fight or leave your friends behind. As Charlie Hunnam said in Green Street Hooligans (Elijah Wood’s best pre-Wilfred work), “You don’t run, not when you’re with us. You stand your ground and fight!”

You may wonder what qualifies me to educate you on punching. Well, that’s simple. I’m 0-1 in my amateur boxing career and have been hit by just about every punch in the book. I also hold the record for most times being knocked down in a three round fight with 7.5. For those who were boxing majors, that may seem impossible, but several of them were actually push downs so they didn’t count. I guess my first advice before you throw any punches is not to agree to a boxing match with someone who is 6’4″ when you are 5’11″ and drunk. Aside from that, give these techniques a shot.


This is your standard dominant hand punch. If you can’t even throw one of these, it’s a good thing you are reading this. What many people either don’t realize is that it takes more than just your arm to throw an effective punch.

It’s essential that you push off the back foot and twist your hips and shoulders into the punch; otherwise, the result will be no more than a love tap. Go ahead. Stand up and throw a practice punch at your wall. It’s really quite simple.

On second thought, maybe the guy will be so embarrassed by your weak attempt that he breaks down laughing. At that point, your best bet is to break etiquette rules, kick him in the nuts like a chick, and run. You will no longer have any friends, but I’m guessing that probably wasn’t an issue.


For people who know how to box, slipping or blocking a hook is standard protocol. Fortunately for you, the odds that the random person with whom you decided to scrap is a boxer are not very good. Most people haven’t had the pleasure of spending hours waxing off Mr. Miyagi, so it’s not instinctual to block to the side. If you throw a hook quickly enough, they won’t have a chance to dodge it, and you’ll be terrorist fist jabbing with your bros in no time.

Instead of straight out and straight back, you want to, you guessed it, hook around to the side of his face. Get a little more rotation as you push off your back foot, and then twist through your hips and shoulder again. Keep your elbow parallel with the shoulder, and ensure your palm is facing the floor. Try to land that knuckle sandwich directly on the jaw. You want to stay compact throughout the punch though, so be sure not over-rotate. If you do, you’ll end up off balance, and the skirmish is likely over for you.


The uppercut isn’t just for Street Fighter II; it’s actually incredibly useful. Many real street fights, and every single basebrawl, involve getting chest-to-chest, talking shit, and then pushing each other for awhile. That right there is a wasted opportunity.

If someone gets right up in your face, and it’s clear he wants to fight, you can put a stop to it right away. No, I’m not talking about resolving your differences through logic and reason over a cup of tea; I’m talking about uppercutting the guy right in his chin before he even knows what hit him. Sure, some may call it a cheap shot, but he shouldn’t have been that close in the first place. Personal space, people!

Instead of driving forward off of your back foot and rotating the upper body, you are going to get most of your power by pushing up through your thighs. There is a little bit of shoulder/waist rotation, but it’s much tighter than any of the other techniques. Drive straight up with your legs and push your fist through the bottom of his jaw up towards the ceiling.

For added effect, try jumping into the uppercut and turning 360°, all while yelling, “SHOURYUKEN!”


Are you are a little too excited to throw a nice compact punch? No problem. If you watch any of the 126,000 street fight videos on YouTube, you will see someone throwing a haymaker in most of them. It’s the go-to punch for people who don’t know what they are doing.

There is very little bend in the elbow, so it’s perfect for a drunk guy who no longer has full control over his muscles. The giant wind up may tip off the person you are trying to hit, but if you do manage to land the punch it will typically lead to a knockout. Twist at the waist and shoulders and let that arm fly high and wide. You want to put all of your body weight behind the punch to create a lot of power and momentum.

Just be aware that when you miss you are pretty much done for. You will likely fall down and then get pummeled until you bleed from places you didn’t realize that was possible.

Falcon Punch

If you really want to make an impact, allow me to suggest the Falcon Punch. Developed by Captain Falcon, of F-Zero fame, it is one of the most effective punches you can throw in a fight. You may also know it as the Club Punch, popularized by Jamie Foxx during his special I Might Need Security.

Position yourself a good distance away from the target. Get a running start and throw a big overhand right mid-stride. The momentum created by sprinting will allow even the weakest pugilist to pack a knockout punch. Unless you are trying to surprise your victim (club punch), you should also yell “FALCON PUNCH!” as you are delivering the blow.


I wouldn’t recommend going out and getting into a backyard brawl just because you’ve read a few inadequately descriptive paragraphs of different types of punches. While Project Mayhem made it seem as though it’s difficult to start a fight, I assure you that it isn’t.

If you really want to learn how to punch, many gyms have boxing classes. You won’t get right into sparring, but you can learn the basics very quickly.

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  1. 13 years ago

    Good pointers. I am going to start a fight with a stranger and see how well your instructions work

    • 13 years ago
      Colin Joliat

      Let me know how that works out. Maybe even have a friend take a video…just be sure he isn't holding the camera vertically. I can't stand that shit.

  2. 13 years ago
    voted against carter

    Naaaaaa,.. Just a quick chop to the wind pipe. Fight done.

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