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How to Throw a Punch the Right Way

1. Assume a Boxing Stance

Learning how to throw a good punch starts from the ground up, says Tatiana Firpo, CPT, and instructor for beRevolutionarie, a digital wellness, fitness, and mindfulness platform for women.

One foot (dominant) should be staggered behind the other. “Always keep your feet a little wider than hip-distance apart. Never allow your back foot to cross behind or end up directly behind your front foot (for balance),” she says. “Your dominant side should be far away from the bag [or opponent — real or imaginary] and the less dominant closest.”

Bend your knees slightly.

Bring your hands up to your face, just below your eyes, and tuck in your elbows.

Video

Final Thoughts on Straight Punches

There’s no right or wrong way to throw a straight punch. The tip I gave is to help you throw straighter and to be more aware of your form. Just know that if you stretch the OUTSIDE of your arm, the straight will most likely curve into a cross. If you want a cross, throw a cross but if you want a straight, throw a straight. I’m here to open your eyes to different technique not change your strategy. The more techniques you know the better.

Some of you may be wondering why it has to be stretching the inside vs the outside. Why can’t you throw a straight punch with both sides even? In theory, it makes more sense to stretch both sides evenly. In reality, your torso naturally rotates your shoulder inwards when you punch so it’s best to counter-act this rotation by stretching the inside to create the “straight punch effect”.

*** Precaution:

  • If you’re new to this straight punching technique, don’t straighten your arm so hard (especially while warming up with shadowboxing). You’ll risk hyper-extending your elbow which hurts like hell.

Throw the punch

Now it’s time to send some fingers flying. The first thing to remember is that the punch should go straight forward, rather than out to the side. The idea is to send your fist out and bring it right back to its original position, with as little extraneous motion as possible.

If you flare your arm out, like in the movies, your target will have plenty of time to avoid or block the strike—and you’re going to leave yourself wide open to getting a punch in your own face.

The full punch motion stems from turning your hips. Imagine swinging a baseball bat with just your arms and no hip swivel: It’s not very powerful. The same idea applies to hitting with just your fist.

When you start the punch, pivot your back foot on its ball and push your body forward. You don’t want to exaggerate the motion and throw yourself off balance, but you want to feel your lower body pushing your arm forward. As you push off your foot, turn your hips and extend your arm straight toward the target. Don’t flare your elbow or try to loop around in a big hook punch.

Also, don’t overextend into the punch. You want to feel in control and balanced at all times during the process. If you over-commit and fall forward, you’ll put yourself in a vulnerable position.

View this post on Instagram Every action has led to this || @lukerockhold #mma #ufc #lukerockhold #canon #perth #australia #ufc221 #redditphotography A post shared by Ryan Loco (@ryanloco) on Feb 9, 2018 at 8:55am PST

(Above: MMA fighter Luke Rockhold keeps his other hand up when he throws a punch so no one strikes his face. You should, too.)

4. Right hooks

This is a reversal of the left hook and is a bit challenging because it emanates from your rear side. It is also a bit slow but is best combined with the left and perfect for a close-range attack. The proper boxing technique is that of the left hook that is reversed. Remember not to overextend or be too slow. Protect your chin with the other hand.

The right hook is a power punch since the whole body is activated. The body rotates to transfer the power from the toes through the core to the right fist. The generated energy is released when the fist reaches the target.

Learn more: Right & Left Hook Punches for Beginners

How Do You Throw a Rear Uppercut Punch?

The rear uppercut is probably a bit easier to throw than the lead uppercut, but it can leave you more open to counterpunches from your opponent.The rear uppercut follows almost the same steps as the lead uppercut, but you do not need to shift your weight:

  • Start in your boxing stance

  • Imagine your opponent’s head being at close distance

  • Drop your back hand, considerably lower, about one foot down towards your beltline

  • Rotate your hips (for orthodox stance → counterclockwise | southpaw → clockwise)

  • As you turn your shoulders, make an arc-type of movement with your forearm through the point you want to punch, finishing at a 90 degree angle to the ground

  • At the end of this movement, your front hand should be tightly covering your chin

  • Quickly reset into your stance

To set it up, you need to get your opponent to get his guard high and cover up. A popular setup would be:

  • Double/Triple-Jab

  • Rear Uppercut

For a quick visual demonstration of how to throw a proper uppercut on a heavy bag, FightCamp Trainer Tommy Duquette shows you step-by-step in this video.

Step 5: Targets

See below for an overview of the most common targets. Personally, in a self-defense situation, I would favor a heel-palm strike to the nose. It is very painful, does not cause serious damage, and makes their eyes water so you can escape.

Place your feet

It’s an old cliche that the power of a punch comes from the legs, but it’s absolutely true. You’ll want to find a happy medium between standing flat footed and taking a wide karate stance. Standing with your feet close together will make it easy for someone to throw you off balance and put you on the ground. Go too wide, and you’ll inhibit your own movement and take away power from the strike. Veteran martial arts instructor Alan Condon refers to the perfect placement as a “solid base.”

To find it, stand squarely facing your target, then drop the foot on your dominant side back and out to an angle between 30 and 45 degrees. You should keep your feet a comfortable distance apart, but the exact difference is a matter of personal preference. Some fighters, such as traditional Muay Thai practitioners and American kickboxers, tend to prefer a more narrow stance, while traditional boxers and Dutch-style kickboxers typically gravitate toward a wider one.

When you find your sweet spot, make sure that your hips are turned slightly away from the target.

Once you’re in this stance, try to maintain that space between your feet. If you have to move forward or back, make the motion more of a slide than a walk, because the latter requires you to cross your feet. You want to keep a strong base, even when you’re moving—and you can’t do that when your feet are crossed or planted right next to each other.

Step 2: Upper Body Dynamics

A punch has the most power when thrown from the hip. While a seemingly obvious statement, you would be surprised by how many people want to throw short, 6-8″ punches. While Bruce Lee had the “One inch Punch,” the rest of us should have a little more wind up in their punch. Also, twist the hips when you punch. Otherwise, you are robbing the punch of much of its power. When throwing multiple punches, it is important to bring the fists all the way back and twist the hips when you punch, to avoid rapid little punches that don’t do anything.

2) Don’t Throw Too Many

This means two things. The first being that you shouldn’t constantly throw combinations one after the other. Pick the right moments to throw them (e.g. when your opponent is hurt or covering up) because the more often you throw, the more likely you’re going to get caught in between them.

The second thing is that you should generally limit your combinations to 2-4 punches at a time. Any more than that then you’re more liable to get caught because you tend to slow down.

3. Strike

Anyone who knows how to throw a hard punch understands that it’s a full-body movement that draws power from the core and hips.

The cross, which uses your dominant hand, relies heavily on the body’s rotational force.

“Start by pivoting the back foot (heel up). The hip and shoulder follow in the rotation,” Firpro says. “Keep your elbow in [don’t swing your arm out to the side] as you extend your arm straight and twist your fist so that the palm is facing the ground. Return your hand to face your face faster than it went out.”

As you throw a punch, exhale. People tend to hold their breath while exerting force, Salter explains, so exhaling with each strike will force you to breathe.

“If you’re sparring it prevents you from getting the wind knocked out of you, and it also keeps you in control of your breathing,” he says.

To protect your hand and make the greatest impact, aim to land punches where your knuckles are flush with the bag.

If your knuckles aren’t flush, you run the risk of damaging some of the structures in your hand.

5) Punch Technique

If you want to have the most fluid combinations then each punch that you throw must be thrown with the correct technique. Everything from pivoting your feet, rotating your body to your body positioning before and after each punch are just as important as each other.

The main punches that you would be using during combinations is the lead hook, uppercut and the cross, so I would recommend that you read those articles and practice how they are connect to each other through a combination.

6. Right uppercut

Just like the left hook is a reversal of the right hook, the right uppercut reverses the left uppercut. This type of punches is used for destabilizing the body of your antagonist. While at it, you must guard your body against counter punches. The explosive move should be done at top speed to evade extended exposure and vulnerability. The transfer of weight is important for maximum impact. Learn it from the video below.

There are variations in numbering, especially involving the hooks and uppercuts. Other systems give different numbers for jabs on the head and the opponent’s body. There is a danger every time you overextend. Your adversary finds it more comfortable to avoid your punch with the punch ending prematurely. Overextending might also hurt your elbow. Learn from professionals to bypass confusion that could cost you a fight and even endanger your body.

If you want to work out at home with the help of a punching bag, you should keep the proper boxing form. Also, do not forget about the correct boxing stance and the footwork since they are as crucial as the fundamental punches. For example, don’t forget to bend your knees slightly. Read our beginner boxing tips to learn the basics of boxing.

Have the Right Punching Form

Once you have placed your feet and made a fist, it is time to get the correct punching form. Just like with the feet, many boxers have different preferences when it comes to upper body form.

When preparing to throw a punch, tighten your abs, tuck your arms in beside your rib cage, and hold your fists near your face.

Warnings

  • If you aren’t engaging in a combat sport, never punch someone unless you’re being attacked and can’t get away. The goal of learning self-defense is to protect yourself, not start an unnecessary fight.

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  • If you’re practicing your punching with a heavy bag, speed bag, hand pads, or sparring match, always wear hand wraps. If you don’t, you’re more likely to break your wrist or injure your hand.[22]

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