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About punches


Arm attacks are those that use the fingers, hand, wrist, forearm, or elbow as the striking surface. Punches are arm attacks that use a closed fist in mostly linear attacks. Strikes are arm attacks that use other parts of the arm as the striking surface.

Punches are deadly

People die from punches more often than they die from kicks. This is because punches are used more often than kicks, they are instinctive and require no training to use, and they can be used anywhere under almost any conditions.

People die from just one punch. Sometimes the death is the result of the punch itself but most times it is the result of the head striking some object because of a fall caused by the punch. Most times the punch was thrown in a moment of anger, not for self-defense, and the puncher did not intend serious injury and certainly didn’t expect death.

Rocky Marciano

Rocky Marciano, the heavyweight boxing champion (1952-1956) at 187 pounds, was one of the greatest fighters of all time. His professional boxing record was 49-0-0 with 43 KO's. His 88% knockout percentage is the greatest of any heavyweight. He is the only undefeated fighter in the history of professional boxing.

Rocky would punch his opponents relentlessly until they dropped. Boxing “experts” considered him a brawler, not a boxer. Joe Louis, another champion boxer, who was knocked out by Rocky in the 8th round, said of Marciano, "It hurt to bump into him...." Archie Moore, who was knocked out by Rocky in the 8th round, when asked which of Marciano's punches hurt him the most, said, "Man, they all hurt!"

Bill Libby in his 1971 book Rocky: The Story of a Champion described Marciano's fight with Roland LaStarza as "Marciano's gloved fists broke blood vessels and bones in LaStarza's arms and elbows. First, the arms grew heavy, then they began to ache awfully, then they grew numb. As the relentless battle wore on, LaStarza found it harder and harder to raise his arms, much less jab with them or punch with them. His hands lowered, his defense dissipated, Marciano began to punish him about the head. LaStarza began to take a terrible beating."

One-inch punch

The one-inch punch, made famous by Bruce Lee, is an ancient technique called fa-jing, which means "explosive power." The technique is used in the neija (internal) styles of kung-fu, such as taiji-quan and weng-shun-kuen. The punch’s power supposedly comes an "internal" source, as opposed to muscular strength. In Tai-ji-quan, the punch’s power is generated by shaking the waist violently. In weng shun-kuen, the power comes from the ground. The key to the punch’s power is relaxation and using a fluid, whip-like motion that does not telegraph your intentions.

To perform the fa-jin:
  • Hold your hand horizontally an inch or so in front of the target with the palm down and the fingers hanging down or with the fingers extended and touching the target. 
  • Then make a SUDDEN punch. The hand should snap into a fist from the sudden speed. 
  • Keep the arm and hand relaxed, even when the hand is clenched into a fist. 
  • The fist should be rotated slightly upward at moment of impact and the arm should not be fully extended. 
  • Extend your arm after contact with the target while snapping and thrusting your hips and body into the punch. 
  • When used in a demo against a person, don’t punch with much force, just extend your body into a push.
  • When used for breaking, don’t push, punch powerfully through the target. 
Here is Bruce Lee performing his one-inch punch. Watch everything carefully with a skeptical eye. Note the way the “volunteers” always stand. Watch the movement of Lee’s fist and his body after his fist makes contact and pushes.

Do you want to perform this astounding, legendary, “powerful” punch just as Lee did? It’s easy to do!
  • Have a “volunteer” stand straight with the legs straight and unbent with the feet placed under the hips. Other than standing on one leg, this most unstable stance possible; most anyone could push the person backward.
  • For safety and for extra entertainment value, have someone stand behind the volunteer to catch him or her as he or she is pushed off balance, or use a chair. If the “volunteer” is a trained athlete or martial artist, you can place the chair further back so they can stumble back to it or eliminate the chair and let the person make a controlled fall.
  • For even more entertainment value, have the person hold a book or some other large flat object on his or her chest as a target. Since the “punch” is just a push with the fist, the target is not really needed; however, with the added protection of the target, you can add more punch to the push to make stunt more impressive.
  • Then perform the one-inch punch push with a yell.
  • When pushed off balance, the person will stumble backward as you pose dramatically.
Here is a modern variation of the one-inch punch:

People are gullible; they see what they expect to see or have been told they will see. It’s the way illusionists perform their magic. The one-inch punch is a stunt that is presented with a lot of hype about it being something unusual and special, so the viewers see what they have been told they should see and accept it without considering what they saw with a rational, critical mind.

The ultimate test of the effectiveness of the one-inch punch or any other martial arts technique is "If it works as well as claimed, then why don't professional fighters use it? They could win more fights and make more money!"

Phantom punch

A knockout occurs when the reticular activating system, responsible for controlling consciousness is disrupted by the violent rotation of the brain on the brain stem. In most cases, this rotation is obvious, whether it occurs through twisting, moving side to side, or by the head being violently snapped backward, but sometimes the rotation is not so obvious. The movement does not have to be great; a short, quick movement is sufficient, and Mohamed Ali was known for his quick, snapping punches.

On May 25th, 1965, in Lewiston, Maine, Ali faced Sonny Liston for the second time after having beaten him once before. In the first round, Ali flicked out a short, snapping, straight right that knocked Liston down for somewhere between 12 and 17 seconds. During his time, the referee flapped around losing control as Ali stood over Liston shaking his fist. After the referee was informed of the time Liston had spent on the mat, he stopped the fight and declared Ali the winner by knockout.

Because most people did not see the punch occur, it was termed the “‘phantom punch” and caused many to believe the fight was fixed. Even the ones who saw the punch did not believe Ali was unable to punch hard enough to knock out Liston, especially since Ali retreating when he threw the punch; however, the same thing happened on August 10, 2009, at UFC 101, when Anderson Silva knocked out Forrest Griffin in the first round with a backpedaling jab.

In slow motion, it is clear that the short right hit Liston on the jaw as he was regaining balance from a lunging jab and that the final punch jarred his head with enough force to knock him out. Ali, always the showman, said the punch, which he called the “anchor punch,” was too quick for the eye to see.

Boxing Day

Punches must be the best way to attack since there a Canadian holiday called "Punching Day." Actually, it’s called "Boxing Day." Boxing Day is the day after Christmas, which is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. The term may have come from the opening of church poor boxes on that day or it may have come from the earthenware boxes in which boy apprentices collected money at the doors of their masters' clients. So, I guess Boxing Day really doesn't have anything to do with punching or boxing, or this article.

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