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Self Defense/Is punching a weak attack?


QUESTION: Hello, Marc, I've read some of your latest answers and I was shocked to hear you saying something among the lines that punching is not as strong an attack as it's made to be and that most damage from punching comes when the person being punched falls down and hits his head.
How's that? Won't a punch break ribs and noses?
Isn't an uppercut to the kidney or liver very harmful, being able to cause ruptures?

ANSWER: A punch alone. No.

There are many other factors that can cause the body to give way before something breaks.This is why punching alone is considered a sports technique -- it's mostly safe for the punched person.

It's when you combine different factors WITH a punch that things start getting damage. For example, pin the guy against a wall and punch him in the kidneys and you'll get much more damage than just punching him in the kidney.  Punch someone in the face when his head is on concrete and you get more damage than just punching him.

Oddly enough, an uppercut uses gravity to pin the guy to the ground for the blow to damage. Still it's not as damaging as grabbing him by the neck, pulling him off balance and upper cutting him

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I'm sorry MArc, but I feel that you haven't answered my question.
There is more damage when the guy is against the wall or floor and you punch him, because the body can't be pushed away by the punch.
I was asking, wouldn't a punch to kidney or liver still be damaging? Or nose, solar plexus, ribs?
Also, what do you think about martial arts that brag about being able to hit "explosively", as in the punch is thrown in such a manner that there is almost no pushing force.
Or like the wrist technique of wing chun? They use the wrist movement to align the punch at the end so that they would increase damage.

Yes I did answer you question. The issue is much, much deeper than is available in free information.

There's always going to be some pain, bruising or 'damage' with any kind of impact. The issue is degrees.

A punch alone MIGHT cause significant damage, but it is more a possibility than a probability. That's because the human body has shock absorbers and we've -- hopefully -- developed conditioned responses that minimize damage.

And even then, most 'damage' is from the aftermath of the blow than the blow itself. For example, someone gets hit and loses their balance. It's the loss of balance and gravity that is directly responsible for the fall, the punch just created the conditions where those take over. It's usually the shock of the hard landing of the fall that keeps the person from getting up, not the shock of the punch. Yet when we see someone fall after being hit, we ascribe it to the power of the blow.

Yeah you get hit. So what? If you can roll with it, you've just minimized the potential of damage. AND you keep your balance. If you try to stand there and 'take it.' You've just maximized the damage and increased your chances of losing balance.

This is from the EXACT same punch.

Then you get into the whole impact vs. drive issue

And that totally throws the subject into the realm of 'what are your goals and does that move move you closer to that goal? Move you away from that goal? Do nothing for the attainment of that goal? Or just stall you long enough that the circumstances change and that goal is no longer relevant?

In order for a punch to do high levels of damage certain criteria HAVE to be met. If they're not met, it's not going to happen. Now having said that, you have two choices.

One -- deliberately create those conditions through other movements and methods BEFORE the punch arrives. (So when it does, greater damage occurs.) Thing is, these conditions usually involve three or four factors. Keep this in mind, we'll come back to it.

Two -- blindly hope that these conditions of three or four factors just magically appear at the exact same moment that your punch arrives.

Option two is what most people go for. And in combination with bad body mechanics, the odds of that happening is on par with the Easter Bunny coming in to save your ass.

Now, here's the problem with the people you're talking about who brag about their explosive punching power. Wow, aren't they superior because they aren't relying on the Easter Bunny? Thing is, they're only doing one extra thing to increase their force delivery. What they're not doing is anything to stop force minimization by their opponent.

Whoopie... you need to do four things to create significant damage. Sports rules specifically forbid doing these things. And the techniques are taught with these factors missing, otherwise it wouldn't be a sport, but a blood bath.

You want to see how ineffective punching is? Look at a boxing match that lasts longer than 15 seconds (or an MMA match -- especially before it goes to the ground). The excitement/anticipation is that these factors might come together in a knock out. But most matches are won by decision, not a body being carried out of the ring.

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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Read "In the Name of Self-Defense" the streets don't give a Ph.D in scuffle.

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