How Effective Is Punching in Personal Defense?

Woman punchingChances are, when you think of a "street fight," images of two combatants with clenched fists, each trying to knock the other's head off come to mind. Certainly, punches are the most prevalent technique in fights but are they the most effective? It's no secret that a well-placed punch could be a fight stopper, but if things go askew that haymaker punch that works so well in the movies could do more damage to your hand than the attacker's head

Hollywood and combative sports like mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing reinforce our perception that punches are highly effective. Of course, movie fights aren't real, so there's little chance of the star -- or his or her stunt double -- breaking a hand during a fight scene. In competition, fighters wear gloves more to protect their own hands than their opponent's head.

Since the metacarpal bones in the hand are miniscule compared to your attacker's skull, solid fist-to-head contact is likely to injure your hand. If your fist isn't perfectly formed and right on target, you could sustain what's commonly referred to as a "boxer's fracture."

What about an experienced puncher? Is someone who has trained to deliver punches, such as a boxer or martial artist, less likely to injure their hand when punching? Yes and no. While a trained puncher understands the mechanics of throwing a proper punch, including how to form their fist and which part of their fist is most capable of withstanding solid impact -- the knuckles of the index and middle fingers -- a trained puncher might actually have a greater chance of injury. How is this possible? Simply because the trained striker is going to generate considerably more force than the novice, resulting in greater impact. And the skull tends to fare better than the hand when this collision occurs.


Am I suggesting that punching is ineffective? Absolutely not! But if you're going to punch, you're better off targeting areas of the attacker's anatomy other than his head. Sure, if you land a telling blow to the face, the attacker might be down for the count. However, if your punch is off-target due to a slight miscalculation on your part or due to the attacker's actions, you could severely injure your hand. If it's you're dominant hand, drawing your firearm would be difficult in the event you needed to resort to a deadly force option.


To summarize, if you're going to punch, make sure you understand what you're doing -- from forming a fist to delivery, including what portion of your fist to strike with and what anatomical targets to strike for maximum effect, with minimal risk.

In many cases, striking with the heel of your palm is a pretty good substitute for a punch. The body mechanics are the same. The power in either strike is generated from hip rotation as opposed to sheer arm movement. If you're targeting the throat, solar plexus, groin, etc., punches are the way to go. When targeting the head, striking with your palm is the safer bet.

What are your thoughts on punching in personal defense?

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Beretta

Beretta's New 92X

The 92X Performance model from Beretta was created to satisfy two requirements: Speed and accuracy. Beretta's new competition pistol is uncompromising and aims for top performance.

A New Season of G&A TV

A New Season of G&A TV

In this new season of Guns & Ammo TV, we introduce two new series and bring back a viewer favorite - Camera's Don't Lie. We look at long-range tech and see how to make shots previously thought impossible. Next we visit ISS Prop House in Hollywood.

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Chambered in 7.62x39mm with components machined from extremely durable S7 tool steel, a chrome-moly 4150 barrel and a carburized 4140 steel bolt.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights. Conventional wisdom says slower twist rates wouldn't properly-stabilize a heavy bullet. On the other hand, faster rates could over-stabilize lighter bullets. This is correct in theory, however, modern ballisticians have all but debunked the over-stabilization theory. All things being equal, it is better to have too much twist than not enough. How-To

Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO

Keith Wood - November 17, 2018

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights....

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market. Handguns

Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review

James Tarr - April 17, 2019

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.

Don't underestimate the fun factor. Shotguns

Review: Remington V3 TAC-13

Brad Fitzpatrick - March 08, 2019

Don't underestimate the fun factor.

Here's the latest competitive intel on what are the top ARs in 3-Gun today and why. Rifles

Top ARs in 3-Gun Shooting Today

James Tarr - May 14, 2019

Here's the latest competitive intel on what are the top ARs in 3-Gun today and why.

See More Trending Articles

More News

Gun owners are living through another history lesson. News

Buying Guns Before It's Too Late

G&A Staff - May 06, 2020

Gun owners are living through another history lesson.

After prioritizing the health and safety of SIG Sauer's employees, the company turned its efforts to support PPE to help meet the nationwide shortage. News

SIG Sauer's War on Covid-19

Eric R. Poole - April 23, 2020

After prioritizing the health and safety of SIG Sauer's employees, the company turned its...

Five things gun owners should remember when fear empties a gun store's shelves. News

How to Survive Panic Buying

Brad Fitzpatrick - May 08, 2020

Five things gun owners should remember when fear empties a gun store's shelves.

Despite his prowess on the range, Watson died standing watch, unarmed by military regulations that rely on civilian law enforcement officers and private security guards to protect our service members and their families. Military & Law Enforcement

Defenders Left Defenseless

Keith Wood - May 18, 2020

Despite his prowess on the range, Watson died standing watch, unarmed by military regulations...

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now