How to Knock out Someone in One Punch

Four Parts:Learning the BasicsPerfecting Your PunchesPicking Your TargetBeing Ready

Whether you’re in the boxing ring or you need to defend yourself on the street, you want to end the fight as soon as possible. A “knockout punch” is a single blow that incapacitates your opponent. Keep in mind that certain types of knockout punches can kill and should only be used in an emergency.

Part 1
Learning the Basics

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    Make a fist correctly. Curl your fingers inward onto your palm. Make sure your thumb is on the outside, folded across the bottom knuckles of your index and middle fingers.[1] If you don’t follow this step, you may end up breaking your thumb.
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    Perfect your fighting stance. Stand with your shoulders parallel to your hips and your abdominal muscles slightly tightened. Pretend your opponent is in front of you and position yourself so your non-dominant side is slightly facing them. This both makes you a smaller target and will give your punch more space to create momentum.
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    Stand with your legs roughly parallel with your shoulders and hips. Do not stand with your feet too close together or too far apart. Make sure to put your weight on the balls of your feet but without your heels actually leaving the ground until your punch is thrown.

Part 2
Perfecting Your Punches

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    Practice throwing punches. Your fist should land at the knuckles of your middle and index finger, which are the strongest and least likely to break. When inexperienced fighters land with their pinky and/or ring fingers, they can cause something called a “boxer’s fracture.” A boxer’s fracture is a break in the bones that connect the ring and pinky fingers to the wrist. [2]
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    Work on your form by punching at the air. This is called shadow boxing. The advantage of this type of practice is that it can be done anywhere without any equipment. Focus on increasing your speed.
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    Use a punching bag. A punching bag will let you gauge how strong your punches are. You'll also exercise your muscles more with the added resistance. Most gyms have punching bags available. There are also many inexpensive ones on the market if you want to set one up at home.
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    Throw straight punches. This is the first of the two main types of punches that can land a knockout blow. Draw your arm behind you with your elbow bent and then quickly extend your arm directly in front of you. Try to put your whole body into the punch by rolling your hips. Push off your dominant foot slightly onto the ball of your foot, bending at the knee, to increase the force of your punch.
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    Execute uppercuts. Twist your body to one side to lower your fist and bend your knees slightly. Punch upward, rotating into your punch to gain momentum.[3] Push upward with your dominant leg so that you end up on the ball of your dominant foot.

Part 3
Picking Your Target

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    Strike your opponent’s diaphragm. The diaphragm is the sheet of muscle underneath the lungs that controls breathing. To target the diaphragm, aim for the center of your opponent’s abdomen right under their chest. The blow will cause the diaphragm to cramp and will “knock the wind out” of them. Your opponent will be incapacitated for a few minutes and will likely not lose consciousness.[4]
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    Hit your opponent under their ribcage on their right side. This type of blow is also called a “liver punch” or a “liver shot.” A liver punch will cause your opponent and extreme amount of pain and incapacitate them for quite some time. If the punch is severe enough, victims may lose consciousness.[5]
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    Punch a vulnerable part of your opponent’s skull. The head is the most difficult part of the body to target. Blows to the head are also the most likely to make a person pass out. These blows usually result in a brain injury called concussion, even when they don’t result in the victim losing consciousness.[6] Aim for one of these weak spots:
    • Jaw: Use an uppercut to connect below the chin. This will cause your opponent’s head to twist quickly, possibly causing a loss in consciousness.[7]
    • Temple: A well-placed blow to the temple can easily cause a person to lose consciousness. Target this area only under extreme circumstances, as punches to the temple can cause severe internal bleeding that may kill its victim.[8] Use a straight punch for this target.
    • Nose: Compared to other parts of the face, your opponent is less likely to pass out or experience serious injury. However, a nose punch causes an extreme amount of incapacitating pain and temporary vision disturbances.[9]

Part 4
Being Ready

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    Keep yourself fit. A knockout blow requires force. In order to be able to generate that force, you need to exercise regularly. However, you do not need to generate a massive amount of force to do this.[10] Instead of focusing just on building your muscles, the best way to be ready for a fight is whole-body fitness.
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    Strength train. While you don't need to be massively strong to achieve a knockout punch, you still need to build up your core. You will need strength in your arms, legs, abdomen, shoulders, and back to throw a successful punch. Remember to exercise all of these groups, not just your arms.
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    Engage in aerobic exercises. You will need to move fast to pull off a knockout punch. Aerobic exercise at least twice a week is the best way to train your agility. High intensity exercises are ideal and include running, swimming, and biking. [11]


  • Remember that any blow to the head strong enough make someone pass out is potentially strong enough to result in death.
  • Knockout blows to the head can result in permanent brain damage and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.[12]
  • Liver punches can also cause serious damage and even death.[13]
  • Even a correctly thrown punch can result in a boxer’s fracture if you’re inexperienced.[14] Be sure to practice!

Article Info

Categories: Self Defense