How to Take a Punch

Three Methods:Getting in PositionTaking a Punch to the BodyTaking a Punch to the Face

Whether you're interested in becoming a proficient fighter or you just want to be able to defend yourself in a street fight, knowing how to take a punch is often the difference between winning and losing - or life and death. Read on to learn how to take a punch to the stomach or head without getting hurt.

Method 1
Getting in Position

  1. 1
    Wear protective equipment if possible. If you're boxing or participating in a similar sport, wear a helmet and mouth guard. Your head is one of your most vulnerable areas, so don't pass on safeguards.
    • Even while wearing a helmet, you should still protect your face as described below.
  2. 2
    Clench your fists. Curl your fingertips right up against your palm and place your thumb against the outside of your knuckles. These techniques "buttress" your fist, creating a shape that's four times as stable as an open hand.[1] This stability will help you block blows, and land a punch yourself if necessary.
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    Raise your fists to your face. Bring your fists up directly in front of your cheeks, protecting as much of your face as possible. A blow to the face has a significant chance of causing a concussion, where your brain collides with the back of your skull.
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    Tuck in your chin. This reduces the amount of your face that's exposed, and limits access to your neck. Keep it tucked against your chest with your fists up, but don't bend your head so low that you can't see the assailant.
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    Keep your elbows tight against your body. The organs in your abdomen are some of the most dangerous places you can get punched. Keep your elbows directly in front of your torso to protect these areas, loose enough that you can move quickly in response to blows. Here are the areas most important to protect:
    • Your liver, just below the right side of your rib cage. Getting punched here can cause you to collapse due to the drop in blood pressure.[2]
    • Your spleen, on the upper left side of your torso. The rib cage does protect this already, but it's still best to keep one arm in front of it. Damage here can cause major internal bleeding.[3]
    • Your kidneys, on the left and right side just above your waist level. Trauma here can lead to kidney failure.
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    Adopt a wide stance. Stand with your knees bent and your legs firmly underneath you. This lowers your center of gravity, helping you stay balanced. It also makes you a more difficult target to hit, since you'll be poised to move and dodge if you need to.
    • Turn your body slightly away from the oncoming attack to protect your center line, including your groin, solar plexus, and throat.
    • Position your dominant foot slightly forward and keep a little more weight on your back foot, so you'll be poised to strike back if necessary.
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    Watch the attacker's dominant shoulder. Shoulder movement is usually your first clue that a punch is coming. You may even notice roughly where they're aiming, by watching how high or low their shoulder moves.
    • Eye contact is the second best option, but a skilled fighter can fool you by glancing the wrong way or keeping their eyes fixed.
    • Avoid tunnel vision. When confronted with a threat, it's very easy to make that the center of your universe. Avoid this natural tendency and try to maintain peripheral vision and awareness of your surroundings, especially other assailants.
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    Occupy your mind. Your fight or flight instinct will kick in, but you have to stay focused and maintain the ability to make good decisions. Strange as it sounds, worrying about the punch will make it hurt more. It may help to know that the body recovers surprisingly quickly after a hard punch. Focus on holding your protective stance and watching your assailant, and your odds will go up.

Method 2
Taking a Punch to the Body

  1. 1
    Block blows with padded or sturdy areas. Your defensive position already presents your shoulder and hip to your attacker. He'll have to reach past them to hit your abdomen, which gives you more time to react. Try to shift so the blow lands on your shoulders, pectorals, arms, fists, thighs, or butt. All of these areas can take strong hits with relatively minor damage.
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    Roll with the punch. If you can't avoid getting hit, move your body in the direction of the hit. This is especially effective if you pull your shoulder back or step back with one foot, turning a direct hit into a glancing blow. Even a direct hit to the stomach will hurt less if you let yourself fall back as it connects.
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    Use strong muscles to your advantage. If you have strong abdominal muscles, tensing them can absorb the blow and help protect your organs. However, attempting this with weaker muscles may be less effective than rolling back as described above.
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    Breathe out as you get punched. Try not to get hit while breathing in or holding your breath. This will only result in you "getting winded" or "getting the wind knocked out of you." When the body is shocked like this, it's unable to respond for several moments, giving the assailant time to land another punch.
    • Shooting a short burst of air from your mouth or nose will also flex your abs, which may help if they're strong enough to absorb a blow.
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    Keep your balance. Your legs will feel weak or shaky after you get punched. Remember to keep your legs apart and your knees bent despite this feeling. If you step off-center or straighten your knees, your opponent will have an easy time knocking you to the ground.
  6. 6
    Learn when to move toward your opponent. If you have fast reflexes, you can move within arm's reach so the punch doesn't reach full force.[4] This can backfire if you get your timing wrong, so it's best used in desperate situations only, such as the following:
    • If your back is literally against a wall, this may be your only option to avoid a serious blow.
    • If you are trying to escape, a rush forward in the middle of a punch may send your opponent off-balance or even knock him down.

Method 3
Taking a Punch to the Face

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    Keep your mouth shut and your jaw closed. If your jaw is open when you get punched, it could lead to a broken jaw or teeth. Keep your tongue well inside your mouth so it doesn't end up injured or severed.
  2. 2
    Block or dodge whenever possible. You probably don't need to be told this, but it's so important that it bears repeating: a blow to your face is dangerous and disorienting. Protect it as a top priority.
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    Move with the punch. You should always roll with a punch if it is directed at your head. Move with the flow of the punch, rather than against it.
    • Do not move toward a punch aimed at your face, since this could bring about serious injury and head whipping.
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    Take the punch with your forehead as a last resort. If you can't block a punch aimed at your nose or eye, duck so it hits your forehead instead. While all blows to the head are dangerous, blows to the nose or eye are more likely to cause broken bones or interfere with vision or chewing.[5][6][7]
    • Don't make the mistake of bending toward the fist. Duck straight down, or even lean back slightly as you duck.
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    Open your eyes. It is natural to want to close your eyes when you see a punch coming. Try not to close your eyes for long. You need to be able to predict what the opponent will do next, and decide whether it's time to throw a punch of your own.
  6. 6
    Watch for symptoms of injury after the fight. A brain injury can take a few hours or days to show symptoms. Have a friend keep an eye on you after the fight. Scheduling a doctor's appointment is recommended after any blow to the head, but especially if you see the following symptoms:[8][9]
    • Schedule an appointment within the next 24 hours if you feel confused, sleepy, or nauseous; lose memories; vomit; have a mild or moderate headache; or see flashing lights.
    • Seek emergency services immediately if you have trouble thinking or moving; have a severe headache or stiff neck; feel extremely sleepy or lose consciousness; vomit more than once; or develop unusual eye movements or pupils of unequal sizes.


  • Don't expect to be an expert fighter after reading this article. You'll need many hours to train your reflexes, muscle, and endurance before you can take punches with confidence.
  • If you are hit in the head-region and start bleeding, be aware that your body naturally maintains a higher blood pressure there. Don't panic at gushing nose-bleeds, or profuse bleeding, as they usually look worse than they actually are. While it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible, you should stay calm and try to get out of the immediate danger of this assailant first.
  • Before entering a fight it is important to have an idea of what to do, for example do not just wave your arms in the air attempting to strike. Moves such as the "double tap, forearm smack" are better as they combine a series of punches that will increase pain inflicted on the opponent, whilst giving time for you to escape.
  • If you get knocked down do not get back up until you are out of your assailant's fighting range. You are completely open to any attack while getting up off the ground. Try rolling out of the assailant's fighting range (about seven to eight feet).
  • Try to maximize the time the fist is in contact with you. As a basic law of physics, the longer the fist takes to transfer its momentum, the lower the impact force.


  • A "smart" fighter will attack vulnerable areas of your body: groin, throat, eyes, kidneys, etc, or they will pick up something (beer bottle, chair, rock, etc) to attack you with. Unfortunately, most of the time you will only realize your assailant is a smart fighter after he has already started attacking you. Your best option in any situation is to treat all attacks as dangerous, and avoid getting hit at all. Do not try to "take" a punch unless there's absolutely no way you can avoid it. Most people are dirty fighters, and if your life or health is threatened, you should be one too. Kick the assailant in the groin, flee, and call the police.
  • This how-to is not intended to encourage fighting. Fighting should always be the absolute last resort in any situation. Running away is almost always preferable.

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