We’ve often seen in action movies how the hero saves the girl from the villain by a mere punch to the face and the villain goes skydiving across the screen in defeat. I’m sure we’ve all wondered how it would feel to be a hero like that in real life and some intellectuals might have even questioned the physics behind the fascinating stunt and if Punching power is natural or developed?. Unfortunately, for all our action fans out there the reality behind the big curtain is far off from that shown on it.
What is punching power and where does it come from?
Before going into detail it is essential for us to understand the basic mechanics behind the power of a single punch. The product of the mass of your hand and the speed of your motion equates to the energy stored in the fist that is then transferred to the opposite surface on impact. This is referred to as “punching power”. Most of this power is generated by the lower and back muscles especially those of the legs (the powerhouse) but perhaps the most important element is the core (upper body) as it connects this powerhouse to the delivery system aka the arms.
Is punching power Natural/Genetic?
Our DNA decides a lot of the physiological aspects for the bodies we are born with like some people naturally have heavy hands. People who have a natural high muscle twitch are able to throw punches at explosive powers despite being skinny. Hence, it’s fair to say that the muscle makeup around the bone and the strength of the tendons holding it in place do have a huge role in contributing to the punching power of an individual. However, a lot of these physiological aspects can be improved with proper training and exercise. So even if you’re not god gifted with the perfect punch throwing hands you can surely train your body through proper techniques and reach that level of finesse.
How to increase punching power?
Following simple physics, for a punch to have more impact it would make sense to increase the mass behind it. This can be achieved if the body is moved throughout the punch as a single unit. In simpler words-force travels through the body from the ground up. From the ankles it is transferred through the legs then to the core and distributed to the shoulders. Finally the combined force is transferred through the fist to the opponent. So to make a punch more powerful it would be fitting that the punchers uses his/her whole body by channeling the force from each part into the punch. Since the core is the key element of transferring the punching power, developing its mass and strength through core targeting exercises would be a beneficial technique.
Remember that a hard punch occurs when you’re able to generate a lot of force in a short period of time. Training exercises targeting speed such as squats, jumps could also significantly improve the momentum of punchers’ strikes and ultimately cause more impact.
Can you lose punching power?
Just how any sportsman loses his touch when he spends too much time away from the field , a lack of training and will can definitely lead to” jack becoming a dull boy” and loose his punching strength. In addition, since punching power is strongly related to body mass, a loss in the individuals body weight can result in significant loss in punching power. Similarly, since a lot of the physics behind a strong punch depends on speed and power generated by the legs plus considering how both of these decrease with age, punching power is bound to decrease with increasing age.
How to measure punching power?
The force of a punch can be measured in the lab in the metric unit Newton (N). According to newton’s second law of motion, this is equal to the weight of the punching bag multiplied by the force of gravity. The distance the punching bag moves after the impact from the fist can be measured in meters. The product of the distance and force will equate to the energy. Once you have the energy of a punch, you can take the time it took to make that punch and calculate power from that using the formula P=energy/time.
Modern science has led to the development of punching bags installed with accelerometers. These are transducers and gyroscopes embedded in a cylinder which can measure the acceleration of the punching bag. It can then be used to calculate the strike force; the punching location on the bag; and time of a strike. The percentage error for calculating force and acceleration via the technology was identified to be less than 3% and 1% respectively after extensive studies.
Read here about hand wraps
Beginner vs. pro in punching
In amateur boxers, punching force is around 2500N.That makes it 3.5 times the body mass of an individual weighing 70kgs(700N).compared to this , elite fighters were able to punch with a force with 776 pounds(3450N), the highest even reaching 1300 pounds(5800N), according to a study of 70 boxers. This was found to be twice as hard as novices.
Fun fact, a punch thrown with the wrong technique could end up doing you more damage than your opponent. While packing a punch, you put considerable speed and power through that arm, and if you miss, your arm either just flies away dislocating from the shoulder, or you try to return it on reflex and since there is a lot of inertia behind it, muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments can get properly stressed- thus causing pain. Furthermore, the human hand is not built for striking hard objects. High-speed impacts of the hand on a strong surface like the human skull or jaw can considerably damage the delicate bony segments of the puncher’s fingers medically referred to as the carpals and metacarpal. This can result in hairline fractures especially at the neck of the 5th metacarpal bone commonly known as “boxers fracture”.
According to an the Articles from Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 15% of all injuries seen in emergency departments (EDs) are those of the hands and fists and a large number of them occur intentionally, as the result of a closed fist striking a hard immovable object. The highest risk population according to the study from the article were young males ;15–24 years old, and these injuries may impact their ability to work or even permanently disable them.
So next time when you’re thinking of trying to be a big shot like in the movies remember you may be successful in scrapping the bad guys face but possibly would end up with a few broken fingers as the cost.
However, you can always learn, adapt, and develop the skill to punch like a pro despite not being blessed with the strength of one. Generally, there are five components to punching power that must be present for a puncher to be considered truly powerful: lack of arm punching, proper weight shifting, stepping during a punch, pivoting with a punch, and using proper footwork. One can always learn to master these elements through professional training and practice. Lennox Lewis, one of the best right-handed hitters in Heavyweight division’s history, wasn’t a natural puncher at all. He was thought to be nothing special in the boxing world until he followed under the mentorship of Manny Steward-a late great trainer of champions. Under his training, Lennox was able to fine-tune and sharpen his skills which allowed him to transform into the great boxer he is today.