Popular Science

How to throw a punch

Without hurting yourself more than your opponent.

It takes technique to land a blow without hurting yourself.

The punching-bag game at the arcade or county fair always looks so tempting. After all, punching seems like the easiest thing in the world: You ball up your fist and hurl it toward your target, just like in the movies. In reality, however, there’s a lot more to punching than throwing wild haymakers, especially if you want to do it with power and without breaking your hands.

Throwing a punch is a specific skill, one that boxers, martial artists, and self-defense professionals rehearse tens of thousands of times over the course of their studies. To use a common martial arts trope, practicing punching is like sharpening your sword.

While you should never punch a person unless it’s absolutely necessary, having the basics down—before you try to go all John Wayne on a

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