Karate practice involves increased efficiency of the use of the human body. What is the extreme development of the punch? How much force needs to be generated to be considered extreme? Why develop the punch at all?
A punch is known by the general public as the main self-defense tool. (I think the brain is the main self-defense tool. Just saying.) We want to make it as efficient and strong as possible. Martial Artists spend many years of physical conditioning to make the punch “effective”. Part of the conditioning includes development of strength, endurance and making the fist as strong as possible. Another important component is developing the correct path of the punch using the correct parts of the body to generate force. The idea is to generate force in the shortest amount of time possible, as efficiently as possible. How much force is needed? Let’s take a look.
There was a study done by the Society of Automative Engineers that calculated the force required to break various bones by using cadavers (Vol 4, Biomechanics of Impact Injury and Injury Tolerances of the Head Neck Complex) that provided these equivalences (props to Ronin on the Bullshido forums for sourcing the data):
- Throat – 300 lbs of force
- Frontal Bone (forehead) – 1900 lbs
- Back of Head (occipital) – 2100 lbs
- Mandible – 800 lbs
- Nasal Bone – 200 lbs
- Cervical Vertebra – 500 lbs
- Crown of Head – 1350 lbs
- Sternum with 4″ deflection (penetration) – 960 lbs
- Ribs – 400 lbs ( 1-3 ribs are the hardest, 4-9 the most common to fracture)
(This paragraph and list comes from the article The Amount of Force to Do X )
Many studies have been done to confirm one can train to develop the forces which exceed those from this list. The article Brute Force: Humans Can Sure Take a Punch discusses how tough the human body is. A femur will break around the 4000 Newtons or 899 pound-force. A skilled heavy weight boxer can deliver a blow of 5000 Newtons (1124 pound-force). A skilled kicker delivers 9000 Newtons (2023 pound-force). A quick, sharp blow is around 3300 Newtons (742 pound-force) and is considered enough to break a rib. (For those who are interested, one Newton = 0.22 pound-force)
The whole purpose of this article was to house the video of a B.O.B being hit by a 1000 mile per hour baseball. Trying to explain to people the amount of force generated with a fast moving punch is difficult. So, this video can be a great visual. Seeing a baseball, which weighs about one-third the weight of a human hand go through a punching bag is amazing! (A baseball weighs about 0.3 pounds compared to 0.9 pounds for a hand) The rippling effect of the impact upon the “flesh” of the bag tickled the nerd in me. I replayed it in slow motion a few times!
The anime character One Punch Man may be an example of the extreme development of the punch. The “One Punch Man” workout consists of: 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and 10 km run everyday. This is great in the fantasy world. Real martial artists know more is required: many years of training, correct form, etc. Have a look at our blog 60 frames per second for other thoughts. My goal is to develop my reverse punch as much as possible. What are the limits? Who knows. The nerd in me does wonder.
The nerd in me also found these videos interesting.