The Straight Punch in Karate


Karate is based on the straight punch.   Understanding the physics behind how this punch works and the method of this punch, will bring the next level of depth to your karate practice.


Principles to improve your punch


The shortest distance between 2 points is the straight line. We use this understanding in Karate to get the maximum speed in a punch.  We aim to punch straight.


Along with this, Karate uses the corkscrew method in the straight punch to get extra force, power and penetration.   This is when your fist is turned palm facing upward on the hip, and as you punch the fist is then rotated 180 degrees so that at the point of contact, the fist is turned palm downward.


Another basic rule to maximize one’s punch, is to punch from the hip in a chambered position.

The hips, being your centre of gravity, are used when you punch, and this is known as Koshi.  This is when your hand starts on your hip, and by twisting or rotating your hip as the hand starts extending, the hip motion is used to drive the punch, adding power to it.

The important point with this or any other technique is that the body (and mind) must be in a relaxed state, or there will be no power.  If there is any tension in one of our muscles, there cannot be acceleration to obtain maximum power.

So, one must develop a rapid twitch in the muscles to do these techniques. It is the same as taiji fajing in tai chi. One must be in a relaxed state first in order for the explosiveness to emanate properly and efficiently through the movement.

Physics and Karate

Newton’s Third Law applies here.

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”

When you watch a sprinter, he uses his legs and arms to activate action. The arms and elbows must work in opposing directions in order to propel his body forward.  As the right arm moves forward, the left arm is using the same amount of effort and force to move backwards. This same movement and technique applies in a karate punch or block.

Speaking of which Newton’s Second Law also applies.

“Force = Mass x Acceleration.”

If you want power or force, then you need the other two factors (mass and acceleration).

Your mass is the ability to ‘create ‘ a weightedness in your body or your limb. How do we do that? By training your limb to be as relaxed as possible.

Many people think they are relaxed but actually they are still in a state of tension. One has to really focus on allowing the full weight of the arm and body to be like a bag of cement, to be fully relaxed.

So what is acceleration then? An example is a sports car. Some cars have a really high top end and can reach a great speed, but lack the sprint distances.

We want to be able to not only have a very fast top speed but more than that, to also increase that speed rapidly over a short distance.  That is acceleration.!

Multiply that mass with that type of acceleration in a punch, and Wham! The impact will be enormous.


Learn more about the physics of punching by attending Kobujutsu Karate with Sensei Leo Ming in Parkview