Self-defense: how to defend from a punch

How to defend against a front punch

In this practical self-defense tutorial, we see how to face one of the most common (low-level) types of aggression: the classic backward overloaded front punch (the one that we see in all the camera-caught self-defense situation that we can find on the web).

Even if it may be a dangerous attack, as we will see, it is not too difficult to face it; as for the push (read Self-defense: how to defend from a push), the front punch is one of the most common starting points of a fight (ag. after a quarrel, read Self defense: 10 correct attitudes during a quarrel).

As we said for the push, the point is that, on the street, the pure combat phase rarely is longer than a minute and if we react correctly, starting from the first move: we certainly gain more possibilities to save our lives.

Note – This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).

How to defend from a front punch to the nose

The sample scenario:

  • A quarrel has already started
  • For example, pushes have already been given and our personal space has already been violated (read Ideal distance from the opponent during a fight)
  • We are in front of a (normal) person who is upset
  • That person has the impression of being stronger than us (correct in 70% of the cases)
  • He wants to broke our nose with a “well-loaded” right punch

A note by Master Kongling – We are talking about a rudimentary (and wrong) technique executed by a not practitioner.

Possible risks:

  • The worst risk (as for the push), for a person without a good balance, is to fall badly hitting the head (this could even lead to death)
  • The knock out is possible but not so easy (considering that we are talking about an inexperienced adversary)
  • Another risk is to have our nose / tooths broken and / or more probably to be scared enough to offer a tactical advantage to our opponent (and even only this, as we said, could be decisive)

How to face a front punch: a solution for each one

As for the push, we want to share different solutions due to the fact that, who is very far from the martial practice (even if in good physical conditions) cannot count on advanced skills like:

A note by Master Kongling – These are capabilities that cannot be obtained without a constant and focused practice (read How to start practicing from scratch): they have nothing to do with strength, reflexes, balance (etc., read Natural talent and martial arts).

As we already said in the past article of this series: being a simple tutorial, it is worth to offer a valid solution for all levels of preparation.

How a not-practitioner should react

In this case, the best solution is to:

  • Convert a natural reaction of our body and transform it into an effective move
  • Exploit the fact that in the presence of an attack to the upper part of the body, instinctively, the human being tends to cover with the arms the head
  • Put firmly our hands on the top part of the back of our head (but without trying to grab)
  • Bring our elbows closer together and position them at the eye level (leaving a safe space to see the scenario and especially our opponent)
  • Lower frontally our stance and immediately attack with one or both our elbows
  • Use our entire body inertia while trying to hit in the generic direction of the base of the opponent’s neck
  • Immediately recover a safe distance
  • Raise a guard stance as fast as we can (read How to rapidly learn Kung Fu: guard stance)

Done this:

  • We are in balance and ready to react / defend
  • We can restart with negotiation or escape (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///)

A note by Master Kongling – Especially if we are not prepared to fight, we should avoid at all costs to do it. To obtain this result, the best choice is to try to manage the distance and avoid any type of stable contact (because they will consume immediately all of our energies and will bring us to the ground with all that goes with it, read How to avoid the ground fighting).

How a beginner-intermediate level practitioner should react

Let’s see the best solution:

  • The best reaction is to exploit the big opening of a too loaded punch to penetrate the opponent’s guard (in this case, it is wrong to wait for the arrive of the punch)
  • We have to immediately raise the guard (in the exact moment when we are aware of this easy-to-read loading phase)
  • While we are raising our arms we have to move in the direction of the shoulder of the arriving punch, covering ourselves with our forearms (but naturally leaving undisturbed our line of sight)
  • When we enter in contact we have to instantaneously open our guard (simultaneously, one arm goes in direction of the opponent’s neck, one to block the attacking arm)
  • Done this, it is not too hard to execute a simple throw (read The 3 phases of a throw) or a Chin Na technique (read Chin Na)

If we are too late and the opponent manages to end the loading of his punch, we have 2 options:

A note by Master Kongling – In most cases, outside a collaborative context, a not practitioner would not able to read even a so stressed loading of a punch nor to effectively apply trapping motions (read Trapping).

How an advanced-expert level practitioner could react:

Potentially, against a low-level opponent, if we are skilled practitioners, we could even:

  • Make him falling even only exploiting the thrust lines of the body and the unbalancing caused by the excessive loading

Instead, in a more serious and concrete context, we could:

  • Before the end of the loading – Hit him on the face (eg. at the base of the nose) reading and anticipating the attack (and passing internally, even without changing position)
  • After the loading – Hit him on the face crossing his attack (passing externally)

A note by Master Kongling – As always, for an expert the solutions are endless, these are only examples.

The best possible solutions for everyone

We have not directly mentioned them but these are always the most effective:

Final notes

A few conclusive thoughts:

  • It must be said that even an intermediate level opponent will never use a so wrong punching method; if he wants to punch, he reaches the right distance, he remains closed in his guard until the last moment and he attacks with an explosive spring movement (without useless backward loading motions)
  • The levels of preparation we have listed are not generic, they refer to the evaluation of a certified 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s instructor (we cannot talk for other styles, combat systems or martial arts)
  • If discipline, concentration and preparation are superficial, even after 30 years of practice we will not be able to fight effectively, on the other hand, even only after 12-24 months, whoever puts the maximum determination can start to turn into a tiger

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • What would be your reaction to a long-loading punch?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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