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How hard can we hit?

How Hard Can We Punch?

‘Fight Science’ – First Set Up

In the Fight Science experimental setup described within the book “Parting the Clouds” a primary aim was to determine which of four fighters could punch and deliver the most force. The participants were experts from each of the following backgrounds or styles: Boxing, Tae Kwon Do, Karate and Kung Fu. Each was invited to hit a crash test dummy as hard as they could. Unfortunately, the physical details of these participants—specifically their weight—are not quoted. It is however visually clear that the Wushu (Chinese-style) expert was a lot lighter than the others. This is important when recognizing that although this individual has extremely fast hand speed the others all punched with significantly more force. A trained heavyweight hits hard, very hard. A comparatively well trained lightweight may be able to hit faster and more often but with a single strike more trained muscle can cause more damage. In other words, speed matters but bulk still counts.

Fight Science Results: 


  • Punching Force
  • lbs force
  • kg force
  • Newtons
  • Boxing


  • 993
  • 450
  • 4417
  • Tae Kwon Do


  • 917
  • 416
  • 4079
  • Karate


  • 816
  • 370
  • 3630
  • Kung Fu


  • 612
  • 278
  • 2722

These numbers show the force differences between the fighters, not the fighting styles.

As can be seen, in the lead is a boxer with approximately 1,000 pounds of impact force (450 kilograms force or 4,400Newtons). This is a massive punch! According to the program, the sensors revealed that the punch started in the feet pushing against the floor and traveling up the legs through the hips to the chest and shoulders—gaining energy as it passed up the body.

 ‘Fight Science’ – Second Set Up

Subsequently, the National Geographical setup tested a mixed martial-artist fighter, namely former Heavyweight Champion Bas Rutten, a 5th Degree in Kyokushin Karate, and a 2nd Degree in Tae Kwon Do. With apparently similar equipment and test set up, Rutten’s measured force from a punch was an impressive 941 pounds force (4186Newtons). This is only 5 percent lower than the boxer referenced; a difference that has no statistically significant difference. We should therefore conclude that there is nothing significantly discriminating about the style/background shown here and that the best in Boxing, Tae Kwon Do, Karate and the full spectrum of Martial Arts or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) can all hit really hard.


The book “Parting the Clouds” details the research undertaken to cross check and confirm the figures listed above. Independent results reported in reputable journals were sought to verify, within reason, the figures quoted in the book.  The measurement of force is complex and there are instances where results are reported that cannot be sustantiated.

Facts for Fighters

A human can punch and cause over 4,000 Newtons of peak force.

This is equivalent to being hit on the head with a 12 pound mallet swung at 20 mph!


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