On the last day of the school year, some young punks decided to jump a kid outside our cul-de-sac. Several of them got off the school bus at his usual stop and pretty soon had him up against the side of a house letting him have it. Several other young punks decided to stand around, recording it on their phones, and cheer them on with hoots and hollers. Summer (my blessed other half) witnessed all of this and relayed it to me.
Now, fighting by a bunch of school kids while others stand around and cheer is nothing new, but there is something overly punkish about the kids these days and it really bugged me. It may have something to do how much easier it is to throw a punch than to take one, and knowing how soft kids are these days, there is a real chance for injury.
The above story, along with the events in Memphis and other knock-out ‘games’ being reported over the years, I thought it would be important to help guys know how to take a punch.
How to Take a Punch
Rule #1 – Don’t Get Knocked Out
The scariest thing about getting in a fight is getting knocked out, likely hitting your head on the way down, and allowing the other guy(s) to seriously whoop you while you lie there unconscious. The goal of this article isn’t to make you a fighter, it’s to make you a survivor. If you can learn to practice this then you’ll fare pretty well against a punk or two.
Rule #2 – Run if You Can
Maybe this should be Rule 1 but alas I don’t feel like changing the order. It used to be that men would square off in an understood manner with certain rules of engagement already established through social norms of fisticuffs. A few punches could be thrown with the understanding that either man could simply give in and the matter would be settled. At least, this is how gentlemen would handle it. Now, you have a bunch of emotional, untrained and undisciplined guys that just want to kick and swing and act like thugs and call it fighting. It would be a good idea to get away from this kind of situation because you don’t know how the fight may escalate. You aren’t necessarily running because you can’t win the fight, but because the situation is no good.
While running away may not seem like the manly thing to do, this isn’t advice just for your safety. In order to stop a fight with a mad man you are going to have to put a serious hurt on him, past the point of his reasonableness. There is a good chance you will end up causing serious harm to some dude over something stupid, like say, pride (on both sides). It’s not worth the trouble.
Take a Defensive Stance
Remember, this article is called, How to Take a Punch, not how to avoid getting hit. We aren’t getting fancy here. The goal is to take a hit and withstand the blow so that you don’t get knocked out or can get away from the situation.
The cowboy in the featured image is not in a defensive stance. Don’t be that guy! The boxer pictured above, deflecting the blow, is in a defensive stance. See how his head is tucked down, and he guards his sensitive areas such as his midsection and ears? That’s how you do it. The forehead is hard and if any fool hits you there it’s going to hurt him more than you.
Taking a Shot to the Midsection
Absorbing or Deflecting the Hit
A punch to the gut can knock the wind out of you, knock you out, and more seriously, can do some internal damage. Like the boxer taking the blow in the picture above, curl your body, keeping your abs tight, and bring your elbows towards the center of your midsection. Your obliques (muscles which cover your ribs) are more forgiving than your stomach so allow them to take the blow rather than moving your arms to the side which would expose your solar plexus (see below).
Taking the Hit
As you throw counter punches or try to break free from a hold, your stomach will be exposed and you may take some hits. The key here is keeping your core as dense as possible. To do this you want to exhale so that you fill about 25% lung capacity. Having a little air in your lungs will keep you from getting the wind knocked out of you and also provide some pressure to your core. You will need to release a little air on impact to prevent going blue in the face or popping your cork (exhaling all at once or puking).
How to Prepare
Medicine Ball Exercises
If you’re really out of shape, start with good-ole sit-ups and work your way up to the medicine ball exercises. There are several you can do, but here are two I would suggest.
You can perform this exercise yourself and as you advance have someone “drop” (not throw) the ball on your abs. These guys are getting it done!
Mason or Russian Twist
Perform this exercise seated with your leg bent and a few inches off the ground. With a medicine ball in both hands, rotate side to side, touching the ball to the floor. Like this guy:
Taking a Shot to the Face
Absorbing or Deflecting the Hit
With your fists covering your jaw and ears as much as possible, scrunch your shoulders to cover the neck as well. It’s best not to get hit in the face at all, duh, so offer a shoulder or forehead to the incoming fist. A hit in the ear or nose will cause some serious pain, but will not knock you out like a hit to the jaw or an uppercut to the chin.
From this position you can perform sweeping low kicks at the knees and quick jabs if your attacker comes in close enough.
Taking the Hit
Other than allowing your skull to take the impact, you can get hit in the face and fare pretty well. However this will take some practice. The goal is to move in the same direction and general speed as the incoming fist so that it makes as little impact as possible. When you see boxers bobbing and weaving this is part of the strategy, both to make it harder to hit them and also to quickly adapt to an incoming punch.
How to Prepare
The best preparation for getting hit in the face is sparring. Even with gloves on, a punch to the nose and head can send your reeling. In order to keep your head in a real fight for your life, you will need this kind of experience. The skill to bob and move, and endure through a fight, can only come from practice.
There are some neck exercises that you can incorporate into your workout routine that will help your neck become a stronger foundation and keep your head from getting as jarred as it otherwise would. Do a search for “neck exercises for boxers” and you’ll find there are a number of options. The two featured in this video are the most common.
The only thing that will keep you from getting laid out on a sucker punch is getting your body used to being hit. Even in sparring you will get hit unexpectedly hard; you move one way and your opponent comes in stronger than he intended or a pop to the nose by a knee or elbow, even slightly, will toughen you up. The density of your bones will increase through sparring as well.
If you don’t have a sparring partner, wrestle with your kids. Get some gloves or just let them throw a few punches to the gut to see how much you can take. If a real attack comes your way, you’ll be glad you did.