How To Throw a Proper Uppercut Punch

What Is an Uppercut Punch?

The uppercut is a punch thrown with an upwards motion. Most often it’s used at the short range of fighting, but it is also effective at mid-distance. It’s almost never a punch you would use at long distance (an uppercut usually finishes up with the forearm perpendicular to the ground, which limits the distance you can target). You can throw the uppercut with either hand. You’ll rarely see an uppercut punch to the body, but technically you could throw the punch, targeting a point lower than your opponent’s chin. Here we are going to take a look at both front/lead and rear uppercuts, thrown towards the head of the opponent.

8) Improve Your Speed

They said that speed equals power. Unless you’re naturally heavy handed anyway, this theory is true to a certain extent. This is because the punches that you don’t see are the ones that do the most damage, and you can only achieve this by throwing punches that are very fast.

Utilize the different training techniques where you can improve your hand speed such as using resistance bands and plyometric exercises.


How Do You Throw a Rear Uppercut Punch?

The rear uppercut is probably a bit easier to throw than the lead uppercut, but it can leave you more open to counterpunches from your opponent.The rear uppercut follows almost the same steps as the lead uppercut, but you do not need to shift your weight:

  • Start in your boxing stance

  • Imagine your opponent’s head being at close distance

  • Drop your back hand, considerably lower, about one foot down towards your beltline

  • Rotate your hips (for orthodox stance → counterclockwise | southpaw → clockwise)

  • As you turn your shoulders, make an arc-type of movement with your forearm through the point you want to punch, finishing at a 90 degree angle to the ground

  • At the end of this movement, your front hand should be tightly covering your chin

  • Quickly reset into your stance

To set it up, you need to get your opponent to get his guard high and cover up. A popular setup would be:

  • Double/Triple-Jab

  • Rear Uppercut

For a quick visual demonstration of how to throw a proper uppercut on a heavy bag, FightCamp Trainer Tommy Duquette shows you step-by-step in this video.

You Must Always Make Center Knuckle Contact When Throwing Blows

This requires that you learn to how to strike with your center knuckle first. Punching with the center of your knuckle is important because it affords proper skeletal alignment and will maximize the impact of your blow. Excluding hammer fist strikes, every conceivable punch (i.e., jabs, rear cross, hooks, upper cuts, body hooks, etc) can be thrown with center knuckle contact.

Center knuckle contact also prevents a broken hand or “boxer’s fracture” from occurring. Essentially, a boxer’s fracture occurs when the small metacarpal bone bends downward and toward the palm of the hand during impact with an extremely hard surface (such as a brick wall or human skull).

Contrary to what karate teaches, I suggest that you avoid striking your opponent with your first two knuckles. This common karate style of punching diffuses the weight transfer of the punch which can easily lead to a broken hand.

By the way, the double end bag is an excellent piece of training equipment for teaching you how to punch with your center knuckle. Our Double End Bag Training DVD would be a good place to start your training.

The Critical Importance of Heavy Bag Training

For example, lets take the most basic punch known to man – the rear cross. For those who may not be aware, the rear cross is one of the most powerful punches in a fighter’s arsenal. This knockout punch travels in a straight path to either your assailant’s nose, chin or solar plexus.

Begin by standing approximately four to five feet from the bag. Then, assume a fighting stance with your left leg forward and your body positioned at approximately forty five degree angle from the punching bag. Make certain both of your hands are properly clenched into fists and your head and chin are angled slightly down.

To deliver the punch, exhale and quickly twist and throw your rear arm and shoulder forward and towards the punching bag. Make certain to twist your rear leg, hip and shoulder forward and extend your rear arm straight. Do not lock out your rear arm when throwing the punch, be certain there is a slight bend in the elbow. Your punch should forcefully snap into the heavy bag and then return back to the starting position.

Step 3: Lower Body Dynamics

The lower body is one of the most important things to get right. You may have seen some of the hockey fights on TV – the reason that they don’t get hurt more than they do is because they are on ice, so their punch does not have as much power behind it. An old karate saying is that “Your power comes from the ground.”A good stance is one where the feet are shoulder width apart, with the the toe of the back foot in line with the heel of the front foot. While a wider, deeper stance will give you more power in your punch (many martial arts favor a deeper stance), it takes away some of your mobility. Your body type makes a difference in what stance would be best for you.Another big issue is, do you punch with the lead hand or the back hand? (If your left foot is forward, your left hand is the lead hand and your right hand is the back hand). Both have advantages – your lead hand is faster, while your back hand has more power. This is where “the ol’ one-two” comes in – a fast jab with the lead hand to the face to make them close their eyes followed by a reverse punch (back hand) to the midsection.

Step 5: Targets

See below for an overview of the most common targets. Personally, in a self-defense situation, I would favor a heel-palm strike to the nose. It is very painful, does not cause serious damage, and makes their eyes water so you can escape.

6) Bend Your Knees

Stand up straight with both legs fully extended and throw some hooks. Now bend your knees and repeat those punches again, and you’ll realize just how much difference this makes to your punching power.

You need to make a habit of bending your knees whe

You need to make a habit of bending your knees when you’re punching. This is called ‘sitting down on your punches’, which you may have heard often.

Squats will help you with this but if you want to take it one step further, pretend you’re sitting on a chair at a 90 degree angle, and see how long you can balance two small bowls of water on each knee. It gets painful after a while but definitely helps!

Double Peak Muscle Activation

This striking technique has been found to occur in elite mixed martial artists [4]. Double peak muscle activation refers to the involved muscle groups activating, relaxing, and then re-activating (hence the double peak).

The first peak occurs as the punch is initiated, then the relaxation period occurs throughout the movement until the second peak in activation moments before impact.

It has been claimed to occur because of the velocity needed to appropriately interact with an opponent [4]. The force-velocity relationship shows that velocity and force are inversely related where-as velocity increases, force decreases which occurs during multi-joint movements [6]. However, appropriate levels of impact force are also needed for the punch to be effective.

Hence, the double peak activation may be a way to circumvent the inherent limitations in the force-velocity relationship and result in a punch maximising velocity and force [4].

What is interesting to note is that double peak activation occurs in trained and non-trained individuals. However, for non-trained individuals, the second peak occurred much earlier and lasts much longer [4].

Therefore, it seems non-trained individuals will intuitively stiffen the joints to brace for anticipated impact and protect the limbs. The early activation will tend to slow the velocity of the punch, thereby reducing the effective mass.

A high-level martial artist will tense at the moment of impact and continue to push through the impact to deliver a harder punch. It is believed that this is what separates the novice from the expert [4].

Prepare for the impact

This is where things can go wrong for people who aren’t used to throwing punches. Boxers and other martial artists typically wear cloth or tape wraps to protect their wrist and hand bones. But in the real world, you don’t have that option.

When you hit your target, you want to strike with the first two knuckles, not that flat front part of your fist or the smaller knuckles on your ring or pinky fingers. You should also try to keep all the bones in your forearm, down to your knuckles, in alignment. That way, you won’t apply force to your bones and wrist at a weird angle.

The actual angle of your fist at impact is something that changes from practice to practice. Boxers and kickboxers throw straight punches with horizontal fists. More self-defense-oriented practitioners like Krav Maga specialists recommend tilting your thumb outward at a 45-degree angle or even punching with a vertical fist in order to reduce the chances that the impact will buckle your untrained wrist. Wing Chun practitioners often use vertical fists for punching, too. Choose the angle that feels best to you, and then aim to keep it consistent as you practice.

Straight Punch Technique VIDEO

Benefits of Straighter Punches

Better Form

Good form will deliver more power and reduce the chance of injury. By stretching the inside of your arm and reaching with your big knuckles, you are hitting with a straighter arm. Throwing *crooked* “straight punches” will hurt your hands because the fist swings inwards (even if only slightly) and impacts on the smaller knuckles. This mistake alone is the cause of many common hand injuries for beginners!

More Speed

The straighter punch arrives faster and has less recovery time because it bounces straight back at you. A *crooked* “straight punch” has that looping effect where it swings off to the side requiring you to spend more energy to recover the hand. By the way: a straighter punch has much less telegraphing making it appear faster to your opponent.

Strategic Advantage

A straighter punch can penetrate your opponent’s defense better. A straight punch can truly penetrate up the middle whereas a slightly curved one gets deflected away. Worst of all, you don’t want a straight punch to over-rotate you so much that it slows down your follow-up punch.

*** Why Do Some Fighters Stretch the Outside of Their Arm?

Some fighters do it because they’re trying to get extra reach or extra power. Others don’t know how to punch and so it’s more natural to swing wide than to punch straight up the middle. The biggest risks of stretching the outside of your arm is landing on the smaller knuckles (instead of the first two), and also that you might be pulling yourself off balance and slowing your follow-up punches.

It’s not improper technique to stretch the outside of your arm when you punch. Just know that this curve your punch slightly.

Place your feet

It’s an old cliche that the power of a punch comes from the legs, but it’s absolutely true. You’ll want to find a happy medium between standing flat footed and taking a wide karate stance. Standing with your feet close together will make it easy for someone to throw you off balance and put you on the ground. Go too wide, and you’ll inhibit your own movement and take away power from the strike. Veteran martial arts instructor Alan Condon refers to the perfect placement as a “solid base.”

To find it, stand squarely facing your target, then drop the foot on your dominant side back and out to an angle between 30 and 45 degrees. You should keep your feet a comfortable distance apart, but the exact difference is a matter of personal preference. Some fighters, such as traditional Muay Thai practitioners and American kickboxers, tend to prefer a more narrow stance, while traditional boxers and Dutch-style kickboxers typically gravitate toward a wider one.

When you find your sweet spot, make sure that your hips are turned slightly away from the target.

Once you’re in this stance, try to maintain that space between your feet. If you have to move forward or back, make the motion more of a slide than a walk, because the latter requires you to cross your feet. You want to keep a strong base, even when you’re moving—and you can’t do that when your feet are crossed or planted right next to each other.


  • If you aren’t engaging in a combat sport, never punch someone unless you’re being attacked and can’t get away. The goal of learning self-defense is to protect yourself, not start an unnecessary fight.

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  • If you’re practicing your punching with a heavy bag, speed bag, hand pads, or sparring match, always wear hand wraps. If you don’t, you’re more likely to break your wrist or injure your hand.[22]

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Key Points to Punch Harder

  1. Punch More! The more experience gathered, the better the timing of the double peak muscle activation.
  2. Utilize the ‘energy shout’ It has the potential to enhance effective mass immediately.
  3. “Knock-out” artists have a greater contribution from the legs in their punching power compared to other stylists of fighters. Train your legs to maximize strength/power capabilities. But don’t neglect your trunk and arm musculature.
  4. Bigger is not better. Rather the ability to effectively transfer momentum between body segments, being relaxed while throwing the punch to maximize acceleration & velocity, and stiffening the arm at the last possible moment to minimize “wobbling mass” and optimize effective mass.

12 Weeks To Knockout Power! Train like a professional boxer, develop knockout power, and dominate the ring! Knockout Power Here


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