Strictly speaking, I believe this node should be called how to not take a punch.. After all, being punched is a rather unpleasant experience.

As a quite avid martial artist (Jitsu, Judo and Kickboxing), I would like to add something to this topic.

DO NOT try to backstep from a punch. The entire motion that is involved when someone tries to punch you is aimed toward you, usually from the front. By backstepping (or by trying to move away from a punch in any way), you are only increasing the chance of getting hit. Your assailant will probably just take another step, gaining additional speed and momentum.

Getting in close is a much better idea. As mentioned, if you are close, hands are mostly harmless. Watch out for knees, headbutts and elbows, though - those are very effective on short distance.

Deflecting a punch should be your one-but-last last resort. If you are reading this, chances are that you have not had any, or just very little martial arts training - although deflecting punches is not all that hard, it should not be your first priority.

Blocking a punch is generally a bad idea. Yes, in cool martial arts movies you see they do it all the time. But they are actors doing a practiced routine. Actually, they are highly talented actors who are doing a very well practiced routine. If you have something to block with (say a book or something), why didn't you throw it at your attacker a long time ago??

The best way to take a punch, therefore, is this: Don't be there when the punch arrives. It sounds laughably stupid - but it works. Usually you see it coming at least half a second before the actual punch. Don't trust your eyes, trust your instinct. You know when somebody will punch (technically you see it from their body language). There are not many fighters who can hide their body language good enough to not show you that they will punch. If you would be facing one of those fighters, they would probably not punch you in the first place, but put a foot in your kneecap, head, or anywhere else they'd want to kick you.

In any case: When you feel the punch is coming, do a diagonal step forwards. You want to end up beside your assailant. If timed correctly (it feels odd the first couple of times, but it works in 90% of the cases), your assailant is punching thin air, and you are next to him/her. What you want to do now is run. "Live to fight another day" as they say (or "run away so you can run away another day", as I say). If you can't run away do one of the following: (yes there are far more dangerous ways to attack, but you don't want to kill. Killing is bad. You want to hurt - to stun just long enough to get away)

  • Fist in the lower back
    • You want to hit them on the side of their spine, as low as possible. This way you hit them kidney-ish, which hurts like hell.
  • Fist to the base of the neck
    • You want to hit the bend where the shoulders become neck. Insanely painful, but not really dangerous to the person you attack.
  • Fist to the nose
    • No explanation here. It hurts.
  • Fist to the ribcage
    • Just punch them wherever in the side. You'd be extremely unfortunate not to hit them somewhere that hurts.

After doing one of these, you should be able to stroll off (i.e run) while your assailant lays in a pile feeling sorry for him/herself.