Mad About Science: Punching

By Brenden Bobby
Reader Columnist

Sometimes, you don’t want to learn about cutting-edge technology, prehistoric super-beasts or gross bugs. Sometimes, you just want to read about punching stuff.

It’s a pretty straightforward concept. Curl your hand into a ball and swing. Bam, you just punched the air and dropped your Reader. What sort of power have you unlocked? What sort of worlds await conquering with your newfound strength?

Whoa now, Stallone. You’re using force (not THE Force, what are you, a Jedi?), and it’s important to be responsible when using force. Only use this mystical new strength for good, never on people unless they’re trying to use it on you first. Even then, there’s never an excuse for violence against other people if you can book it out of there and get friends. Strength in numbers!

With your first swings into this wide and wonderful new world, there are a few things you need to know to truly master your technique. First, when you ball up your fist, wrap your thumb like a locking bar around the outside of your index and middle finger. While you get more surface area by protecting it with your fingers, the force of impact transfers from your external fingers to your thumb, and specifically into the compromised joint connecting it to your hand, resulting in a number of bad things ranging from dislocations to fractures.

Now that you have figured out how to direct your Herculean rage without harming yourself, learn how to amplify the power of your swing. We all know you use your arm to punch, because if you used your leg it would be a kick, but your arm isn’t the only muscle being utilized for this. Every muscle in your torso can help, but you can direct the most force by pivoting with your hips when you swing, magnifying your Goku-esque power to deliver a truly magnificent, world-shattering strike.

Punching, although awesome, isn’t perfect. As a tool for violence we’ve had since our ancestors figured out how to punch sabertooth cats, we’ve also figured out a lot of ways to counter it. Pivoting and focusing your full strength into a punch without forethought for repercussions can be countered by someone exploiting your elbow. With a bent elbow, your force is redirected, but your pivoting momentum is still carrying you forward, leaving you open to be flipped like a delicious pancake and staring at the sky in a stupor. Another reason you should never use punching against people, you never know what kind of whoopin’ awaits you when you act in violence towards human beings.

That being said, if you are absolutely hellbent on using your newfound powers for harming others, might I suggest directing that into sport? Humans love watching other humans wallop on each other, and professional fighting is a hugely popular sport right now. Now I’m not talking putting yourself on YouTube fighting garage cage matches with your buddy Dale four beers in, there are actual gyms you can go to, to train this sort of thing and meet talent scouts in the process.

Don’t think wildly swinging will win you any belts though. You need to know basics. There are several different types of punches, but here are a few basic ones:

Left jabs are quick strikes with, you guessed it, your left hand (unless you’re a lefty), as this is the non-dominant hand you use to guard with and sacrifice to pain before you bring out the big guns with a right cross. The right cross is the moneymaker that has enough energy behind it to deliver a knockout, but also leaves the attacker open to being countered.

The left and right hook is mostly what you see in the Rocky movies, where they’re just wildly wailing on each other. This is primarily used to pull someone out of a guard and open them up to attack, or frustrate them into a poorly calculated attack. Uppercuts are used similarly, as they are used to throw off a target’s balance and open them up for a cross.

If you like punching stuff but don’t want to turn into a piece of veal wearing Tapout shorts, boxing has tremendous health benefits. You don’t have to go all Popeye on another person, just train in the gym and at home. Boxing, like any form of martial art, gets you in touch with your body. It exposes all of your weaknesses for you to figure out how to better yourself, is one of the best cardio workouts on the planet, improves hand-eye coordination and even betters your posture. The best thing about it is there is no age restriction. As long as you can swing your arm, you can work out.

Remember that when you taunt a 98-year-old at the gym, who promptly sends you to the floor. Lift up, folks! Don’t tear down.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take after my ancestors and go punch some logs for firewood. It’s cold out there!

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