How to Throw a Dynamite Straight Punch: An Illustrated Guide

by Brett on January 24, 2014 · 75 Comments

in Manly Skills, Visual Guides

Open opponent up with some high jabs and a few fakes. End sequence with jab from your non-dominant hand so your dominant hand is ready to throw the straight punch. When your opponent drops his guard, you’re ready to throw your dynamite punch.  Bring shoulder and jab hand back while simultaneously throwing the straight punch with your dominant hand. Don’t broadcast the punch; keep elbow in. Right knee points at left knee. Increase your punch’s power by pushing off back foot and twisting hips much like you would swing a baseball bat. Drive toes into ground like you’re squishing a bug.  For maximum power, don’t aim at your opponent’s face, but behind it. Punch straight out and straight back. Keep jab hand up to protect against any counters.

The straight punch (also called the cross) is an effective blow to deal a fighting opponent. John L. Sullivan is on deck today to show you how to deliver this punch with dynamite power.

Illustration by Ted Slampyak

{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

1 uncle January 24, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Be warned though, this will destroy your hand if done without gloves.

2 NC January 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm

If don’t with out gloves (or even with gloves) Remember that the contact point is your index and middle knuckles. to minimize risk of a broken hand, keep a straight line through the arm starting from the contact point through to the shoulder or base.

3 NC January 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm

If punching with out gloves (or even with gloves) Remember that the contact point is your index and middle knuckles. to minimize risk of a broken hand, keep a straight line through the arm starting from the contact point through to the shoulder or base.

4 Andrew January 24, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Good call uncle! I’m a fan of train like you fight, so I won’t be practicing this one. I’m a fan of open palm strikes.

5 J.R. Perez January 24, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Bruce Lee wrote a line of self defense books: Bruce Lee’s Fighting method. In it he suggests that the contact should be with the bottom three knuckles rather than the top two. I think this should minimize damage to the hand, but not sure though…

6 Bill Easlick January 24, 2014 at 11:17 pm

“The straight punch (also called the cross)”

The straight right is just that – a straight punch. A Cross is actually a hook punch from the rear hand that “crosses” over an opponent’s jab. Most people commonly refer to it today as an “overhand” punch. This is different from some sloppy, schoolboy haymaker swing.

7 Johnny January 25, 2014 at 1:03 am

A straight and a cross are the same thing. Its called a cross because it crosses your body, even though the punch itself is straight. Hook is different punch. And overhand is a lot like straight, but the difference is you throw it in arc like rainbow or semicircle.

8 James Mason January 25, 2014 at 4:35 am

An absolute classic, I love it!
Although these days the article should be how to dodge a knife, how times have changed….

9 Nikola Gjakovski January 25, 2014 at 6:07 am

It’s the precise mind and body set just like you described it, but it took me 3 years to complete the punch. It may be useful to the author that the fist should be pointed vertical because it has more chances of going through the guard.

10 Walt January 25, 2014 at 7:47 am

Where your knuckles strike the opponent isn’t of real concern to your well-being but how it is done is. Strike with your arm pushing upwards. Try it on your self (gently though). You will feel a similar amount of force, but when striking up, you feel less resistance. Therefore less damage to yourself. Your opponent will however, be shaken like polariod picture and won’t be prepared for the oncoming left hook to the jaw which will see him (or her) sprawling. Just remember, hand to hand can be deadly force and consequences, both legal and physical are to be had.

11 Drew January 25, 2014 at 11:38 am

It’s called a cross because from a boxers stance in fighting the punch crosses the mid line of your body when you throw it…

12 Allan January 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

Both heels should always be on the ground and feet pointing foward to keep balance in case of counter, so it says my boxing instructor.

13 James January 25, 2014 at 11:45 am

This is sadly little known information among men. In boxing club, I’d see new guys come in like me and not have any clue how to throw the most basic punch. Absolutely use your hips and legs, punch through your opponent, and snap back into place.

One thing I also learned was to tuck my chin towards my armpit of the dominant hand to use my shoulder to shield one side of my head with my jab hand covering the other. This really seems to limit any risks with this punch.

14 Ethan T January 25, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Hum… the Watson Wax Brief (British Tan) is my choice for the give-away.

15 Pikey January 25, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Yup… Never do this without gloves. Hard surface strike to soft tissue, or soft tissue strike to hard surface. (Note: heads/faces are hard!) The only exception to this rule would be elbows and knees. Those are absolutely devastating to hard surfaces, but require a more dangerous proximity to the target.

16 Andrew January 25, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Please. Please, please, please Tsovet SVT-QS40 (Beige)

17 Mike M. January 25, 2014 at 1:29 pm

If you’re going to throw this punch, avoid the head unless you’re wearing gloves. Feint high, then go for the solar plexus.

18 david January 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I gave someone this exact advice the other day for a shoot we were doing. Had to teach a female actor how to throw a proper punch. They looked at me funny when I told her what to do because I’m basically just a grip.

19 Jonryan January 25, 2014 at 2:16 pm

In real life I actually like to have my dominant hand forward because without the padding of gloves you can REALLY mess someone up with a simple jab from the dominant hand, and it makes my cross with the back hand much stronger due to the rotation of the hips and distance.

20 John January 25, 2014 at 2:21 pm

The Huckberry lifestraw would be a valuable addition to anyone’s jump bag. Good solution for immediate safe water in an emergency

21 Frank B Pukoszek January 25, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Last week while at work, I was finishing up fighting a fire when I took off my bunker coat and noticed my watch had broken. I looked on the Huckberry site today and the Timex Weekender caught my eye. It looks as if it would stand up to the rigors of the job!

22 Timm January 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Don’t hit with your last three knuckles. Hit with your first two and keep your head down and look through your eyebrows.

23 Jacob January 25, 2014 at 3:46 pm

For the Huckberry give away, I would be happy with the Hide and Seek Low (Black) Wallet found in the Essentials Carry section. This is an item I have had my eye on for quite some time, but never bit the bullet because of cost.

24 alex January 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm

and if you really want to do some damage, grab your opponents hair, clothes, or back of the neck with the left and pull in while throwing the punch with your right. If untrained and to avoid injury to the bones of the hand, use the heel of your palm, aim at the nose – your wrists probably can’t sustain the force of the punch and will bend if striking with the fist anyway. don’t extend your arm 100%, and definitely aim inside the head, not at the surface.

and since it’s a fistfight, not a sporting match, don’t ‘snapback’ – use the inertia of your attack and defenders backing away to continue the attack with your left. better yet, learn a few basic throws and locks you can use once your strike gives you an opportunity. it will end a fight faster than punching.

25 jojoblue January 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm

This would be a cool poster

26 Francis January 25, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I’ve been boxing for fitness with some friends for about eight months. It’s given me, at late middle age, more defined shoulders and upper torso, stronger core, and a huge confidence boost. Although we hit focus pads and the heavy bag rather than each other, we all use correct technique, good gloves, and hand wraps to avoid injury. My upper body and arms have so much more endurance: I ran my last ultramarathon with a hand-held bottle and didn’t suffer from sore arms or shoulders at all.

AOM however has some great tips on how to avoid getting into fights by thinking and acting like a bigger man, which will help protect your hands more than any amount of good technique. Thanks AOM for all of your articles.

27 Eric January 25, 2014 at 4:14 pm

I wish this article made it more clear and placed more of an emphasis on the fact that the puncher should keep their strike snappy, and whip like. To be fair, it does mention twisting and torsion, but to some extent, those are biomechanically inevitable given the movement involved in the punch.

I boxed in college, and also cross trained in kickboxing and bjj. Soooooo many times at the gym you’d see some big guy who thought he knew what he was doing throw a straight punch, and it looked more like a ‘push with a fist at the end of it’ than an actual ‘strike.’

There’s a book by Jack Dempsey called ‘Championship Fighting’ that does a great job of describing how he punched. There are certain particulars to Dempsey’s punching technique that I don’t think I would consider ‘standard’ when instructing a newbie boxer, but he does a great job of describing how he keeps his punches snappy. Better than any other book I’ve read on the subject.

It’s public domain and out of print, but you can read it online at

Really good stuff.

28 Richard January 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I think the Gerber Tomahawk would be a great addition to my work van sometimes you need an axe when you have a prybar sometimes its the other way this tool accomplishes both with a hammer to boot.

29 boxer January 25, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Agreeing with Bill Easlick, and also, a jab does not cause a trained opponent to drop his left hand, otherwise, good illustrations.

30 Brendan Wood January 25, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Everyone is a critic! Bruce Lee say this…I train like I fight, open hand (slapfighting?)…I keep my dominate hand forward because it can really mess someone up. Knock it off, you people trying to sound like you know something about something come off looking like your asking for a Bunch of Fives to your Bone Box.

Look up the last two if your confused…then you’ll be on the road to knowing the REAL ART OF MANLINESS.

31 Tobin January 25, 2014 at 4:56 pm

An open palm blow actually has more force than a punch and wont break your fingers

32 Stanton January 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm
33 Jesse Crawford January 25, 2014 at 6:36 pm

The DW St. Andrews watch would be awesome

34 B Chen January 25, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Bruce Lee hit with his bottom three knuckles because he was practicing Wing Chun – lots of fast punches delivered without much hip action (it’s nasty combined with kicking and grappling).

If you pivot your hips and hit someone full force with your bottom three knuckles, you’ll get what’s called a “boxer’s break”, which is a fracture of the small bones behind your pinky finger. You’ll also twist your wrist.

NC is right. Your contact point is your first two knuckles. For an illustration, hold your arm out with your first two knuckles forward and have someone push your fist. You should feel a straight line between your fist to your shoulder. Then turn your fist so your bottom knuckles are forward. You’ll feel some bending at your wrist, which is that part of your body absorbing energy that should have been delivered to the other guy.

And open hand slaps to the head are effective.

35 Daniel January 25, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Keep the fist turned at a diagonal angle, never turn it over horizontally if striking the head. Strike with the back knuckles. And condition your fists for impact if you are going to punch bare-knuckle. Do these three things and you’ll be less likely to injure your hand.

36 Tim Brown January 26, 2014 at 1:48 am

In Martial Arts, when the punch is thrown nd yur hand is palm up – the middle through pinky fingers are in a perfect line with the elbow – giving it massive amounts of support. That is why Bruce Lee stated that. I had an instructor tell me that 20 years ago.

37 Alex January 26, 2014 at 5:22 am

Would recommend “dropping the hips”, bringing the weight of the body closer to the ground.

Also the consequences of punching “through” your opponent are dire.. if you land the shot – it’ll take you longer to recover and god forbid if you miss, you’re off balance and entirely open.

Instead, try snapping your punches – youtube it for more info.

38 mark January 26, 2014 at 6:41 am

Better still use brass knuckles.

39 Jason Grosman January 26, 2014 at 7:56 am

the Esbit Vacuum Flask (.5L) looks pretty sweet.

40 Brady Cook January 26, 2014 at 8:10 am

I want the chromexcel architect’s wallet. That was the first thing I saw for sale on huckleberry when I signed up and I’ve been waiting for it to go back on discount ever since. Make my dreams come true!

41 LoRo January 26, 2014 at 11:01 am

Good topic and visual but it is incomplete. The punch is finished when the hand comes back to cover your chin.

42 Mike January 26, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Good article, always entertaining. I like the Huckberry Copper Flask, it looks awesome.

43 Dave Long January 26, 2014 at 1:50 pm

The most important part is clearly the handlebar mustache

44 CS January 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Thanks for the lesson, Von Kaiser!

45 Josh January 26, 2014 at 4:20 pm

A poster of this would be great to put up in the home gym!

Not to question the great Bruce Lee and all, but if you hit with 3 bottom knuckles, you’re hoping for a break.

46 Pfarthing6 January 26, 2014 at 6:58 pm

This is definitely advice for the “sport” of boxing, with only minor applicability in a self-defense situation. As mentioned by others, bones in the hand are fragile. Our hands are meant for gripping, not hitting. Even hitting with the right knuckles, with enough force bone on bone, something in your hand is guaranteed to break. You may get that punch in, but at what cost?

Open hand techniques are just as bad if not worse if one hasn’t practiced them properly because the force goes across the bones rather in line with the bones.

Also, though most probably know this, wearing gloves and the wrapping the hands beneath them, is not for the safety of the opponent, to make the sparring/game safer, but instead is meant for the safety of the wearer.

Even experts in Eastern arts that incorporate a lot of strong punches with bare hands spend years conditioning their hands to be able to take the abuse and needless to say, their hands look pretty ugly after a while.

The only truly safe punch is one that strikes soft tissue, of which the head, has little. And the only truly safe fist configuration is the “hammer” fist, which uses the tissue on the side of the hand as a shock absorber, allowing one to hit even very hard objects with great force and little chance of injury.

The self-defense version of this technique would have the striker keep is feet flat on the ground when delivering the punch so as to use his legs to generate the power and allow for a fast recovery, rather than his body weight and momentum, which leaves him off balance and vulnerable to all manner of reprisals, especially very simple take downs or a hard kick to the only weight bearing leg which would immediately put him out of commission.

47 Michael January 26, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Wow. So many great items on Huckberry to choose from. I would like to win the Vintage Aero #78 (vintage tan) wrist watch. Anyhow, great article! I don’t usually leave comments but I always check you web site at least once a day. Your web site is awesome and I truly enjoy all of the articles I receive through my email.

48 Gil January 27, 2014 at 6:05 am

Think this should have been accompanied with a “When you can legally thump someone (almost never), When to thump someone in a way that the cops won’t really be able to charge you (no witnesses, knocking the wind out of them) and When you should never give in to the urge to thump someone because you’re way exposed to criminal charges and lawsuits (pretty much all of the time)?”

49 Shaka January 27, 2014 at 7:08 am

This is true Art…using minimal energy to deliver maximum impact___ #well done#

50 David Vega January 27, 2014 at 7:49 am

Shouldn’t Von Kaiser from Mike Tyson’s PunchOut be showing us how to throw uppercuts instead?

51 Alejandro Lavin January 27, 2014 at 9:58 am


This would be a great addition to my travel gear! esp since i live in Houston now so i can represent!

52 pug January 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Technically, the right cross is not the same thing as a ‘straight right’. With a right cross the shoulder and elbow raises up and shoulder roles over as the punch is delivered across the opponent’s jab. That’s why it’s called a right ‘cross’. A straight right on the other hand is delivered like a right jab and the forearm remains close to the body as it is delivered from the same plane as the shoulder. These are typically mid and short range punches that are thrown as a counter-punch following a block or shoulder role. Think ‘Floyd Mayweather’. Over time however, it has become convenient to use the term ‘right cross’ and ‘straight right’ interchangeably.

53 Dan January 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I’ll keep this in mind the next time I’m in a bar fight. In the mean time, I can use the Ernest Alexander Bedford Overnight (Wax Chocolate) bag to hold the gloves, shoes, tape, and mouthguard I have yet to buy.

54 Jordan Michael Rapp January 27, 2014 at 5:03 pm

I was always taught to make a tight fist and lead with the knuckles to avoid damaging my hand. Also if you aim for the mouth you don’t have to worry about micro fractures because the soft tissue of their lips absorbs most of the force of the punch. As an added bonus there is a large bundle of nerve endings in the lips so most of the time a nice jab to the mouth ends a fight.

55 Nate January 27, 2014 at 9:12 pm

“You should be teaching us how to doge knives…”
Well, if you think about it knives are Impractical weapons unless your Rambo. If someone has a knife and is slashing at your face, put an arm up. If he cuts your arm he just gets you angry. Then you very calmly break his collar bone with a hammer fist and bash his throat in with your fist.

Same with stabbing if someone stabs you in the biceps or sholder area, the knife is either going to get stuck in bone/muscle (don’t give them this opertunity though, take the stab with the arm) then they are unarmed. An again, break the collar bone and calmly stomp on their throat…

56 Austin January 28, 2014 at 8:59 am

Might want to mention something about whee you ought to aim the punch. Of course preferably the chin but just as importantly the skull is one of the strongest bones in the human body, if you’re hitting someone in the forehead it’s not only just about as good as blocked but also you’re gonna hurt your hand pretty bad.

57 Blastronaught January 28, 2014 at 1:24 pm

+1 on the knuckles issue. In Muay Thai, you are taught to rotate your hand (index rotates toward the floor) to aid in laying the force accross all your knuckes instead of just the protuding ones. This helps split the force over several of the small bones in your hand, hopefully preventing a “Boxer Fracture”.

Also, (to my understanding) the guy in the top right AoM banner has his hands low because throwing bare-knuckle at a mans head wasn’t worth the damage to the bare knuckle. Therefore he protects his body over his head.

58 PDXTony January 29, 2014 at 1:23 am

Funny post and some funny comments too. This is the basic idea but there is a lot more that goes into it than people think. Fighters who train for a long time still break their hands in pro fights.

59 Popeye January 29, 2014 at 7:19 am

If you imagine a vertical line from your opponents forehead down to his groin, aim anywhere along it; that’s where the most damage with less work will be done. Nose, chin, throat, chest, stomach, groin.

I once hit a big guy – much bigger than myself. I had two ladies pulling me back and he only received the tail of my punch in his mouth yet his lip blew up and he bled well. Don’t be the one to start a fight, just end a fight.

You only need a ‘technique’ when your opponent is a boxer or martialartist – which will be rare.

60 Andres January 29, 2014 at 8:14 pm

This is a great article!!! thanks.

61 Cole January 29, 2014 at 10:03 pm

I would love to win a Tucker Dopp kit bag (British tan) from Ernest Alexander.

62 Raoh January 30, 2014 at 6:37 am

If you are going to punch without a glove on, you must train your hand to punch without gloves. There are many techniques to do this, some hold more risk than others, Makiwara for instance.'s_law

63 The IP January 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm

They should do one of these on sword fighting. Like in the SCA!

64 Tristien January 30, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Bruce Lee learned about boxing from Dempsey, where Dempsey had come from a bareknuckle background, and punched like a bareknuckle boxer, that is, he punched with his fist vertically and hit with the bottom three knuckles aligned with his forearm.

65 peter pen January 31, 2014 at 11:00 am

I guess one should ask his opponent if he has/is a lawyer before the punch.

66 pk January 31, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Bruce Lee didn’t learn punching from Dempsey. He learned it from Wing Chun. If anything Dempsey learned his punching from Wing Chun too. It’s been around a lot longer than Dempsey.

67 Dean February 2, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Interesting tips. I’ve just started taking some boxing lessons, but there are no boxing clubs in my small town. How do you find people to spar with that aren’t hours away?

68 Dman February 2, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Riiiiight, because knowing how to punch someone is part of being “manly”. You know what’s manlier? Walking away.

69 Kort February 3, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Walking away isn’t always an option, though it is the best if available. Otherwise, it is good to know how to handle yourself.

70 Jack February 4, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Can someone chart the basics of boxing? I never plan on getting in a fight, but knowing how to dodge and set up punches would be nice.

71 Doc February 7, 2014 at 1:58 am

Fought (boxed)for 11 yrs. Things to remember: 1. If you want to learn even the basics, take classes that have actual sparring. Nothing beats actual sparring. 2. Most fighters learn perfect balance on the front balls of their feat, not grounded and sluggish on their heels. 3. You will learn life lessons you can’t and won’t learn anywhere else. Lessons that can’t be explained but only experienced. 4. Once you learn what an in-ring utter battle is like, you will more than likely lose all desire to engage in one outside of the ring. Even if your chances of winning are good. 5. If you decide to be a fighter, get used to always nursing some hand, arm, or shoulder annoyance, injury, or agitation. Hope that helps.

72 Jimi February 8, 2014 at 3:24 pm

John’s opponent’s hands are down from the start. Throwing jabs will probably cause him to get his hands up, opening up his solar plexus. Right after throwing a jab, while your hand is in his face obstructing his vision, bend your knees, dropping your hips (keep your spine vertical) and throw that straight punch to the solar plexus. Target the spot right under the sternum where the ribs come up and together, and drive your fist in right up to the wrist.
Fight over, and no broken bones in your hand.

73 LeFrench February 26, 2014 at 5:58 pm

The only issue I have with this is the orientation of the fist. Thumb should be upwards (think of how you hand is positioned when gripping a vertical pole). This keeps the elbow in line with the shoulder, helping increase both the speed and power, but most importantly reducing the impact on the elbow, which will lessen the chance of damage.

74 Brad March 17, 2014 at 3:48 am

Bas Rutten used to knock people out using the heel of his palm instead of a fist.

75 Monde April 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

Francis is right. Boxing is a beautiful,raw and brutal sport requiring hundreds of hours of sparring, heavy bag and mittwork to perfect technique, improve footwork and crisp offense/defence. You are an athlete and trained fighter and even someone 100oz heavier wont stand a chance against even an amateur boxer. Be responsible and don’t box outside the ring, respect the sport which is centuries old. Talk your way out or get defensive and hold down your opponent( if you box you most likely will be faster and more coordinated than an average joe, defence will be a walk in the park ). This will avoid criminal charges and embarass your opponent to no end. If you aren’t a boxer and this is self defence then by all means…just dont get into a fight with someone who does this regularly because they will block and counter. You will wake up in the ambulance.

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