A comparison of the reverse and power punches in oriental martial arts
2006, Indiana University
Traditional martial arts punches, such as the reverse punch, rely on the acceleration of the combined mass of the arm and parts of the torso through a long range of motion to generate momentum for transfer to the target. However, the martial arts also use focused striking techniques that use of very small ranges of motion prior to impact, such as the three-inch "power punch" that begins with the knuckles of the punching hand about three inches from the target, and then drives directly into the target from this position without any countermovement. Some martial artists believe that the power punch is as potent as the reverse punch. This is surprising, because the limited range of motion should not be expected to allow the fist to reach a large velocity before impact.
This study sought to find out if the power punch is as potent as the reverse punch, and if so, to find out what are the mechanical reasons for it.
Twelve expert male martial artists stood on a force plate, and executed reverse and power punches against a padded target. An infrared motion tracking system measured punch velocity and the force plate measured punch force.
Conclusions. The reverse punch produced larger velocities immediately before impact than the power punch. The peak force exerted by the fist was also larger in the reverse punch than in the power punch. However, the linear impulse exerted by the fist during the main part of the impact was similar in the reverse and power punches.