Martial Arts Punch Defense Variations

The straight punch, or jab, is a widely used technique used in almost every existing martial art. Though different arts may vary slightly in how they deliver this technique, the biggest difference lies in how they defend against it. Some martial arts will block the blow with a stagnant defense. Others will avoid contact completely by dodging or evading by moving in or to the side. This article will analyze how some of the most popular martial arts in the world defend against that attack.

Martial Arts Punch Defense Variations

Tae Kwon Do, Karate and Muay Thai

Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Muay Thai are similar in their defense of punches in that they block the attack in a hard stop that accepts much of the energy. The most popular punch defense in Tae Kwon Do is either an in-to-outside or an out-to-inside block. To perform this block, one will start in the guard, one arm across the body and the other fist up by the face, by bringing the front arm either from the outside-in or inside-out of the body; this pushes the punch off course. Karate starts from the same guard, but will employ a box block. The box block will move up, down, left or right, but only by a few inches; choosing to take an angle so that not so much force is necessary. In Muay Thai, the most common punch defense is accepting the blow to the guard. To form the guard, one will place both fists on the forehead while keeping the elbows in tight. The Muay Thai practitioner may turn slightly to deflect some of the blow, but the guard will absorb most of the blow.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, and Judo

These martial arts prefer to take an angle to the oncoming offense, desiring to not incur quite as much damage. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) defends mostly against ground techniques, though they acknowledge that most fights will start in stand-up. A BJJ practitioner may dodge the punch altogether, coming in with a take-down. To handle punches from the ground, much like the Muay Thai practitioner, one will use a guard. Aikido is all about redirecting energy in a circular fashion. The Aikido practitioner may block to the outside of the opponents hand, continuing the momentum in a circle – usually ending in some kind of lock. Judo, like BJJ, does not like to address the punch directly. A Judo practitioner may side step the punch, following through with some form of lock or wrist manipulation.

Krav Maga and Wing Chun

Krav Maga and Wing Chun fall somewhere in the middle of our previous two groups in their defense against punches; both desire minimal movement, taking the path of least resistance. In Krav Maga, a practitioner will start with both hands open and in front of the face, stepping to the side and pushing one hand out to meet the oncoming punch; directing it off target. Wing Chun will start off similarly to Krav Maga, with both hands open and up by the face, though one hand will be reaching farther out than the other. The hand closest to the oncoming punch will push out, palm up, commanding the space that the opponents punch was in. An alternative to that is to intercept it with a straight punch of their own.


All of these martial arts will teach more than one way to defend against a punch, and can by no means be boxed into a few sentences. Each of these examples, rather, displays the arts’ mentality when defending a punch – which can be just as important as the actual move. Whether your goal is to stop a punch in its’ tracks, redirect it, or dodge it completely, being able to defend against a straight punch is a necessity in any art.


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