Some physics about martial arts

I found this video (see below) on you tube and it shows, supported by scientific evidence, a number of facts about what martial art deliver the strongest punch, kick and so on: the video is a National Geographic production and it’s very well made.

Here some of the facts that emerge:

  • Boxing delivers the strongest punch.  Boxing is solely based on punches so boxers continuously refine their techniques until is well polished and super powerful.  Another interesting aspect to consider is that there are many people that practice oriental martial arts for a number of reasons outside sport fighting.  Boxing on the other hand is for fighting and punching hard is part of the specs.
  • The power of any kind of strike is very much based on proper footwork and the co-ordination of the whole body.
  • The most powerful kick is a spinning back side kick: as know it is the combination of using the large groups of muscles from the leg and the bottom, together with a fast spinning action that adds momentum to the technique.
  • A knee strike from a professional Muay Thai fighter may deliver the same impact of being hit by a car travelling at 35 Mph.

I enjoyed watching this video that alternates real life scenes of martial artists striking a dummy in a lab, together with some computer graphics animations that show the physics of the impact while it’s happening.  There are also a few scenes from kung fu movies typically choreographed in Hong Kong style.

While I agree with the general conclusions shown in the video I would like to point out a main factor that makes it a bit unfair.  It is a fact that number people of similar size and body shape might have completely different muscle density and deliver very different results in term of strength and power when striking.  At the same time body weight plays a very strong role in the power delivered in a strike.

I don’t agree in measuring and comparing in absolute terms the over thousand pounds of strike from the boxer, to the lower result obtained by the kung fu master who is obviously much lighter than the rest of the people in the show.

One thought on “Some physics about martial arts

  1. I agree with a most of your comments on this programme. While it was a good good idea, it was very poorly executed, there seemed to be different restrictions to equipment, movement before techniques and how the dummy was held (e.g the Muay Thai practitioner held the dummy to restrict its movement on the technique); the sample size was very much too small, and the physics used was just POOR. but to a layman in physics, its OK.

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