What Is More Powerful: Kicks Or Punches?

What's more powerful: Kicks or Punches? - CraftofCombat.com

This argument may be as old as martial arts itself. Which is the “superior” way of fighting? Hitting someone with your legs or the arms? Are the knees stronger than the elbows? The truth is that they can both be very effective and there’s no easy way to settle the debate.

Are kicks or punches more powerful? Since legs are about 3 to 5 times stronger than arms, there is more force in a kick than a punch. However, it is possible to hit much faster with the arms than it is to kick and this can affect the perceived power of the strike.

Let’s take a look at whole load of situations and compare them better.


How Hard Can The Average Person Kick?

It’s not exactly certain how hard the average person can kick. This is partly because it’s quite hard to define an average person (this would also very greatly from culture to culture – an “average man” in the USA would be substantially taller and heavier than an “average man” in China, for example) and partly because there is a lot of variation in how people kick.

The average “person” is a man for here though we’ll look at the figures for the average woman too. There is a substantial difference between the average man and the average woman when it comes to both kicking and punching.

While a trained martial artist will deliver a kick with maximum efficiency, the “average person” would not have any training and is likely to be hugely inefficient with their kicking.

That doesn’t mean we can’t estimate a force, however, and based on more general data we can say that the answer is probably between 500 Newtons and 3,000 Newtons. It’s a big gap but there’s a big variation in “average people”.


How Fast Can The Average Person Kick?

This is also a tricky question but one which we can get to a more accurate answer for – that’s because there’s a sport in which the speed of a kick is very important, indeed. Football (or soccer as it’s best known in North America).

The average person can kick a ball with a foot velocity of around 70 mph! That’s about as fast as an oncoming car on a motorway or highway in most countries!


How Hard Can A Trained Martial Artist Kick?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to translate the hardest someone’s ever kicked into Newtons as the score on the UFC’s PowerKube is the mark of professional hardness nowadays. Joe Rogan’s kick is said to have scored 152,000 on the PowerKube which is about 22,000 more than the hardest punch ever landed on it!

In the video above we find a trained martial artist delivering a kick with 1000 lbs. of force or 4448 Newtons! This is important, because we also have a video of the same martial artist delivering a punch later on.


How Fast Can A Trained Martial Artist Kick?

A trained martial artist doesn’t seem to be any faster at kicking than the average person and Frank Dux holds the measured record for the fastest kick from a martial artist at 102.3 feet per second which is over 70 miles per hour but not by very much.


How Hard Can A Woman Kick?

On average, a man has about 30-40% more body strength in his lower body than a woman has in hers and this means that the average woman can’t kick as hard as the average man.

This difference has been observed by researchers. However, they didn’t specify how much softer a woman’s kick was than a man’s and they noted that there seemed to be some aspect of the skill applied affecting the outcome too. Thus we are left with an estimate (based on the men’s number) of 300 Newtons to 2,200 Newtons and that’s still more than powerful enough to really hurt.


How Fast Can A Woman Kick?

And though there is research into the speed of women’s kicks, they too did not offer a percentage number of the difference between men and women. So, the estimate would be around 50 miles per hour.


How Hard Can The Average Person Punch?

OK, we’re on to punches and here we have some more data, thankfully. The average man is able to punch at a hit of about 60-85 pounds of force. That’s 500-700 Newtons (ish). As you can see, that’s a lot lower than the force of an average person’s kick. In fact, it’s less than most women’s kicks too. Thus, technically a kick is harder than a punch.


How Fast Can The Average Person Punch?

The average person also punches more slowly than they kick. A study into punching speed found that the average speed of a punch was just 20.4 miles per hour! Given that there is a relationship between speed and power, this might not be too surprising.


How Hard Can A Trained Martial Artist Punch?

A trained fighter should have no problem unleashing a punch in the range of 194-336 pounds of force or about 800-1,200 Newtons of force. That’s quite a bit harder than the average person but not so hard that they can out distance a kick, either.

If you remember our fighter from earlier on though, in the kicking section, he managed to generate a whopping 800 pounds of force (that is nearly 3,200 Newtons) with a punch! Still not as much as his kick but certainly closing the gap. You can see that here:


How Fast Can A Trained Martial Artist Punch?

A trained martial artist cannot punch much faster than an untrained person can. However, because a punch moves an appreciably smaller distance than a kick. It is quite possible to strike many more times with a punch in a given time frame even if the overall speed of a punch is less than that of a kick. This can make a punch a much more powerful weapon than a kick.

Jyanth Reddy, a Taekwondo master from India, has managed to unleash an incredible 352 punches in a single minute! That’s fast and you would definitely need to be a trained fighter to be that fast too.


How Hard Can A Woman Punch?

We have to treat women and men separately, because despite the difference in lower body strength, there’s a much bigger difference in upper body strength. The average man is typically 70-80% stronger in the upper body when compared to the average woman.

This translates into a 162% more powerful punch for men than women, according to research. And this means that women are likely to punch with a force of between 300 and 500 Newtons!


How Fast Can A Woman Punch?

The same multipliers are used here, and this means that a woman’s punch is likely to reach a top speed of about 12 miles per hour!


Conclusion

Are kicks or punches more powerful? When it comes to measuring the force delivered, kicks are more powerful. There’s no doubt that you can kick harder than you can punch. However, it is important to remember that as a fighter, speed wins fights just as much as force (if not more). And so, a faster punch can often have more power in a fight than a slower kick.

This is why the most effective martial arts, tend to use both kicks and punches rather than relying on one over the other.

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