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Anyone who's ever watched a fight knows how impressive a one-shot knockout can be. And anyone who's ever actually been in a fight knows that it's a lot harder to pull off than it looks in the movies. The secret to the one-punch knockout isn't really a secret though; it simply requires a basic understanding of your opponent's body and how you can take advantage of its inherent weaknesses. In short, the perfect knockout punch has almost nothing to do with size and strength and everything to do with technique and precision.
The Mechanics of a Knockout
If you watch a fight, you'll notice that nine times out of ten, when someone gets knocked out, it's right after the fighter's head got snapped around somehow. Whether it was a solid hook to the jaw, a spinning kick that landed behind the ear, or even an uppercut that rocked the recipient back on his heels, the important thing is the motion of the head. That sudden, forceful snap is actually what results in the knockout.
While it's a little gross to think about, the human brain is actually just floating in the jar of liquid that is the skull. When the head gets snapped around, it makes the brain jar against the skull, and that can result in disorientation, confusion, and a stuttering in the brain function. Sort of like hitting your computer when it's trying to run some complex functions. That momentary interruption is all it takes to send an opponent crashing to the floor, and the impact of the head on the ground is usually enough to finish what the original knockout punch began.
So How Do I Do That?
It sounds easy when put into such basic terms, but if a one-punch K.O. was really that simple, then combat sports wouldn't be nearly so interesting. The goal is to land a forceful blow to the side of the head and to spin it around. Ideal methods are a hook punch to the temple or to the jaw, because those will hurt, disorient, and result in the snapping motion you want. A spinning kick delivers more force, but will be harder to aim.
For those who prefer the uppercut method, all you have to do is land a solid punch or palm-heel strike on the underside of the jaw, slamming up and rocking the head back. This will give you the right head motion, and it has the added benefit of compressing the nerves at the back of the neck for further pain and fight-ending potential.
Regardless of the particular blow someone uses, it's important to execute proper technique. This means you don't punch with your arm or kick with your leg; instead, put your whole body behind the blow. Twist the hips and direct the full force of your body so that it lands in a single, hard blow that will rattle your opponent's brain and end the fight in one, decisive strike.
The following video actually does a pretty good job of walking you through this and illustrating some of the above points for those who want to see what the form is supposed to look like.
Of course, a strike to the head is not the only way to knock someone out quickly and efficiently. In fact, rattling the brain is one of three fairly basic ways to knock out an opponent. The other two methods are interrupting blood flow to the brain or interrupting air flow. So if you strike the arteries in the neck hard enough to stutter the supply of blood, or if you hit someone so hard that he or she can't breathe, then it's very likely they'll pass out. When it comes to blood and air interruption, though, it's a much safer option to implement submission holds rather than to try and strike key areas. Holds like The Guillotine or the infamous Sleeper Hold are perhaps two of the most well-known blood chokes used in MMA today.