What are all of the things that apply to how hard someone can punch?

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I’m a combat sports fan, and I have always wondered why there are matches where a heavyweight boxer has a significant weight advantage over his opponent, but then his opponent still hits way harder, despite the 40+ pound difference. But that was just one of my examples, what are almost if not all of the factors that determine how hard a person can hit?

I know that weight and actual punching technique are the two main ones, but I can’t think of much more, other than say your bones in your hands, and maybe just being explosive in general.

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“Technique” covers a lot of factors; striking speed, fist shape, where the hit is landing, the angle of attack, biomechanical positioning of the body, etc… look up some videos of Bruce Lee’s one inch punch. That small man sent guys twice his weight flying back, because of explosive force, muscle definition, and technique

force = mass * acceleration.

the weight is the weight of the entire person. what matters is the effective mass of the punch and it’s acceleration.

technique involves maximizing your effective mass (ie putting your entire weight, or as much of it as possible, into the punch) and it’s acceleration. something like boxing and mma splits into weight classes because at the very elite level people are able to theoretically maximze the effective mass behind the punch so then the only advantage you have over your opponent is your weight and how effectively you utilize the weight.

imagine you’re standing still, you punch vs leaning your body back and punching forward with your entire body. which one has a higher effective mass?

another example is if you ever watch medicine ball throws, javelin throws, baseball pitching or any sport where you throw something as far/fast as possible. they’re doing all kinds of things to increase the effective force they put into the object they’re throwing.

body mass can absorb own energy, being less rigid, and definitely reduces speed wich is a key factor in kinetic energy. also 40- could mean leaner and/or shorter body, giving the advantage of a better leverage to the ground on the impact.
sometimes for a heavy fighter is not about how hard, but IF he can hit a lighter and more agile fighter. he has to compromise his technique and significantly reduce the hit span in order to be faster, but those big arms need a lot of runway to gain momentum, so they’re not gainig to much force 🙂

The most important thing is actually just mass. Big fat people (with a bunch of muscle underneath) actually punch extremely hard, even if they don’t seem to be punching as hard visibly. But apart from that, using your mass effectively by driving with your whole body in a kinetic chain, the speed and power of the muscles throwing the punch, and even just using your bone structure to support the punch properly, are all factors. In general, if two people are both combat athletes, the bigger one will hit harder, just by virtue of mass x acceleration, but if they are not evenly matched, I’m sure a lightweight boxer would hit much harder than tubby couch potato with much more mass.
Punching also takes a lot of energy if you are driving with muscles and not just sticking your hand out in a jab, so some people expend a lot of energy and others try to conserve it. And if one person is much more cardiovascular fit, they will be able to keep throwing harder punches while the other one will tire out