What Is Stronger a Punch or a Kick?

While there are many techniques available in fighting, most combat sports and martial arts primarily use punches and kicks for striking. So whether you are an aspiring fighter or somebody who is just curious about combat, you may wonder whether a punch or a kick is stronger.

A kick when it is properly executed is much stronger than a punch since it is a longer lever, uses stronger muscles, and accelerates more mass. All of these factors put together generate maximal impact energy through higher momentum, resulting in kicks being stronger than punches.

Let’s explore all the basics that you need to know about kicks versus punches. We will look into some of the basic physics behind kicks and punches and talk about how they might be properly applied to have maximum effect.

Why Are Kicks Stronger Than Punches?

Kicks are stronger than punches because more energy and momentum can be delivered in a kick than in a punch. Ultimately between the longer lever and the ability to transfer greater mass and momentum, kicks are generally more powerful than punches.

Kicks Versus Punches: The Mechanics 

It is helpful to explore the physics behind punches and kicks to understand why kicks are stronger than punches. You get more momentum from a kick because your leg is longer and heavier than your arm. In addition, you can accelerate more mass into a kick through a kicking motion, which generates much more impact energy because of the greater momentum.

So, let’s look at the details and discover the physics behind why kicks are better than punches. 

Kicks Offer More Momentum

Momentum is velocity times mass. The velocity is generated through using your muscles to execute a technique through space, and the mass is any part of your body that can you commit the weight into the technique itself. Since legs are longer levers you get to create more velocity since the strike travels farther. Kicks also tend to use the heavier lower body as the mass within the technique, which results in far more momentum transferred at the point of impact.

Kicks Have More Kinetic Energy

Some kicks generate more kinetic energy. For example, the back thrust kick incorporates movement and twist from your hip, back, and leg. When you perform this kick, the strength and force from each area increase your momentum, delivering a potent blow. 

More Contact Time 

A kick allows for more contact time with your opponent’s body than a punch. A sidekick will enable you to hit your opponent and extend your leg. Through this time, your foot is in contact with your opponent, continuously delivering damage. 

Do Kicks Hurt More Than Punches?

As kicks have more force than a punch, they will hurt more when executed correctly. However, it is harder to achieve a perfect kick.

Kicks hurt more than punches when you use proper technique. A kick that is not executed well will not be distinctively more painful than a punch since it will be more poorly executed on average.

If you do want to use a kick to damage an opponent, here’s what you should keep in mind: 

  • Choose your kick effectively. There are several types of kicks in martial arts. Choose the type based on what your aim is. Choose a sidekick if you want to push a fighter backward. A roundhouse kick will help you build momentum and deliver blows to the head. Meanwhile, you can use a push kick to throw your fighter off balance. 
  • Choose kicking targets to inflict pain. If you are looking to end a fight quickly, targeting certain more painful areas can be prudent. Kicking them in the groin, liver, or kidney areas will cause a lot of pain and end a fight quickly.

If you want to know about the most painful places to be punched check out What Kind of Punches Are the Most Painful?

How Strong Is an Average Human Kick?

An average human can kick with up to 1000 pounds (453.6 kg) of force. A man may deliver around 1200 pounds (544 kg) of force, while a woman can provide about 500 pounds (227 kg) in a kick. The amount of force a human and fighter changes based on their height, weight, and training. 

How Hard Can a Trained Martial Artist Kick?

A martial artist can kick very hard with around 2000 pounds (907 kg) of force per blow. A more practiced martial artist will be able to use more energy in the kick, causing more damage to their opponent. 

However, martial artists need to train for a significant amount of time to progress their kicking technique and achieve that 2000 lbs (907 kg) of power. 

How Strong is an Average Human Punch?

An average human punch is usually as strong as 150 pounds of force (68 kg), which is significantly less than the force of a kick. However, an average human can improve their punch force by building on their form and choosing the correct stance. 

Here are some factors that can improve the force of a human punch: 

  • Practice your punches. The best way to improve the force of your punch is to improve your form. You can improve your punching technique by practicing and working with an experienced trainer. 
  • Do strength training drills. As well as practicing punches, you should also do core training to improve your overall strength. Increasing your strength will enhance the force at which you punch. Some exercises you can do are the medicine ball throw, the Plyometric push-up, and shadowboxing. 
  • Improve your speed. If you improve the speed of your punch, it will hit your opponent harder. However, make sure you don’t sacrifice your aim when enhancing your speed. 
  • Perfect your stance. The way you stand before a punch is as important as the punch itself. Make sure your posture allows you balance and the flexibility to move your arm quickly. You should also make sure that your fist is correctly curved. 

Some punches cause more harm than others. The amount of damage a punch does depends on where it hits. Here are the areas where a punch can cause the most damage: 

  • Nose. If you punch your opponent’s nose, you may not need a lot of force or pressure. However, you can cause significant damage to your opponent. 
  • Jaw. A punch on the jaw can knock your opponent out. A jaw punch doesn’t need aim or accuracy; just a fair amount of strength. 
  • Chin. Punching the chin can cause your opponent to become disoriented. If you aim correctly, you don’t need a large amount of force – you can easily injure your opponent with a chin punch. 

How Hard Can a Martial Artist Punch?

A martial artist can punch at a force of 325 pounds (147 kg) when delivering a reverse punch. Recent studies recorded the strongest reverse punch of 412 pounds (187 kg). Meanwhile, a short-range punch can create a force of 178 pounds (81 kg). 

Are Kicks Effective? 

Kicks are effective when used correctly. As well as offering more power, they have a more extended range. If your opponent keeps a significant distance from you, you can use a kick to deliver damage. 

However, there are some drawbacks to a kick’s effectiveness: 

  • They are riskier. Some kicks, including high kicks, expose vulnerable areas of the fighter’s body and can leave a fighter off balance. 
  • They need more stylistic refinement. The legs are more difficult to control and maneuver to hit a target. As a result, kicks generally take more training to perfect than punches. 

Are Punches More Effective Than Kicks?

While kicks offer more force than a punch, many fighters prefer to use punches. That is because punches provide more flexibility and advantages in a fighting context. Punches also allow you to keep balance and help you conserve energy. 

Here’s a more detailed look at why punches may be more effective than kicks: 

  • They require less energy. It takes less energy to deliver a punch as compared to a kick. As a result, punches may suit you better in an extended flight as you will be able to conserve your energy. 
  • They allow you to keep balanced. As you are not moving your legs when punching, you can use your legs to keep you balanced. A kick may cause you to fall over, leaving you vulnerable to attacks. 
  • Harder to counter. From an opponent’s perspective, punches are harder to counter as they can be delivered more quickly. The punching speed leaves the opponent less time to anticipate and block the move. 
  • They are more versatile. Delivering a kick above the hips takes balance and practice. If you want to hurt your opponent above the waist, a punch may be a better option because they allow you to reach and harm more areas. 

As a fighter or a martial artist, you should experiment with various moves to find the best fit. Some martial arts may call upon you to use more kicks, while others need more punches. 

Continue refining your technique and skill spectrum to ensure you can use both punches and kicks when and if needed. 

Final Thoughts

Kicks when executed properly generate more force and are stronger striking weapons when it comes to powerful striking. Punches are typically easier to execute and more flexible for most people to use in fighting.

Both types of techniques highly benefit from the fighter being more massive, which is why heavyweights have such powerful punches and kicks compared to their lighter counterparts. Additionally, training techniques and physical attributes to allow a fighter to create more velocity and accelerate mass more effectively create far greater overall power output, which is why average humans can’t really compare with trained fighters.

For more check out Which Martial Art Uses the Most Kicks? 5 Best Kicking Arts


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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