Want to Punch Harder? Why Conditioning the Knuckles Doesn’t Help You
There’s a lot of attention paid to conditioning the knuckles and the hands for martial arts practice. Martial artists who train for self-defense, or those who train for security services or bar bouncing both want to have rock-hard fists that can deliver a solid punch without getting injured.
These guys have a secret that they use when they throw full-power punches at a resisting opponent. With this technique, they can avoid hand damage, broken bones in the hand, and smashed knuckles. I’ll let you in on the secret near the end of this article, but first I’ll tell you why conditioning the hands to withstand a punch is unrealistic and useless.
Unfortunately, conditioning the hands to withstand a full power punch is painful, dangerous, and ultimately futile. Unless you plan to make a career out of karate-style breaking demonstrations where you break blocks of concrete to thrill an audience, you shouldn’t worry too much about it. Allow me to tell you why.
Knuckle conditioning is painful
To strengthen the knuckles and bones in your fists, you have to literally damage them, over and over again, and hope they grow stronger.
Damaged bone will get thicker and more dense over time, but this process can take quite a while. And it’s a fine line between training and outright irreversible damage. If you don’t do things just right, you’ll end up with arthritis, or an acute injury that will never heal properly.
It’s for these reasons that knuckle conditioning is good for a lot of risk and pain, but very little gain.
Making the hand bones stronger is dangerous
As described above, the only way to make the bones of the hand (and the knuckles) stronger is to bash them against a hard surface — called impact training — over and over again.
This is dangerous, because it obviously puts you at risk of an acute injury. Simply put, the risk of severe damage outweighs the dubious benefit conveyed by the minor damage that you intend to do.
And there’s more: the repetitive stress of impact training can cause arthritis in the joints. Damage the joints and connective tissue in your fingers, hands, and wrists, and you seriously affect your quality of life and your ability to function in society.
In the end, hand conditioning is useless
No matter how strong you think you are making your hands or knuckles when you condition your hands to withstand the impact of a punch, you can’t make them strong enough to avoid injury.
If you punch someone in the teeth, your knuckles will get sliced open, despite all your conditioning training. There is no way to make the flesh tough enough to avoid it.
Likewise, if you’re in a fight and you hit someone with full power in the forehead — or on the point of the elbow — the bones in your hand will shatter like dry twigs. It doesn’t matter if you are a young kid or an experienced martial artists with a decade of conditioning the fists under his belt, your hands will never be strong enough to stand up to damage of this sort.
Those are just facts of life. Even world-class boxers and MMA fighters break their hands in competition or in training. The hands are fragile and no amount of training can change that fact.
How to harden your fists
Now we get to the real secrets used by bouncers, cops, soldiers, bodyguards, and other guys who need to be able to trust their punch under any condition.
These guys wear gloves that have either hardened or weighted knuckles. These sorts of gloves are virtually indistinguishable from normal gloves, but they markedly increase the power of your punch while also protecting your knuckles and the back of your hand from damage.