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Types of Punches

Updated: Jan 15

There are many types of punches. Most of them are used in boxing for competitive reasons. However, some are easy to learn and are extremely effective in a fight for self-defense reasons. Let’s take a look at two of them.

1. Cross Punch (Straight Punch)

The cross punch, otherwise known as the straight punch is the first punch most people learn to do. It’s easy and effective. Curl your four fingers inwards, then tuck your thumb against your middle and ring finger. Make sure your thumb is on the OUTSIDE of your other fingers. When you punch, your fist and wrist should align with your forearm so your arm extends straight out. (See the article “How to Punch Correctly” for more details.) This punch can be used when your opponent is a short or medium distance away, but it doesn’t work as well when your opponent is actively moving. If you’re throwing a cross punch and your opponent moves to the left or to the right, you won’t hit him/her because you’re punching straight out. However, if you throw a hook and your opponent moves to the left or right, you’ll still hit him/her because of the shape of the punch.

2. Hook

In competitions, lots of people have been knocked out from a strong and well-executed hook. Like its name, the hook is done by punching in a shape similar to a hook. Make a fist in the same way as before. Instead of punching straight out, punch in a tight arc. You can punch either with your palm facing downwards (like in a cross punch) or with your palm facing you (like how you would play rock in “rock paper scissors”). When you punch, keep your arm close to your body. Punching in a wide arc makes it more likely for you to miss or for your opponent to see what you’re doing. Because you’re punching in an arc, your range is not as great. Therefore, only use the hook when your opponent is relatively close to you. This type of punch is also very effective when your opponent is actively moving around. (Reasons stated above.)

Cross Punch vs. Hook

Cross Punch:

  • Used when your opponent is a short to medium distance away

  • Can punch with either arm in either stance

  • Can be used for speed or for power

  • Hard to see coming

  • Not as effective when your opponent is moving around a lot.

  • Usually used when aiming for throat and body


  • Used when your opponent is a short distance away

  • Usually used with the same arm as leg in front (ex. If your left leg is in front, punch with your left arm.)

  • Generally only used for power

  • Relatively easy to see coming

  • Great for when your opponent is moving a lot.

  • Usually used when aiming for chin/jaw and liver

All in all, knowledge of how to throw both of these punches is invaluable and could save your life one day. The cross punch and the hook are used in different circumstances, so it’s up to you to determine when to use each one. However, just knowing how to throw these punches isn’t enough. Make sure to practice them so you can protect yourself if you ever need to.

By Alexandra Chu

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