Are punches to the head more dangerous if you are in the floor, or if you are standing?

Can the attacker apply more force vertically upside-down, or, when he's standing?

  • In your first question, who is "you"? Is this the person punching or being punched? What does it mean to apply force "vertically upside-down"? Standing on your head punching toward your feet?
    – mattm
    May 5, 2017 at 19:26
  • Please be more clear about what you mean and also, is this a question for something speculative, like fighting in zero gravity or something?
    – Bankuei
    May 5, 2017 at 20:11

1 Answer 1


Standing is more "powerful", but that doesn't always mean more dangerous.

It's easy to think that you might be able to generate more power on the ground since gravity is on your side and their head is on the canvas, but the extra force you gain from gravity doesn't make up for the less than ideal punching form.

When you're punching while standing you're generating the majority of your power from your hips turning over. You turn your hips, and your upper body follows suit. The snap of your arm extension is surprisingly a small part of the power equation. Next time you're at a heavy bag try standing perfectly still (no hip movement) and punching with your arm extension only. It's shockingly weak! This is why we rarely see knock outs due to strikes on the ground, and we see the vast majority of knock outs while standing.

This isn't to say that strikes on the ground don't have their place! It's difficult to defend punches when you're on bottom mount, half guard, and to an extent, full guard. Punching from the mount is devastating. It's easier to land punches from advantageous top positions like mount and side control because your opponent not only has to deal with your punches, but also your weight, advancement of position, and submission threats.

While striking from a top position, you're at little risk from strikes from your opponent. You can absolutely take damage from strikes from the bottom, but if your opponent is striking it means they're giving you an opening to advance position, threaten submissions, or do your own striking.

In top position you should be more worried about holding top position than getting hit. This is why we often see MMA fighters use hammer fists and elbows over straight punches. Hammer fists and elbows allow you to strike from top position without requiring a rigid posture. You can hammer fist and elbow while hunched over, fishing for underhooks and threatening submissions.

  • 1
    Good answer, but I'll add the one thing not mentioned in here is the floor itself. When hit while up against a hard un-moving object, the un-moving object adds damage as well. Thus if someone is punched while there head is against concrete it will be alot more serious damage than a padded surface. This is due to the surface behind the head though and not the punch itself. In the case of concrete though, yes it's much more dangerous, but due to the concrete and not the punch...
    – mutt
    May 8, 2017 at 17:50
  • @mutt True, concrete would be more damaging than a cage or ring's wooden floor covered with canvas. It still doesn't come close to the "per strike" damage that can be dealt while standing though.
    – coinbird
    May 8, 2017 at 19:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.