A Marathon Of Punches

Suppose I am pursued by a horde of people numbering in the hundreds, maybe thousands. I am unarmed.

However, they are also not procuring arms, and instead of ganging up, are choosing to charge me one by one, attempting to engage in hand to hand combat.

Their charges can be reckless, and they sometimes seem to be running into my punches.

I do not wish to kill anyone, merely to knock the lot unconscious so I can get on with my business. But given their numbers, it seems like this might take a while, perhaps several hours.

Let’s assume my technique is top notch, to minimize my breaking a hand or foot on a particular punch. What are likely to be the biggest stressers as the punches pile up from my POV (my attackers will all be receiving a single incapacitating blow.) How should I train for such a circumstance in the future?

You’ll have to kick or have your hand bones fused to hold up to that many punches. You need to develop exquisite speed, balance, and timing to connect with disabling kicks, and incredible stamina. Nobody can have the stamina to disable thousands of attackers unless they give you some time to rest. You’ll need to train as a martial artist and toughen up your body to withstand the impsct of that many kicks. Your best bet is a a sweeping kick to the point of the jaw that rotates your attackers neck and knocks the attacker out with minimal impact on your foot. . Body blows or any contact straight on to the attacker will kick back a lot of the force into your body, you won’t be able to stand up to that kind of punishment for even tens of attackers.

You will be much better off to train for running instead of fighting.

Are you perhaps Jean-Claude van Damme, as he [you?] seems to get into an awful lot of these one-V-many fights, but there appears to be some sort of ticketing system in operation, as the baddies dutifully wait their turn to come in and get the living tripe kicked / punched / squirrel-gripped out of them.

Kyokushinkai Karate-Do has a 100 man sparring challenge, which is hard enough that there is a finite list of people who have done it [less than 30 in 50 years]. I suspect all of them were high dan levels in peak fitness, with many years of sparring training behind them. Kyokushinkai is one of the flavours of karate where they do lots of breaking and building up massive callouses on hands and feet.

In the words of Akira in the Simpsons ‘First you must fill your head with wisdom. Then you can break ice with it.’

It’s that kind of thought experiment. Optimal conditions, attackers come in one at a time, running into punches and doing everything they can to get knocked out. How many body blows could one person reasonably afflict? How much caloric intake would be required, muscle fatigue? Would different parts of the body breakdown, assuming broken hands and bones of the one person are minimized as much as realistically possible.

I will open it up to any sort of body blow, not just punches. Elbows, shoulders, you name it. The stream of attackers is coming in chin first.

Exercise your jaw a lot, since sooner or later it’ll come down to biting.

This won’t work. It is a common myth repeated ad nauseum by movies and tv, but there is no way to knock someone out safely for hours without the skill set and equipment of an anesthesiologist.

You can achieve the same effect with some drugs, though far less safely. Some gases will also do the trick, but since you won’t use anything beyond your body, there is one way to knock someone out: high torque around the brain stem.

If you hit the side of the chin and jaw area, you ensure the highest torque and therefore are most likely to cause a knockout. Hitting the side of the head is also a viable target area.

The knockout is likely the result of a signal disruption between the motor cortex and the central nervous system asscociated with voluntary movement: you lose control over your muscles and go down.

The more force you create, the more likely a knockout will occur. If you are a heavyweight, you will have an easier time do do so than a bantam, but as long as you know how to punch with your body weight, you will be able to repeatedly send adversaries to the floor.

Training will help you a lot - more than most people expect: your goal is to create a lot of force while moving your mass in the right direction, both as quickly as you can; with lots of training you achieve multiple times the force that can be produced by an average person.

A professional boxer’s hand can punch with more than 50km/h or around 32mph; in experiments, boxers have produced 3,000 Newtons (that’s more than 300kg), but they were no heavyweights. Those guys will hit you with something around 5,000 Newtons.

Frank Bruno’s punch was measured once at around 1,400 pounds. If true, we are talking about 635kg of force there, or more than 6200 Newton.

But all that force - as overwhelming as it is for an average guy - will not produce the effect that you aim for.

You are far more likely to injure anyone attacking you than to knock them out - and expect to cause a couple of deaths if your pursuers don’t get medical attention; and even if you manage to produce the torque for a clean knockout, it will only last for seconds.

After that, your adversary will become conscious again, though he will still be disoriented and confused and in no shape to pursue you any longer - though if he doesn’t care about his well-being, he might be back in the pack after a couple of minutes.

OTOH, even a clean knockout will likely cause longterm damage, like loss of memory, mood swings and a lowered capacity to process information.

If you don’t want to cause severe damage, you are out of luck. And if you don’t mind, you will still not be able to punch out hundreds of people. Your stamina is limited and you will aggregate injuries that will add up to a point when you can’t fight back any longer.

The only way to get through your scenario is fear, imo: be vicious with your first attackers, make a mess, make them scream and cry and squirm around broken.

If you did horrible things to the first two or three in front of me, I’d prefer to do something else, like get the hell out of there. And since fear is contagious, others would do the same.

I think you would be exhausted in short order rather then suffer problems with your hands. Those 100 man challenges take days with rest periods after each short fight. I give you half an hour, tops.


That degree of trauma would probably cause rhabdomyolysis, even if you are getting the better of your opponents.

Train in cardio. Lots and lots of cardio. You’ll be surprised at how winded you’ll be after only a few minutes.

Even champion boxers feel the strain past 10 rounds. This is how Ali’s hands looked after the Copper fight:

If you’re not bound by the closed fist condition, try a number of different striking surfaces on your hand. The toughest part of the hand is the base of the palm. The knife hand is good for hard body targets, while the back fist and ridge hard are good for soft parts.

With regard to endurance, aside from basic cardio training, you should reach that part of the training cycle wherein you are practicing sparring exclusively (3-5 minute bouts.) To increase endurance, do consecutive bouts without any rest in between.

I hope the OP is getting the idea that it is impossible to accomplish what he describes in the OP. If he is lucky, with proper training, he may be able to knock out one person who attacks him.

It’s also unlikely that a horde of people will attack somebody one at a time like that outside of a kung fu movie.

On the other hand, with a moderate amount of training at running you should be able to pretty easily outrun 100 average people.

I’d compare this task to being in a batting cage and imagining how many times you could hit the balls coming at you before tiring out. Yes you have a tool/weapon, but your “opponents” are just coming smoothly at you with the same timing, place, and speed every time. And you just have a simple technique to pull off each time then the opponent disappears so you don’t even need to keep walking backwards as the bodies pile up. You also need to pay attention and exert yourself each time, so it might be a valid comparison.

With balls coming at you every 5 seconds (and needing to hit every one of them), I cant see you going much over 10-15 minutes before your arms start going rubbery, even if you have the skill to switch hands. So say after 150 or so attackers I’d think your technique would start to suffer. I guess it would depend on just how much effort you’d need to exert each time. You could probably go a lot longer if your technique is so sophisticated that you really just need to hold your hand out with enough force for the opponent to KO themselves… similar to bunting. If however you need to knock them out of the park every time and your muscles start burning, you’d probably be done in 5 minutes after KOing 50 or 60 people.

Look at what happened to boxing champion George Foreman during the famous Rumble in the Jungle.

Ali started the rope-a-dope bit in the 2nd round. By the end of the fifth Ali started to really hurt Foreman and Foreman was basically worn out from the 6th round on. Ali won in the 8th.

Foreman was given ~66 points by the scorers. Figure quite a few times that for the total number of punches thrown but it’s the ones that hit hard that will wear down the thrower the most.

Note that Ali had got some good punches in even when doing rope-a-dope. Something the attackers would occasionally be able to do even if somewhat inept.

So if George Freakin’ Foreman can’t maintain a strong pace of punching for 24 minutes with multiple minute long rests, I don’t think the defender in the OP is going to last against even a few dozen inept opponents.

What about using judo, aikido or some other martial art that uses the opponents force against them? I think i might be much easier to ensure 100 knockout due to face plants than punches, especially given that, according to the OP, the attackers are semi-compliant. But this may be getting outside of the OP question which specified punches.