The Science of a Knockout

The Science of a Knockout

Most people, whether fighters or spectators have heard the term “glass jaw” or “glass chin.” No one wants to have one of those because it means you get knocked out easily. But why is that the case, and where exactly is the “button” for a solid knockout?


“Hit him on the button Mac!” – Doc

Usually the point of contact for a clean knockout is a fist to the chin or jaw. But the actual chin or jaw is not the ultimate reason the opponent goes to sleep.

When there is an impact to the head, the brain is rattled, and smashes against the inner walls of the skull. This sometimes causes blurred vision, weakness in the legs, etc., which is technically a concussion. A person’s brain will shut down when it gets rattled around too much, thus causing a knockout.

The reason that the chin and the jaw are the main targets is because these two areas, when impacted, cause the most amount of head movement, sending the brain into a rattling frenzy and most likely causing a quicker KO. The chin is the ultimate sweet spot as it causes the most sudden head turning.

Hitting your opponent on the top of the head may cause damage, and the front of the face will cause swollen eyes and a bloody nose, however these areas cause the least amount of head movement. The sides of the head cause a bit more “brain-rattling,” and the temples are softer, weaker spots as well.

Knockouts look like they are caused by one single blow, which is sometimes the case if it happens early in the fight, however most of the time they are due to multiple hits – little-by-little brain rattling and small concussions throughout each round.

Boxing always teaches to keep your hands up and chin down. This is one of the best defenses against a knockout. In turn, it is important to be braced for impact; if your neck and shoulders are too relaxed and you are struck by surprise, your head will snap much more severely than if you are braced for the impact.

A lot of fighters and coaches claim that working on their neck and shoulder muscles helps as well; having a strong, stable neck can help combat the impact of a blow. However, doctors and scientists have stated that advantageous anatomy when it comes to avoiding knockouts is mostly genetic.

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