What Is A Rabbit Punch & Why Are They Illegal In Combat Sport?

What Is A Rabbit Punch?

Throughout the world of boxing and other striking arts, there’s a range of powerful punches that can down an opponent. One of the controversial punches is known as a rabbit punch – a powerful blow that can easily knock out an opponent and do far worse damage.

What Is A Rabbit Punch?

A rabbit punch is a punch aimed at the back of the head or base of the skull. It is known as a rabbit punch as it is used by hunters of rabbits who kill their catch by delivering a blow to the back of the head.

Why Is A Rabbit Punch Illegal In MMA and Combat Sports?

A rabbit punch is illegal in most striking sports, such as boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA, because of the long-lasting damage it can do to an opponent. Punching someone at the back of the head can cause damage to their brain and cause brain bleeds. A strike to the back of the neck or head can also cause separation of the brain stem or a spinal cord injury. Such injuries can cause the recipient to fall into a coma, result in severe debilitation or vegetative state and can even kill. It’s for this reason that the rabbit punch is frowned upon in combat sports. That’s not to say that they aren’t thrown but anyone caught doing so are usually warned or penalised in some way, such as Brock Lesnar who was deducted a point during his first match against Frank Mir in the UFC.

In the heat of a moment, a rabbit punch can be delivered by accident should the opponent move their head in such a way that changes the position and therefore target landing of the strike already been thrown. However, any rabbit punches seen as being deliberate will usually cause the referee to intervene (providing they’re a good referee who’s spotted the punch!).

As you can see from this video, despite being illegal in the sport, rabbit punches can still be seen in boxing. One boxer, Prichard Colón, was seriously injured from being rabbit punched multiple times during his bout in 2015 against Terrell Williams. He ended up in a coma for seven months and, when he finally came out of it, was paralysed both physically and verbally. In 2021, he underwent surgery and his health is improving as a result.

BJJ Fanatics
About Steph 398 Articles
I'm a 2nd Dan Black Belt & certified coach in Japanese Atemi Ju Jitsu, have trained in Muay Thai and currently train in CSW (Combat Submission Wrestling) and CSBJJ at MCKG under Mel Corrigan. I love to compete and have medalled in my own weight division as well as openweight events. I've a total appreciation for all martial arts and always eager to learn new techniques!

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