What Are Rabbit Punches?


The rabbit punch has been around for as long as boxers have been fighting one another. Although it has a cute name, this is a particularly dangerous move. It is typically banned in most formal boxing and martial arts events. The rabbit punch can cause severe injury to an opponent and should never be used except in the most extreme self defense situations.

Definition and Origin

  • By definition, a rabbit punch is a punch to the back of the opponent's head, at the base of the skull, or to the back of the neck. It is also used by some to refer to any blow to the back of the opponent, such as the spine or the kidneys. The probable origin of the term is in the sharp blow to the back of the head used by hunters or trappers to kill rabbits.

Why It's Dangerous

  • The rear base of the skull is relatively unprotected, and is also the region where the spinal column joins the brain stem. This type of punch can damage the spinal vertebrae, the spine itself or the brain stem. Possible consequences range from paralysis to death. For this punch to be delivered, the opponent generally has to be facing away from the puncher. That means he has no chance to block or avoid the blow, and is likely already injured or dazed.

Rules and Regulations

  • The act of rabbit punching, defined as a deliberate strike to the back of the opponent's head or to the opponent's back in general, is banned outright as a foul by all major boxing organizations. In 2008, the Association of Boxing Commissions formally declared the rabbit punch a forbidden technique in mixed martial arts competitions.

Pop Culture

  • The term rabbit punch has a wider meaning in common language usage and popular culture. Essentially, it is used to refer to any situation where a person or group is taken by surprise, especially when being attacked or criticized. The term has also been used as a video game title, a movie title, and for a popular golden age Looney Tunes cartoon. Bugs Bunny was featured in a fight versus "The Crusher" in that cartoon from 1948.

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