20 Royalty-Free Punching Sound Effects and Their Use In Film

Punching sound effects play a crucial role in every great fight scene, be it in a film, show or video game. They’re typically built from a combination of foley recordings and post-production sound design. When executed carefully, they can make the combat feel more immersive.

It’s fairly common to hear secondary sfx combined with punches, like whoosh sounds. In real life, it’s unlikely that someone’s fist would ever move fast enough to make an audible sound. But as every experienced sound designer knows, it’s the emotional impact of a sound that matters most.

In this article we’ll cover a variety of different sounds and nuances that could otherwise be overlooked. Our team rounded up a collection of 20 royalty-free punch sound effects for you as well, embedded in the audio player below. Download the wav files for free and use them in any of your commercial projects.

Punching Sound Effects

Punching Sound Effects

Foley, Sound Design

# Track Name Category Tags Duration
Slow Motion PunchFoley, Sound DesignSlo-moLoading...
Boxing Gloves Punch 1Foley, Sound DesignBoxingLoading...
Boxing Gloves Punch 2Foley, Sound DesignBoxingLoading...
Body Punch 3Foley, Sound DesignBodyLoading...
Body Punch 2Foley, Sound DesignBodyLoading...
Body Punch 1Foley, Sound DesignBodyLoading...
Body Punch 4Foley, Sound DesignBodyLoading...
Body Punch 5Foley, Sound DesignBodyLoading...
Swoosh 2Foley, Sound DesignSwooshLoading...
Swoosh 1Foley, Sound DesignSwooshLoading...
Swoosh 3Foley, Sound DesignSwooshLoading...
Swoosh 4Foley, Sound DesignSwooshLoading...
Crunchy PunchFoley, Sound DesignGoryLoading...
Bloody Punch 2Foley, Sound DesignGoryLoading...
Bloody Punch 1Foley, Sound DesignGoryLoading...
Face Punch 2Foley, Sound DesignFaceLoading...
Face Punch 3Foley, Sound DesignFaceLoading...
Face Punch 4Foley, Sound DesignFaceLoading...
Face Punch 5Foley, Sound DesignFaceLoading...
Face Punch 1Foley, Sound DesignFaceLoading...

Mortal Kombat, Rush Hour 2: Body punch sounds

There are three primary considerations for designing punch sounds. You need to think about who’s throwing the punch, where the punch is landing, and the intensity of the blow. Body punch sounds are an excellent starting point for studying this topic.

Above is a trailer from the video game Mortal Kombat X (2015). Notice how each heavy punch is prefaced by a short whoosh sound and combined with some secondary sound. At the 0:27 marker, an uppercut is delivered directly to the opponent’s elbow and we hear a horrifying crunch sound as the bones appear to break.

Video games often make use of catastrophic sounds and visuals, like breaking bones, for emphasis rather than realism. The opponent continues to fight as if nothing happened.

This second example from the 2001 film Rush Hour highlights a second possibility. When a high volume of punches are being thrown during a long fight scene, we tend to hear low-intensity foley that sounds more like a slap. Loud impact sounds are used sparingly, at the end of a combination of punches. This helps to emphasize the final hit and provides more dynamic variation.

Vocalization is another secondary sound effect that tends to accompany punching sounds. Like every great martial arts fighter, Jackie Chan can be heard shouting as he delivers each karate chop and body hit. It’s part of the technique and can be seen as a form of intimidation. His enemies, on the other hand, are letting out groans of pain as they’re tossed around.

Southpaw, Rock II – punching bag sounds

Punching bags come with their own, unique set of sounds. They can’t express pain and have no bones to break (obviously). Instead, we hear material noises like the rattling of chains and the treble frequencies of plastic being smacked. Let’s have a listen to some examples below.

This scene from the movie Southpaw (2015) features some of the most important sounds associated with punching bags. Each hit includes the mid-range note of the fist punch combined with the higher register of the plastic material.

He begins the scene with low intensity strikes, which accounts for the type of sfx. Notice the secondary sound of his feet squeaking across the polished floor. The footwork might not be a punching sound effect but it’s directly connected to the activity nonetheless.

Around 2:30 into the clip, his coach lets go of the bag and we begin hearing the sound of the suspension chains rattling with each punch. As the strike intensity increases, we hear him blowing air out through his mouth as part of his breathing technique. This is a common alternative to the more aggressive shouting we heard from in the next example.

This scene from the 1979 film Rocky II features a more intense and energized sound collection. It’s an almost cliche “transition montage” of his training and preparation for an upcoming fight. The muted thud of each strike against the punching bag is combined with the familiar rattling of chains.

Around the 5:18 mark, he transitions from a large cylinder bag to the much smaller, tear drop bag. The sound effects associated with these blows are rapid, louder and more intense. His final hit is sound aggressive that it sounds almost like a gunshot, with a reverb tail that echoes in the ambience of the resonant training gym.

Baki – Cartoon punch sounds

Cartoons tend to embellish punch sound effects with an almost sci-fi flavor, to make them larger than life. There’s no obligation to use realistic noises and in fact, otherworldly sound design can help separate make the animation feel fun.

The following episode of the Netflix animation Baki (2018) offers a prime example of unrealistic fight sounds that enhance the audience experience. This is a pivotal fight between father and son, so each strike carries an enormous importance.

As the first swing misses, we hear a sci-fi swish sound resembling a plasma gunshot followed by a phaser effect. It’s accompanied visually by an equally unrealistic streak of blue light. This dramatic miss sets up the importance of the punch that follows.

The son retaliates with a face punch. A swoosh is followed by a deep and almost understated thud on impact, with a shimmering reverb tail. The sound of rushing wind can be heard as the animation continues to depict the rush of his strong punch, even after it’s already been delivered.

The Raid 2, Afflicted – Punching a wall

We mentioned earlier that impact materials are just as important as the punch itself. This is particularly true when people are punching walls, as they tend to crumble or break in response.

As this prisoner rapidly punches his cell wall in The Raid 2 (2014), we can see the surface materials begins to fall away. In reality, it should take a moment for the chips to fall and hit the ground, but the sound design couples these crumbling sounds with the actual hits. This helps to bind the two in the mind of the audience.

Another example of wall punching can be found in Afflicted (2014), as a character loses his temper. The massive thud of his initial impact is followed by the sound of drywall flying across the room. It explodes in all directions and several different timbres of material impact can be heard, including a large chunk of debris hitting the floor at the end of the sequence.

Download your own royalty-free punch sounds

Now that we’ve covered best practices for punching sound effects, let’s get you set up with some audio to begin practicing on your own. Scroll up to the top of the page and click download to access the collection of 20 royalty free wav files that we’ve assembled for you.

Need access to more impact sounds and some of the secondary foley we’ve mentioned? Sign up for Audio Design Desk 2.0 to access 100,000 high quality audio files and royalty-free music. Visit our pricing page for details on the different subscription tiers and terms of service.

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