Learning Space dedicated to
the Art and Analyses of Film Sound Design
What's new?
Site Map
Site Search
Sound Article List
New Books

How to make punches and other fight sounds?

Greg deBeer

I was wondering if anyone had any insight into how to record some wildly over the top punch sounds. Stuff that you might hear in an Hong Kong action movie, or something of that ilk. I've tried a few food products, and some compressing and limiting, but things keep falling a little flat.

Adriel-Blue Vortex Media

So celery bombed? I'm thinking stuff that makes thwacking noises like leather, thin pieces of long wood you know that kind of stuff. Especially for the kung fu film sound.


Plywood makes a nice sweetener. Sheets thinner than 1/4 inch tend to make a nice sound, giving you a nice crack to taper/time compress. OSB will work, too.

Clint Bajakian:

I like to think of such sounds as having two general components: a 'defining' one, and an 'impact' one. The defining one is what sounds up front and tells the listener what the sound is, especially if combined with picture. The impact one can be anything at all, designed only to pump up the sound to hyper-real.

For defining sounds, simply record what things really are: For a face slap for example, record a real slap, hand clap, slap on thigh, etc. For a body kick, record a fist on chest thud, etc.

For impact sounds, anything goes. A broomstick whacked really hard and flat onto a couch or mattress makes a great beefing-up component for a body hit. Other purely impact sounds: kick drum, fist-pound on closet door (tapered), car door slam (tapered), kicked or stick-hit cardboard box, leather belt snap, whip crack, etc.

In my opinion, especially what I'm loosely calling the "impact" component can and often should be gain-maximized and mixed with the "defining" so that the defining is still the part that gives the information as to what the sound is.

Hope this helps...

Charles Maynes

The tried and true is doing the Rocky - Punching some steak or other large animal part - Dismembering carcasses can be helpful too - though awfully unpleasant.

Discussion thread "Punches and other fight sounds" September 2002
at discussion list sound_design an open forum about Sound design tips, techniques, theories and solutions for both Film and Interactive Media


to Film Sound Q & A

  Film Sound Design 
     Oxford University: " excellent collection of resources and links.." 

Star Wars Sounds Film Sound Clichés Film Sound History Movie Sound Articles Bibliography
Questions & Answers Game Audio Animation Sound Glossaries Randy Thom Articles
Walter Murch Articles Foley Artistry Sci-Fi Film Sound Film Music Home Theatre Sound
Theoretical Texts Sound Effects Libraries Miscellaneous