It is possible to hit hard at lots of different ranges. The one-shot take out is rare, but it happens. When it happens, a lot of things have to come together in an instant.
Some strikes have a very specific range. Jack Dempsey described the natural power circle for a hook punch. The forearm extends off that line (increasing range) or flexes inside (decreasing) and the power bleeds away. Others are very versatile in range, or so it seems. Change the body alighnment of a jab and you get a "straight lead" which can be a very powerful, very long range strike. At very close range, the short jab can concuss handily with less than three inches of movement.
The thing is, though, that power isn't developed the same way for each of these ranges. To get brutal power in a short straight shot is a combination of structure and "bounce" (really hard to describe- and it sounds stupid, but let your body fall inside the skin and the skeleton bounce). The straight lead is structure and drop step. If you use the straight lead system of power generation, you get jack at super close range and not much at medium range.
Though the arm motion can look the same, power generation varies by range. This is why it is so hard to do serious damage with strikes in a real fight- you rarely are in complete control of the range. Clavicles and ribs can be broken fairly easily, but aren't broken often. In the same way, strikes to the brainstem (and the associated high-percentage areas) should be easy, but they don't happen very often.
Following this yet? To be a successful striker you need to put power in a specific place. That is much easier when the target holds still. The great strikers (I'm thinking sport, here) are not just putting the fist or foot in the right place when it is at the max on the power curve, they are also manipulating the opponent to be at the right place at the right time. personal precision plus the remote control precision on an opponent. That's cool.
The jujutsu solution, of course, is just to hold them in the right place.
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