There are four basic offensive moves in boxing:
- the jab,
- straight right (or left),
- hook (left and right), and
- uppercut (left and right).
These boxing punches can be delivered anywhere above the waist and it is best to mix up where they are delivered.
You cannot win a battle without a great offense. You can have the best defense in the world, never allowing your opponent to hit you, but you cannot win if you don't hit him. That of course is where these boxing punches come in.You can't win if you don't punch!
A couple of things you want to remember when thinking about the offensive part of your game. First, you always want to keep your opponent guessing. The worst thing you can do is forecast your punches or get in the habit of delivering the same punches in the same order over and over again. If your opponent is any good, he will quickly pick up on it and the effectiveness of your offense will be diminished if not completely obliterated.
You can forecast your punches in a variety of ways. Most common are wide sweeping punches and dropping your shoulder to kind of wind up and punch. All signs of a true beginner and not what you want to be known as. You have to watch other things as well like your breathing, facial expressions, head movement, the list goes on and on. Put on your poker face when you enter the ring.
Second, don't always focus on delivering the power punch. Have them at the ready but give a constant barrage of jabs. These smaller hits over the course of a fight can do a tonne of damage, don't take a lot of energy, and can win the fight for you.
A final note on breathing. Don't hold your breath, which, believe it or not, is the natural thing to do when you punch. With every punch breathe out through pursed lips making a quick short "fffffff" sound. This ensures you are breathing and aids in your power distribution. It's like karate guys yelling whenever they punch or kick. Kind of centers you...if that makes any sense.
So, with those points in mind, let's get technical. Oh, and one other note, I'm going to describe the punches for right hander's, that is left foot forward. If you're a left hander, please don't feel offended, just reverse the instructions.
I strongly recommend you consider creating a FREE Silver Account or joining the Inner Ring to get video lessons and more detailed writeups on these punches. Ensuring you master the correct technique while you learn is extremely important to progress in the sport.
The Jab - 1
Your most important punch. Spend hours and hours and hours and hours perfecting it. This punch alone can win you a fight because it delivers a lot of damage if done correctly and does not leave you exposed for a counterstrike. The jab is your favorite punch, do you understand?
From your boxer's stance, the jab is delivered with the hand of the foot which is forward. For right hander's that means your left hand is delivering the blow. You throw your left hand toward the target in a straight line from your chin.
As your arm straightens and nears the target you begin to rotate it 1/4 to a half notch inward (so palm is heading down) and begin to clench your fist. Your fist should be fully clenched at the moment of impact and then you must bring your arm back to your guard just as quickly as it shot out.
All of your punches are snapping motions. Accelerate out, SNAP, accelerate back. You can get a little more power in your jab by twisting your torso slightly and and throwing your hip forward as your arm goes out.
This punch is an arm punch, so there should be little to no re-distribution of weight. Most of the time you will deliver the jab while stepping forward, so that is what you will want to spend a lot of time practicing.
Why the step forward?
Well, it closes the distance between you and your target, gies you a little extra forward momentum and the close distance between you and your opponent sets things up for the delivery of your other power punches.
You should be able to quickly deliver 2, 3, 4 jabs in a row all with precision and power. By using the jab, you set your opponent up for power punches and it is also used to keep your opponent at bay. If he's coming in too quick a quick, powerful jab to the head is usually enough to stop him and make him think twice about doing it again.
The Straight Right - 2
This is the punch you are going to love because it feels the most natural and is a power punch because it involves a re-distribution of weight. It is because of this weight redistribution that you must also be careful in how and when you use it. Anytime you redistribute your weight you place yourself in a vulnerable position for the split second your weight is in transfer. If your opponent times it right, you'll pay the price.
From the guard position (regular boxer's stance), your right hand goes out towards the target, again, in a straight line from your chin. Unlike the jab though, as the arm goes out your torso torques to the left and you pivot on the ball of your rear foot, moving your weight forward into the punch. You should feel your back involved in this one.
After impact, get your right hand back to the guard and get your boxer's stance back as quickly as possible. Remember accelerate out, SNAP, accelerate back. When throwing the straight right be careful not to dip your shoulder or wind up, both tell tale signs that it is coming.
The Left Hook - 3
The infamous left hook (or right hook...). The hook is an inside power punch and is very tricky to learn to do correctly. It is not a sweeping motion initiated by the arm, but rather a punch which is initiated and delivered by an entire side of your body. Your arm and fist are simply the tips of the sword which make impact.
I mentioned it is a power punch which as you probably guessed means there is a weight transfer. Again, be careful as anytime you transfer weight you are unstable for a fraction of a second.
From your boxer's stance, to deliver a left hook, bring your elbow out and up so it is almost parallel to the floor. Your palm is facing down for very close targets or facing in for targets slightly further away. Once your arm is in place, torque your whole left side, pivoting on the front left foot. It is a powerful, quick turn which involves your leg, torso, and finally your arm and fist.
Like all punches, your fist is relaxed and tenses up just as impact occurs. When your front left foot pivots, think of it as if you are squishing something under it - your little brother, sister, spouse, dog, cat, whatever you want.
Follow through with your hook, when you torque your body around, go through the target and end up bringing your fist to your chest with your elbow pointing towards the target. This does two things, first, it protects your head as there is probably a left hook coming at you from your opponent as it is the counter for a left hook. Two, if you miss with your fist, there is a chance your elbow will hit the target, not legal but accidents do happen.
From there, recover. Accelerate through the punch, SNAP, accelerate back. Protect yourself.
The Uppercut - Left (5), Right (6)
Uppercuts are used when you are fighting very close to your opponent (inside fighting). They come from below and are very effective. The initial target for uppercuts is not the chin, but the sternum (right in the center of the chest). The follow through is what sometimes catches your opponent on the chin, and if hit right, knocks him out.
From your boxer's stance, to deliver a left uppercut, your elbow dips towards your hips bringing your head kind of forward and down. At the same time, you rotate your palm in and bend your legs slightly. Then you accelerate to the target pushing up off the floor and bringing your fist to land in the sternum, but don't stop there. Keep your fist moving up hitting the head as a secondary target.
The right uppercut is a mirror image of the left.
The power of this punch comes from the legs as you push up. You kind of coil like a snake and then spring into the punch. Your feet, of course, never leave the floor, but it is the kind of feeling you get.
And, once again, don't forget to RECOVER quickly. Anytime you forget you are exposing half of yourself to your opponent, not a good thing.
So that's your offensive game. Taking the time now to ensure you deliver these punches efficiently, effectively and accurately every time will go a long way to helping you with combinations, sparring, and ultimately when you are in the ring or fighting for your life.
One last thing to mention. Never forget about the hand which is not punching. It is a common error, especially for beginners to forget about the hand which is supposed to be guarding when the other is punching. This is especially obvious while throwing the jab with the left hand. Watch yourself in the mirror and you will be sure to notice that while you are jabbing with the left, your right mysteriously slides down to chest height instead of being up protecting the chin.
It's natural, gravity is pulling at it all the time, but everyone, especially in the beginning has to make a conscious effort to keep their hands up where they should be. Don't worry, it's even harder to remember when you have both hands flying out delivering combinations as we'll see next.