Boxing Tip #8 - Effective Body Punches

Destroy the body and the head will die.

Far too often boxers will focus primarily on the head as their main target area and neglect throwing body punches. This is a mistake. Hurting the body, while not immediately obvious or as satisfying, is a sure route to victory. To develop a complete offensive game, you have to learn how to effectively throw body shots and body punches.

How do you know your body punches are effective?

A knockout from a blow to the body happens occasionally, but it is far from the norm. Highlight reels are full of head shots that send boxers sprawling across the canvas while a well placed body shot simply crumples them to the mat. As such, they don't make the ESPN recap.

When you are assaulting your opponent's body, you likely will not see or hear much progress being made. You may hear the occasional grunt or groan, but body shots tend to be an accumulative effect. They build up over time to win the fight for you. There are ways to figure out if your body punches are being effective though:

  1. Your opponent will start breathing heavy.
  2. You'll begin to notice slowness both in punches and movement.
  3. Eventually, obvious signs of distress will appear- buckling over, shaky legs, inability to catch breath and knockdowns.

Where to punch the body.
Where to punch the body.
While you can deliver powerful body punches, you will see more effect by placing well targeted punches. Precision is the name of the game for the body. In some places - pelvic bone, hipbone, abs - the body has bones and muscles that offer it a lot of protection, while in other places there is little - sternum (marked as X in picture), under pectorals, ribs (marked by arrow in picture). Hitting one of these prime targets can disable your opponent instantly or at least knock the wind completely out of him which will set you up for a finishing blow.

Problem is, that the body is generally well protected by the elbows and arms - at least in experienced boxers. Plus, getting in close enough to throw your punch without getting clocked in the head is always a challenge. Body punching is something you will require a lot of practice with to get good at.

Throwing a Jab to the Body.

The jab to the body is the only punch that you will actually bend over at the waist to deliver. If you were to crouch straight down and throw a jab to your opponent's body, you completely expose your head and against and orthodox fighter, you can be sure he will come over your jab and nail you with a straight right. So, to lessen the danger, you bend at the waist perpendicular to your opponent while simultaneously bringing your right hand up to protect the left side of your chin and throw the jab out at your opponent and then recover just as quickly.

It is all one fluid motion with a step toward your opponent. This will take some getting used to, but with practice your balance will develop and you will be able to get a little power behind it. This is a jab remember, it is not meant to knock out your opponent. It is meant to set something else up and you really should only use it against a hesitant boxer -- one who isn't initiating any attacks. It is a means of getting him to commit to something. You want to aim at your opponent's sternum, but the target can fluctuate depending on how his body is protected.

Throwing a Straight Right to the body.

This and the left hook are identical to the shots to the head except that you crouch straight down and then deliver a well placed punch to your target area. People, and not only boxers, hate to crouch as it places a lot of stress on the legs. It takes energy to crouch and then come back up (which is why strength training such as squats is very important). You need excellent stamina in your legs and quadriceps that can handle this.

To deliver, crouch down so that your head is about the height of your opponent's sternum. This will move your head out of his target range of vision - at least temporarily. You will want to practice dropping out of sight very quickly, throwing, and then recovering. Be careful on the recover. Try moving as you come back up as it is pretty easy otherwise for your opponent to time a punch to where your head should come back up in a moment.

The punch itself is thrown just like a regular straight right. You transfer the weight from the back to the front while snapping your arm out and back in a straight line from your chin. You are aiming for the sternum - about two inches below the center of the chest where the rib cage comes together. If you've ever had the wind knocked out of you, you'll know why.

Throwing a Left Hook to the Body.

The left hook, like the straight right, to the body is simply a crouching followed by a throw. However, you have to get in close enough to land your punch. To do so, take a small step to the right side of your opponent and then drop down. It will place you in a good position to land a precisely placed punch either directly to the ribs or upwards underneath your opponent's right pectoral. Hit too low and you'll nail his hipbone/pelvic bone which is hard and will not do too much damage. Place your punch in the fleshy, unprotected rib/pec region and he is going to feel it.

Tips and Tricks

  • In both of the crouching punches (straight right and left hook) watch the positioning of your rear foot. If it is 90 degrees to the way you are facing (turned too far outwards) you run the risk of tearing ligaments in your knee, especially if you slip and your knees buckle. Maintain your stance with your feet turned out at 45 degrees. This will let your knees bend in a more natural way and prevent injury.
  • It is highly likely there will be an elbow in front of your intended target. If your straight right is going to end up hitting an arm, then try looping around instead of throwing it straight out. As I mentioned before, worry less about power in your body punches and more about precision. Deliver enough powerful little blows to the right spots and the fight will turn in your favour.
  • At all times be aware of how you expose your head and try to compensate either by blocking with the hand not throwing or by movement. A combination of the two works well as well.
  • Body shots, as most punches, should always be thrown as the start of combinations. Try practicing throwing two left hooks to the body followed by a straight right to the body or mix it up and throw a body shot followed by a head shot followed by a body shot. Never think of it as a one punch deal.
  • Last, condition your legs. They are the biggest factor in effective body punching. You have to be able to crouch down repeatedly and not lose leg strength. Squats, lunges, calf raises, running, and plyometrics should all be effectively used to condition your legs. Don't neglect them

...and don't neglect your opponent's body. Work it hard.


Thanks for these tips I love body punches and the effect they take maybe you should also talk about the most effective and most hurtful one (in my opinion) the liver punch also maybe the high rib/arm pit cavity punch (antonio margarito) punch as it makes the oponents bend over and make perfect targets for uppercuts

You're spot on with the liver punch - by far the most devastating - I'm actually surprised I didn't mention it directly in the article - thanks for pointing it out along with your other great targets.

Also a punch hardly used but effective is the heart punch if u look at Tyson vs spinks you see the short punch to the heart Tyson landed in the first round

Just curious, what would be the best type of punch to throw to the solar plexus

Depending on the angle you are coming in at, the left hook would work. Any straight punch would also work from the front if you found yourself able to penetrate the guard at that level. Uppercuts in close could also be devastating. What I'm trying to get at is that any of the punches in your offensive arsenal could hit the solar plexus depending on the opportunity your opponent provides you.

So, punching the body affect the legs?

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