Boxing Tip #4: Disrupt and Counter

To explain this boxing tip, I'm going to use a block. I could just as easily have used a parry, roll, slip or any other defensive technique. Any of them cause a disruption to your opponent's plan of attack and give you a chance to counter. But, let's start from the beginning - using a block...

A block is done to prevent a punch from hitting you. Seems obvious enough, but it is only half of the defense. You see, you will not be able to block every punch coming at you. Depending on the strength of your opponent, you will not want to. Blocking punches from a strong puncher will wear you down. If they are strong enough, they will punch right through your blocks.

Luckily, a puncher with such strength is usually an anomaly and not the norm. However, you shouldn't go into a fight believing you are simply going to block every punch thrown at you. Doing so requires a lot of energy. Energy that can be better used to put you in an offensive mode.

A block is best when it is used as a bridge to a counter. Picture an opponent coming at you. Presumably they are not stupid and want to throw some type of combination knowing, as you do, that the more punches they throw, the better chance they have of scoring. So, this opponent throws a 1-2-3 combination. If you don't do anything, you get hit with all three punches. However, if you block any of them, you disrupt the combination AND use that disruption to launch your own offensive. You disrupt your opponent's planned course of action, you cause him to react which requires thinking. Depending on how skilled they are, the disruption will give you an opening.

This all seems very confusing, and doesn't seem to have much to do with blocking. Actually it does, let me clarify.

In the example above, if you decide to block all three shots and simply cover up, you are not disrupting anything. The jab comes at you, you put up your guard and absorb it, followed by the right which you may or may not absorb without hitting yourself in the face, followed by the left hook, which hopefully you managed to bring your elbow up to block as well. In the end, you expended energy blocking and are no better off than when you started other than decreasing the amount of damage those punches did to you -- hopefully.

But you can't win without offense...

Now, if you had blocked the jab and then moved to the outside as the straight right comes in, you are in a position to cause some damage of your own. Not only have you disrupted your opponent's combination, but you used your energy more wisely changing your situation to regain the initiative. You want to be an attacker, not a defender.

Sometimes the punches will be coming in so fast that you have no choice but to block, but you should strive to block and move and always be cognizant of the opening. In those instances when blocking is your only option here are some tips for making the blocks more effective and less taxing:

  1. Incorporate movement into the block. Picture a spring. If you were to punch a spring it would absorb a lot of your power. Kind of like a shock absorber. By moving in the same direction as the punch, you act like a shock absorber and some of the punch's energy will be absorbed by the movement. Never try and act like a brick wall (unless you are trying to send your opponent a message). The energy from the punch still has to go somewhere. You don't have to get hit in the face to feel the pain of a punch. Your forearms will notice them too.

  2. Angle your arms and body to deflect rather than absorb. Picture yourself belly flopping into the water vs diving into water. When your hands cut the water, entry is a lot easier. If your forearms are positioned so the punches glance off them rather than connect full on, they are going to feel a lot better. It may also throw your opponent off balance.

  3. Gauge the power of your opponent. Understanding how hard your opponent is hitting, will let you know how much you have to brace for impact. Subsequently, it gives you a better indication of how to position your arms in front of your vital spots to absorb the punches. For instance, if you brace up tight with your gloves actually touching your chin and face and take a punch from a strong opponent, you are not going to block much of anything. You will effectively be punching yourself in the head. In this case, your arms should be a little ways away from your face so you can absorb the power of the punch. If your opponent is weak, blocking with your gloves touching your face may not be a problem at all. You need to figure out how hard your opponent can hit. This is usually done in the first or second round of the fight (feeling out round).

Block and slip, block and move, block and counter punch. Block and do something.

To explain this boxing tip, I'm going to use a block. I could just as easily have used a parry, roll, slip or any other defensive technique. Any of them cause a disruption to your opponent's plan of attack and give you a chance to counter. But, let's start from the beginning - using a block...

A block is done to prevent a punch from hitting you. Seems obvious enough, but it is only half of the defense. You see, you will not be able to block every punch coming at you. Depending on the strength of your opponent, you will not want to. Blocking punches from a strong puncher will wear you down. If they are strong enough, they will punch right through your blocks.

Luckily, a puncher with such strength is usually an anomaly and not the norm. However, you shouldn't go into a fight believing you are simply going to block every punch thrown at you. Doing so requires a lot of energy. Energy that can be better used to put you in an offensive mode.

A block is best when it is used as a bridge to a counter. Picture an opponent coming at you. Presumably they are not stupid and want to throw some type of combination knowing, as you do, that the more punches they throw, the better chance they have of scoring. So, this opponent throws a 1-2-3 combination. If you don't do anything, you get hit with all three punches. However, if you block any of them, you disrupt the combination AND use that disruption to launch your own offensive. You disrupt your opponent's planned course of action, you cause him to react which requires thinking. Depending on how skilled they are, the disruption will give you an opening.

This all seems very confusing, and doesn't seem to have much to do with blocking. Actually it does, let me clarify.

In the example above, if you decide to block all three shots and simply cover up, you are not disrupting anything. The jab comes at you, you put up your guard and absorb it, followed by the right which you may or may not absorb without hitting yourself in the face, followed by the left hook, which hopefully you managed to bring your elbow up to block as well. In the end, you expended energy blocking and are no better off than when you started other than decreasing the amount of damage those punches did to you -- hopefully.

But you can't win without offense...

Now, if you had blocked the jab and then moved to the outside as the straight right comes in, you are in a position to cause some damage of your own. Not only have you disrupted your opponent's combination, but you used your energy more wisely changing your situation to regain the initiative. You want to be an attacker, not a defender.

Sometimes the punches will be coming in so fast that you have no choice but to block, but you should strive to block and move and always be cognizant of the opening. In those instances when blocking is your only option here are some tips for making the blocks more effective and less taxing:

  1. Incorporate movement into the block. Picture a spring. If you were to punch a spring it would absorb a lot of your power. Kind of like a shock absorber. By moving in the same direction as the punch, you act like a shock absorber and some of the punch's energy will be absorbed by the movement. Never try and act like a brick wall (unless you are trying to send your opponent a message). The energy from the punch still has to go somewhere. You don't have to get hit in the face to feel the pain of a punch. Your forearms will notice them too.


  2. Angle your arms and body to deflect rather than absorb. Picture yourself belly flopping into the water vs diving into water. When your hands cut the water, entry is a lot easier. If your forearms are positioned so the punches glance off them rather than connect full on, they are going to feel a lot better. It may also throw your opponent off balance.


  3. Gauge the power of your opponent. Understanding how hard your opponent is hitting, will let you know how much you have to brace for impact. Subsequently, it gives you a better indication of how to position your arms in front of your vital spots to absorb the punches. For instance, if you brace up tight with your gloves actually touching your chin and face and take a punch from a strong opponent, you are not going to block much of anything. You will effectively be punching yourself in the head. In this case, your arms should be a little ways away from your face so you can absorb the power of the punch. If your opponent is weak, blocking with your gloves touching your face may not be a problem at all. You need to figure out how hard your opponent can hit. This is usually done in the first or second round of the fight (feeling out round).

Block and slip, block and move, block and counter punch. Block and do something.

    Coach Aaron

    Coach Aaron founded Commando Boxing in 2003. When he's not boxing, he's running ultramarathons or using data science/blockchains to create mixed reality HoloLens applications.

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