How To Punch

Key points for learning to punch effectively (assuming right-handed fighter):

  • Have your legs shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Stand at a slight angle to your opponent, far enough away so as to avoid the opponent’s punches, with your right leg and hand back.
  • Keep your elbows tucked in, fists ready and blocking your face at all times (guard stance).
  • As you deliver the punch, move towards your opponent to close the distance.
  • Use fast, regular left-hand jabs to gauge distance to your opponent’s head.
  • Keep your wrist straight and aim to hit with your middle knuckle. For your left-hand jabs aim for the nose. For the right cross punch aim for the chin.
  • Rotate your hand slightly so that your elbow is pointing outward during impact. This is especially important for delivering the right-hand cross, aiming to come over the opponent’s left shoulder and land on the chin for a clean knockout.
  • Bring the hand back fast to the guard position. Always assume that you will miss and your opponent will come back at you with a counter.
  • Use combinations, like jab-jab-cross, jab-cross-hook, jab-cross-hook-uppercut. Move forward with each punch to ensure good range. Punches in combos have better chances of getting through as your opponent will try to block each punch and often leave areas of his guard open.
  • If you have closed the distance between your opponent too quickly or if your opponent has moved in, start using elbows, grappling and knees.

It takes many years to get your technique right, so practice regularly until you can fight almost blindfolded without thinking. Until your movement and punching combinations become completely instinctive. Until you no longer have to think “jab-cross-hook”, but simply “attack” and your body executes the combinations.

Training drills:

  • Practice continuous jabbing, both shadow-boxing and on a bag. Do 5 rounds of JUST jabbing.
  • Practice moving around the ring, not getting stuck in corners. If not training in an actual ring, create an imaginary ring within the space you’re using to practice.
  • Practice ducking and weaving – knowing how to avoid getting punched is even more important than knowing how to punch. Movement is everything in a fight.
  • Strengthen and condition your wrists – use a heavy skipping rope. If you have a light skipping rope, slide a section of a garden hose onto it to make it heavy. Use that to warm up and start your training.
  • Use a timer. Install a timer app on your phone and set it to 2-minute rounds, with 30 second rest periods. Do 7 rounds: one round skipping, one round shadow-boxing and five rounds on the bag.
  • Do up to 100 knuckle pushups at the end to further strengthen your arms and wrists.
  • Train alternate days to allow your body to recover and avoid eating sugary foods, especially after training. Going even 5 rounds in the ring will feel like running a marathon, so a low-sugar diet and regular cardio training is key. If you get to your last round and have no energy to keep your gloves up and protect yourself your opponent will decimate you and probably knock you out, so you will loose regardless how well you did in the first few rounds.