What follows is a version of just a few of the elementary fundamentals in boxing. This is not intended to be a guide to getting started, but rather good info to supplement what you’re learning in the gym. What follows is often not taught in many boxing gyms, but is very helpful if you’re just getting started or a seasoned veteran. We’re going to talk about fundamentals and the subtle nuances behind those fundamentals.
If you have a good trainer, you’ll already know a lot of this, but most boxing gyms don’t offer one-on-one training to the average Joe. Unless you’re competing in amateur or pro events, often no one will ever teach you this stuff. Again, this stuff ain’t secret knowledge, but very elementary. It’s just very few care about the true fundamentals these days. It’s called the “sweet science,” but too many people forget the science part. They just want to be sweet like Sugar, but you gotta be a scientist as well, a researcher, and a student of the game.
The first thing most gyms will teach you is how to stand, the basic boxing stance. The basic boxing stance is bladed. It consists of your feet about shoulder-width apart and slightly bent. Your feet should be on either side of the centerline (an imaginary line running vertically down the center of your body). As much as possible, you want to paint a narrow target for your opponent, meaning you should be sideways to your opponent. Now, your feet are not sideways, but your hips and shoulders are to the side. We call this a bladed stance because you’re at an angle and not square to your opponent. This doesn’t give him or her much to punch at.
The key is in the upper body, to connect it to the hips, legs, and to the ground. The elbows should rest comfortably on the ribs and the hands should be up pressing slightly into the forehead or cheeks depending on your preference. Make sure you have enough space between your hands to see your opponent clearly and see what he is throwing. Keep your chin down and forehead pointed forward. Shoulders are up and your posture is slouched as your elbows remain tight against the chest and ribs.
The key element in the classic stance that is often never taught is your defense needs to be actively engaged. Most decent fighters at least keep their hands up by their face and elbows resting on the body, but what happens when a punch comes? Either they move their arm to block the punch or the punch blasts through their defense. Both of these are bad responses. You see, most fighters put their hands up, but any reasonable amount of force is enough to move their hands and arms out of the way.
So, a punch coming in at full power and speed will not stop for an arm just resting on the body or the glove resting on the face. Your arms need to be engaged, meaning they are not just resting, but actively pressing against your body. Your elbows maintain active pressure pushing into your ribs and your gloves keep active pressure pushing into your face. There should be four points of contact at all times, your two elbows and two gloves because you don’t always know when a punch is coming.
Make sure you’re looking forward, turning your head as much as you can to face your opponent while remaining bladed. Keep the elbow and shoulders connected to the rest of your body. Use your body to punch and defend. See how your stance feels, are you tense anywhere? Can you adjust it in anyway because remember, this must be your resting position, you must be comfortable here. Now that you’re in your stance, work on moving in the stance, left and right, forward and back, taking some double steps.
The common rule of thumb when stepping is step with the leading foot first. If your moving forward, move the front foot forward first; going right, move the right foot first, etc. Remember to push off the lead foot or rear foot depending on which direction you’re going. The more you push off, the more explosive the movement which can be good if you need to move in a hurry, but it also expends more energy.
Now, have someone punch at you and see how it feels. Where is your defense? How does it feel? Where are the holes? Are you tight in your defense or jittery? Remember in a fight, if you can defend yourself and survive, then you can fight back. Once you realize that you can defend yourself and not get hurt, then you have confidence to hit back. In the classic boxing stance, since your elbows are in and your hands are on the side of your face, your primary concern will be straight punches and uppercuts.
The key is to adjust as little as possible when defending. If you adjust or change your posture too much, it will be difficult to counter attack. So, against a hook, let it just hit the side of your glove. Watch it as it is coming in and let it make impact. Don’t follow it, or try to stop it. Just wait for it. It’s no problem. Same with the body shot, watch for them and then, just sink your weight and bend the knees and bring your body down into the punch so it hits your arm and you remain in a position to punch back. If you just move your arm down to deflect a body punch, it will take you longer to recover that arm to punch back.
When stopping, parrying, or covering against inbound punches, make sure you use your whole body and not just your arm or wrist. Turn your body, keep the arm movement very slight and minimal if you can. When a jab is coming, just catch it with your glove. Kind of paw it, but use your body, shoulders and elbows to generate the stopping power. Don’t just bring your hand out to meet it. Wait for it to come to you.
When checking an uppercut, you can use your elbow on the same side it’s being thrown from (his right, your left). You just bring your elbow over. Or you can check it with your glove. When checking with your glove if you check with the same hand you expose your face (checking a left uppercut with your left hand). He can then, hook over your left with his right hand. Instead, try to use the same side hand to check and keep the elbow connected to your body as you do so. Then as you check the uppercut with the same side glove, turn and throw the hook punch with your other hand. However, the hook should be tight, you’re really just turning the arm over slightly and just enough to connect the glove to your opponent’s face.
So, the idea is to keep your boxing stance as your home base. This is where you always return to when you need. You can deviate from it, but it should be your safe position to go back to. Again, you’re mostly worried about an uppercut or straight punch in this position. Even on the straight punches, you’re not worried about it hitting your forehead, but your nose, chin, and face.
So, keeping the chin down and showing the forehead aids in that effort. Keep the head on the centerline, focus on the centerline being a line of axis upon which to rotate and turn. When defending, make sure to take an angle and don’t just stand there blocking. Force your opponent to move and adjust to you. Remember, your stance and positioning is your primary defense so you don’t have to waste time chasing punches.
This concludes part 1 of Boxing Defensive Basics. Thank you for reading and keep believing in you.
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