Here we'll discuss the rear straight or the cross as it's often called. We'll describe the mechanics of the punch, when to use it, how to use it, and the finer points of making this your best punch. Often the jab or lead straight is the most used and therefore the most practiced punch. However, the rear straight should be used almost as often as your jab if you can pull it off.
Think about it, the rear straight is usually stronger than your lead straight as it travels over a greater distance coming from your rear hand toward the target. Therefore when the opportunity presents itself to throw a punch straight down the pike, why not throw the stronger of the two punches? The cross can act as a means to motivate your opponent to cover up and thereby opening up the body or other targets. Some opponents will just walk through your jabs, even a power jab may have little effect. Therefore, it helps to mix it in with the rear straight.
The power of the punch itself tends to cause many opponents to cover up on any straight punch out of fear of the rear straight. Use this to your advantage to now free up your jab mixing it in with your rear straight because frankly, the rear straight is the punch you want to throw anyway. The jab is just to set up the rear straight or another power punch. Of course, if you can knock your opponent out with just the jab, then by all means, do so. In that situation, there's no need to use more force than necessary.
Like many power punches the rear straight begins primarily from the rear foot. I say primarily because the lead foot also plays a role that frankly no one ever talks about because there is so much emphasis on the rear side of the body going forward. From a classic boxing stance, use the ball of your rear foot and rear leg knee to spring the rear side of your body forward. This is a rotational movement, meaning that as the rear side of your body goes forward, the front side goes back both rotating on the axis of your hips. Your rear shoulder goes forward as the lead shoulder pulls back rotating along your centerline. What's important to remember here is the rotational energy from both the rear and lead sides of your body. One pushes forward from the ground (the rear side), while the other pulls back (the lead side).
In the shoulders, this action is called the shoulder whirl, the pulling of the lead shoulder back in order to accelerate the rear shoulder and punch forward. It's important to remember to use the energy of both. Most fighters and trainers are so focused on the rear side of the body and punch going forward that they fail to see the benefits of pulling the lead side back. It's like when you want to spin a coin on it's side, although the coin is small, you use two hands, one hand on each side of the coin to spin both sides in the same rotational direction. The difference here is that the rear side of your body has to rotate a greater degree than your lead side when starting from a classic boxing stance.
The rearward rotation of the lead side of your body may only begin as the rear side of your body starts to align (as your hips and shoulders square during the punching sequence). As it does, remember to keep the lead foot grounded as this acts for an anchor for the punch and your body weight. Naturally, your body weight will shift forward as you punch so much of your weight will rest on your lead leg. Your rear heel will be raised at the completion of the punch even if you did not initiate with the heel raised.
As for the delivery of the punch, once the rotation of body weight across your centerline has begun with the spring from your rear foot and knee, start to align your rear shoulder and elbow toward the target so the release of the punch is also aligned. Your shoulders should be high and your lead hand should be guarding your face with your elbow down protecting your body. The punch shoots out like a cannon ball. A key point here is don't allow the release of the punch to be delayed by the rotation of the body. This is an important point. Don't let the release of the punch wait until your body weight rotates over and your shoulders and hips square up. Many boxers throw the punch in this manner and it is stronger, but also slower.
If you want a faster cross or rear straight, as your body is rotating on the centerline, engage your rear elbow and lower tricep just enough to initiate the arm even before the rest of your power arrives. Then as the punch lands, the rest of your power and body weight follow behind it. Otherwise, you will telegraph the punch by the movement of your lower body and turn of your shoulder prior to delivery of the punch. As much as possible, everything should be simultaneous (again as much as possible). Certain parts of the body naturally move faster than others (large muscles move slower than small ones), so sequencing of a move is necessary, but the goal is to minimize the steps.
Another point on the rear cross is it can be thrown without the start up. Manny Pacquiao, for example, often throws a left cross from a relatively squared posture so there is no "wind up." If you watch his fights, he often feints a slip (slips to his lead side with no punch coming in), as he does so, his rear shoulder naturally moves forward, then he launches his rear cross from here. He uses this "slip" as a natural movement from his stance, so he can easily punch from here without the opponent recognizing the slip as a telegraph to his cross. He simply slips left to right even when his opponent is not punching. In general, natural movements of any kind help to disguise your set up and minimize any preparatory movements. The idea is not to remain static in a "fighting stance." Your stance should be dynamic and alive.
A final point as with all punching, remember to recover well. Bring the hand back like a boomerang, faster than your initial extension forward if possible. Keep the hands high at all times, keep the elbows down especially on this punch as it drains power from the punch and is easier to read if you punch with your elbow out. Many beginners will lean over when throwing this punch. Remember to keep your shoulders level. Imagine a straight bar running from shoulder to shoulder, one side should not be higher than the other. The bar should be straight and parallel to the floor. Obviously, deviations from this are as the situation calls; a lean may be necessary in certain situations, but there is a difference between the unconscious mistakes from a beginner and a master setting aside the rules to freely take control of an opponent.
Thank you for reading. Remember to forever believe in you no matter what, saying no to all that is not in line with who you are. Believe in yourself.
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