The rear hook is probably the strongest and hardest hitting punch one can possibly throw. It uses both distance and rotational energy to deliver a powerful blow. It can be combined with various hip, torso, and footwork movements to maximize leverage and delivery an even more ruthless strike.
First, it must be said that the rear hook should rarely if ever be thrown as your initial attack. Although the rear hook moves very fast once initiated, because of the large movement and travel distance of the punch, it works best after you set it up. The rear hook is intended to go around your opponent's guard, so to set it up, you'll need to persuade your opponent to bring his guard out slightly or drop it slightly. Now, some fighters naturally hold their hands so as not to protect the side of their face. Some boxers hold their hands too far forward and thus expose the side of their head. In that case, you want them to keep their hands exactly where they are. Frankly, many don't realize the size of their own head. Look in the mirror and notice the depth and width of the skull. There's a lot of surface to hit back there.
In terms of set ups, a few simple set ups are jab to the body or feint low to the body, then throw the rear hook. You can throw the rear hook immediately after throwing a negative rear cross. A negative punch is one without much or any sting on it. It's just a diversion typically thrown prior to a harder shot intended to lure your opponent into a false sense of safety and the strength of your attacks. Frankly, the rear hook does well to finish off nearly any combination. Just know that once you throw it, if your opponent survives, he'll have an idea of your power which can be good or bad depending on how comparatively strong you are. Part of the psychological game in a ring fight is to land a hard shot early and force your opponent to play defensive. However, we see fighters like Gennady Golovkin who walk through his opponent's hardest shot just to land one harder. So, you got to know who you're dealing with.
The rear hook like most punches is initiated from the rear foot or rather, the power is initiated from the rear foot. Generally, every punch initiates from the hand itself in that the hand moves first along the path to the target and the rest of the body follows in support. This increases the speed of the punch and reduces any unnecessary wind up or telegraph. From the pushing down and back of the rear foot (on the ball), this springs up into the hips rotating the hips along your centerline as the punch is already extended on it's trajectory toward the target. Your hips turn which enables the shoulders to turn which powers your punching arm along it's path. Remember, the rules of opposite energy, as one shoulder goes forward, the other should accelerate back increasing the rotational speed and force.
As the name implies, the rear hook is a curve punch with the path of the punch circling out just enough to get around the guard and hit the target. Like the lead hook, the trajectory of the punch can be narrow or wide. It can be loopy or tight. It just depends on a number of factors including the distance between you and your opponent, how much power you want in the punch, how much time you have before the target is no longer available, the space around you, and whether your opponent is moving or attacking. All these factors must be analyzed in a split second to allow you to adjust your punch mid-delivery while it is still on its way to the target.
Like the lead hook, however, don't over throw this punch. You're never guaranteed to land any punch, so make sure you can recover well whether you hit or miss your target. Work on moving immediately after you throw this punch. While it carries great power, the draw back is it takes longer to recover back to your original position. In this case, you may want to transition to another movement, attack, defense, or footwork. Either way, it's probably best not to attempt to remain stationary.
There are many variations to the rear hook which add various nuances to the punch making it more or less effective in certain situations. Bottom-line is like all punching, you need to adjust to your situation and what the opponent is doing. No punch is ever thrown the same way every time. One of the components you can add to the punch is a lead step to the outside. So, if you're southpaw, you take a single step to the right, dropping your weight on your right foot as you swing your left arm around for the hook. This strengthens your base by widening your stance which in turn increases the power because it gives you a stronger anchor by which to connect your punch. It also narrows the arch of the punch which can be beneficial on a punch like this which naturally has a wider arch. Remember, the wider the arch of the punch, the more distance it travels, which means the more time it has to pick up speed and power.
Many fighters like to combine the outside step with a slip or duck to the outside as well. This gets your head out of the way and loops the punch into an overhand. Some fighters step with both feet or push step forward and right as they punch (if southpaw, left if orthodox). This launches your body into the attack. You'll have less control here and it may not be necessary, but it helps to keep the offense going since it brings you closer to the opponent.
Punches in bunches. The rear hook and overhand work best after a set up and in combination. Against a matched lead (southpaw vs southpaw or orthodox vs orthodox), the rear hook tends to target your opponent's blind side, the outside of his lead hand. It's easier to see things coming between your two eyes than something in the peripheral of one. Over time these types of punches will wear down your opponent if the first one doesn't knock him out.
A few minor points… one, the rear hook and overhand can be thrown with a vertical or horizontal fist. Two, it may be beneficial at times to throw this punch with a reverse vertical fist (thumb facing down). This is how a corkscrew punch is thrown. This helps sometimes to elevate your elbow up and over a guard. It's nice if you like punching from awkward angles. The disadvantage is when you connect, you're hitting with the back of the fist rather than the front. Thus, it will take some of the sting off the punch, but it's a nice variation especially when combined with a slip and/or outside step.
Thank you for reading. Remember to always believe in you, what you can do, and who you are, never doubt yourself or succumb to fear. Live your life boldly.
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