Boxing can be traced back to the 3rd millennium BC from ancient carvings found at historical sites. The range of punches has not changed too much since then. However the way in which they are delivered, in my opinion, is now more clear and accurate in this day and age. The main punches we have are straight, hook, uppercut and over hand. If we bring Muay Thai into the picture we also have the spinning and flying punches.
I would like to take this opportunity to briefly describe each punch and some tips on performing them. Before we get into this I would like you to realise something. Regardless of the type of punch you are throwing the power comes from the floor. If you are off balanced or have your feet in the wrong position on the floor this will reflect in your boxing.
The positioning of your feet on the floor depends on your discipline. For Example, if you are a traditional boxer then you tend to stand side on, because that way you can generate more power for your rear shots and you can make your body a smaller target for body shots. However if you are a Muay Thai boxer you tend to stand more square on, because you need to block those low kicks; as a rule of thumb with Muay Thai your feet position should be able to pass a football between them both from the front and the side. Now that we have got that out of the way lets talk about the different punches.
Perhaps one of the most used punches in boxing. It is generally used to keep your opponent at bay or set them up for a power punch or a combination. The jab is a straight punch and when you perform it there are a few things that you should be aware of: (1) ensure your feet position is solid on the floor. The weight should be on your front foot. Also make sure that your rear foot is still on the floor otherwise you will lose power and be off balanced, (2) when you throw the jab ensure that it is straight and direct to your opponent. Your shoulder should come forward to cover your chin. The elbow should be slightly higher than the shoulder when you turn the punch in and your knuckle (the two big ones) should be connecting with your target in a slightly downwards motion. The downwards motion with your knuckles is important, because this is what will knock someone out rather than just pushing them back; and lastly (3) the jab is a quick punch and should be snapped in and out at the same speed for maximum effect. Sometimes doubling it up to keep the opponent at bay or just to give you that fraction of a second to setup your power shot or your combination is a good call.
The Back Hand (Right Cross if you are Orthodox or Left Cross if you are Southpaw)
This punch is probably the second most used punch after the jab and is often used to knock an opponent out or seriously hurt them. To perform this punch effectively it doesn’t differ too much to the rules of the jab: (1) again ensure that your feet are firmly planted on the floor. The weight again will be on your front foot, but this time you will be pushing of the back foot when performing the punch. You should be on the ball off your foot on the back foot pushing forward. Similarly to when you just get ready to sprint or run, (2) when you throw the cross again ensure that it is straight and direct to your opponent. Your shoulder should come forward to cover your chin. The elbow should be slightly higher than the shoulder when you turn the punch in and your knuckle should be connecting with your target in a slightly downwards movement; and (3) whilst this is considered a power punch all your boxing should go in and come out at the same speed. I have seen it before when people have thrown the right cross and were slow to bring the hand back to their guard and they got caught. This is sometimes a physiology thing with the boxers, because they think that their punch is harder enough to fell an elephant, but when they don’t knock the guy down (due to the opponent been pumped with adrenaline) it’s usually too late and they get caught, because they were that split second too slow to return the hand back to their guarding position.
The hook punch is probably the second most powerful after the right cross. It can be used as a single punch or in a combination. The hook punch can be performed in two different ways: (1) the side of the hand when connecting stays horizontal and you attempt to connect with the two big knuckles; or (2) the size of the hand runs parallel to the ground and you connect with the two big knuckles. Both ways are correct and it’s usually up to personal preference which way you want to perform the punch. Personally I prefer the latter because when fighting without gloves there is less chance you are going to break the two small knuckles on your hand if you happen to be slightly off with the punch.
After you have decided which way you are going to perform the punch you should be aware of: (1) your foot positioning. The way your feet are positioned will depend on if you are throwing the hook from the front or the hook from the rear. If you are throwing the hook from the front then your front foot should pivot and the weight will be on the back. If you are throwing the hook from the rear then you should step slightly to the side in the direction of which the punch will travel. For Example, if you are throwing the right hook from the rear you should step slightly to the left and vice versa for the left hook from the rear. In addition you should find your rear foot pivoting slightly when throwing the punch from the rear, (2) the position of your arm should be at a 90 degree angle. You should be punching away from yourself at around 10 inches away from your face. Don’t punch into yourself; and (3) for this punch to work effectively the tips mentioned in (1) and (2) must work seamlessly. What I mean by this is that your feet, knees, hip, torso and arms need to turn in one fluent motion.
The Uppercut Punch
Perhaps not one of the most used punches we see in boxing. Mainly because it can be difficult to get through the opponent’s guard. However if timed and performed correctly it can knock an individual out or cause a lot of damage. It can also be used to setup an opponent up for that powerful rear hand. There are a couple of things to be aware of when performing this technique: (1) the power on this one definitely comes from the floor. You should be bending your knees and come up (straightening them) at the same time you are connecting with the punch, (2) similar to the hook punch make sure that you punch away from yourself and not into yourself; and (3) aim to connect with the two big knuckles on your hand.
The Over Hand Punch
Often mistaken for a straight punch because some boxers are not clear in the delivery of the over hand punch. This punch is a combination of a straight punch and a hook punch. Sometimes this punch is referred to as a bowling punch. The delivery of this punch is very similar to a straight punch. However the main difference of it is that the aim of it is to come over the opponent’s guard and connect with his temple. The way it is performed is as I said like the straight punch, but instead of throwing it straight you bring your elbow up a little higher which will make the punch come over the top of your opponents guard.
The Spinning Punch
This punch I never knew existed until I started training MuayThai. It is a very rare punch to see, but the power generated by it is unbelievable. This punch is quite a difficult one to describe, but let me have a go. As the name suggests it’s a spinning punch, so it does involve a bit of footwork to pull this one off. For Example, if you are want to do the right spinning punch. You will step across the centre line that runs down your body with the left foot and come up on the ball of the foot on that foot. You would then push off the floor with the right foot enabling you to spin. At this point you will straighten your arm like a bar keeping it parallel with the floor. You should be aiming to connect with your opponent with the backhand or the side of your hand. The side of your hand is actually safer when not where gloves, because it reduces the risk of breaking the small bones in your hand. If you want to perform the left spinning punch just follow the before mentioned instructions but vice versa. Just ensure that you finish in your original guarding position (you need to spin a little more). Otherwise you will leave your leg open for a low kick.
The Flying Punch or Superman Punch
This punch is essentially a straight cross. However the difference is that when you connect with it you are off the floor. As I mentioned at the start of this post the power comes from the floor with boxing, but this is the only punch which is the exception to that rule. The power for this punch is generate by a kicking back motion. For Example, if you want to perform the right flying punch you would take a couple of steps forward ensuring that you are in the orthodox position after them (if you are right guarding) you would then bring up your right knee and perform a small hop with your left leg whilst kicking back with the right leg and extending the right arm in accordance with performing the right cross instructions. To perform the left flying punch requires a little bit of footwork. It is essentially the same as the right flying punch. However after you have took your few steps to create the momentum you need to end up in southpaw (if you are Orthodox). You will then lift the left knee up and kick back whilst extending your left arm in accordance with the instructions of how you perform a straight punch.
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