Punches are hand attacks using a closed fist in mostly linear attacks, although some punches arc (such as hook punch) or travel upward (such as uppercut). Fist may be held horizontally or vertically. Contact area is usually first two knuckles but may be last two knuckles or the entire front of he fist. Power comes from hip snap and driving off ball of the trailing foot. ITF practitioners also use the knee-snap sine wave movement to generate power. Punches may be "snapped" out and back very quickly or "pushed through" where, upon contact, the fist pushes into the target, such as done by boxers.
All the punches start from the hands and arms being held in a basic guard position: Hands in fists held just below cheekbones with palms toward face, with forearms almost vertical.
The fore-fist punch is straight punch with the hand held in a clenched fist; it is basically a jab. The term "fore-fist" is a martial arts term that is not used in boxing. Beginners usually train by standing in a horseback sitting stance with both hands in clenched fists.
- The non-punching fist is held straight out in front of the body (knuckles upward) arm extended with a slight bend in the elbow.
- The punching fist is pulled to its corresponding hip (knuckles downward) with elbow directly behind the fist (do not let the elbow swing outward.
- The punching fist is punched straight ahead to the full extension of the arm with a slight bend in the elbow.
- As the punch is thrown, the fist moves first with the elbow driving directly behind it.
- The fist is kept in the knuckles down position until a split second before impact when the fist and forearm snap inward until the knuckles are facing upward.
- The point of impact of the fist is the base knuckles of the first two fingers.
- All power in the arm and body is concentrated on the moment of impact.
- At the moment of impact, the fist is immediately retracted back to the hip.
- The elbow pulls directly backward and the fist and forearm rotate outward so the fist ends in its original stating position at the hip (knuckles downward).
- As the punching arm is punching toward its target, the non-punching elbow pulls directly backward to its corresponding hip. The fist and forearm rotate outward so the fist stop at hip with knuckles downward.
- The powerful retraction of the non-punching fist adds the reaction force of the retraction to the force of the punching arm.
- This action/reaction movement of the arms is used in all hand techniques.
- Practicing the punch this way trains the body to use a full range of motion, but the punch is never used this way when sparring. It is usually used as a jab or reverse punch that starts from an on-guard position with the knuckles facing toward the opponent.
- Inverted Fore-Fist Punch. A fore-fist punch that rotates clockwise until the knuckles face downward.
- Reverse Punch. A straight fore-fist punch using the trailing hand is usually called a reverse punch. It is the most powerful punch because maximum duration of force, hip twist, and weight transfer can be fully applied to the punching fist. Similar to a cross.
A jab is a short, quick leading hand fore fist punch used from the on-guard position. It is powerful, but not as powerful as the reverse fore fist punch. The jab is the most commonly used hand attack.
How to Jab
The jab is a sharp straight punch with the lead hand. Begin with the knees slightly bent, feet staggered, chin down, and hands raised by the sides of your face. Then push off your back foot and snap the jab out quickly. The lead foot will slide forward slightly before impact.
The fist travels straight to the target and straight back, no extraneous movements at all. As it returns to its starting position, it also acts as a block. Focus on technique, speed, and accuracy and using hip snap to add power. From your guard position, with elbows tight to your ribs, hands up, and elbows down, turn the hip and extend your lead arm, while rotating fist a quarter turn so palm is facing downward at impact. Immediately re-chamber the fist to the guard position. Do not poke the jab or paw it like a cat. Instead, fire it out and back like a snake striking.
Since you should me constantly moving while sparring, you should practice using the jab while moving, not from a stationary stance. Learn to jab while moving forward (to set up a combination) and backward (as a defense) or sideways (as a counter). Practice using two quick jabs with one or no body movement and using two quick jabs with a body movement (such as two quick steps forward with a job on each step).
Uses for the Jab
- Ruin the opponent's timing. When an opponent catches or sees the jab, his timing and mind set are upset.
- Keep up the pressure. Constant jabbing keeps the opponent on the defensive.
- Set up combinations. The flash of a jab in the eyes immediately puts the opponent on the defensive, which set him or her up for further attacks, Thomas Hearns jabbed at the forehead to lift up his opponent's chin for the knockout right cross. Jab to the stomach to lower the guard, then right cross to the chin, followed by a left hook to the liver, doubling up to the head, ending with a jab.
- Interrupt the attack. When opponent attacks with a combination, a quick jab to the nose will disrupt the planned combination and leave the opponent vulnerable for a split second.
- Establish dominance. Continuous jabs help establish you as the aggressor. The opponent must either back off or step up to the plate and challenge your superiority.
- Counter opponent's jab. Stay one strategy ahead by countering the jab soon after yours is established. When the opponent attempts to engage, keep one step ahead by working off of his or her jab.
- When the jab comes, slip left and shoot an inside left hook.
- Slip to the right for a body punch jab and come overhead to catch a lazy left hand.
- Slap down the jab down with the right hand and come straight with a right cross and move forward to offset your opponent. This is why you cannot be lazy in re-chambering your jab, right cross could be following.
- Force your opponent to attack, then counter. Jack Johnson said that, being a counter-puncher, he would use his jab to force his opponent to attack, from which he could counter.
- Safety. Beginning and ending combinations with the jab helps keep you safe and protected. It allows you to end a combination and re-group. Exiting the danger zone with a good jab helps to extinguish the opponent's counter offensive.
- Energy. Since a jab uses the least energy of the punches, it may be used many times more than other punches.
- Finesse. You can out finesse your opponent with the jab. Timing, doubling up, up and down, down and up. Adding finesse to the jab is necessary for if your jab is robotic or predictable, a smart opponent will time it and launch an attack around it. Being shrewd and unpredictable helps befuddle the opponent.
- Mobility. The jab is the only attack that does not commit the body in some way. You have full control of your lateral movement at the blink of the eye. Any other attack commits the body far more, temporarily depriving us of our mobility.
- Balance. The jab may be used to break an opponent's balance, since it cause the opponent to shift his or her weight to the heels and thus weakens any counterattack.
How Block Jab
Jab are quick so any defense must be equally quick with little movement. Basic defenses for the jab are the slip, brush, and elbow.
- Slip. As the jab fires at you, quickly bend the knees slightly and bend the waist slightly to the side the jab is coming from. Then quickly assume you guard position again. This movement lets the jab slip by your head and allows you to counterpunch.
- Brush. As the jab fires at you, bend your trailing wrist inward to trap the jab and redirect it downward. Do not reach for the jab, let it come to you and brush at the last moment. Reaching opens you to a combination.
- Elbow. As the jab fires at you, bend the lead arm upward, pointing the elbow at the jab so the jab will hit your elbow. Make this a quick movement so you do not leave your ribs exposed.
A hook is a fore fist punch executed in a tight arc from the outside of the body to the inside in a hooking motion. Hook is a very powerful and slightly deceptive punch if executed correctly. It is especially deceptive if preceded by a fake or feint. It can be thrown by any arm and almost any position, it is usually practiced within a combination of punches. It is usually used to the high and middle sections. It may be thrown from either hand and is powerful enough to end a fight
How to Hook
Hook is used as opponent is approaching. It is basically a counter). Most of the power behind the punch is due to footwork. The fist starts at the hip (knuckles down) or from the guard (knuckles outward) and moves in a outward, hooking motion as fist snaps into the target. It is used to the side of the head or body. Elbow of punching arm should be kept close to the side as long as possible. When punching from the hip, if the target is low, such as the ribs, then the path of the punch will be fairly level with the ground. If the target is higher, or the punch must go over and/or around an arm or shoulder, then the punch's path will become more vertical and the legs and hips drive up into the punch. Do not cock the punching fist or drop shoulder before executing the punch. The hook will move slightly out of your opponent's line of sight and should go around the guard. The arm should never straighten when throwing the hook. During the strike, the fist will come back toward the body as if you were doing a bicep curl.
Contact should be made with the knuckles, wrist locked, and elbow behind the fist. The fist will hit the target palm down (or even thumb down) in the horizontal version of the punch, but will tilt outward in vertical version. Because of the position of the punching hand, it is not practical to try to bring this punch straight over. The cross punch fits that situation better because of the hand position on impact.
Begin hook by turning slightly on the ball of lead foot, rotate lead hip, rotate lead shoulder, and then the fire the punch. The hook terminates as the fist reaches the vertical centerline of you body. At this point, the fist is pulled back to the guard position. If you allow the punch to travel past the centerline, you expose yourself to counterattack. Power comes from rotation of the body not from the arm. To rotate the body, the lead foot twists inward on the ball of the foot as if you were crushing out a cigarette on the floor.
Setup for a hook by using a jab or cross. Since the hook has shorter range than the jab, you must close the range for the hook. Shorter fighters, such as Mike Tyson or Roy Jones, have a low center of mass use powerful hooks when in close. Taller fighters, such as Mohamed Ali and Joe Lewis, use the hook when the opponent move in close. Defense for the Hook
Tuck chin into shoulder and touch hand to ear to block hook on that side. If you block by putting your arm out, a powerful punch may cause your blocking arm to hit you. The safest defense is evasion. Keep hands up, bend the knees, roll your body under the hook, and come up fighting.
- Double Hook Punch. Two hook punches delivered simultaneously, usually to the ears or lower ribs.
- Shovel Hook. The shovel hook is a combination of a hook and an uppercut. It is usually delivered to the body but may also be delivered to the chin by coming up under the opponent's guard. The strike is delivered close to the body with the elbow close to your side, with palm side of your fist upward as in a upset punch.
- Overhand Hook. Come from a slightly vertical or overhead position. The fist comes down on top of the opponent and the body sways slightly downward as well.
Also known as a "straight right hand," a cross is a hooking fore-fist punch with the trailing hand that crosses over the opponent's guard to it target. Usually used to the high section. Instead of trying to punch through the opponent’s guard, you punch over or around it. It is also a way to avoid punching an opponent in the teeth and getting cut, which may happen with a straight punch or uppercut to the mouth. A common error in the punch is to let the forward hip slide backward to achieve the necessary tilt of the torso, rather than pushing the rear hip up and over very slightly, which drives the hand into the target.
(if you're right-handed), it starts from the face and follows an imaginary straight line directly into the target. Drive and pivot from the rear foot, rotating the hips forcefully as your body weight shifts toward the front foot. Extend your right arm toward the target, snapping your wrist downward. On impact, the palm is down and the knuckles up.
How to Cross
The technique is similar to the jab. The cross is usually set up by the jab. The starting position is the same. A cross begins from the quard and follows an imaginary straight line directly into the target. Drive and pivot from the rear foot, rotating the hips forcefully as your body weight shifts toward the front foot. Extend your right arm toward the target, snapping your wrist downward. On impact, the palm is down and the knuckles up.
The motion is the same except the trailing hand and hip are used instead of the leading hand and hip. When punching, the hip leads and, as the fist travels toward the target, the shoulder follows through. Keep the elbows tucked in and do not let them lift to the sides (chicken-winging). This weakens the power of punches and exposes the ribs. Do not telegraph the punch by cocking the arm (even ever so slightly) or by tightening the fist. The only clue an opponent should have of a punch coming is that the size of the fist appears to be increasing (because it it is getting closer). Do not reach for the opponent, move the body within range before firing the cross. Cross may be fired while moving but it is more powerful when the feet are planted.
Defense for Cross
Same as for jab
An uppercut is similar to the upset punch except target is under the chin. The uppercut is a devastating power punch that may be thrown with either hand. It is very useful when in close and may be used to set up a combination or a knockout shot. It is often used when the opponent is looking at the ground, covering up to defend from hooks, or has an opening up the middle.
How to Uppercut
The uppercut begins with the punching hand near the waist with the elbow pointed backward. Bend the knees and explode upward using the legs to generate power. As you punch, the fist moves upward as the arm rotates at the shoulder with the elbow remaining bent and brushing along the side as the fist moves upward. Keep elbow under the fist with the wrist kept straight. The fist may be used with or with or without fist rotation. Arm motion must be coordinated with the hips and legs to generate maximum power.
Uppercuts are delivered to targets that are tilted forward, such as an opponent leaning forward after a body shot. However, an opponent who is standing upright may furnish a target if the chin is protruding or a taller opponent who is close may also present a target. The uppercut has a near vertical punching motion. The more the punch angles forward, the greater the risk of injury to the wrist, so do not reach toward the opponent with a uppercut. The opponent must be in close range.
The uppercut may be used alone or in combination. The trailing hand uppercut/ leading hand hook combination is effective because the uppercut lifts up the opponent's head, upsets his or her balance, and lifts the chin for the hook. The uppercut may also be used as a counter punch, such as when a fighter slips to the outside of straight punch and throws an uppercut.
- Defense for Uppercut. You may catch the fist as it rises or lower a forearm to block the punch. You may also cover, by hiding behind the hands and forearms. Step back or outside to take away the range necessary for an effective uppercut. Tie up opponent or clench to avoid an uppercut.
- Twin Uppercut Punch. Two upward punches executed at the same time to the chin. Must be in close combat.
- Overhand Punch. A jab or cross that travels over the top of the opponent's guard rather than traveling through the guard.
- Roundhouse Punch. The old fashioned "haymaker punch" is useful for punching around blocks or guards that would prevent a straight punch from reaching the target. It is also useful against an opponent who turns and ducks. A block appropriate for use against a straight punch often will not work against a curved punch to the same target. Typically, roundhouse punches are used at a somewhat closer range than straight punches. A roundhouse punch is an exaggerated hook punch. It is powerful but opens your centerline to counter attack. Best used as a finishing blow.
- Upset Punch. A fore fist punch that starts with the fist at the hip (knuckles up). Usually used to the middle section. As the punch is executed, the fist rotates outward and the elbow snaps inward. The more the arm is extended the less power in the punch so it is used in close combat. The fist may be held in a middle-knuckle fist so it will penetrate deeper when used to the solar plexus.
- Twin Upset Punch. Two upset punches executed at the same time. Usually used to the middle section in close combat situations.
- Vertical Punch. A fore fist punch that starts with the fist at the hip (knuckles up). As the punch is executed, the fist rotates outward and stop with the thumb on the top side (knuckles outward).
- Twin Vertical Punch. Two vertical punches executed simultaneously, usually to the high or middle sections.
- U-Shaped Punch. Two fore fist punches executed simultaneously in a U shape, one to the high section an done to the middle section.
- Hammer Fist Punch. A hammer fist impacts the target using the little finger side of a tight fist. Since this side of the fist is padded, it may be used to strike hard targets, such as the head, without injury to the hand. Another advantage is that it allows you to strike even if you are holding an object in your hand, such as a small flashlight or a yawara stick.
- Bolo Punch. The bolo punch is used by boxers, mostly when they are dominating the opponent and are showing off for the crowd and or trying to humiliate the opponent. It is performed by rotating the punching arm as if winding up for the punch and the punching. The motion is similar to that used when winding up a pair of bolo before throwing them. Many times one arm winds up but the other arm throws the punch. In this case, the wind up is used to distract the opponent from the real punch. Ceferino Garcia is commonly thought to be the inventor of the bolo punch, although a 1924 article in the Tacoma News-Tribune reported a Filipino boxer named Macario Flores to be using it. As to why Garcia developed the punch, he said that as a youth he cut sugarcane in the Philippines with a bolo knife, which he would wield in a sweeping uppercut manner. Sugar Ray Leonard used the punch in his rematch with Roberto Duran, the famous "No Más Fight."
- Liver Punch. The liver punch is another boxing punch. It a quick punch with a short movement, therefore, many times, spectators see it effects but miss seeing the punch itself. The punch is a left hook or uppercut that impacts under and to the front of the ninth and tenth rib and drive upward to the base of the shoulder blade toward the spine. It is usually delivered after drawing an opponent to lead with his right, which leaves the body exposed. Since the liver is the largest of the vital organs, a blow to it shocks it and causes a sickening feeling and saps the energy from the fighter.
- Side Punch. A fore fist punch executed straight out to the side of the body. It is usually delivered from a side facing stance. It may be used as an initial movement before moving in with a combination attack. When used from a side facing position, you are less open to counter attack.
- Double-Side Punch. A fore fist punch and reverse punch executed simultaneously toward the side of the body. Because of body position, the leading fore fist punch is executed straight out to the side of the body and the trailing reverse punch is executed across and in front of the chest. It is used to strike two opponents who are attacking simultaneously.