Boxing Technique

The Stance

First thing you need to do is get in your boxer's stance. The stance is the basis for everything else you do so take the time to get it right. The theory behind it is to create a stable platform from which you can unleash your unbridaled fury and not fall over or be caught off balance.

To enter the stance, first we'll position your feet. Stand facing a mirror (get used to looking at yourself, you'll be doing a lot of it, it's a great way to perfect your technique), feet about shoulder width apart. Now take a comfortable sized step backwards, moving the foot which is the same as your dominant hand and at the same time rotate your feet about 45 degrees in the direction of the foot that moved.

For instance, if I am right handed, I will take a small step backwards with my right foot and rotate my feet 45 degrees to the right. If you are left handed, reverse the process. The heel of your back foot should be in line with the toes of your front foot.

The position should feel strong. Bend your knees slightly and feel for the floor with your lower body. You should be slightly turned presenting a shoulder to your target. You should feel like no matter who came and pushed you, you would not fall over.

Now for the hands and head

Now for your hands and head. Tilt your head down bringing your chin to your chest. You must protect your chin. I'm sure you've heard boxing commentators talking about how good someone's chin is. If you are caught square on the chin with a punch, it does a lot of damage. One good hit can knock you out.

With your head tilted down, it is as if you are trying to look up out of your eyebrows. Your hands are then brought up so the hand of your side which is forward is just below your left eye and the other hand (of the back foot) is right beside your chin.

For example, if I am right handed, my left hand is partially curled and rests near my left eye, protecting my chin, with elbow tucked tightly into the body. My right hand is partially curled to the right of my chin, elbow tucked into the body. This is the boxer's stance and everything you do stems from it. You should be relaxed and loose, never tight. Hands are not clenched into fists, but loose and ready to strike out. You are stable and knees are slightly bent. You are ready for anything, able to defend against punches and deliver your own offensive arsenal.

I know what you're thinking. Nice stance, now how do I move. In boxing, you can basically move in four directions:

  • towards your opponent,

  • away from your opponent

  • and to either side of your opponent.

Think circles. To step towards your opponent, your lead foot moves forward and then the rear foot closes the distance so you are back in your stance. To move back, your rear foot moves first, taking a small step back and then your front foot slides back to maintain the integrity of your stance.

To move left, whichever foot is further left (left foot if you are right handed, right foot is you are left handed) moves first and the opposite foot quickly follows, sliding parallel to regain your stance. To move right, whichever foot is further right (right foot if you are right handed, left foot is your are left handed) moves first and the opposite foot quickly follows, sliding parallel to regain your stance.

Basically, the objective is to maintain your solid foundation which is provided by the boxer's stance and when you move you take short steps, barely lifting your feet off the ground - it's more of a slide. You never cross over your feet and you never bring them close together. Doing so can land your ass on the mat as your opponent clocks you while you are off balance.

To Practice Your Footwork

Stand in the boxer's stance in front of a heavy bag and give it a shove away from you. Now move forward as it goes back and backwards as it comes forward. Dance with the bag. Get used to it, it's your new friend.

To practice side to side movement, you need to learn one more thing, the pivot. To quickly change direction you need to pivot. Your front foot is the pivot point and your rear foot initiates the move by sweeping right or left depending on which way you want to go. Your front foot then quickly adjusts if need be, sliding left or right to maintain your stance.

Now you can practice your side to side movement. Again, in front of the bag, give it a shove but in a slightly more circular motion. As the bag approaches you take a step to a side, and then pivot so you are facing the bag. Keep doing this moving around the bag, then switch directions and do it some more.

Picture yourself moving to the outside of your opponent. If you move to the outside of each punch, you do not set yourself up to be hit as your opponent will not be in a position to hit you.

When one thinks of boxers they think of jabs and hooks, never the part the legs play in the whole match. That is the wrong way to think, your legs set up your punches and keep you out of striking distance. They propel you to places where you can deliver punches at angles your opponent is not expecting. Do yourself a favour and take the time to become fleet of foot. (in other words, make sure you can do the dance).

Boxers are never static, they do not stand still. You have to develop a rhythm. Some boxers have a long rhythm which is a gentle forward and backward movement and some have a shorter rhythm with more side to side and head movement. Watch some fights and pick them out, then figure out which you want to adopt.

Inside fighters like Joe Frazier use a shorter rhythm with lots of head movement and for good reason. Being within striking distance constantly means they have to keep their head moving or it's going to get knocked off. The longer rhythm is used by outside fighters as they keep their opponent at bay with jabs. A good example is Muhammed Ali.

The Punches

Jab- A quick, straight punch thrown with the lead hand from the guard position. The jab is accompanied by a small, clockwise rotation of the torso and hips, while the fist rotates 90 degrees, becoming horizontal upon impact. As the punch reaches full extension, the lead shoulder is brought up to guard the chin. The rear hand remains next to the face to guard the jaw. After making contact with the target, the lead hand is retracted quickly to resume a guard position in front of the face. The jab is the most important punch in a boxer's arsenal because it provides a fair amount of its own cover and it leaves the least amount of space for a counterpunch from the opponent. It has the longest reach of any punch and does not require commitment or large weight transfers. Due to its relatively weak power, the jab is often used as a tool to gauge distances, probe an opponent's defenses, harass an opponent, and set up heavier, more powerful punches. A half-step may be added, moving the entire body into the punch, for additional power.

Cross- A powerful straight punch thrown with the rear hand. From the guard position, the rear hand is thrown from the chin, crossing the body and traveling towards the target in a straight line. The rear shoulder is thrust forward and finishes just touching the outside of the chin. At the same time, the lead hand is retracted and tucked against the face to protect the inside of the chin. For additional power, the torso and hips are rotated counter-clockwise as the cross is thrown. Weight is also transferred from the rear foot to the lead foot, resulting in the rear heel turning outwards as it acts as a fulcrum for the transfer of weight. Body rotation and the sudden weight transfer is what gives the cross its power. Like the jab, a half-step forward may be added. After the cross is thrown, the hand is retracted quickly and the guard position resumed. It can be used to counterpunch a jab, aiming for the opponent's head (or a counter to a cross aimed at the body) or to set up a hook. The cross can also follow a jab, creating the classic "one-two combo." The cross is also called a "straight" or "right."

Hook- A semi-circular punch thrown with the lead hand to the side of the opponent's head. From the guard position, the elbow is drawn back with a horizontal fist (knuckles pointing forward) and the elbow bent. The rear hand is tucked firmly against the jaw to protect the chin. The torso and hips are rotated clockwise, propelling the fist through a tight, clockwise arc across the front of the body and connecting with the target. At the same time, the lead foot pivots clockwise, turning the left heel outwards. Upon contact, the hook's circular path ends abruptly and the lead hand is pulled quickly back into the guard position. A hook may also target the lower body (the classic Irish/Mexican hook to the liver) and this technique is sometimes called the "rip" to distinguish it from the conventional hook to the head. The hook may also be thrown with the rear hand.

Uppercut- A vertical, rising punch thrown with the rear hand. From the guard position, the torso shifts slightly to the right, the rear hand drops below the level of the opponent's chest and the knees are bent slightly. From this position, the rear hand is thrust upwards in a rising arc towards the opponent's chin or torso. At the same time, the knees push upwards quickly and the torso and hips rotate anti-clockwise and the rear heel turns outward, mimicking the body movement of the cross. The strategic utility of the uppercut depends on its ability to "lift" the opponent's body, setting it off-balance for successive attacks. The right uppercut followed by a left hook is a deadly combination.

These different punching types can be combined to form 'combos', like a jab and cross combo. Nicknamed the "one-two combo", it is a very effective combination because the jab blinds the opponent and the cross is powerful enough to knock the opponent out.

A large, swinging circular punch starting from a cocked-back position with the arm at a longer extension than the hook and all of the fighter's weight behind it is sometimes referred to as a "roundhouse" or "haymaker" punch. Relying on body weight and centrifugal force within a wide arc, the roundhouse can deliver a great deal of power. It is usually, however, thrown as a wild and uncontrolled punch that leaves the fighter delivering it in a poor position, usually off balance and with an open guard, as well as being slow and "telegraphed", giving the opponent warning and time to react. For this reason, it is not considered a conventional punch and is a mark of poor technique or deseparation. Another unusual punch is the "bolo

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