Boxing is one of the most rewarding martial arts you can decide to learn, and it’s been fine-tuned into a science at this point – that’s why it’s often called “the sweet science.” Despite limiting you to only using your fists as weapons, boxing covers the different aspects of fighting, like footwork, angles, tactics, counters, and head movement in greater detail than any other martial art.
Learning how to box is a life-long journey, given the many complex things you need to learn to become a master of the art.
Boxing Fundamentals To Focus On When You First Start Training
The fundamentals of boxing serve as a base for all the more advanced techniques and movements you’ll learn. Learning the fundamentals is the easy part while mastering them can be a lot more challenging. Master the fundamentals and the rest of your training becomes a lot easier.
Here are five boxing fundamentals you should focus on when you first start training:
1) A Proper Stance
Mastering the proper boxing stance is much more challenging than it might appear at first glance. Even boxers at the professional level have been guilty of using less-than-ideal stances. Your boxing stance is one of the first things you should master since it dictates everything else you do.
A proper stance puts your body in the ideal position to throw punches, block punches, use head movement, and use your footwork. A lousy stance limits the effectiveness of all these things. For example, throwing a punch in a poor stance can leave your body unbalanced, leaving you vulnerable to being knocked down or slipping.
Many types of stances are used in boxing, but most trainers recommend the basic boxing stance for beginners. It’s the most straightforward stance to learn and effective at the highest levels of boxing. Here are some things to keep in mind when working on your boxing stance:
- Your left leg should be your lead leg if you’re right-handed (orthodox stance), while your right leg should be your lead leg if you’re left-handed (southpaw stance). You can play with alternative stances once you’ve mastered fighting out of your natural stance. Many boxers make the mistake of trying to switch stances when they haven’t even learned how to use one correctly.
- Your feet should be shoulder-width apart when you’re in your stance. This makes it easier to distribute your weight between both legs without getting off balance. You should be able to draw a straight line from your lead toe to your rear heel, and your knees should be slightly bent.
- Keep your hands up at head height. Your lead hand should be about a foot away from your face, while your rear hand is next to your chin.
- Keep your chin tucked in in your fighting stance. Doing so allows you to absorb the impacts of punches better.
Boxing doesn’t allow you to attack opponents with your feet, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Your feet are one of your most important tools inside the boxing ring since they put you in a position to land powerful punches while your opponent can’t do the same.
Your mentality as a boxer should be to hit your opponent without getting hit, and your footwork is a significant factor that determines how effective your defense is. Boxing footwork isn’t particularly complicated to learn, but you do have to do the work.
Start with the most basic footwork patterns and master them before trying to attempt more complicated movements. The most basic movement patterns used in boxing are:
- Forward movement: The proper way to move forward in your boxing stance is to move your lead leg first before sliding your back leg back into position.
- Backward movement: This is the reverse of the forward movement pattern. You move your rear leg and slide your lead leg into position.
- Lateral movement: When moving laterally in your boxing stance, the leg closest to the direction you’re moving moves first while your other leg slides into place.
- Pivoting: Pivoting typically involves planting your lead leg and rotating with your back leg. When pivoting for offensive purposes, rotate on the balls of your lead foot while bringing your rear foot forward at a 45-degree angle. You end up perpendicular to your opponent’s right side, putting you in a position to land punches. When pivoting for defensive reasons, rotate on the balls of your left foot and swing your right foot away from your opponent until you’re perpendicular to the left side of their body. This moves your body away from the centerline while putting you in position to counter.
Master these movement patterns until they become part of your muscle memory, something you never have to think about when inside the ring. Use proper footwork mechanics whenever you’re engaged in boxing-related activities like shadowboxing, focus mitts, and bag work. The more you use these movements, the more natural they’ll be for you.
3) Basic Punches
You won’t be much of a boxer if you don’t know how to throw punches correctly, so master the proper jab, cross, hook, and uppercut mechanics when you first start training. When throwing punches, remember that your punches’ power comes from your entire body, not only your arms.
- Jab: The jab is the safest and fastest punch any boxer can throw. It also covers a longer range than any other punch, and it sets the stage for your other punches and combinations.
- Cross: The cross is a more powerful, straight punch than the jab, but it covers less distance and leaves you more vulnerable to counters. It is the second safest punch a boxer can throw. Try to move your head off the centerline when throwing this punch.
- Hook: The hook is one of your most powerful punches but covers less distance than your straight punches. It’s most effective when used in close to medium range.
- Uppercut: The uppercut is another powerful punch that is used at close range. Opponents are less likely to see it coming, but it does leave the side you throw the punch from open to counters.
Putting punches together is another boxing fundamental you want to focus on. You won’t win many matches by simply throwing one punch at a time, and you’re less likely to catch your opponent with one powerful punch.
Use combinations to hide your attacks to increase your chances of catching your opponent with clean shots. Countless combinations are used in boxing, so find some that work for you and practice them until they become part of your muscle memory. The more combinations you have in your arsenal, the harder it will be for your opponents to anticipate your next move. Alternate the speed of your punches when throwing combinations to give your opponent something extra to worry about.
5) Basic Defense
Besides using your feet to evade punches, you’ll need to master how to block and parry punches with your arms. Various blocking styles are used in boxing, each with its respective pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of blocks boxers use:
- Catching/Blocking With The Arms: This involves using your elbow, forearm, or glove to absorb punches aimed at vulnerable parts of your body, like your stomach or head. The main disadvantage of this blocking style is that you still absorb some of the blow’s impact, so it is not always a viable strategy against hard hitters. However, blocking with your arms is the easiest style of boxing defense to learn.
- Parrying: Parrying involves deflecting incoming punches with one of your hands, so they miss their target.
- Head And Body Movement: The most effective type of boxing defense involves moving your head or body out of the way of incoming punches. Head movement is one of the most mesmerizing techniques used in boxing. Savvy boxers slip out of the way of punches effortlessly, leading to impressive punch sequences. Slipping is the head movement used to evade straight punches. It involves moving your head out of the centerline, so straight punches go past it. Ducking and rolling are defensive movements used to evade looping punches like hooks. Head movement is one of the most challenging skills to master, so drill it relentlessly when training. Slip cord drills, focus mitts, and sparring are effective ways to work on your head movement.
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