Punching Hard

The prin­ci­ples of effec­tive punch­ing are: decep­tion, effec­tive weight trans­fer­ence, and place­ment. Ide­ally a blow will uti­lize all three but any one of them is enough to cre­ate a punch that will knock the aver­age man unconscious.

If a man is expect­ing to get hit, if he can see the punch com­ing and steel him­self to its impact, then it’s unlikely that the blow will pro­duce a knock­out. It’s more effec­tive to hit a man with a lighter punch that he doesn’t see com­ing than a heav­ier blow which he has pre­pared him­self for, even if only for a frac­tion of a frac­tion of a second.

A good method of deceiv­ing your oppo­nent as to the tim­ing and place­ment of a blow is to “hide” the punch inside a series of lighter shots. There­fore, you should always throw more than one punch and never try to “pot shot” your oppo­nent with one punch from the out­side. Keep your hands up and chin down, tucked behind the lead shoul­der, and com­mit to start­ing and fin­ish­ing exchanges with your oppo­nent. It’s within these exchanges that most dam­age is done.

By feint­ing to one part of the body and throw­ing to another you can catch your oppo­nent unaware or make him defend the wrong part him­self. Feint­ing should be done with the shoul­ders, head, eyes and feet and not just the arms. Effec­tive feints are small and sub­tle and are con­cerned with dis­rupt­ing your opponent’s rhythm ever so slightly.

Effec­tive body punch­ing both drains your oppo­nent of vital­ity and also makes feints more effec­tive. In addi­tion to set­ting up a knock­out blow to the chin with repeated punches and feints to the body, a rarer and more ele­gant tech­nique is to feint to the head and deliver a well-placed and accu­rate left hook to the opponent’s body when he doesn’t expect it.

Also effec­tive is to cause your oppo­nent to cover up his head with a light com­bi­na­tion then shoot a quick, accu­rate left hook which touches the short ribs just under the chest. This is how Bernard Hop­kins stopped Oscar De La Hoya when they fought. This shot, when landed cor­rectly, is the sin­gle most unpleas­ant blow to get hit with in box­ing and is the only punch that I know of that is so inca­pac­i­tat­ing that it will make a trained pro­fes­sional boxer quit.

Through the cor­rect trans­fer­ence of your body’s weight tremen­dous force can be gen­er­ated in your punches over very short dis­tances and with lit­tle vis­i­ble move­ment. This is the secret to infight­ing. The weight of the body should move up from the feet through the legs, hips, core, then shoul­ders and arms and be deliv­ered on the end of the fist with a snap. The move­ment is akin to the way one shifts the weight from one foot to another when danc­ing in place. Flu­id­ity is essen­tial and coor­di­na­tion has more to do with punch­ing effec­tively than bod­ily strength.

Raw speed and reflex­ive abil­ity are inher­ent and can­not be devel­oped if you‘re not blessed with them from the get go. How­ever, rhythm and tim­ing can be devel­oped with prac­tice. A fighter who has good tech­nique, i.e. throws short straight punches, and who has devel­oped his abil­ity to time his oppo­nents will seem fast whether he is or isn’t. The great nul­li­fier of an opponent’s supe­rior hand speed is a con­sis­tent and steady jab.

A boxer’s body and abil­ity to punch must be con­di­tioned through count­less repeated move­ment, drills, shadow box­ing and spar­ring. This process takes years of train­ing and the ath­letic prime of a boxer is typ­i­cally only a few years (27–31). This is why a really excel­lent boxer who has long-term suc­cess in the ring is such a rar­ity and one of the most remark­able occur­rences in the sports world.