Boxing Basics Part III: Defense

by A Manly Guest Contributor on July 14, 2010 · 13 comments

in Health & Sports

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Chad Howse who is doing a series of posts for AoM on the basics of boxing. Check out Part I and Part II.

In a sport where the objective is to hurt your opponent more than he hurts you, defense is a pretty important thing, which is why we’ll be covering how to defend yourself from getting hit before we go over punching.

The first thing that should be understood about defense is that it is more or less done to serve another purpose. You’re not blocking just for the sake of not getting hit, but blocking to get in a position to return an effective punch that will hurt your opponent or lead to a punch that’ll land flush.

There are two methods to do this:

1. You can block or parry the punch.

2. You can slip the punch.

In the following video I’ll be showing you examples of how to defend against each punch, either by blocking or slipping. Following the video will be a number of tips. It’s a big topic to cover in one article, so feel free to add any other tips in the comments section.



Mix it up

Don’t rely on just blocking or just slipping. Just like on offense, keep your opponent guessing as to what you’re going to do next. If you block five punches in a row, your opponent might think he’s going to at least make some kind of contact and load up; slipping the next punch he throws might get him off balance and out of position, which you’ll take advantage of.

Stay tight

You’ll hear announcers say, “This guy has some tight defense.” This means having your elbows in tight to the midsection, hands high and protecting your chin, which is down and also being protected by your shoulders. There isn’t a lot of open space to land anything.

Be on balance

Again, the point of avoiding a punch is to get yourself in position to throw an effective punch in return. To do this you have to stay on balance, on the balls of your feet and avoid doing huge, out of control movements. Keep your movement (both upper and lower body) small, quick, and under control.

Don’t give anything away

Boxing is like a lot of other sports in this way, but let’s use basketball as an example. If a guy comes down and hits two straight three’s, the next time down the court he might throw up a shot fake to get his opponent in the air so he can either draw a foul or gain a clear path to the basket. Boxing is the same; a guy’s jab might be on point, and he might hit with two or three in a row that land, but then he’ll throw out a faint (a fake) to get his opponent opened up and then come around with a hook.

Read your opponent

If your hands are fast enough to parry his jab, wait for him to throw it before showing the parry (block). If your hands are a lot slower than his, keep your hands up and rely on smaller, more subtle movements to block his punches. If he throws out a faint and you commit, it’s a lot easier to recover if you’re under control than if you aren’t.

Make him miss, by a little bit

You don’t need your opponent to miss you by a foot or two; you just need him to miss you. Actually, you just want him not to hit you flush and direct. If he just grazes the side of your head, great! He didn’t do any damage, and it won’t be counted as a point.

So, just like in blocking and in your footwork, stay under control with small movements.

Eyes on the target

I should have gone over this in the first article, but you want to be looking at your opponent’s upper chest. By doing this you’re able to see his hands, shoulders, and head. Some guys throw little hints out before they punch. For example they might raise their left shoulder before throwing a jab, or they may move their dominant shoulder forward before throwing a cross (right shoulder on an orthodox fighter, left on a southpaw).

Even when you’re blocking and slipping, keep your eyes at his upper chest and be ready to throw back. Slip and block in a way that allows you to see your opponent at all times. Boxing’s all about angles, and if your opponent throws punches in bunches, gets you to cover up and lose sight of where he is, he can change his angle and get you out of position, which isn’t good.

It’s always the punch you don’t see coming that knocks you out. Keep that in mind.
Boxing Basics Part I: How to Wrap Your Hands
Boxing Basics Part II: Stance & Footwork
Boxing Basics Part III: Defense
Boxing Basics Part IV: Punching – Jab & Cross
Boxing Basics Part V: Punching – Hook & Uppercut
Boxing Basics Part VI: Punching Combinations


Chad Howse is a amateur boxer and personal trainer who’s passionate about helping clients achieve satisfying results in a short amount of time, so they can get the most out of life. For fitness tips and inspiration check out his blog, Chad Howse Fitness, sign up to get two free ebooks, and subscribe to his RSS feed.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Playstead July 14, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Great series, boxing is a lost art and a hell of a workout. One thing worth noting is that when you’re blocking and slipping; the movements are minimal. Most people tend to overestimate how much they need to move to parry a jab or slip a punch. It only need to miss you by a half inch, not a foot.

2 Rob Glenn July 15, 2010 at 1:13 am

Man it sure is great that your doing this article for AOM. I can’t wait to get reading your blog too. looks like good stuff. This is more of an advanced tip but I’ll impart what little I know anyways. The best boxers use their angles while slipping to bridge the gap and put themselves into position, and the best boxers read their opponent and counter with their attack. A lot of guys see really “fast” boxers and think wow that guy is talented and gifted with speed. which may be the case but more often than not (especailly if he has a good trainer that is studying opponent videos) that boxer simple understands what his opponant is doing and is 3 moves ahead in the chess game. so study those “gifted” boxers and watch how they position their selves to thier opponant. you will notice that they keep themselves small while moving to their opponants “barn door” as I like to call it. ie their opponant is square to their fist while their opponants fist are not in a position to attack. I know this is a bit advanced, but I just wanted to touch on some of it to get the new guys to start thinking like a boxer. The rest is using the fundimentals to get into attack position.

3 alon July 15, 2010 at 2:10 am

please man can u make a video for southpaw!

4 alon July 15, 2010 at 2:46 am

and by the way thanks for the article i learned a bit from it

5 Jason Brubaker July 15, 2010 at 8:52 am

I’ve been enjoying the series, and I wanted to just chime in and say so. One nitpick: I believe the word is “feint” (to deceive by a mock action) rather than “faint” (to pass out). You don’t want to be doing a lot of “fainting” in the ring!

6 dan orlic July 15, 2010 at 10:03 am

I second alon’s request! Lefties represent!

7 Charlie July 15, 2010 at 10:49 am

Great series!

8 Chad July 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Hey guy thanks for the comments.

@Rob Glenn – great point about using angles.

@alon – I’ll get some stuff up for southpaws in my next video – or put some stuff up on youtube for you. All of the same principles apply, just using opposing body parts, but I understand how having a visual will help a lot so I’ll get something up for all of you southpaws.

@Jason Brubaker – hahah no we wouldn’t want anyone “fainting” in the ring, thanks for the correction.

9 alon July 15, 2010 at 5:42 pm


10 Rob Glenn July 15, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I’m glad to see southpaws out their other than me. Remember their is not better fighter than a sly little southpaw. Ok that’s just my opinion, but their is a differant style. Remember you guys the biggest difference is that your at opposing angles not complamentary angles. This gives you an advantage if you use it. one quick tip. slip to your left when your opponant jabs this puts you outside his defence. there you have a good right hook as you circle or like the pacman does come in with a leading left. Thanks for the great thread chad keep up the good work and representing the sport.

11 alon July 16, 2010 at 10:04 am

Thank you for the tip glenn
by the way chad if you can also give in your next videos a bit of tips to southpaws that would really you can see there are a lot of southpaws here!

12 Jaime D July 17, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Great series , awesome workout and a great way to let out some steam.

13 silentblood July 21, 2010 at 9:54 am

Very informative. I like boxing, it’s pretty neat to see other lefties as well.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter