Basic Boxing Punches you will Learn in Boxing Classes
There are four basic punches in boxing, these are the jab, the cross, hook and uppercut.
For the following discussion assumes a right-handed or orthodox boxer. NB. If the boxer is a southpaw, the boxing stance changes accordingly, and all left punches become right punches.
The jab is arguably the most important punch in boxing as it provides a fair amount of its own cover and it leaves the least amount of space for a counter punch from the opponent. It also has the longest reach without requiring the boxer to commit or make large weight transfers. Technique wise, the jab is a straight punch thrown with the lead hand from the guard position with the fist rotating to become horizontal upon impact. The primary target area for the jab is the opponent’s nose region. As the punch reaches full extension, the lead shoulder can be brought up to guard the chin, while 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 certainly not a knockout punch and is more often used as a tool to gauge distances, probe an opponent’s defenses, harass an opponent, and set up heavier, more powerful punches.
The cross is a powerful straight punch thrown across the body originating from the strongest dominant hand (rear hand). The primary target area for the cross is the front of the opponent’s face. Technique wise, 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 while the lead (jabbing) hand is retracted to protect the face and chin. For additional power, the torso and hips are rotated counter-clockwise as the cross is thrown with the boxer transferring weigh onto the front foot, the body rotation and weight transfer giving the right cross a lot more power than the jab. Quickly after the punch is thrown, the hand is retracted to the guard position.
The cross can be used to counter punch a jab from the opponent, aiming for the opponent’s head, or to counter a cross aimed at the body, or to set up a hook. Commonly, the cross can also follow a jab, creating the classic “one-two” combination. During pad work it’s recommended that the boxer not drive through with the punch as finishing completely will cause discomfort for a smaller pad holder.
Left and Right Hook
The Hook is a semi-circular punch thrown with the lead or rear hand. The primary target area is the jaw line along the side of the opponent’s head. The punch is executed by rolling the upright fist from a vertical position to a horizontal position in conjunction with a small step and rotation of the entire body in that direction except for the head.
The boxer’s elbow must be in line behind the fist for effective power. The other hand is tucked firmly against the jaw to protect the chin. Upon contact, the hook’s circular path ends abruptly, with the punching hand being pulled quickly back into the guard position.
A hook may also target the lower body with this variation often called a “body rip” to distinguish it from the conventional hook to the head.
Left and Right Uppercut
Thrown from either hand, the uppercut is a vertical rising punch that travels from the outside of the body into the centre in an upward motion towards the opponent’s chin. Technique wise, from the guard position, the boxer’s torso shifts slightly to the right as the rear hand drops and the knees are bent slightly. From this position, the rear hand is thrown upwards in a rising arc towards the target area with the knees pushing upwards quickly and the torso and hips rotating to mimic the body movement of the cross. Upon impact of the punch, the elbow of the punching arm rolls inwards to the rib.
Strategically, the uppercut “lifts” the opponent’s body, setting them off-balance for successive attacks. In this scenario, the right uppercut followed by a left hook is a deadly combination, the offensive boxer using the uppercut to expose the opponent’s chin and then engaging with a hook to knock them out.
Boxing Combinations and Boxing for Fitness
The four basic punches can be thrown in rapid succession to form combinations. Combos allow the Pad trainer to build variety and excitement into a workout, and the boxer to build devastating combinations for offence and protective fallbacks and reflexes for defence.
The main muscle groups when punching are the deltoids, biceps, triceps and pectorals and lats. It’s important not to overuse the traps and neck muscles, so try to keep them relaxed. The core muscles are used to stabilize and also get a good workout, along with the legs and lower body.
Importantly, the boxer needs to ensure they avoid “locking out” the elbow at the end of the punches to ensure workouts are safe and avoid the opportunity for joint injury or trauma.
- Boxing Pad Holding Course
(Learn over 20 authentic boxing combinations with pad work to match to use in Personal Training Sessions and adapt into Group Fitness Class Structures)
- GroupX Boxing Class Course (Learn 3 complete group fitness class formats along with the correct technique for the 6 basic punches, PLUS adapted Muay Thai drills and footwork to use in Group Fitness Classes or adapt into One-on-One Personal Training Sessions)
- Kick Pad Holding Course (Learn the skills to start constructing your own authentic kickboxing combinations to teach within your Personal Training Sessions or within Kickboxing and Martial Arts Classes).
Want all this in a book – so you can learn at your own leisure, then look no further – Punchfit® 50 Boxing Combinations Book for proven combinations covering speed, power, technical evasion and saturation styles.