Mike Tyson, George Forman, and Muhammad Ali are all names that have at one time or another dominated the professional boxing world. From their unique styles to extreme power, these boxers were the best of the best.
These men may be legends now, but they too had to start somewhere, and learning from the beginning and mastering the sport as they went was key to their success.
If you are new to boxing, you should learn the basics before trying to get into the ring with anyone who’s been around the block. Below are some basic beginner punches, breathing techniques, and stances to get your foot in the door of the fighting world.
Basic Boxing Stance
Your boxing stance is just as important as any other position or movement you make in the ring. You are preparing yourself for the fight and positioning yourself for the first move. A key thing to keep in mind here is that you are also protecting yourself from that first blow.
Keep in mind, this stance is not only how you start the fight but also the position you take after every move. Keeping your head, chest, and face shielded at all times.
Steps to a perfect boxing stance:
- Align your front toe and back heel to the white line in the center of the ring.
- Raise your arms above the aligned knee.
- Slightly bend your knee, giving yourself the ability to move quickly.
- Balance your weight evenly between your left and right foot.
- The feet should be in a diagonal position, so you are in a natural stance, lifting your back heel off the ground.
- Keep your elbows pointed downward and gloves positioned directly in front of your face just below your line of vision.
- Lower your chin slightly.
- Your body should be alert but relaxed with no tension.
Note: Always remember to keep your hands up when boxing. An exposed face will lead to a devastating knockout.
There are four punches you should know as a beginner learning boxing basics: uppercut, jab, cross, and hook. Getting to know these moves and master them can help you tremendously in the ring. Once you get the basics down, then you can start to combine them and manipulate the moves to get more creative.
The uppercut drives your fist upwards under the opponent’s jaw. Hitting the person in the chin is ideal, but it can also help in the match if you get your opponent in the throat or upper chest.
- Start in the boxing stance (always).
- Swivel your hips without leaving your position (feet planted in the floor).
- Lead with your dominant hand punching upward (not scooping).
- Allow the power to come from your hips and legs, not your arm.
- Return to boxing stance (always).
Note: All the power should be coming from your lower body and not your arms to give you a more forceful jolt. Also, stay relaxed until the movements, then engage your muscles staying easy on your joints to reduce the chance of injuries. Finally, keep control of your punch, never follow through past the opponent’s eyes.
The jab is probably the easiest punch to master and is known for being the quickest punch and the least exerting. Giving you time to strike, re-position, and strike again, faster than your opponent can recover from each blow.
- Start in your boxing stance.
- Quickly step forward with your front leg.
- At the same time as the step, punch forward with the same fist.
- Both foot and fist should connect at the same time (hand to punching bag, foot to floor).
- Quickly return to the boxing stance covering your face.
Note: Stay upright even though you are tucked into safety, never leaning forward in your stance. Keep yourself covered as much as possible keeping your elbows tucked into your ribs and your shoulders aligned.
A cross punch is probably one of the most natural of the four. This punch is commonly used in boxing and can be very effective if done correctly, and you can make contact with your opponent. This punch is also known as a straight because you punch your back first straight towards your opponent’s face.
- Get into your boxer’s stance.
- Pivot your hips as you are punching straight in front of you.
- Rotate on the ball of your back foot to follow through the punch
- Pull back into a boxing stance.
Note: Use the force from your momentum as you are pivoting your hips. Never lean forward and stay aware of your surroundings.
The hook is such a widely used punch in boxing because it takes the least amount of time. When done properly, it contains the strongest strike. The hook has the shortest distance to travel from you to your opponent, giving you the element of surprise.
- Start in the boxing stance.
- Position your elbow at a 90-degree angle.
- Pivot on the back foot as you punch, rotating your hips to the same side as the punch.
- Then pivot the front foot as you punch in the opposite direction.
- Never lift the toes from the ground.
Note: You are always facing your opponent, but your punch will land on the side of their face. Never wind up more than you have to. If the motion takes too long, your opponent will see it as it’s coming.
Next up, let’s take a look at breathing and breath techniques in boxing.
Breathing in Boxing
Knowing how to control your breathing while boxing can make a large impact on your performance. Syncing your breath to your movements is key to giving you the energy you need to get through a match before being overcome with exhaustion. There are two types of breathing techniques to learn when training. Slow breathes for the slower motions and fast breathes for the quicker ones.
Taking deep breaths slowly in and then slowly out through your nose is key to regaining energy and stamina when you are not throwing punches.
Deeply inhale as far as you can, filling your lungs and stomach with as much oxygen as possible while you are shuffling around the ring or not actively engaging with your opponent. Getting these deep breaths can be just as important, if not more so, than taking your quick water breaks.
Getting some good slow breaths in can help you think more clearly and feel more relaxed within seconds.
Note: In boxing, slow breathing is calm breathing. You do not have to take unnecessarily long breaths. A talented professional boxer knows how to breathe steady and take slow enough breaths to relax himself during a fight.
Fast breathing is used for quick movements and fast strikes. It quickly gets oxygen into your body, preparing it for the next blow.
When doing quick fast breaths, the goal is to inhale deeply through the nose as slowly as possible. If it has to be a quick inhale, that is okay. Then, quickly exhale out of your mouth in a fast hiss, not opening your jaw too much. Keep your jaw closed as much as possible throughout the match, as an open jaw could lead to a broken jaw if you are punched.
Note: When breathing fast, inhale deep and exhale in a short small burst. A good goal to set for yourself is to get out around 20 short breaths with one inhale.
Why Are Breathing Techniques so Important in Boxing
Giving yourself just enough oxygen to breathe properly throughout a match will help regulate your airflow and keep you from hyperventilating or passing out. All these breaths will also help set the tone for your punches and skills when you can control them.
A more professional boxer who knows how to properly nose breathe will be punching powerful shots smoothly and sharply with little exhalation, which means less exertion. A beginner boxer punches much more randomly and chaotically, exerting more energy and tiring themselves much quicker.
Note: When training, practice with your mouth guard. If you train with your mouthpiece, then you will learn how to breathe around it, and it will not act as an obstruction in the middle of a match. This approach will only have to last until you have good control of your breath. In the ring, your mouthpiece helps you to breathe out of your nose naturally.
Boxing is a great sport. It provides many health benefits mentally and physically but can be dangerous if not practiced correctly. When learning boxing basics, it is important to study the proper techniques and ease in. Mastering your stance provides you with a great starting point for a strong powerful punch, and will also keep your head and face protected from incoming punches. Keep your breaths and movements in harmony and you will have the stamina and energy to defeat even the toughest fighter.