Techniques>Punches>Telegraphing a punch

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Telegraphing a punch


Telegraphing is when you make some motion, known as a “tell,” that signals your opponent that you are attacking before the attack begins. Tells are tiny, unconscious, habitual movements we have developed over time in response to something we perceive or before we do something. Professional poker players become experts in reading the tells of their competitors and use this skill to identify bluffs.

Punching tells

A punching tell may be a clinch of the fist, a hesitation in movement, a slight stance shift, etc. When sparring, tells that are noticed by opponents give them a split-second more time to react to your attacks.

The eyes detect movement across their field of view much quicker than they detect changes in size, so any extraneous movement will warn the opponent of an attack. The only indication the opponent should have of a punch being fired is that the fist appears to be getting larger. Winging a punch makes it easier to detect and react to. When punching, don’t start the punch by moving the elbow or shoulder, or any other body part. Just suddenly fire the punch directly at the target from its present position.

The punching action should be like a jack-in-the-box toy; you crank the toy, you listen to the music, but you don’t know then jack will pop up, it’s a surprise. When sparring, the opponent knows a punch will be coming at some point but gets lulled by your movements, and when the punch happens, it should be a complete surprise.

You can also consciously use tells to confuse an opponent. If you consciously make some movement before an attack so the opponent notices it and learns to react to it, you can later use the tell to signal a fake attack, get the opponent to react to the attack, and use a different attack that scores.

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