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Avoiding punches


For a boxer, satisfaction comes from a punch hitting something, such as the opponent’s head, torso, shoulders, arms, gloves, just about anything. A punch that doesn’t hit anything doesn’t give a boxer any satisfaction; in fact, it causes dissatisfaction since it is discouraging to not have your punch hit something. Therefore, if you can prevent your opponent from hitting you, even if you do not hit back, the opponent may feel beaten.

There are numerous ways to avoid being hit by a punch. The following methods have been tested in the ring over many decades and they work.


Slipping is moving your head and/or torso just out of the way of a punch. It is best to slip toward the side the punch is coming from, either by sliding the head toward that side or leaning from the waist either backward or to that side. This way, you are out of range of a follow-up punch with the other hand. Do not dip the head forward or lean forward; that is just begging to get hit.

Slipping only involves a slight movement; you want the punch to just barely miss. The reason for using only a slight movement is so you may conserve energy and stay in position for a counterattack. Slipping to the outside makes it more difficult for the opponent to make a follow-up attack; however, there will be times you want to slip to the inside of a punch, such as slipping to the inside of a jab and then counterattacking with a hook to the opponent’s body.

Some fighters slip by rocking the upper body at a 45-degree angle to the left or right of a punch while leaning slightly forward. Some add a step to the slip to help set up for a counterattack.

 To slip a left jab

There are three basic ways to slip a left jab and launch a counterattack:

  1. The first is to move to your left, letting the jab go over your right shoulder as you fire a left shovel hook up into the opponent’s face. Follow up combinations may include a right to the opponent’s body, a left hook to the opponent’s body (while moving in), or a left hook to the opponent’s head while the opponent is backing up.
  2. The second slip for a jab is to move to your right, with the jab moving past your left ear over your left shoulder. This exposes the opponent’s body and, since his or her guard will likely be low, you may fire a right to the opponent’s body followed by a left hook to the opponent’s head. This slip may also give you an opportunity to move in close.
  3. The third slip for a jab is to move to your right, parrying his left hand with your right, and then moving straight in. Stay upright and apply pressure to the opponent’s vulnerable side. Make the parry a hard push so the opponent is pushed off balance. Any number of counters may be launched from this position

To slip a right cross

There are two basic ways to slip a right cross and launch a counterattack:
  1. For the first slip against a cross, ensure you have a glove in front of the left side of your face for protection. Southpaw fighters like to hold their right glove like a catcher’s mitt in front of their face. Orthodox fighters should protect their face with the left hand, but the motion is to slip down and to the right. The right hand is then fired by your left shoulder.
  2. In the second slip against a cross, slip to your left and, as the cross crosses over your right shoulder, dig a left hook to the opponent’s body. Push the back of the opponent’s right arm to keep the opponent off balance, spin the opponent, and then move in. Keep the opponent off balance with outside weaves by pushing with the back of the arm that threw the punch.

To slip a left hook

This may be the most important punch to learn how to slip since it is the most dangerous punch.
Many times, fighters will try to lean back to avoid a hook, but that can be a disastrous mistake. Keep your right fist at your right chin, the thumb pressed against the jawbone. When the punch comes, weave under it, but do not lean over, keep your eyes on your opponent’s face. From the crouch of the weave, spring back with a combination of punches to what is exposed.


The parry is a subtle block. It’s basically a slight wave of the hand used to push a straight punch, like the jab, to the side so it slips the head by without hitting its target.

Using a simple parry

From your guard, using your trailing hand, slap the opponent's fist just before it reaches your face. Slap horizontally from right to left (orthodox stance) or left to right (southpaw stance). There is a slight downward motion but avoid exaggerating the downward motion and do not go beyond the opposite side of your face; you don’t want your opponent's punch to get tangled with your other arm. Simple parrying is effective when the attacker's movements are large and badly directed. Remember to use just enough deflecting motion to protect the threatened area.

Using a semicircular parry

As you parry, sweep away the strike in a semicircular motion, bringing your hand back to the guard position. A semicircular parry is most effective against high attacks directed to a lower target, or low attacks directed at a higher target.

Using a circular parry

As you parry, sweep away the strike in a circular motion, bringing your hand back to the guard position. The circular parry uses a lot of motion, but against the right opponent, it may move the opponent off balance. Stay relaxed so the arm swings easily.


The weave is like a dance movement; it is simple, elegant, and effective. It works best against hooks and wide punches.

Using the weave

If your opponent throws a hook, slightly dip your body to the inside of his punch (like a slip), then bend your knees and roll under the punch, so that it goes right over your head. You are now on the outside of the punching arm. Rise up into your normal stance. The weave looks as though you are making the letter “U” underneath the punching arm. Remember to keep your guard up while weaving.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Relax and practice moving smoothly and effortlessly. Train with a slip bag or with a partner while using focus mitts. Train until avoiding becomes an instinctive reaction rather than a conscious movement. If you make a conscious movement to a punch, you will be too late in your action and you will get hit.

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