Firstly - It is vitally important that you quickly learn and master the various boxing stances, as basically, without a proper stance you have little chance of ever throwing a decent punch, or having good enough movement to avoid all the incoming punches from your opponent.
Basic Boxing Footwork
Why is footwork important to a boxer?
Boxers should always be constantly on the move in the ring, forwards, backwards and side to side (which also involves circling), so obviously your footwork plays a very important role in that. By practicing footwork, you are learning how to keep good balance, stay or move out of harms way when necessary, and always have a stable platform under you when you are throwing a punch or a combination of punches.
You learn how to stay on the balls of your feet and never stand flat footed when boxing. Staying on the balls of your feet makes it much easier for you to react more quickly to whatever is happening in the bout. Boxers will never stand still through choice, if they are still it's usually because they are tired or physically hurting. That is something you never want to show your opponent as they will immediately attempt to move in and take full advantage of it. So learning about playing mind games with the other boxer is something else you will have to learn.
Just watch a tennis player when they're waiting on their opponent serving - They aren't standing still and awaiting for the ball to whizz passed their head, which is exactly what would happen if they stood flat footed. Their feet may not always be moving, but their bodies are, they are swaying and constantly in motion. When you are not in motion it takes more time for you to react to the situation, and a boxer (just like that tennis player) cannot afford the luxury of being slow to react. That can be the difference between you avoiding an incoming punch, or taking it flush on the chin.
Upright Boxing Stance
What is an upright boxing stance?
In an upright boxing stance, you stand with your legs shoulder width apart and your rear foot a half step behind your leading foot. Right handed or 'orthodox' fighters lead with the left foot and fist. Both feet are parallel and the right heel is off the ground a couple of inches. The lead fist is held vertically about six inches in front of your face, at eye level. The rear fist is held beside the chin, and the elbow tucked against the ribcage to protect your body from incoming punches. Your chin is tucked into the chest to avoid punches to the jaw (which can easily cause knockout) and the chin is positioned a wee bit off centre.
Crouch Boxing Stance
What is a crouching boxing stance?
Some boxers prefer to fight from a crouching stance, leaning forward more and keeping their feet closer together. The crouch stance is considered by many to be the textbook boxing stance, and is probably the one you will be taught first as a beginner, but once it has been mastered as a base, many fighters are encouraged to change this type of stance around. Lots of fast fighters hold their hands down lower and use more exaggerated footwork in a crouch stance, while slower moving brawlers tend to virtually stalk their opponents around the ring. Left handed or 'southpaw' fighters use a mirror image of the orthodox boxing stance, which can cause problems for orthodox fighters when facing a southpaw opponent, as they will be receiving jabs, hooks, or crosses from the 'wrong' side.
Southpaw Boxing Stance
What is a southpaw boxing stance?
A southpaw boxing stance is the one normally used by left handed boxers. In a southpaw stance, you should learn to position your right foot forward and keep your left foot behind your right hand. In essence, a southpaw stance is basically the total reverse of a standard boxing stance.
Historically, a southpaw stance is seen as less effective than the orthodox stance. However, boxers who solely use the orthodox stance can have problems when they encounter left handed fighters using the southpaw stance. This is mostly because many of the punches thrown will arrive at them from unexpected directions and angles.
General Advice On Boxing Stances
We European boxers tend to stand with our torso turned more to the side in our boxing stances, while boxers in some other continents often tend to have a more even boxing stance and face the opponent almost squarely. The positioning of the hands can also vary as some fighters prefer to have both hands raised in front of the face, but that obviously risks more exposure to receiving body punches.
Boxer's can sometimes be seen tapping their cheeks or foreheads with their fists. That is usually just to remind themselves to keep their hands up, which can become more and more difficult during long bouts as the arms and shoulders tire.
No matter what boxing stance you use, boxer's are taught to push off with their feet in order to move effectively in the ring. Forward movement involves lifting the lead leg and pushing with the rear leg. Backwards movement involves lifting the rear leg and pushing with the lead leg. During sideways movement in the ring, the leg in the direction of the movement moves first while the opposite leg provides the force needed to move your body.
A good boxing stance allows the boxer maximum mobility, while still offering good protection to the vital areas.
Relax - Try not to be nervous and tense. Be loose, supple, relaxed, and try to conserve your energy in the ring. Always remember that many fights are won by the boxer who can keep going the longest, so try not to burn off your energy needlessly in the early rounds.
Feet in the proper positions - Never get your feet crossed over as proper balance is critical to being able to deliver punches, and to move your body quickly to defend yourself against incoming punches. During training, always think about working on your footwork as without proper footwork you will always struggle to have any success in the ring.
Knees slightly bent - Never lock the knees, always keep them slightly bent. If your knees are locked, any movement is much more difficult. Good, quick, mobility in the boxing ring requires loose knees.
Hips and shoulders parallel to the ground - Keep your hips and shoulders level when boxing. If they are not level, your centre of gravity will be tilted off to one side, making it more difficult for you to move fluidly and quickly. Obviously if you are doing something like slipping a punch, your shoulders might momentarily be tilted, but when you’re in your preferred boxing stance again, always strive to keep your hips and shoulders level.
Bend slightly at the waist - Try to stay bent forward slightly at the waist as that will help you to avoid being hit by the other fighter. You will still have maximum power in your punches and your range will be greater, but you will also have a safety margin that allows you to pull the top half of your body back slightly when your opponent tries to hit you, without losing your balance or taking a step back.
Power hand back - Unless you have a very good reason not to do so, always keep your strong side to the rear as this gives you maximum distance to generate and deliver a power punch. There are some boxers who mix it up and fight ambidextrously at times, but this is usually seen as a sign of desperation rather than a deliberate boxing strategy.
Chin down - Keep your chin down and tucked against the top of your chest at all times. There is never any reason to lift your chin up when you are in the boxing ring. It is your most vulnerable spot, so protect it at all times. If you show the other fighter your chin he will go straight for it, and taking a decent punch flush on the chin will often be enough to finish you off.
Look from the top of your eyes - Learn to watch your opponent from the top of your eyes and never lift your chin up to see what is going on. You have to get into the habit of looking at the other boxer from just under your eyebrows.
Lead hand guards in front - Your lead hand should be up and out in front, approximately level with the eyes. The further out you carry your lead hand, the quicker you will be able to jab your opponent. If you carry it low, your jab will have more power but it will also be slower.
Rear hand guards the chin - Your rear hand must be in place to guard your chin. It will guard the side of your chin when your opponent throws a hook, and it moves in front to block your opponents straight punches.
Elbows in - The elbows guard your sides. There is no reason to hold them out and away from your body as if you are doing some weird kind of dance. Keeping your elbows tucked in helps defend you and also helps you put maximum power into your punches.
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