How to Box for Beginners: Essential Moves & Techniques
Ready to learn how to box? In this guide for beginners, Howcast will show you how to perform the most essential boxing moves and techniques. We have a full collection of free video lessons featuring pro boxing, coaches Joe Huston and Adam Colberg!
How to Make a Punching Fist for Boxing
Before you can start boxing, you need to learn the most important of boxing techniques: how to make a proper fist for punching. Here’s the breakdown:
- Hold your hand up, palm open (as though you were motioning for someone to stop).
- Fold your fingers all the way down to the base of your palm.
- Curve those fingers inward, higher up on the hand.
- Gently rest your thumb along the outside of the knuckles.
- Wrap your fisted hand for extra protection.
Keep in mind that when you punch, all of the energy from that punch is going to come out through the metacarpal bones of your index and middle knuckles. Also, it’s extremely important to keep your thumb safe by positioning it as described above!
To get a better visual of what your boxing fist should look like, watch how boxing coach Joe Huston does it in Howcast’s tutorial video.
How to Throw a Cross Punch
One of the most powerful boxing moves is the cross punch, which is considered a “straight” punch. When you throw a cross punch, it means that you’re punching with your rear hand while in a guarded position. You’re punching “across” your body, simultaneously guarding yourself with your lead hand for protection.
Note that when delivering this kind of punch, your knuckle will be in front of your elbow, and your elbow will be in front of your shoulder. During the punch, it’s important that you transfer your weight properly from your lead foot to your rear foot; you can even twist your body to add some power.
There are three ways that you can potentially aim at your opponent:
- Left to right
- Top to bottom
- Front to back
For the sake of this article, we’ll only cover how to do the top to bottom aiming technique. When throwing a top to bottom punch, you need to keep it horizontal (or perhaps drive it upwards a little bit, if your opponent is significantly bigger than you). The motion needs to be straight, fast, and hard.
Your elbow will move your wrist, which will drive your knuckles into punching position. Once there, you’ll proceed to push your opponent, and then punch. Immediately after the punch, return that hand back to its original guard position.
How to Throw a Jab
The jab is another “straight” punch, but this one isn’t designed to hurt your opponent—only to keep them at bay. Here are the basics to keep in mind:
- The jab needs to be completely straight to deliver the most effective push.
- To start, you’ll move your elbow forward and up.
- Your wrist and hand will go forward and out during the jab.
- For a strong “push” effect upon impact, try shifting the weight in your knees so that your entire body helps deliver the jab.
- Remember: Touch -> Push -> Aim.
Because the jab is one of the most crucial boxing techniques to get just right, we recommend you watch how Joe Huston does it the Howcast video at the beginning of this section.
How to Place Your Punches
Now that you know the basic boxing moves of how to punch and jab, let’s talk about where you should be aiming. There are several key points on the body that will be devastating to your opponent:
- The temple. Hitting your opponent in the temple is a perfect way to go for an immediate knockout.
- The face from the eyes down. This area includes the eyes, nose, mouth, jaw bone, and chin. We’ll talk more about the face later.
- Below the sternum. This is where the solar plexus and liver are located, and hitting either of them can greatly hurt your opponent.
If you want to be very brutal, there are two spots in particular that will make your opponent sorry they ever fought you:
- The orbital bone. The orbital bone is located just beneath your eyes. This is a very delicate area, and a hard enough punch can actually break the orbital bone.
- The chin. When you hit your opponent’s chin, this is an immediate knockout because it throws their head back.
- The liver. A liver shot is extremely powerful, able to immediately knockout your opponent. Hitting right below your opponent’s chest cavity at a forty-five-degree angle will take the power from your punch all the way into their spine. Ouch!
Also note that you should generally avoid going for your opponent’s forehead. This is because the forehead is the strongest part of the skull, and is therefore the most resilient to damage or pain. It’s better to save your shots for one of the more vulnerable areas we mentioned.
What should you do if your opponent tries to pull a liver shot on you?
- First of all, exhale before your opponent hits you. This will keep you from having all your breath knocked out on impact.
- Second, make sure that your body and muscles are tensed. This prepares your body for the impact, making it less likely that your opponent will knock you out.
Watch Howcast’s video tutorial at the beginning of this section to hear pro boxing coach Adam Colberg talk more about this.
How to Duck & Slip
Now, how do you avoid punches and jabs that your opponent throws at you? Through ducking and slipping. These are two of the most essential defensive boxing techniques.
When you duck, you’re evading your opponent’s punch by simply ducking down. When you slip, you’re giving that ducking motion a little bit of an angle, which makes your evasive technique even more effective.
In an actual match, you’ll want to counter your opponent’s attack with your own punches or jabs. Here are a couple of ways this can work:
· After ducking or slipping to the right, you can counter your opponent’s attack by coming back up, hitting with your right hand, and then throwing a left hook.
· After ducking or slipping to the left, you can come back up with a liver shot followed by a hook.
To see how this should look, watch Howcast’s tutorial at the beginning of this section. We also recommend that you find a boxing partner to practice ducking and slipping with.
How to Weave
Before you learn how to weave, you need to know what a roll is. When you roll in boxing, you stand in place and do a sort of swooping motion with your body. It’s similar to ducking and slipping, but it’s more of a rolling motion.
Weaving is the next step. When you weave, you actually step out of harm’s way while rolling. In other words, it’s a mobile roll.
Now, when weaving, you’ll also want to incorporate some counters after each roll. There’s a variety of ways you can do this:
- After each roll, throw a counterpunch at your opponent.
- Alternatively, you can throw what’s called a “one-two” punch sequence.
- Another popular counter is to punch three times after a roll.
Being creative and adaptive are crucial when countering. So, feel free to mix things up a little and figure out what works best for your situation. Flexibility is a common thread in boxing, so remember it!
To see an example of how weaving and countering looks, watch Howcast’s tutorial at the beginning of this section. Adam Colberg and his sparring partner demonstrate the techniques we outlined above, so you can better visualize what should be happening.
How to Build Combinations in Boxing
As you learn how to box, you’ll come to understand the importance of building boxing combinations. Essentially, a “combination” is a way of movement that you internalize over time—what we call a motor engram or muscle memory. It’s the same thing that comes into play when you brace yourself for a fall to keep your balance or cover your mouth when you cough. It’s a learned pattern of movement.
When someone is learning how to fight in martial arts or boxing, their muscle memory expands over time to encompass certain moves and when to use them. This makes those movements second nature and nearly automatic. For example, karate students perform katas, which are set combinations of specific movements. The same concept applies to boxing.
There are two key points you should focus on when building boxing combinations:
- The footwork and boxing techniques themselves. Are the punches and jabs you’re throwing right for the situation?
- Whether you’re doing those moves correctly and in the most effective way. How can you become better at performing those boxing moves? Where are you falling short?
Always strive to become better and to build stronger combinations as you gain boxing experience. Remember, sloppy movements can be internalized just as easily as good ones—so strive for your absolute best right from the start!
Watch Howcast’s tutorial video at the beginning of this section to hear pro boxing coach Adam Colberg explain more about this.
Best Boxing Tips
Coach Adam Colberg has four essential boxing tips to keep in mind for beginners. These concepts and tips should always be at the heart of your training:
- Understand spacing. To properly execute boxing moves, you need to know how to utilize the space you have. This is crucial, considering the fact that you’re fighting in an enclosed ring and will be in close range of your opponent most of the time.
- Practice your lateral movement. Lateral movement refers to the way you move from side to side or otherwise move out of harm’s way in a boxing match. Avoiding injury is the best possible way to win a fight, so learning how to effectively evade your opponent is key.
- Have confidence in yourself. In other words, believe that you have the tools, skills, and know-how to win the fight. A strong level of self-confidence is paramount in anything you do, so don’t forget to bring it with you into the ring.
- Practice makes perfect. Okay, practice makes better. Practicing all of the boxing techniques you’ve learned today—and everything you’ll continue to learn on your boxing journey—will help you win more fights in the long run.
As long as you apply these four tips to your boxing, you’re going to go far—both in your training, and in your boxing career. To hear Adam Colberg explain these points in more detail, watch Howcast’s video at the beginning of this section.
Learn Even More Boxing Moves
In this article, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about how to box for beginners. These are the basic boxing moves every learner should start with, evasive techniques, and tips that will help you bring it all together. Fore even more lessons, explore the rest of the videos in this series below!ABOUT THE EXPERT
Joe Huston is a coach at Courage Boxing in Portland, Oregon. He offers private and group instruction for recreational boxing. He has trained more than 250 boxers as recreational gym fighters and has assisted in the training of many amateur boxers.