Where to Look During a Fight

June 18, 2011 June 18, 2011 by Johnny N Boxing Basics, How to Box 58 Comments

Where to Look During a Fight
Learning where to look can make all the difference in your fighting ability. What are you supposed to look at? The shoulder? The foot? The eyes? The answer is less complicated than you think.

This was a great question that was asked a while ago in the mailbag, but I felt to break it down even further. I used to tell people, “Just look forward.” But nobody ever listens. It’s too simple, it seems.  Nobody believes it’s that easy. It’s gotta be more complicated than that, right? I didn’t want to lecture…but ok…if you insist…


It really is that simple…


Don’t look at any single thing.
Pay attention to your opponent’s upper body.
…notice how I said “pay attention” to the upper body, I didn’t say “look” at the upper body. I only want you to look forward. You’re not looking for anything specific. Most of all, you are not looking for his movement!


Don’t look for movement!

This is where most fighters jump at my throat.

  • I heard you should always look at his chest!
  • You can see the punches coming if you watch the shoulders!
  • If you look at his eyes, you can tell when he’s gonna punch!

…BLAH BLAH BLAH…the endless “secrets” roll on. The truth is, none of that stuff matters. Because any of those could be a feint! Even if they were real punches and not feints, you’re not looking for his punches. You’re looking for something more valuable. Something that will make the difference between you winning the fight and you trapped in the corner with your hands up. What is it?


So What DO You Look At?

Think of it like driving: when you drive, you are not looking for cars or houses or things that may be in your way. You’re looking forward at where you want to go. Of course, you pay attention to other things like cars and signs along the road. You might REACT to other cars and obstacles. You might notice things from your peripheral vision but you always pay attention to what’s in front of you. You drive around the cars and pass by the house, but still…you look forward…at where you want to go!

The experienced driver pays attention to everything ahead. The experienced driver reacts to obstacles while still being aware of everything else. The beginner driver easily gets into accidents because he focuses on things one at a time. The beginner is at higher risk of hitting something because he looks at everything he comes across. I promise you, boxing is not that different from driving.

When you drive.. you are looking to where you want to go.

You pay attention to movement,
as you look for openings!


1. Look for openings.

Openings is what you where you want to punch. The openings are where you want to go; attacking these targets are the main objective of boxing. (Note: don’t stare at the openings so much that you’re telegraphing your attack.)

Look forward for openings.


2. Pay attention to opponent’s body.

You are simply paying attention. You are not looking for any specific movement. You are just trying to be alert and aware of anything he does. You have to pay attention to his movements so that you can react to them, or take advantage of them.

You can see punches without looking at them.


3. React WITHOUT losing focus of the openings.

This is the hardest part.
You have to react to your opponent’s movement WITHOUT looking at his movement.

For example: when he jabs, you are not looking at his jab. You should be focused on the opening that he creates when he jabs. As for his jab, you are blocking it with an automatic defense. Your defense should have been drilled enough that your body responds automatically, without you having to focus on the reaction.

An automatic defense will allow you to defend
without losing sight of the openings.

The problem with beginner boxers is that their defense is not yet automatic. They KNOW how to block a jab, but they can’t do it instinctively. Beginners waste too much time focusing on defense that they never get a chance to throw a counter punch.

A beginner’s thought process is like:

  1. he’s throwing a jab!
  2. OH YEAH, I remember now…BLOCK WITH MY GLOVE!
  3. OH CRAP, here comes the right hand!
  4. And another punch…and another punch…I’m not fast enough to block them all!
  5. there’s too many punches….!!!!

The beginner focuses too much on the punches,
he goes from one block to another until he gets caught.

An experienced fighter’s thought process goes like this:

  • hmmm…his left is a little low
  • I’ll move around until he opens up
  • *blocks his opponent’s jab with a trained reflex*
  • GOTCHA! *lands his counter right hand over the opponent’s jab*

I NEVER waste my eyes looking for an opponent’s attack. I can FEEL his attack; I can HEAR his attack. My body is already trained to react to his attack without me having to think about it. I cannot hear or feel his openings, so I have to look for them. It’s more effective to look for openings than to look for punches.

All that crap about looking at the shoulder or the chest or the foot… it’s all nonsense. Just look forward, look for openings anywhere you see them.

Don’t look for punches,
look for opportunities.


Boxing is easy. It’s the people that make it hard. Hopefully, I made it easier to understand. You basically just want to just pay attention to the whole picture as you look for opportunities to take advantage.

  1. Look for openings.
  2. Used your trained reflexes to defend against punches.
  3. Focus on your counters, not your defense.


Learning how to use your eyes will make a huge impact in your boxing ability. I can always tell when a boxer is better than another just by where he looks. I used to say to my friends all the time, “Ooooh! That guy’s got eyes!”

The best fighters can see everything without looking for them.

Focus too much on the leaf and you miss the tree,
Focus too much on the tree and you miss the forest.

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Adale M. June 19, 2011 at 5:51 am

Is there a way to practice/train this other than driving? My eyes automatically focus on little movements like the shoulders or hands moving in a bouncing like pattern


tom m June 19, 2011 at 9:04 am

practical tip?
Sounds generally a good point. But does that mean I have to make my defense fully automatic first or should I search for counters at the same time? I think it is two different things. There are so many different combos and different ways how to react ( not just blocking). Do you have any tips to practice your general advice? Thanks.


Johnny N June 19, 2011 at 11:49 am

@Adale M and Tom M – do all those mitt drills with a focus on training your reflexes. Don’t focus too much on anything. Work the double-end bag. Lots of mitt drills. Look for openings. Try to be a puncher and counter-puncher. Don’t just slip and back away. Stay in range and fire something back. Focus your eyes on the openings, not your opponent’s punches.

It’s natural to start off trying to focus on everything. But as you spend more hours on the drill, you will be able to think less about what you’re doing, and focus more on your opponent’s openings. It will come with time.


TJ Ramadoss June 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm

This sums up the most integral part of the art
I NEVER waste my eyes looking for an opponent’s attack. I can FEEL his attack; I can HEAR his attack. My body is already trained to react to his attack without me having to think about it. I cannot hear or feel his openings, so I have to look for them. It’s more effective to look for openings than to look for punches. – Johnny N

Makes a lot of sense. You should not be a slave to misconception. Looking at one particular thing in any martial arts can get you sucked into the opponents feints and attack-mount. So just watch in general. As a old saying in my traditional martial art goes, “Observe patiently while attacking ruthlessly”.


Billion Dolla Boxer June 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm

This is really good advice right here!!!! If I could add something to help Adale, I think your problem would be to relax. I’m no expert but I have sparred a lot. The most important thing that I learned was to relax. When I first started I had that problem, “focusing” on the first movement I saw my opponent make. When my trainer got me to relax I started to be aware of the whole gym instead of focusing on one specific thing. Just breathe and relax and you’ll be fine. That’s what worked for me.


JaketheSnake June 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Good advice
Once again you get things right! You teach things that are taught nowhere else, either on the web or some boxing gyms. I think the trainers and fighters know these things but they just can’t put it into words. I also think its because some of the most valuable tips are so “simple” that they can’t really be explained and once you do, then you run the risk of being too specific and therefore wrong.

The analogy to driving is spot on. A beginning driver is too focused on mixing the clutch, trying to keep two or three car lengths behind the one in front, etc, or whatever tips they’ve been taught. But its really nothing but trying to train your instincts through constant exposure and repetition.


abar10dr June 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Great site! Great advice.
I’m 44 years old and I shadowbox as a workout. I’ve recently begun reading your site and using your tips when I do my routine and I find it to be more fun and more effective. I’ve heard something about “white collar boxing” and want to know more. I know i’m too old to try to go amateur but I may be interested in a little sparring. Any input? Once agin, I think your site is GREAT!!!!


link June 19, 2011 at 8:52 pm

True words…..
Had a fighter I’m training in the ring tonight, told him almost the same thing when he said “what do I focus on”…..

Look for holes I said, don’t watch for punches, if you cant sense & avoid them its too late, all you will do is know what just hit you & make a hole yourself when you react….

As a retired fighter & sometimes coach, this site is a great resourse….good on you for putting great information into easy to read-understand script….

Thanks mate (I’m ausie)


spyroskonst June 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm

once again, you’re the true teacher man!
tips & little “secrets”that even gyms don’t mention. Nice job!!!


spyroskonst June 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm

once again, you’re the true teacher man!
tips & little “secrets”that even gyms don’t mention. Nice job!!!


von clement June 20, 2011 at 2:04 am

I always look forward to wonderful fighting or training tips from you. This is particularly awesome-looking forward for openings! Indeed looking at opponent’s punches smacks of fear. Trained reflexes will do the defending for you while focus on counter attack. Thanks a zillion!


Johnny N June 21, 2011 at 6:36 pm

@everyone – thanks for reading. I’m glad you enjoyed/agreed. It’s about time somebody put this out there.

@abar10dr – there are definitely masters divisions in amateur boxing. You can look around your local area. As for white collar boxing events, you have to contact the biggest boxing gym in your area and see if they know of any local events. Larger cities will be more likely to have them, if at all. Otherwise, you can go compete in the masters division for amateur boxing.


Gus June 25, 2011 at 5:13 am

Nice article again mate. Keep them coming! The level of knowledge and passion you have for the noble sport really comes across in these articles and the way you write is fantastic!

I like the driving analogy. When I was taught to drive I read the advanced drivers handbook, basically its what the traffic cops learn. It taught me to (rather than staring at one point) to kind of allow your focal point to “drift” around your field of vision, whilst using your peripheral vision to focus on the road. Thereby taking in a lot more information about the road ahead.

Love it you could do another video where you deconstruct the pros fighting, showing the techniques and tricks they use. Really enjoy them! Thanks again…;-)


Johnny N June 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Thanks, Gus. I’ll be making more videos in the future.


saber khan July 13, 2011 at 6:24 pm

my own way
hey coach, you really got a great way of putting stuff. i was a club fighter, bob-weave swarmer. and newbies who are 1 month in do really need this kind of advice the ones who think they know some drills and are halfway there. for me it was pretty much the same i compared it to typing. and what my pal did for me was, he started me off in boxing, he stood infront of me in the ring, and was like `memorize this pose im holding, you got it ? dont look at any place just look ahead like im an x ray’. then he said `now im gonna bring my chin up but dont look at it just keep looking through me like im an x ray you cant focus.’ and i was standing there, wondering what the point was. he went through all the standard motions, jabs, hooks, parries, crosses, slips, counters, bobs, feints. and i was not allowed to look at any part just through him from head to foot. at the start its barely noticeable. but as he kept doing it the vague shadowy images started to become patterns. the slip looked like a windshield wiper, the hook like the boxer suddenly got larger in the upper body (cuz the elbow was out). it didnt take one day but in 20 sessions i was pretty adept at knowing what sparmates were doing without actually noticing it. and i was a 13 year old rank amateur and those 20 sessions were maybe within a month. then my friend sam did the same exercise with me posing as a southpaw, an ali-like hands down stance fighter, a tyson like peek a boo style, a boston crab style. even the jack johnson ancient style and the karate style. sam was kind of a historian. some may think that seeing that many styles would make things confusing-but it actually improves your overall understanding of orthodox fighters. you dont need to see their fist or their chin just the changes from their normal posture, the posture they begin with. you can see counters jabs hooks even how much weight theyre putting into the punch from this really sketchy method. eventually, and believe me most of you guys who think this sounds tough, its quite simple youll pick it up in a month tops, if youre hitting the ring 5 times a week. and it feels like what a mole you know, youre not looking exactly anywhere but you know when something pops out so you can parry or slip or bob away from it and you know when something moves away from a good position creating a hole for you to nail. however this form of `looking’ is for outfighting and midrange. infighting is a totally different method and it needs some special skills. i became a swarmer cuz i was good at it, sam was a boxing chameleon but he could never emulate swarmers cuz when youre infighting youre so close everything appears double, its too close to get a good look at even with the shadow technique the coach on this site and i described described. but props to you coach keep it coming, loved the fact that this stuff is going out free to anyone who loves boxing. guys like you are the reason the sports still alive man 🙂


saber khan July 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm

sorry i meant `whac-a-mole’ the carnival game not `what a mole’ where that annoying thing pops up and you gotta slam it with the hammer


saber khan July 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm

holes in defense vs avoiding offense using the `xray technique’
one special thing about this tech-after a certain while, you can close your eyes and see what a normal proper orthodox fighter should look like and what a southpaw or boston crab should look like. when youre sparring, you contrast that image with the fighter in front of you and immediately get just the important differences. you notice spaces between where the hands were in your picture vs what you see. you notice the position difference between where the elbows were in your mental picture vs his elbows. and you already know some things you can exploit:-) his style weaknesses. now as you spar, the xray technique means you gotta look at him from top to bottom without focusing anywhere. and so you can actually see his knees. and since your brain has a pattern stored of what a right hand counter over the jab looks like, as youre jabbing and he starts to throw it, you notice it. its not one thing, its the whole body difference you pick up. know what i mean ? how do you recognise the letter `l’ from the letter `i’ do you have to concentrate ? how to you actually read a word do you go letter by letter ? reading that hes gonna throw the counter is like reading a whole word without concentrating on the individual letters-and it gives you an idea of how much power he’s got in it because of how much variation this counter pattern is from the one you memorized. you dont need to look at the knees and hips and the hand and shoulders-as i said reading an offensive or defensive move using the coach’s technique is like reading a word you dont see the letters you recognize the pattern of the word. and whether its capital or small so you know if its a good blow or a rushed one. the holes in defense you see as spaces basically, when you have an image of a properly positioned guy and he lowers his guard your brain automatically is like `movement in area around lower head’ and boom your jab or hook tkaes advantage. or say hes pivoting to your right and jabbing you notice that unlike standard pivot jabs the lower body looks off to you maybe hes feinting the pivot or the position of the jab. and in the feint pivot or trying to trick you as to where hes jabbing hes left something open. great thing is you start to not just time him but notice when his moves are leaving gaps in his unique way cuz you start comparing what he does to his unique proper defensive image not the textbook image you had to start with. so you know when his elbows are further away when his hands gone down but he somehow doesnt look like the previous time you nailed him when his guard was down (maybe hes feinting you and trying to get you to throw something so he can counter). and when a hole does appear and hes not no realisation you sense it as `red blob suddenly gone lower; or mid area of picture appears bigger or head appears bigger all of a sudden. the first means one glove has gone down the scond means his elbows have come away the third means he is putting his head out on a punch. and as soon as you notice that change you can boom throw the right blow. if he tries to feint you and is world class i guess this way of looking may cause you trouble but if hes not a world class feinter the shadow xray vision does a better job of recognising if its a feint or a real mistake better than staring at a body part, because a hole in defense usually occurs in head, hand, elbow and legs in a specific timing. to try and consciously figure it out would turn you into a chess player. with the xray tech youre just comparing without really knowing the elements so its faster gives you an edge in speed, allows you to make better defensive moves, and helps avoid fakes and gets you ready for counters. ive noticed even the breathing out motion that causes the abs to suddenly become prominent can be picked up and you can avoid a jab from otherwise you would defnitely have a hard time slipping. so try out the coach’s technique, it will improve your defense, offense, and your speed due to improved reaction time. its also great to combat counters and feints.


Johnny N July 14, 2011 at 3:31 am

@saber Khan – great detailed explanation!


Marko Serbia July 14, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I’ve been practicing various marshal arts, mainly eastern (e.g. Wing Chun). Eventually, I decided to try boxing. As soon as I started the simplicity and naturality of it gave me the anwers to many “mistical” questions (meaning crap) eastern marshal art were asking but not answering.
The grate explanation of “were to look” which you gave us was realy inspiring. It is wonderfull to see how a fighter’s mind can work.

Thank you again and regards from Serbia.



Anonymous July 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm

@Marko Serbia – ya I did Wing Chun too. and although there are many distinct differences in Wing Chun and boxing I believe that Wing Chun improved my blocking and parrying capabilities.
However, the stances in Wing Chun contradict the principles of boxing. Wing Chun stance is way more square than boxing. In Wing Chun, I was taught to look mostly at my opponents lead elbow and I think it might be too distracting to look at the elbow because he might fake and what not. So ya, looking forward seems to better. What i like about Wing Chun system is the concept of center-line defense. A straight line is the fastest path from point A to B. Straight punches are faster than hooks or uppercuts. Straight punches come through the center, even uppercuts. So if you protect the center with the Wing Chun guard then you are leaving your opponent with only hooks essentially. Since hooks have less range than straight punches, if you can manage the distance then that type of guard might work really good. But I am not really sure and going to have to experiment on that.
What are your thoughts on these?


saber khan July 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm

about wing chun
@anon who wrote to marko serbia

hey bro i think i have some really useful things for you regarding wing chun. all speed and straight shots, and power from the waist. round hits. round are practically non existent at least i never found one who did them.
they cover the body very well but there is a lot of area on the right of their body for you to go (orthodox). even good wing chun fighters will beat the fastest boxers to the punch. but they throw in flurries and go for nerve points.
wing chun doesnt feint boxing style but rather uses taps as a sort of feint. it works but you can exploit that. i never lost to a wing chun fighter waist up, so here’s my advice if it does any good:

1. when wing chun fighters throw the hand you can counter them very easily if youre precovered. and differentiate the wing chun feint from the fast hand counter from the hard hit. the wing chun version of a feint is like a tap, its supposed to stop you in your tracks and they move the hand back a few inches to hit you again this time with that waist. once you get their `image’ as i call it youll notice the power shots always include the waist. you can see a slight turn when its a hard hit theyre throwing versus a flurry to set something up. that doesnt mean start looking at their waist, its just to give you perspective. so if you can see what theyre throwing you can counter them hard. when their hands fly, unlike a boxer, even on power shots, their body is a much larger target. so if you can use that peripheral vision and see the waist youre doing good. dont look at their legs ever, it is useless good wing chun fighters are trained to make their power from really small motions. the only really noticeable thing is the waist, you can still see their hands and block and if you see the flutter of a hand without waist you know you can counter over it or go to the body. gotta be aggressive.

2. since the aim was blocking for me rather than parrying or slipping much i always went more rectangular. kept my hands up high. they cant get the chin if youre using that shoulder, plus you get more reach and nullify one of their hands and that pressure point game they love (tapping the arm, then the armpit, the neck, the nose, if they start that you have to cover or just grab them theres no way to safely step away or slip those shots because they take such a short distance. let them go nuts on your elbow and your shoulder, dont give them the solar plexus or neck.
it gave me less balance but theyre not gonna move laterally around as much as side to side.

3. his squareness gives you more of a body target to work. use that because their fast hands and lack of concentration on their elbows when they are flurrying gives you a chance to take advantage of a much larger midsection. they also dont get down as much, so bend low. easier to work the body. use the closer hand (left if orthodox, right if southpaw). block those crazy unavoidable flurries with that right glove chin tucked and rectangular stance, and go for the body as they flurry. it connects a lot. and if they get wise they will stop crazy flurries and you can play your game.

4. these guys have less reach. their squareness dictates it. so hit them as they come into reach. even as a swarmer i played more of a wait game for them to start the flurry. i would get back, wait for them to move and hit them with a stiff left LEAD. mainly. that really does damage to a wing chun fighter. a lead means you really put weight on it. because they gotta come into your range, effectively they will stop your jab by hitting you somewhere as youre throwing it. if youre trying to hook they can get your chin. if youre trying to jab they can use that fast open hand chop to the bicep. a trick you can use in boxing btw, but not against wing chun or kung fu practicioners 🙂 so left lead or left hook to the body. make sure youre protected, and work the feint. i would make a small shoulder feint (as an orthodox pull the right shoulder back like you do on a hook) up or down, they will try to tap you to stop the punch and launch their attack, and you can hit them between the first and second blow.


joseph December 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm

a boxing guy sparred with me for just two days, thats all my experience on that. i started wing chun. all basics forms and technique and the next day sparring with him gave him headache. i asked him for a match but he could just use fake punches to trick me which taught me to use my stance. he tricks me with a fake jab and destruct the position of the first hand but the the other is stil in position plus the footwork. if we follow the ring rules he totaly won. i wonder which is the best there


saber khan July 20, 2011 at 6:39 pm

vs wing chun 2
5. these guys kind of push off your body once they touch you and then hit again and again from really short range. they dont feint in the air or with the body they believe it touching getting distance. and if they are in they are the best pressure swarmers in the world i think. dont give them the luxury of doing that. feint, make them throw their hands and pivot and hit.

6. assuming youre orthodox, a wing chun fighters right side is much more exposed than a boxer’s. while his left side is further away. so let your right hand rest and use it for the variety rather than a big weapon. these are not guys you want to 1-2 with speed. unless youre really really fast in which case you will beat them if you have a good guard and get them with a left to the body as they come in and following right, or a fake jab, they may miss trying to hit your elbow or bicep as they do to stop the jab. bang them with the hook.

7. they move to the side laterally more than circling. so i prefer circling to my left. boxing style pivot. i would get myself as close to their left side and make their other hand (their left) even further from my sensitives. pivot jabs are ok, a FAKE pivot is wonderful. you fake a turn, if they follow they do it a little slower than a boxing style does. you can hook or jab before they turn into you. and i had a really rectangular stance against them so a small step with the left foot and you can turn your entire body 45 degrees to their left. if they fall for the fake they will turn straight into a rear overhand and then combo them to death.

8. inside fighting these guys while they arent stunned is a nightmare. their defense is like pacquaio jabbing at you 20 times per second inside, it is impossible to do anything. so stun them then get inside and finish hard.

obviously this works for a power puncher. if youre a boxer with less power youd better find some other way. you could turn them more i guess, move away and hit them as they come in or fake coming in and pivot again and get them from an angle


Anonymous July 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm

@saber khan – so you’ve fought a wing chun practitioner? I am not really experienced in wing chun so I can’t know for sure all the things that u said like how they push off the body after the punch. anyway if u fought a “wing chunner” , are you like a semi-pro boxer? and was your wing chun opponent good chunners?

I don’t really believe in like hard and fast rules in different combat arts and I don’t really like to argue about which art is better. I want to learn as many martial arts as possible and use what I think is effective and what suits my fighting style. And different martial arts have different advantages and disadvantages. For example, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is good in very close combat and on the ground while something like muay thai is effective in long range fighting (stand up). All come in handy.


saber khan July 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

about the wingchun

no i was a FULL-pro boxer, that is licenced by the middle-east boxing commissions, we had exhibitioms where all different matrial artists with diff styles in the gulf countries got to match up and visiting countries’ styles were invited as well. we called those tournaments MORTAL KOMBAT! but without fatalities and with economy class seats 😀 i fought good to great wing chun fighters and sparred with some and sparred with some lousy ones. wing chun is probably the simplest forms of wushu. the centerline style is much simpler than than the non-sparring forms on view like the shaolin animal styles and the crazy looking praying mantis style and there are many more btw like over 20 chinese fighting styles. and those styles have hand punches and blows and elbows and kicks from legs, fighting on hands, grapples, crazy aerial maneuvres and stuff that require streetfighting to compete not a ruleset like boxing. and they use legs below the waist and short movements not like longfist style or chungquan i dont know the right spelling just some styles are really kickbased and jumping based wingchun isnt its more muay thai-is but even more centerlined.

so wingchun guys are never offbalance with shots or kicks. they will throw punches or strikes hands open hands closed and you gotta understand that parrying them doesnt mean its over. they dont have to pull the hand back, they can hit you again from there. get me? and they will get you at pressurepoints and places that really hurt even with gloves. you cant give them that. regarding their movement the problem with any style is that its designed to fight others of its own kind. wingchun movmeenets arent strafing, they are more circling that is they cant strike while moving sideways and keeping you in front of them. you will see their feet cross each other and that kind of position is just bad balance specially since boxers never are offbalance that way. wing chun is also more heads up so you gotta use that against them. they have less power when they are hitting a fighter whos standing low like my style bobbing and weaving cuz its straight but not centered and we come from the sides make them turn. the wingchun punch can be 4 types as i see it: a distraction tap, a stoppage hit, a hard blow, or a nerve blow. you dont want to give them nerve blows and you want to forget distraction blows. stoppage hits are when they want to hit you somewhere that freezes your action like your elbow inside which stings and paralyses the arm for a few seconds or to the bicep that does something similiar. or the neck, banging under the ear.

look what i did was give them nothing and use natural strengths of a boxer-simplicity. we use high gloves and come from below and when we punch we punch hard and when we block we block we are moving forward and will land one by the time anyone wingchun or any other style does. its really upto whos more able to take it. and since the wing chun reaction to having a shot stopped is to hit again fast to stop you seeing or to hit a nerve point it doesnt have that much power behind it as a boxing counterpunch that you put your body weight into. boom theres a good opening. if they block a punch they will totally grab it or parry it from the wrist-i copied that from them, along with the punch from 1 inch away. they dont do things like bend too much so hooks are appropriate specially downstairs. wingchun is simple, their power is good but they have very weak powered punches. you want them to use those without letting it push you off your gameplan. and you have to feint them into throwing the punches now and then, they FALL for feints because theyre like gunslingers-first to the draw. and they know theyre faster flurrying than you. again give them less squareness, go low, make yourself almost sideways so their favorite square-to-square moves are off track. once you hit yours you are going to turn into them and unleash while they can unleash anytime. finish off a wing chun fighter fast, these are not fights you can win going 6 rounds. one thing ive noticed is once their hand is thrown at you and it misses they will not pulll it back but rather just keep hitting you in deadly areas even poking your eyes anything to make you pull their hand away. if you do try and push that hand away they have fluid counters for that. so use that exposed square body with all that area and learn to stomach a few hard hits. nerve hits arent paralysing if you know theyre coming though they feel like your bodyparts go dead. i was assuming some kind of paralysis move and i was always tense when i fought them first 3 or 4 times, then i realised you just have to know where theyre hitting. unless its the groin or the solar plexus or neck, nose, behind the ear neck or kidney you’ll be fine. just know that it will sting.


Anonymous July 26, 2011 at 12:23 am

@saber khan – lol Mortal KOMBAT, nice!!! ya I agree with lot of what you wrote.
Wing chun`s guard seems to be made for defending and eliminating straight punch. It is hard to hit them with straight punches unless you pivot and hit and come from the side and still you have to be quick. WIng chun fighter look for the hooks because they have both their hands in front of them in their guard and leave their sides open. But they got a nice block/parry for hooks. So what I think is good to do against them is fake the hook and when they bring their arm out to block it, u nail him with a straight shot to the head.


saber khan July 26, 2011 at 3:11 am

hmm wing chun counters

ok bro nice idea. let me throw my points.

1. they can parry the upper hook but that lead left hook is not easy for them to see and they cant even block it many times
2. they have no parry for a hook to the body and if their elbow is up they are dead. the left hook can hit 3 pressure points that paralises them and it works more on wingchun fighters who stand up more than boxers who are turned away and lower.
3. the hook is curved not straight they cant catch your wrist (they wear wraps not full gloves) or expose your armpit-its hard for the wingchunner to throw a fast bicep or elbow shot cuz you know your arm’s moving fast in a circle
4. you got big options after the hook like doubling up the hook, the jab, the short rights, the uppercut
5. your midbody is not exposed-your neck or liver or solar plexus
6. once you land a few hooks and they gotta look for that you got feints and hook feint and jab fent and just hook anyway feint pivot or bob-weave and create an angle.

now if you wanna feint a hook you gotta land a hook. and they dont have parries to lower hooks other wushu styles do which opens up their abs TOTALLY. but we’re talking wingchun so no parries you gotta worry about. blocks on the other hand allow you to throw new shots like rehooks jabs etc and clinch.

the straight takes a long time to pull off and it exposes the entire right side of your body. if youre faking a left hook it does nothing to decrease their ability to block your right. if your faking a right hook unless the wingchunner is stupid he wont fall for it and will whack you. but yeah feints can work in so many ways against the super-instinctive wingchunners i cant really say what won’t work i can only say what worked for me. and i always preferred short rights in boxing against other styles of wushu against JUI JITSU (they grab your hand its nearly over right there) over the long cross because speed is so essential.

the short cross is max 2 feet long. what use is a right if you cant stun someone with it ? and if you need a 4-5 foot distance to make power that someone will use that problem to their advantage. specially fast hitters. to me a looping right is better than a long cross cuz at least the looping right cant be blocked by a hand held like a sissy infront of your face.

try out your stuff. from what i know wingchuns philosophy is `less defensive holes, less legs, more straight hands in bunches, cover the center, dont pull arms back to fire again, and block by elbows/fists and keeping opponents busy with blow after blow less than a foot from the opponent.’ they dont factor in the hook is as fast as the jab but they know the jab isnt as fast as the straight punch. and the REALLY GOOD ones have the speed pull the trigger at a muscle twtich so you gotta learn to take at least one blow and make sure its not somewhere that devastates your shot. that pull-the-trigger attitude is what makes them vulnerable to feints i believe, and i did fight one wingchun practitioner who didnt like to do that. THAT GUY i could fight like a boxer cuz wing chun capitalises on beating you to the punch and not pulling back to attack or defend again boxing is about movement, having sequences of punches that need you to pull back to defend or attack. since that guy didnt react to feints, seeing what happened to a wingchun practitioner against a muay thai fighter who used feints, his rhythm felt off like he wouldnt try and beat me to the punch. wingchun isnt so good when speed and scarcity of movement is taken out of it, if you can land on them first because theyre hesitant their blows may land on you but theyll bee like bee stings you can take them. so yeah feint, use your legs, see what works. the wonderful thing about styles is its ALL chess, its all brains.


Anonymous July 29, 2011 at 2:53 am

@saber khan – ya I agree it’s like a chess. every attack has a counter and every counter has a counter. it is just a matter of which fighter can counter faster before his opponent figures out the counter to his counter. or which fighter can keep up the pace for a longer time.


Mikey D October 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm

An old Kung Fu proverb, The seeing eye is weak wear the observing eye is strong.


A December 5, 2011 at 4:29 am

I know it sounds odd. but can you possibly put up a video from first person point of showing what your talking about?


Johnny N December 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm

A, I’m looking forward at my opponent. Always looking forward and always looking for openings.


kaikaikiki December 31, 2011 at 9:33 pm

HI Johnny,

Happy New Year 2012. Wish you the best of 2011 to be the worse of 2011.

I would like to ask you few advices. Your website is very well written and very informative.

I’m myopic i have -5.75 in both eyes. i started boxing 1 year ago started sparring regularly 3 months ago but i have to say i often get my ass kicked which is frustrating. 🙂

I’m not going to put the reason because of being myopic. But i’m a bit in despair because i got really addicted to boxing since i started, muy thai and now focusing more on english because of the
more elegant moves. Going to my club 4 to 6 times a week just to tell you how i love boxing.
But i have a big problem with my eyes.. and i don’t really want to finish just like doing boxing fitness
that doesn’t really make sense to me just hitting pad or sand bag.

I seek for goggles to protect my eyes and correct my vision, people advice me to avoid those in the case i get hit i would have the goggles prints on my face which is logical, didn’t think about it before people mentioned about it. About lens i asked around me many of my classmates tried being not as myopic as i am and said it would just get out or stick on the partner gloves sometimes…
Some goggles for boxing i found:

I’m “depressing” now, feeling sad because i don’t know if i should continue because each time i spare i see things blurry when i stay static it’s better but when i move to avoid punching my eyes are like camera lens they need to refocus when i reposition my entire body and when i manage to focus slowly i get punches combination in my face and body.
So now i’m thinking to put some lens to try even after my classmates comments which i think will at least accelerate the response because when you are myopic like me you only see the punches precisely at a certain range and usually when you see it it’s a bit late to respond.

What would you advice and do you have any boxing friends that are myopic as i am and used goggles or any alternatives solution. I don’t really want to do laser surgery. i boxe for fun and the sweet science knowledge too “old” to be able to think about competition. And i really need to protect my eyes because i’m a graphic designer and painter.

Any of your thoughts and advices would be really appreciated.


Johnny N January 3, 2012 at 2:15 am

I would suggest soft contact lens and LIGHTER SPARRING. It seems like your partners are going so hard that you don’t get a chance to defend yourself. I understand you can’t see but it’s also your responsibility to train at a pace you can handle. I’m near-sighted -3.75 and wear contacts. Even without contacts, I can spar comfortably. I guess I’ve been doing it for a very long time so I feel like I can fight even if I was blind.

And Happy New Year to you, too!


Radd January 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm

kaikaikiki; soft contact lenses works fine, give it a try. I ‘m near-sighted at a big number and use contact lenses.

Johnny N;
“Quote: I feel like I can fight even if I was blind”

Your old hair style is better in my opinion;


Johnny N January 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm

LOL @ Radd. I’m not good enough to be Daredevil? His father was a boxer, you know.


kaikaikiki December 31, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Sorry just noticed a mistake : wish you the best of 2011 be the worse of 2012.
Thank you for your help.


curtis c January 3, 2012 at 5:16 am

what do i do if i get a black eye? Or my vision is obscured?


Johnny N January 5, 2012 at 12:03 am

Use the other eye, or you’re screwed.


kok kit January 5, 2012 at 4:23 am

Thank you Johnny for the advice and time.

The problem is some people don’t know how to handle their strength i have few friends that box with enough control to not suddenly hard punches because of the stress.

The hardest part for me is to box people that i don’t know very well, i box very gentleman
like and that’s often the reason i got strong punch in return. I still don’t manage to be tougher
with unknown people i don’t know why even i know i should for my own protection.

I’m quite a beginner since i started 1 year ago but i will try to be more careful with which
people i spare with. Your website is really encouraging people like me that are full of questions and fear during and after sparring. I box for the beauty of the technique not just for fighting. 🙂


Johnny N January 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

kok kit, your problem is common with so many people. Unfortunately, it’s this reason that many people go to BJJ or other sports that aren’t as brutal as boxing. I work hard to find quality sparring partners that try to box instead of brawl. It’s taken me years but I got lucky with time. Sometimes, you’ll just have to box with beginners or much smaller guys because that’s the only way to know for sure that you won’t get hurt too bad. Keep meeting people and eventually you will find someone cool.


kaikaikiki January 15, 2012 at 3:40 am

HI Johnny,
Thank you for your advices and encouragements.


Rnd February 10, 2012 at 2:57 am

Great article!!! This clears everything up for me…… Im used to focus on slipping and not throwing any counters, i just keep on backing off after every slip….. At first i thought it was impossible to get my defense automatic. But after reading this, it gave me a whole new idea that i might be able to pull it of(counters). Driving is a really really good example, you just focus on the road and instinctively shift whithout thinking about it. Im now in a stage where i feel the punches comming without actually seeing it. I will try my best to focus on openings next time. Really excited to try this out.

On another note, i think i get slight headaches from sparring. I dont know if its the punches, or too much concentration. But im getting less and less everytime, hoping it will go off eventually


Jacob March 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm

EVERYTIME i read one of your articles im just completely amazed, all i can think is this guy is a genius! he takes these things boxers do subcontiously and dont learn for years and breaks it down so simply even the greenest of amateurs can understand what he’s saying! i wish i could be trained by you man!


Meechie May 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Ima fighter and I practice many counter punching and master them eyes and understanding breathing is what I believe is important in being a great fighter


lexancer October 8, 2012 at 2:19 am

I discovered your website about a month or so ago. That was around the time I started going to boxing classes. I go once a week on saturdays and during the week i work off a heavy bag at home, shadow box and general strength and conditioning.

Now that the introductions are done, I really wanna thank you for laying out all this information on your site, and the videos. I refer to your site after each session when I review what I did and what I wanna work on. This article was great for that. I sparred with a kid almost half my age (I’m 31) who admitted he didn’t know how to hold back. I didn’t take a horrible beating but it was quite an experience.

I was focussed on keeping my eye on him as I learnt from previous spars that I have a bad habit of looking away after I take a punch (even while blocking). My coach kept telling me not to go in blind. I wasn’t sure what that meant till I read this.

For my next spar/training, I’m thinking that I should attack with a combo in mind, and train up a few combos (saw your article on rhythm, gonna try incorporate that too). But I’ve noticed a bad habit of swinging too wide and wild when I’m trying to punch out from a defensive position. I would appreciate any advice you have on what I can do to maintain form.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and experience.


Johnny N October 11, 2012 at 10:24 am

It’s always easy to swing wild when you’re leaning back off balance. Try to defend your ground without coming off balance and you will have better control over your punches.


Randell April 1, 2013 at 1:16 am

Hi Johnny,

Just have a big problem here. I tend to close my eyes when my opponents throws a punch at me. I guess I’m afraid of their punches that’s why I blink or it’s just my natural reaction..

Can you help me how to avoid blinking when being attacked? Are there any drills/things I need to do to fix my problem? Many thanks!


Johnny N April 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm

The best drill is slow sparring. It will help teach you how to be calm and let you learn how to see punches without stressing about the pain.


Randell April 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Many thanks Johnny! We are learning a lot from you.. -Randell from Philippines


Mohamed November 22, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Jhonny i you are so experinced i just made my first fight after i read 5 of your articles i won a taller guy who is the champion of my country most thing i learned of you is to use mind !! Ty


Johnny N November 26, 2013 at 9:04 am

Beautiful work! Keep doing what you’re doing. I’m happy for you.


Ad November 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Hey Johnny,

First of all, I’ve been following your youtube vids for a while, really great material!
My question; we always warm up with body sparring: I tend to look at the body for openings and while punching/hooking… so it is kind of looking down instead of ‘up’.

Any tips on looking while working on the body?


Johnny N December 4, 2013 at 9:53 am

I look forward, I see everything. I see the head, the body, the hands, I see it all.


Jeff M. April 18, 2014 at 4:22 pm

This reminds me of the Bruce Lee quote “Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”


Malik October 9, 2014 at 8:34 pm

So lets say that you wanted to land a left hook to the body. Would you look at that area while defending w/ automatic defense until you get the opening.


Frank Garcia March 21, 2016 at 11:29 pm

Cage Boxing™ has all of the ingredients of America’s pastime – “Boxing” – placed on a different “canvas” and presented with modified dirty boxing rules to amplify the excitement of this beautiful and technical sport. Unlike Mixed Martial Arts (MMA); Cage Boxing™ is a primarily striking “technical” sport without aspects that MMA brings forth. “Cage Boxing™” includes all of the rules of Dirty Boxing but instead of in a ring, it is presented in a cage identified as the “X-Ring™” with modified rules. These modified rules are also referred to as “Rough Housin™”


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