How To Take Punches Better

June 21, 2008 June 21, 2008 by Johnny N Boxing Defense, Boxing Strategy 38 Comments

How To Take Punches Better

Believe it or not, there’s actually a science to absorbing punches in boxing. There’s a lot more to absorbing punches then just good genes, heart, and bone structure.

To become godlike in your ability to take punches you will have to spend numerous defensive drills to increase your ability to take a punch. Below are several basic and advanced tips to taking punches:

 

RELAX

Just like when you’re catching a high-speed football with your hands, you’ll have to relax and soften up your hands so that the ball won’t hurt you.

 

KEEP EYE CONTACT

Never take your eyes off your opponent. The punches will hurt more because you are unable to see and prepare your body for the punch and it’s true what they say: “The punches you don’t see hurt the most.” Back when I use to spar in the gym, the pro I sparred against would never let me hit him. The basic thing he did was keep his eyes open, stay calm, and pick every single one of my shots off. It didn’t matter even when I did hit him because he saw every punch coming and braced for them.

 

BRACE FOR BODY SHOTS

In contrast to rolling your shoulders and turning your head away from the punch, you do the exact opposite when taking a body shot. If you’re taking punches to the stomach however, you will have to stiffen up your muscles and breathe out so that you’re creating a hard shell around your stomach area. You can practice your bracing by having someone pound your stomach with a medicine ball.

 

STRENGTHEN YOUR NECK

There are many special exercises that boxers use to strengthen their neck muscles. Kickboxers and many other fighting arts use them too. They allow you to build stronger neck muscles to keep your head from being whiplashed too hard when you take a punch. While this doesn’t exactly build your chin, per say, it will decrease the chances of you losing consciousness from a punch.

 

ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES

If you’ve ever sparred a pro before, you’ll find that it’s nearly impossible to ever hit them square. Even clean punches to their head don’t feel clean. They have mastered the art of spinning their head or body away from your punch to decrease the damage. Easier said than done, of course. Here’s how it works: if you’re getting punched to the head, turn your head and flick your head away from the punch. If you’re taking a punch to the body rotate your body so the punch passes throw and doesn’t hit you solid. The hardest part about rotating the body is that you have to figure out what part of the body they’re trying to hit. For example, (I use the orthodox stance), if someone were to throw a left hook to my body, I would turn my body clockwise to let the left hook pass through. Now if he was to throw a left hook to my head, I would still turn my body counter-clockwise in order to let the left hook through. This is just an example, different situations will mean you have to do different things. Don’t take this step too literally!

 

LEARN THE COMBOS

Get use to take punches from the most basic combos. Every boxer should know by now that a left hook is usually followed by a right cross and vice versa. If you get hit with one, immediately brace for the other.

 

WATCH FOR STRONG PUNCHES

A good boxer doesn’t try to block every punch, he only worries about the power punches. A jab to the face will not do as much damage as a left hook to the chin. A good idea about blocking is to let your hands block the side punches while you move your head to avoid the straight ones. Again, don’t take this too literally but do use it as a basic guide on deciding how to defend. There’s no point in blocking a jab only to cover your own face and not see the big right hand coming.

 

CONCLUSION

Taking punches in bunches is an art. It’s about practicing and being smart, not being tough or being too cocky. Train hard and learn and watch from the pros. Don’t be too stiff and don’t be too caught up in your own punches that you can’t see the counter punches. Counter punches usually hurt the most. Learn and watch from the masters. My favorite defensive wizards are Floyd Mayweather Jr, James Toney, and Pernell Whitaker. Watch them closely and you’ll realize that their not only good at avoiding punches, they’re good at taking them too.

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38 Comments

Gardash March 31, 2009 at 2:18 pm

This is (again!) a very nice article! Great tips, but you mentioned boxers and kickboxers training their neck muscles against whipplashes? A while ago, I got a full hook on my chin by a heavyweight while sparring (me being a welter/light-heavy-weight) which rather dazzled me.

How does training your neck muscles work? Have you got any exercises you recommend?

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leja June 14, 2013 at 2:14 am

his is (again!) a very nice article! Great tips, but you mentioned boxers and kickboxers training their neck muscles against whipplashes? A while ago, I got a full hook on my chin by a heavyweight while sparring (me being a welter/light-heavy-weight) which rather dazzled me.

How does training your neck muscles work? Have you got any exercises you recommend?

Thanks for the compliments! I’m sorry I took so long to write back. You can see examples of neck training on youtube. You can borrow the same tactics from Thai boxing (a.k.a. muay thai kickboxing), American wrestling, and boxing.

Typically some people fasten a strap around their head that’s attached to free weights and then they bend over at the waist several times. Other exercises require that you lay down on the ground on

your back and then lift your body using only your head and legs. Some old school training will require you to bite and lift the handle of a pail filled with water as you do a push-up. There are many ways but you’ll have to see a video to really get the idea.

I hope this helps. Let me know if it doesn’t. Thanks again for visiting expertboxing.com!

wat do u do when it comes to footwork

A slightly different subject, I was recently knocked out in a fight and am now struggling to throw decent shots for fear of getting KOed again. My trainer feels it is a defensive problem. He’s insisting on using the pads a lot more to work on my defence and sparring with a lot more intensity. I know how to defend and am always working on it but this really feels like a mental thing. I hesitate just as I’m about to throw a shot and am reluctant to throw counter punches. Is there anything I could do to work on this or is it simply something I will have to overcome?

Thanks,

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Rado April 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm

neck training
Hi Gardash,

Thanks for the compliments! I’m sorry I took so long to write back. You can see examples of neck training on youtube. You can borrow the same tactics from Thai boxing (a.k.a. muay thai kickboxing), American wrestling, and boxing.

Typically some people fasten a strap around their head that’s attached to free weights and then they bend over at the waist several times. Other exercises require that you lay down on the ground on your back and then lift your body using only your head and legs. Some old school training will require you to bite and lift the handle of a pail filled with water as you do a push-up. There are many ways but you’ll have to see a video to really get the idea.

I hope this helps. Let me know if it doesn’t. Thanks again for visiting expertboxing.com!

Reply

hammad March 1, 2010 at 10:34 pm

footwork
wat do u do when it comes to footwork

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hammad March 1, 2010 at 10:35 pm

ssssssssssss

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hammad March 1, 2010 at 10:35 pm

footwork
wats footwork

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syed February 8, 2011 at 1:59 am

hoow can i loosen up with my punches and footwork? :-)

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Johnny N February 8, 2011 at 5:49 pm

For loose punches, I highly recommend this guide:
- http://www.expertboxing.com/boxing-training/punching-techniques/69-how-to-throw-a-snapping-punch

For relaxed footwork, I have to recommend making sure that you relax your feet and your hips when you’re not moving. (it’s the same equivalent of relaxing your fists and your shoulders)

Reply

learner March 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Taking a punch
I seem to have the issue of take my eyes off the fighter when i get hit or even worse start looking at the floor. I have read what u said above and its very useful stuff but what type of exercises do u do to help u keep ur eyes focused

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Johnny N March 30, 2011 at 3:14 pm

@learner – spar at a slower pace so you can get use to staring at your opponent. That is the only way. If you find yourself trying to escape the fight with wandering eyes, slow the pace down. Your problem has nothing to do with unfocused eyes, it has to do with being overwhelmed. Sounds like a case of “too much, too soon”.

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learner March 30, 2011 at 6:11 pm

thanks :-)

Reply

Sean April 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm

taking a punch.
Great Article,i really enjoyed it

A slightly different subject, I was recently knocked out in a fight and am now struggling to throw decent shots for fear of getting KOed again. My trainer feels it is a defensive problem. He’s insisting on using the pads a lot more to work on my defence and sparring with a lot more intensity. I know how to defend and am always working on it but this really feels like a mental thing. I hesitate just as I’m about to throw a shot and am reluctant to throw counter punches. Is there anything I could do to work on this or is it simply something I will have to overcome?

Thanks,

P.S. love the site!

Reply

Johnny N April 25, 2011 at 8:43 pm

@Sean – getting knocked out sucks and ruins your confidence. You may even get gun-shy for a long time. It really is something you have to overcome and I suggest you do it by taking it slow. Take as much time as you need until you regain your confidence again. Spar slow and give yourself a chance to really drill the defensive techniques. Even world champions have been knocked out before. You just have to keep your mind strong. Whether or not your chin is strong enough, you have to give yourself the best chance possible by staying strong mentally.

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A November 11, 2011 at 3:27 am

When i first started boxing i was told a useful strategy was when getting tired go harder, and when getting rocked go harder. i built up to the point to where i can get hit very hard but i train my mind to not let my opponent know that he hit me hard. i believe it is a good way to be crafty, if a fighter is hitting someone their hardest and yet it doesn’t phase the opponent do you believe that will beat up a boxer or fighter psychologically? Due to the fact they believe they cant hurt them?

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A November 11, 2011 at 3:27 am

Or is it a useful strategy?

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Johnny N November 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm

A, instead of pretending not to show your pain, instead focus on not letting your opponent hurt you. The strategy should be ALWAYS GO HARD. Rocked or not, you are ALWAYS going hard. When I’m landing a ton of punches on a guy and he’s not feeling them, I’m not psychologically phased at all unless I’m getting tired. Many fighters have no problems beating up an opponent who appears to feel no pain. Whether you show fear or not, your body is bound to fall apart sooner or later.

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A November 13, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I highly appreciate that you took the time out to reply to this post johnny. The sport of boxing your going to get hit. So your basically saying dont put myself in a situation or a position to get hurt?

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Johnny N November 14, 2011 at 4:00 am

Exactly “A”, instead of trying to put energy on “bluffing” that you don’t feel pain, worry about your defense and getting out of the way. After boxing for a while, you don’t really need to bluff. You get buzzed here and there but you get the hang of getting hit. It’s no big deal.

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curtis c January 6, 2012 at 3:45 am

is this a artical about building endurance and a iron chin and if it is what punches do you think i need to learn to absorb more often?

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curtis c January 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

http://www.wikihow.com/Take-a-Punch this is my number 1 exsample

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curtis January 27, 2012 at 9:26 am

http://www.youtube.com/user/BoxingFitFactory#p/u/66/Ue_UjKNeu-8 what do you think of this? I think this here is pure excerlance. What do you think? Hope to hear from you soon.

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Johnny N January 28, 2012 at 12:32 am

He’s a skilled fighter and definitely knows his boxing. I highly recommend his methods and teachings.

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curtis c February 6, 2012 at 2:34 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&v=JmujrQLfzY8&NR=1 what do you think of this is this a good way to develop a good instinctive fighters iron chin or what? What’s your opinion? Hope to hear from you soon.

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Johnny N February 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm

It’s good advice. I use this defensive attitude sometimes. For example: sometimes it’s better to take the jab than to try and slip the jab and get hit by 3 power punches.

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Radd February 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm

J; what is your opinion about chewing gum for strengthen the chin ?

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Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Chewing gum doesn’t build your chin, it only strengthens your jaw and grinds your teeth (not recommended by dentists).

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Hermes April 16, 2013 at 3:26 am

lol i liked the dentist part

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frank March 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Good article. I’m still turning away or spinning when the flurry of punches come. I find it hard to keep my eyes on my opponent. My defence is better, I keep my shape, but I don’t just want to just be a punch-bag. I’m commiting all this to memory for my next sparring session, believe me. Thanks Johnny.

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Eric May 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Jack Dempsey chewed pine tar gum to strengthen his jaw muscles. Strong neck definitely helps but doesn’t guarantee you won’t be knocked out. Look at Mike Tyson. His neck didn’t even look like it belonged on a human being and he was still knocked out by Douglas, Holyfield, and Lewis. All respectable punchers but not devastating punchers. I think the abiltiy to take a punch, like punching power is largely genetic and primarily something you’re born with. Of course it does seem as though boxing’s granite chin fighters are always blessed with short thick powerful necks, so there definitely is a correlation between having a strong neck and taking a punch. Fighters who sport long thin necks are more than likely thought to have “glass jaws” but it’s probably their lack of neck strength that causes them to not take punches well. Some of the strongest whiskers in boxing have been men who were all-time greats and others that were not so great. Great fighters like Rocky Marciano, Jake Lamotta, Roberto Duran(except for when he met the Hitman Duran’s chin was legendary), Muhammad Ali, as well as glorified club fighters like Randall Tex Cobb, Mustapha Hamsho, sported almost inhuman abiltiy to take powerful punches.

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bin November 21, 2012 at 4:59 am

what training should i do for my neck to get strong?

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Johnny N November 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Weight strap on your forehead and lift from different angles.

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Chris L May 1, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Hey Johnny, I love this site and have learned a ton from it, do you know any other sites that i can learn thing more along the lines of MMA?

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Johnny N June 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I don’t have any idea because I don’t focus on MMA at all but let me know if you find a good one!

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Christian Church June 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm

love all the pro advice and tips Johnny,
I want to be a pro but i am lacking “hunger” like i use to have a year ago of the sport
any ideas on how to become hungry again?

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Johnny N June 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Start with not over-training or expecting too much out of yourself. Enjoy the fun parts of boxing without pushing yourself too hard and see if you get the spark for greatness again. Not everyone has it in them.

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Timothy August 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Forgot to include my email :)

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