The Meaning of Defense

June 18, 2009 June 18, 2009 by Johnny N Boxing Defense, Boxing Strategy 54 Comments

Boxing Defense Awareness

Find out the meaning of defense. The basic idea of defense and how to raise your defensive mind and awareness in the ring.



What is the definition of defense? Or put simply, what is defense?




Many experts may tell you it’s a position, a stance, or a trained reaction.

Defense includes all of the above but more importantly and most crucially, defense is state of awareness. Yes, I said – defense is an awareness. So basically, if you’re thinking in terms of defense and keeping it in the back of your mind as you box, you have defense. If you don’t think about your defense as you’re walking into range of your opponents’ punches, you’ll likely get hit by one.



Awareness of What?

You should more or less be aware of everything that your opponent may be trying to do to you. At the most basic level, you should be able to tell when he’s going to punch. At the highest level, you should be able to see what traps he’s trying to set on you and where he’s looking to counter your punches so that you may bait him into one of your own. You want to be able to read your opponent’s mind and see what he might be hiding. Is he hiding a big counter-punch? Or maybe he’s hurt? Or maybe he’s tired?

When you box at the higher level, every boxer’s reactions have become second-nature reflexes and instead of being aware of single punches, you now have to get into the rhythm of evading entire combinations one after another.



Defense as a stance

Again as I’ve stated before defense is not a stance. There are so many beginner fighters out there that go around looking for the best possible defensive stance. The obvious answer is that it DOES NOT EXIST! There is no one best stance. Every boxer or fighter is different and every stance has its own share of offensive and defensive strengths and weaknesses. While copying your favorite fighters’ defensive stances might be a good idea, your best bet is to try them all and find one that really fits you. You’ll often find that you don’t hit as hard as you think or that you’re not as fast as you think.


Hands down is bad

Many beginning boxers are commonly taught that putting their hands down is bad and while this is true, there’s more to defense than just having your hands up. You have to be aware! If you’ve got your hands up and your awareness down, you’re still going to be hit more than a boxer that has his hands down and awareness up! Look at Roy Jones in his prime! His reflexes were superior to everyone’s and while he fought with his hands down, he was still untouchable because his awareness is so high!

Of course I’m not suggesting that you fight with your hands down. Obviously, all beginning boxers with low awareness would last longer with their hands up. My overall point is that the ultimate goal is not to keep just your hands raised all the time but to keep your defensive awareness raised all the time!



Raising Your Defensive Awareness

  • Spar more at a slower speed so you can get used to seeing ALL the punches instead of just catching them blindly on your gloves.
  • NEVER look away from your opponent – NO MATTER WHAT! It’s hard to learn how to avoid punches that you don’t see!
  • Spend more time on the double-end bag so your eyes get use to catching something that’s moving fast and wildly.
  • Control your fears and keep them on check! If you’re scared, it only hurts more!
  • Understand that if you’re looking at the punches, they hurt less than if you’re not looking.
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your defensive stance so that you know what kind of punches your opponents might be tempted to throw.


Know some other great ways of raising defensive awareness or have some cool boxing tips to share? Feel free to comment and I’ll add the best ones here!

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Gardash June 20, 2009 at 6:03 am

Again a very good article! I was already hoping for some updates;-).
When will the balance-article be up?


Johnny N June 21, 2009 at 4:31 am

boxing comments
Thanks, Gardash! For you, I’ll write that article right now!


THE DUDE September 9, 2009 at 4:17 am



Johnny N September 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Thanks for the compliments! I’ll put stuff up as soon as I can. I’m currently traveling so finding time to write is a bit difficult. What type of offensive advice were you looking for.


Bilal Moon February 6, 2013 at 9:37 am

i want to ask can i make my body stiff and strong like u guys?


Johnny N February 6, 2013 at 10:51 am

By training like a boxer.


THE DUDE September 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm

just how to confidently punnch him and when to do certain punches and training to improve my speed in the ring and training to improve my indurance thanks rado


Jay Wozniak March 7, 2010 at 2:46 pm

I know that it definitly depends on your style. What do you think is the most advantages defensive approach. To actually “go on defense” for a good chunk of the round to regain some breath and make your opponent miss. Or do you recommend Offense to defense transitions multiple times throughout a round???


Johnny N March 10, 2010 at 6:56 am

defensive attitude and approach
JayWoz, I’m just going to list out the different defensive attitudes out there for you to choose from.

– If you’re not making an offensive movement, you’re making a defensive movement.

– You should always use an aggressive defense over a passive defense since an aggressive defense keeps you in position to counter-punch whereas a passive defense only leaves you position to defend again.

Typically the best boxers switch constantly back and forth and you have no idea which one they are intending to do. A great example of this is Manny Pacquiao while sparring. You never know if he’s coming or going.


Icesis May 12, 2010 at 4:28 am

Well im not sure
🙁 this article is a good article except that it still leaves me with questions. An article should never leave you with any question. You learn this in journalism class. So fill in some of these questions and it will be perfect!!!!


Johnny N May 12, 2010 at 5:15 am

questions on boxing defense awareness
Hi Icesis,

Thanks for commenting on the article. I’m sorry I didn’t answer all your questions…. so now I’m begging to know: what questions do you have?


Tim May 14, 2010 at 8:36 am

First of all, I’d like to say this is an awesome website and these articles have been very helpful.

Something I’d like to know more about is actual defensive movements. There are several boxing articles floating around on the website that tell you to slip, bob and weave, etc, but none of them tells me anything on how I should go about doing that exactly! Should I slip with just my head or would it be better to move my entire upper body? Is it better to slip outside or inside? When should I slip a punch rather than just block it? etc..

Again, thanks for these extremely informative articles!


Johnny N May 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

boxing slipping techniques
Thanks for commenting, Tim!

I’ll make the very next article about defensive slipping. I’ve got so much stuff to write I don’t even know where to begin.

Typically, slipping is an advanced defensive movement that allows you to evade an attack without using your arms… so your arms are free to counter-punch. If you’re slipping for the sake of counter-punching, which you should… then you should pivot your whole body so that you’re setting up the counter-punch. Slipping is usually done to the outside of the punch so that his arm is blocking the path of the next punch.

I’ll write a very detailed guide for you soon!


hankdaddydank May 31, 2010 at 12:09 am

I just fell in love with boxing… but a lot of my friends tell me boxing is dead.
Some of them are in MMA, and they were bragging it about it.
I think boxing is an art form, unlike a real cockfight ( MMA ). If you see roy Jones and Mayweather, they got style. I think this article proves that boxing still got its artful mojo.


Santi November 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Basic Boxing Defense Drill

You have a great website. You have great articles. I have a boxing website too. I would like to invite you to share/write your thoughts on some of my articles.




Santi November 15, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Basic Boxing Defense Drill
Here is a link if you want to practice boxing defense drills


Johnny N November 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Thanks, Santi
Nice website, btw. Let me know if you’d like to trade links.


Santi November 18, 2010 at 11:06 am

Thanks Johnny. yeah, i like to trade links. where do you want your link to be placed? i have a useful links page.


EMMAJohnston25 February 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I will recommend not to wait until you earn enough cash to order different goods! You should just take the mortgage loans or just auto loan and feel yourself fine


DKL May 13, 2011 at 3:52 am

Head placement
Defense, it seems like, is also about head placement when you throw a punch; as in, where YOU position YOUR head when you throw a punch. It’s like is it’s out of the “danger zone” (right in front of the guy with your chin up) than you can already prevent from being countered. This method only works for one or two punches, mainly used for power. Sergio Martinez, an absolute wizard when it comes to range and head movement, has unique head positioning when throwing his power shots (overhand right). Watch his highlight video on youtube. I mean just look at his knockout of Paul Williams. It looked like he wasn’t even looking at the guy when he hit him. But I’m sure he was, it was in his peripheal vision. His head was at a strange angle when it came in. He does this move alot. The head, if whipped correctly, either down, to the side, or anywhere adds power on the heavy bag. It’s hard to do with more than one punch. It works with a left power uppercut and left shovel hook when your head is outside of the guys danger zone.


radd June 29, 2011 at 7:07 am

Looking at the punches or openings ?
Thanks for the great informations on this superb site. On the other article “Where to Look During a Fight ” it says don’t look at the punches (automatic defense) and focus on openings and search for counters which is a great tip, but here it says look at the punches so they dont hurt. By looking at the punches you mean see them without directly looking at them ?




Johnny N July 5, 2011 at 5:02 am

@radd – sorry for the confusion! I think what I meant to say was to “see the punches without looking at them”. Be cautious of them from your peripheral vision but don’t go actively looking for punches. Does that help?


radd July 5, 2011 at 8:59 am

Thanks, i get it. This an excellent tip. ? was not see or hear this tip anywhere on the web or gym. When sparring it feels more simple now. Except lightweights they are super fast, i can’t see anything before they make love touch to my nose 🙂


Amit July 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Thanks a lot
I am so tankful that I always get a lot of knowledge through your articles.. Thanks a lot dear and please keep sharing this kind of important informations



dan williams September 3, 2011 at 11:12 pm

again enlightening stuff man! what are youre thoughts on the philly shell though? i tried it in sparring and when it worked it was great but a certin &#xag;e of the time i just got tagged! fine line between getting it right or wrong if u know what i mean! 🙂


Johnny N September 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm

@dan williams – the philly shell is about timing, not position. therefore you can’t just rely on the shoulder for defense, you have to spend many hours getting the timing just right. Using the philly shell defense is like hitting the double-end bag, if you miss the timing the movement fails immediately.


Aaron 'Bones' October 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm

My footwork is my defense they seem to just react when i see movement from my opponent, however whenever i try to plant my feet i take alot of shots to the head even with a high guard.
What would you suggest Johnny?


Johnny N October 18, 2011 at 5:06 am

Aaron, work on sparring at a slower speed. Using your footwork as defense can be very inefficient and use up energy fast because you’re moving your entire body when they’re only moving an arm. Unless you’re cutting to the side, using footwork to go backwards (defensively) makes you slower to counter and takes you out of punching range.


Aaron 'Bones' October 19, 2011 at 3:43 am

Great answer, and thanks for your help


Johnny N October 19, 2011 at 3:49 am

No problem! I should also add that moving your feet as defense can work against you; your opponent can throw feints to make you give up ground. And he’ll walk you into the ropes until you have nowhere to run.


Radd November 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Great video about defense, stance, offense in boxing in the context of analyzing Charley Burley Style.


t November 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm

hey johnny i am yet to go to gym but i am starting soon. my question is do i have do my own workout for my conditioning or does my trainer give me my workout routine??


Johnny N November 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Your trainer will give you your workout, probably based on what everybody else is doing. If he sees that you’re getting stronger and/or you’re more serious about boxing, he will give you a harder workout. Do what he tells you and make little adjustments wherever needed.


curtis c January 6, 2012 at 3:36 am

you look like you rewrote the defintion of defence all together i have to have it to you im guit impressed but still im ever the more curious as a body puncher what defence should i be focusing on? And what should i be more concerned about protecting – my head or body or both?


Johnny N January 9, 2012 at 9:46 am

Unless you don’t mind getting hit somewhere, both.


curtis c January 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm

how do i fight a defencive fighter? Using my own defence to draw him into a brawl or pot shot at him so i can see what he does so i can take advanatage of it?


curtis c January 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm

aka i also mean changing the angle of attack when he does too – does this all come under the same roof of counter, counter defence?


Joaquin March 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Great article! Ha Ha, I get yelled at all the time for keeping my hands down but when my awareness is high, I actually get hit less than when my hands up. I train with Johnny Tapia and he gets very upset when I do this but when I’m in a groove, feeling good, I feel like I can’t be touched. Awareness is Key!


Johnny N March 19, 2012 at 5:16 am

I’d feel awesome too if I was training with Johnny Tapia!


Joaquin March 19, 2012 at 7:59 am

I have been boxing for a long time but I just want to say that I really enjoy this website because you can always learn something no matter how long you have been in the sport. Tapia is great to train with!


rich March 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm

hi jonny, I’d say I think I’ve pretty much read most of your articles and watched 90% of your video’s now. This site and your youtube channel are both great, my first fight is in two weeks which i’m very excited for and your work has helped a lot. I was hoping you could give me a few pointers and ideas though on how to get out of the “shell” when your opponent is on top of you pouring on a combination


Johnny N March 21, 2013 at 2:39 am

Counter back immediately. I hope you can record a video and share it on our Facebook. Good luck!


rich March 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm

thanks to any advice in advance


Neal April 23, 2013 at 11:21 am

Hey ‘Johnny N’ great website keep up the good work.
Anyway im not sure how it works with everyone else but where I am from we usually have small competitions between each of the boxing clubs from the different towns nearby every now and again. They can be quite competitive as you can imagine.
I would be ‘bantam weight’ and during a sparring match the opponent caught me with a nasty elbow on my ribcage, of course the official never seen it so in the end the fight had to be stopped and i lost.
I guess my question for you is, is there any possible way of strengthening (or padding) up that area? Or in my case will it always be a weak point?



Johnny N April 26, 2013 at 10:00 am

My best advice for you is to strengthen the core and also your lats. And then when you’re in a fight, to close your rib cage. Don’t fight with your chest puff or caved in. Simply hold your spine straight and then pull in your diaphragm and close your ribcage.


bernard thao April 23, 2013 at 10:55 pm

ur tip on defense saying if your scare it hurts more….i dont think thats right…many times when your scared ur defense is up…awareness and hands…if you get too relax then you can get caught …dont be cocky…and think of how the other fighter is thinking how to attack you as well according to ur movements ..there’s alot to it…but being scared wont make it hurt more….some guys that fight manny pac…they r scared and they block all day..if they were not scared they will get knocked out…their awareness and hands are always up when they fight manny pac.


Fahed Abdou May 26, 2013 at 8:21 am

Great article. Floyd Mayweather has demonstrated the importance of defense in boxing! Its the main reason you rarely see any scratches or bruises on his face after a fight. its all because of his amazing defensive style!


daniel bailey September 10, 2013 at 10:38 am

What is the mindset of a defensive fighter ?


Johnny N September 26, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Probably a guy who’s aware of all your punches and doesn’t want to get hit by them.


Terry Cornick February 16, 2016 at 3:31 am

Hey Johnny,

Just tried to sign up to the newsletter but I keep getting a 404 error page when I click after entering my email?

By the way, love the videos and site.



Johnny N February 16, 2016 at 9:40 am

Thank you so much for telling me, Terry! I fixed it just now. Wow…I had no idea how long it was broken for and how many people who couldn’t get through and didn’t tell me. PS: I registered you just now.


Terry C February 16, 2016 at 12:38 pm

No worries Johnny – I am doing a 12 week Corporate Fighter boxing program in Sydney, Australia with an amateur fight at the end (never boxed previously).

It has been great so far but last night I took a beating from a couple of guys in sparring – for reassurance I checked out your defence videos/articles and loved them, will be studying today.

However I also checked out your sparring articles as it seems a couple of the guys on the program definitely do not agree when it comes to having respect for your opponent, going slower to help with technique etc!

Check out my blogs on my experiences so far:!Get-Comfortable-with-being-Uncomfortable/cfvg/56bda1e70cf2b4e0b62683b2!Dont-Hate-The-Solo-Player/cfvg/569781f10cf20ee37c7462cc

Keep up the great work.

Cheers Johnny!


Johnny N February 16, 2016 at 7:04 pm

People will forever knock on methods that they didn’t use. Yes, it’d be easy if you can just be tough, suck it up, take the punishment, and learn. But some people…who have horrible reflexes, slow of mind or slow of movement, or not athletic at all, are gonna need a little more time to adjust to things.

To each their own. I deal with many beginners and I find the challenge is getting them all up to speed. Once everyone’s on an even playing field, then hell let them loose on each other. But until then, you gotta respect that one guy’s LEVEL 0 can be vastly different from another guy’s LEVEL 0. The advice I shared would never even be needed that much if you let guys work with guys of their level but this isn’t often the case. Sometimes it’s different weight, height, reach, speed, skill, experience, etc.


Terry C February 16, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Much appreciated Johnny – looking forward to learning more defensive techniques for the next session- Cheers!


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