Fighting on the inside is often a messy affair.
It’s usually two guys trying to push each other around and it always feels like you’re either being really defensive (covering up) or being really reckless (trading punches). You need room to punch and strategy to land these punches.
With a little technique and know-how, you can control the position and action on the inside. You can decide WHERE to place your body and the ANGLES of attack.
Learn how to make space and set up your punches for inside fighting.
How to Make Space for Punches on the Inside
1. Foot placement
The first thing is to make sure your feet allow your body to make space for your punches. For example: if you and your opponent are both standing right in front of each other with your feet literally RIGHT NEXT to each other’s feet, you will see that the body (the hips and the torso) has no room to move or make space for your arms.
One way of creating space with your feet is simply to step one foot away. If you want to make space for your right hand punches, step or pivot your right foot away from your opponent. The more space you have between your right foot and your opponent, the more space you have to create leverage for your right hand punches. And vice versa, you will have to place your left foot further away from your opponent if you want to make space for your left hand punches.
There are many ways to move your feet into a new position. It’s most common to step or pivot one foot away from your opponent. But there are also other methods. Some guys will jump and switch stances (orthodox-to-southpaw, or vice versa) because it gives you more space to switch stances on the inside. And other guys may even step AROUND the opponent (rather than away from the opponent). This can also place your head and body into a safer position (to the side of your opponent) while giving you more punching angles.
Common foot placement tricks in inside-fighting:
- Pivot the left foot away, throw a left hook or left uppercut.
- Pivot the right foot away, throw a right hook or right uppercut.
- Pivot or jump around his front foot so that you’re off to his side, then throw hooks.
Pull one foot away to make space for your punches.
2. Upper body placement
Another way to create space when fighting on the inside is through positioning your upper body. You may have noticed that the upper bodies are usually leaning into each other and competing for space on the inside. Both of you are trying to stay balanced and make room for your own punches. In moments like these, you have the option of either moving your upper body to make space for your punches, or moving HIS upper body to make space for your punches, or a combination of the two.
If you’re the stronger one, you can force his upper body back. You can push his upper body off axis by having a stronger body presence at the center (using a superior balance), or you can use your arms and forearms to push him back, or you can throw punches to see if he goes off-axis while trying to slip them. And once he’s tilted off axis, you can keep throwing punches and putting even more pressure because once he’s off balance and already given up his axis, there’s no way for him to regain that center again unless he steps back and resets his stance.
On the flip side, if you’re the weaker one, or if you prefer to be more mobile and use angles on him, you can tilt your own body off center (JUST A LITTLE) and use that space to make room for your punches. A little tilt here and there will give you all the space you need to dig painful hooks and uppercuts on the inside.
Common upper body placement tricks in inside-fighting:
- If you’re heavier, walk into your opponent to make him tilt off balance, then punch at him.
- If you’re the harder puncher, throw many punches to force him off balance, then throw some more as he’s more vulnerable.
- Push him back or down with your front forearm, throw some crosses or uppercuts.
- Tilt your upper body back or to one side to dig hooks and uppercuts.
Move your upper body or move your opponent’s body
to make space for your punches.
Inside Fighting Strategies for Landing Punches
Fighting on the inside is when fighters revert to their most natural instincts rather than trained reflexes. What this means is that you can take advantage of your opponent by coming in with some tricky punching patterns.
Mix up Body Punches with Head Punches
Yes, the classic head-and-body punching strategy. I know it’s the oldest trick in the book and yes, it totally works on the inside. Try digging a couple shots to the body (to drop his elbows) and then throw a big hook to the head. Or do the reverse, throw a bunch of fast pitty-pat punches to the head and then dig a big hook to the body.
Try throwing body-body-body-HEAD,
Move Your Head from One Side to the Other Side
You may have noticed that it’s common for fighters to place their heads near each other’s shoulders when fighting on the inside. The reason for this is because the body naturally fits closer this way. It’s not as common that you have two fighters on the inside with their heads and feet right in front of each other. This is especially true when both fighters are constantly moving off the center to get an angle advantage on their opponent.
One way for you to take advantage in this scenario is to throw punches with your head on one of your opponent’s shoulders, and then quickly move your head to your opponent’s other shoulder. It will make him feel like you disappeared from one side of his body and went to the other. This unexpected change of head position will open up new angles for you to punch from and increase the likelihood that your opponent is not ready to defend them.
Common head placement tricks in inside-fighting:
- Put your head on his left shoulder, throw light fast punches to distract him, then switch your head to his left shoulder and dig a left hook to the body.
- Put your head on any of his shoulders, and then switch your head positions, and quickly fire an uppercut up the middle to his head, or hook to the side of his body that you switched to.
- You can also punch to the side of his head that you exposed. For example: place your head on the left side of his head, and then when you move your head away from there, you fire a punch at the newly-exposed left side of his head.
Throw punches while moving your head
from one side of your opponent’s head to the other side.
Distract with Punches from One Hand, then Hit with the Other Hand
Once again, this is another change-of-pattern tactic. From the inside, throw a bunch of distracting punches with one hand, and then quickly throw a hard punch with the OTHER hand.
Common hand-switching tricks on the inside:
- Throw a bunch of right hands to his head or body, and then quickly throw a big left hook to his head or body.
- Throw a bunch of left hands at his head or body, and then quickly throw a right uppercut up the middle to his chin.
Distract your opponent with punches from one hand,
and then punch with the other hand.
Throw Flurries and Shoeshine Combinations
There will be times when you’re so close or positioned in such awkward ways that you can’t throw any hard meaningful punches on the inside. Maybe you’re both so tired and neither of you have energy to take a step. Or maybe you’re trying to stay close and stall the fight and take a break. Or maybe you’re trapped along the ropes and can’t go anywhere and he’s just leaning on you.
Whatever the case may be, you can still throw punches. In moments like these, I like to throw flurries and shoeshine combinations. These lighter faster punches might lack power and not do any real damage. But they look good, they score points, they show aggression, and might even create openings for bigger punches.
Common flurrying tricks on the inside:
- Get so close to your opponent that all his hard punches are smothered, then throw a bunch of pitty pat punches to his head and body to annoy him.
- Lean on your opponent to trap him along the ropes or in the corner, and throw flurries to keep him there. There’s a good chance the ref won’t break you up if you’re actively punching him.
- Throw a flurry at his guard any time that he’s covering up or being extremely passive on the inside. Make sure you’re careful in case he explodes out of his shell with a counter.
If you don’t have space for big punches,
try throwing faster smaller punches.
This is actually only a teaser article to my upcoming series on inside fighting. I know many of you have been asking me to write on this subject for years and I’m proud to say that I’ve been making serious progress on that. I’ll be going far in-depth into the many different techniques, tactics, and strategies required to fight on the inside. If you have any special requests or concerns about inside fighting tactics, please comment below!