Advanced Slipping Technique, PART 1 – Head Movement

March 21, 2012 March 21, 2012 by Johnny N Boxing Techniques, Defense Techniques 68 Comments

head movement

What’s the proper way to use head movement? What’s the difference between head movement and slipping? How do you slip without losing balance? How do you slip WITHOUT pulling on your head? How do you slip punches faster and easier?

The secrets to slipping are answered in THIS guide!


The problem with slipping…

I’m not trying to tell you that slipping isn’t useful. I’m simply pointing out the common flaws and limitations of slipping. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of slipping will allow you to use it more effectively.

Slipping is a defensive technique
that allows you to counter faster
because your hands aren’t used for defense.

slipping head movement

PROBLEM – slipping often compromises your position.

Naturally, a fighter will slip a punch by moving his head off the center line. This is where the problems begin. Taking your head off the center causes you to take yourself off balance. This off-centered position sacrifices your balance, power, speed, and mobility for the sake of avoiding one punch. Regardless of whether you want to counter back, slip some more, or move away–it’s harder to do when you’re off balance.

If you slip by pulling your head off center, you’ll be forced to move your feet in order to regain your balance. This makes it easy for opponents to keep taking your ground.


So here are the 2 conflicting principles of slipping we must satisfy:

  1. Slip the opponent’s punch
  2. Keep your head at the center

…and now we’ve come to the grand question!!!




The Million-Dollar Trick – “Head Movement”

So how are we supposed to use head movement when I just told you that you can’t move your head? It’s a trick! It’s all a trick!



The Trick to Head Movement:
Make your head appear to be moving,
without actually moving your head.

Yes, the trick is to make your head LOOK like it’s moving! Please watch my video above to get a visual demonstration.


The Trick to Head Movement

head movement technique

Move the body WITHOUT moving the head

Notice how my head & body stay in the same position but it LOOKS like I’m slipping back and forth. I can shift back and forth between these 2 positions however fast or slow as I want, to make it look like my head is constantly moving.


head movement side view


Study the pictures above carefully. The clever use of my limbs make my head appear to be moving but my head barely moves at all. I’m trying to move my body so that it appears like I’m slipping back and forth, tempting my opponent to throw to one side instead of straight down the middle.


Using the Arms to Simulate “Head Movement”

head movement using arms

Head movement using the arms

In the images above, moving my arms around makes it look like I’m slipping back and forth. Looks like I moved alot, right? NOTE: I am showing you my style of movement. You don’t have to copy me. Your arms can be in different positions and move in different ways to simulate head movement.


head movement without arms

Head movement WITHOUT the arms

And now I make the same movement but without my arms. Can you see now that I barely moved at all?


Using the Legs to Simulate “Head Movement”

head movement using legs

Head movement using the legs

Here’s the same effect moving only my legs. Notice how in the first image I looked like I was leaning away. And then in the second image I looked like I was crouching forward. Once again, it’s just a trick; the only thing I did was rotate my legs. My body and head are still in the same place—MAGIC!


The Wrong Way to do “Head Movement”

bad head movement

Pulling head off center = BAD

I’m sure you’ve seen this before. Maybe you’re like me and did this for a long time and wondered why slipping was so difficult. Sure it works because you ARE moving your head but it’s hard to keep up. Swinging your head back and forth like this requires a lot of energy because you’re upsetting your balance. Furthermore, it’s even harder to do against fast punches. It’s much easier and much more effective to fake the head movement.


What’s the Point of Head Movement?

Head movement makes your opponent aim off your center

So what’s the point of all this crazy movement? Why am I trying to move everything but my head? It’s not that I’m trying not to move my head. The focus is on moving only enough to create the ILLUSION of movement. The illusion of “head movement” tricks my opponent into throwing punches off my center. The “head movement” baits him to throw to one side making it easier for me to slip the punch.


Slipping at the center VS slipping side-to-side

Think about it. If your opponent keeps firing at the center, you’ll have to keep moving your head from one side to the other. If you can make your opponent throw off the center, you can slip simply by staying in the middle.

In essence, head movement makes slipping MUCH EASIER!

I’ve heard many coaches yell at their fighters to “move your head!” without much success. There are simple reasons for this. Bobbing your head side-to-side isn’t going to help your defense if you don’t have a strong awareness of incoming punches. Making constant slipping motions can make you tired or even distract you from seeing the punches. You must know that “head movement” is NOT the same as slipping!


 “Head Movement” is DIFFERENT from “Slipping”

  • Head movement is to make your opponent miss. (moving the head only enough to simulate movement)
  • Slipping is to avoid the punch. (moving the head only enough to avoid the punch)

Head movement only LOOKS like a slip, it’s an IMITATION of slip movement. Effective head movement makes the actual slipping easier. Your opponent’s punches will come off target making large slip movements unnecessary. Combining head movement with slipping allows you to counter, slip, or move away more effectively.

“Head movement” allows you to slip punches,
WITHOUT giving up your balanced position.


Examples of Pro’s & Amateur Boxers using “Head Movement”

Sometimes they do it fast and shifty like I did in my instructional video. Other times it’s relaxed and liquid but they pull away with a slip when a punch comes. The pros usually do it slow (as if they’re fluidly breathing). The amateurs typically use a more energetic shifty/jerky kind of head movement. Almost everyone in the Olympics is always shifting around; watch any Olympic fight and you’ll see what I mean. Once you understand how to move your head, you can do it with your own style. Right after I learned this, I noticed that all the slick guys do it in some way or shape or form.

boxing ebook Advanced Boxing Techniques 30 Day Fighter's Diet Advanced Boxing Footwork Drills
Did you learn something? Share It!


Alex D March 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Damn johnny u did it again…thanks for dropping more knowledge. As soon as u described what bad head movement looks like I said to myself shit thats me….can’t wait to work on this skill. Thanks again.


Jon Dometita March 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm

man this is great!thanks johnny mah man!you did it again!


Jacob March 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm

i never cease to be amazed!


J March 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm

This would be pretty complex to do the “head movement” theory while moving forward so i was wondering if it would be a good idea to use this trick if im stuck against the ropes or in the corner?


Darren Faulkner March 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

lol i learned my head movement from watching Rocky when i was young, bad head movement ! Then i watched how Mike Tyson used his body and legs to bait opponents into throwing wide while he stuffed a right hand into their face and i thought “ah so thats head movement” Another great lesson man, a difficult concept explained perfectly. love your work!


Brenton L March 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Legendary. This is exactly the topic I was hoping you’d cover, can’t wait for Part 2! Cheers mate


J March 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm

My apologies johnny i have just practiced it down my hallway and its a beautiful form i put it in rhythm as i walked thats a great technique


vibha March 22, 2012 at 2:58 am

great vid.wat do u think of dis johnny


Johnny N March 22, 2012 at 5:00 am

This is a video of a guy working on slipping technique. I recommend that method for guys with short upper bodies and bigger lower bodies. Otherwise, you will easily pull yourself off balance. It’s also a difficult slip technique to use at the elite level. There hasn’t been anybody too successful with that slipping technique in the modern era other than Mike Tyson. And he’s more like the exception than the norm. Nonetheless, it’s a common slipping method and it eventually has its limits.

I would recommend a slipping video like this with Paul Williams (former champion) demonstrating a closer slicker slipping technique:


mohammed adil May 24, 2012 at 8:40 am

good work johnny……u are damn good….why dont you try to be a pro boxer…….???????


Johnny N May 25, 2012 at 2:08 am

I don’t enjoy the sacrifice it takes to be a pro boxer. What I’m doing now allows me to enjoy boxing to the fullest; I couldn’t ask for more.


mohammed adil June 8, 2012 at 12:49 am

johnny can you please tell me what does it take to be a pro boxer ……….i m 22 old and i have started boxing …….i want to be a pro boxer…. .is it possible ……and if not what would be the main problem………….your answer would be very help ful…thank you

Johnny N March 22, 2012 at 5:01 am

I’m really glad you guys enjoyed. This article was a lot of fun to do.


Enzo March 22, 2012 at 6:09 am

I’m sorry but thats bad advice. Name one pro boxer who does what you do in your video. Your just wasting energy and any good boxer will time and nullify all that silly movement. I train at kings boxing gym in Oakland and they would laugh if I did that. Another weakness of ur theory is that u cant sit down on your punches and your legs will tire out in a fight much quicker. Y don’t u show a sparring video where this actually works against a pro?


Johnny N March 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

Enzo…the movement is subtle. Sometimes you see it but most of the time you can only FEEL it when you’re fighting the guy. It’s also not a waste of energy, the guys wasting energy are the ones actually MOVING their head. I don’t have to worry about getting timed because I’m not really moving. And again, it’s hard to see because I’m not really moving. The point of this faked movement is to GET my opponent to punch at me. This isn’t some kind of special move, it’s simply a theory behind how to use head movement.

Here’s a video of a “pro” using head movement: …actually, it’s not just any pro, it’s BERNARD HOPKINS. Sometimes he’s doing it fast and shifty like I did in the video. Other times it’s relaxed and liquid but he pulls away with a slip when a punch comes.

Since you came out of King’s Boxing Gym, I even looked up a video of Andre Ward for you (also came out of King’s Boxing Gym). He’s doing it a little shifty around 4:10 and more subtle around 11:49. He does it all the time really but I’m just trying to pick out the obvious ones for you. Some people do it fast and some people do it slow (as if they’re breathing). Your legs only get tired if you do it wrong, which is lifting and dropping the hips instead of leaving it still. And yes, you can STILL sit down on your punches.

The technique isn’t limited to the pro’s–many amateurs do it too. I learned this from a fighter with 10 fights and once I started doing it, I could see that all the slick guys do it in some way or shape or form. But anyway, I won’t be offended if you ignore my “silly movement bad advice”. 😉


Matt March 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Great advice Johnny. I also like how James Toney crouches to avoid a punch. A lot different than a slip, but it works well at smothering a guy, and breaking up their punching rhythm.


Johnny N April 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm

What James Toney does will be explained in part 2! Keep reading, Matt.


GQ March 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I do believe I’ve seen Bruce Lee doing this 😉

Interesting article Johnny, I would also be interested to see this put into effect in a real match if you know of any pros that have done it or videos where I can see it?


Johnny N March 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Check out the comment above you. 😉


GQ March 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Oops! Hadn’t refreshed.

It seems VERY subtle when Hopkins does it, but I definitely see what you mean.

I think what might make it difficult for others to notice it is the fact that on top of this Hopkins does so many other things as well, like the way he paws out his lead hand and keeps it constantly moving, drops his shoulder etc.

Really makes you appreciate how difficult it is to pull off all of those things together, seeing this one technique in isolation.


Johnny N March 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Almost every good fighter I know does this one way or another. Now that you know what to look for…start paying attention to it and see how different guys do it differently. Sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes it’s super-obvious. KEEP LOOKING!


herik March 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm

what do you know about defenses against uppercuts? it’s too difficult to me see the uppers


Johnny N March 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Their angle makes them dangerous. You have to spar slower until you get the feeling of an uppercut. You can’t go looking for them, you have to get a feel for when your opponent is about to punch, and which hand, and which angle.


JaketheSnake March 22, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Another gem! Now I know what you were saying earlier that Hopkins only APPEARS to have his head off center. As far as I know, this is the only article of its kind anywhere. All the youtube videos I’ve seen teach the basic slip where you either have to be doing it all the time or have a very good sense of when and where the punches are coming. Thanks Johnny.


Johnny N March 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I’ve got endless tricks 😉


Dat Pham March 23, 2012 at 4:13 am

Love your article, as always! Thanks Johny! 🙂


Curtis March 23, 2012 at 6:11 am

Part one? When is there going to be a part 2? And what’s it going to be about? Hope to hear from you soon.


andrewp March 23, 2012 at 10:01 am

great article johnny makes good sense.i had a trainer who would put head movement and bobbing etc above everything to the point where you end up fighting with no awareness almost blind to your much effort went into being elusive what your opponent did was ignored.this article tricks the subconscious that your very elusive while boxing with maximum awareness to every countering opportunity.your article on automatic boxing skills (excellent by the way} is really the tip of the iceburg on what the subconscious involvement in boxing ability extends to .floyd mayweather understands this concept he wins the subconsciuos battle before he wins the conscious one with very little movement he is giving his awareness every advantage he can


Johnny N March 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Andrew….YES! You got it.


ant g March 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm

be careful not to be timed…especially when the movement is on rhythm


Johnny N March 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Actually you don’t have to worry about getting timed because you’re not really moving anywhere. If anything, you WANT him to throw while you’re doing this so that you can THEN finally move.


curtis March 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm

what do you think of the four way ducking drill on youtube?


Johnny N March 27, 2012 at 10:29 am

It’s a common drill. You should try it.


Everton Henrique March 26, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Simply Perfect.

I’m on self taught boxing for 4 months now, and you simply cleared my mind with these hints.
I’ve trying to understand and see how do they (the pro boxers) move constantly without wasting too much energy, and you showed me that!

I’d suggest the same kind of guide to the correct way of slipping or a slip tutorial. Please do whenever you have some time!

Thanks again Johnny!


Johnny N March 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

Hey Everton, I have a slipping guide out already. Have you seen it?


Everton Henrique March 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Hi there. Yeah, I just saw it Johnny. Thanks for the tip again!


luniz October 8, 2012 at 7:22 am

give me a advice to be a pro boxer


ODOLLA March 27, 2012 at 8:17 am

possibley the ILLEST picture of you (and your twin brother…) nice. good article.


Mike Cook March 27, 2012 at 9:29 am

For the guy who said you’d get laughed at in the gym if you did that,that’s not true at all… But what is true there is different ways of slipping. And there’s the way J said do
It and the way j said not to do it. It all depends on the situation. It is ok to pull your head off center sometimes and do it from your legs like j describes as well. A huge key to being successful IMO is knowing what to do it situations. And slipping is definitely a prime example. Using your legs and upper body is the way you move your head but it is subtle movements. And not every body type can slip like suggested above and be successful and same things goes for moving your head off center.. got to learn what works for YOU


Daniel March 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Does this work for a shorter pressure fighting amateur? I think its good just cant get my head around it. I do move my head a little so im already moving for a slip and also so shots brush off rather than being a sitting duck but I duno about the hand and feet movement if I was coming forward against a tall stiff jabber.


Johnny N March 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm

This technique can work for anyone. It’s one of those things I see almost everybody do. There are many ways and many styles to moving your head. Don’t worry so much about the movement but focus more on the reason why and when to move the head.


Mike B March 29, 2012 at 6:49 am

You are truly godsend! I fought my 1st two amateur fights ever about 2 weekends ago in the West TN golden gloves and came out golden gloves champ! This website (along with youtube) pretty much made me the fighter I am today! I train at a gym where there are only two coaches and LOTS of fighters so one on one attention is kind of foreign. I used the knowledge and technique I learned from this website and practiced it shadow boxing and in the gym. I would just like to thank you for such valuable and well explained knowledge! You are, very much so, a boxing EXPERT! Here is a link to my 2nd bout…I found myself doing what is explained in this very article in this fight. It really just happened naturally but thanks to you I can try to perfect that particular movement for posterity because now I know why I’m doing it! Please check it out and give me feedback…Thanks in advance..


Johnny N April 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm


Awesome video! I’m really proud of you man. There are so many things you’re doing right…you’re doing a great job. Good stance and footwork. Really nice potshots and flurries. Nice job stepping out at the angles.

Since you’re a well-trained boxer, here are some slick tricks I would suggest for you:
– throw some upside-down jabs. Like a long left jab but with the fist upside down. Move your head around and then pop him. I won’t explain now why it works but you’ll see soon enough. Make it snap.
– stop trying to throw with power. You already got power. When you’re exchanging, try to breathe faster. Come right in, and PSSST-PSSST-PSSST! as fast as you can. Faster breathing = faster punches. Don’t worry about the power.
– spin your opponent. When you’re in close range, try to spin him before you push him off you. It really knocks him off balance and gives you extra time to land that counter. It’s also a great trick for wearing out his legs since he has to keep himself from falling. The trick to spinning an opponent is not to try and move him. Instead you try to pull him into you (perfect if he’s already aggressive)…and then you fall back on one leg while you spin the other leg behind. Don’t worry if you can’t figure out this trick I’ll have a guide coming up on it anyways.

That’s all for now. Give it a try and let me know when you’re ready for more. 😉


Mike B March 29, 2012 at 6:56 am

The last link malfunctioned somehow! Here is the right one. Sorry for the inconvenience


J March 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm

will it be a good idea to slip then to pivot as one motion?


Johnny N April 2, 2012 at 10:40 am

Different things give you different results. As long as you know why you’re doing it, it can work. I don’t usually slip AND pivot in one motion since but it happens naturally. It’s not something I think about.


Mo March 30, 2012 at 11:42 am

Great work Johnny. I was thinking…can you post an article about defensive drills that you recommend? I feel that most fighters lack defense more than anything.

Thanks again


Johnny N April 2, 2012 at 10:41 am

This is in the works, Mo. The best defensive drill is really to spar slowly. I can’t stress that enough.


neil March 31, 2012 at 5:56 am

I was watching a K-1 match between Semmy Schilt and Peter Aerts and noticed them doing this. I thought it was really weird that they were only creating the illusion of movement, but now it makes more sense.


Billy April 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Hey good video. I just saw the slipping video too.
So your saying use head movement to throw your opponents timing off and to bait the slipping?

Another thing, when you slip in the other video. Do you slip then come back to center, before you slip or can you go straight from slipping a jab to a right if their throwing a 1-2?

Also do you pull back from uppercuts or is that a bad idea?


Johnny N April 2, 2012 at 10:44 am

If I’m not really slipping, then I’m not really coming off the center. But to answer your question: yes, I generally cut back across the center to avoid multiple punches. It’s not so much about slipping side to side, it’s more about being on a different side of the center.

Pulling back from uppercuts isn’t a bad idea. It’s a foolproof way to avoid them.


Topz April 3, 2012 at 7:31 am

This is awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing this. I’ll be sure to thank this website when I’m world champion. Cheers!


Johnny N April 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Keep posting your fight videos here! I’ll be waiting for your big day.


Guilherme Nanini April 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm

very nice article!!


j May 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm

So this explains why you can watch a fighter all day on film but it’s a completely different when your standing across,


Billy Tang September 26, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Bummer. It sucks to read that I’ve been doing the wrong thing the whole time.


Johnny N October 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Not wrong, only different. If it worked, you did the right thing!


rei February 24, 2013 at 9:16 pm

great article Johny!

i learned this unconsciously while watching Frankie Edgar (UFC) fights against BJ Penn. i tried incorporating it on training.

the first one i did was actualy head movement, it left me off balanced and i always end up eating a left hook (im south paw)! … i retrained, and i think i got it right, cause most of my sparring mates always say im a hard target to hit cause “im always moving my head” lol they did not know that i was only moving my hands, core/shoulders and legs.

reading this article made me realize what i was actually doing. i cannot wait for part 2, cause i always try to do that “james toney crouch” but not having any success with it


Johnny N February 26, 2013 at 10:18 am

Yeaup, you got it!

Btw, part 2 is out already. 🙂


Jose P March 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm

How about pernell whitaker he moved all kinds bobing and weaving?


Johnny N March 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

He’s awesome.


Alex April 12, 2013 at 3:00 am

Hi Johnny, great article! I’ve been boxing for 3 months now, and I’ve learned a lot from your site — my favourite article is probably the one about Fighting Reflexes! 🙂 All respect to you for spending so much time on putting all this information up here for everyone to learn from.

I’m really trying to get my head around this “moving your head off the center-line” (whether by moving your head or only your body), and creating a “fake line of attack for your opponent”.

Here’s an analysis of Charley Burley:
If you watch from 1:10, there’s a picture of B Hopkins standing in — what in the video is called — “the classical stance”, with his head off-center. I don’t know if you agree with that, but seems alot like what you’re talking about in this article.

My question is: why would an opponent throw punches at your “fake line of attack” when your head isn’t there (it’s off-center)? Why is it harder for your opponent to hit you?


Alex April 12, 2013 at 8:34 am

I guess you kinda explained it in the video 😉


Johnny N April 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Yeaup…the video answers all your questions.

What I’m talking about in this article is how to slip without moving from your center line. And yes, you can use movement in the arms and legs to create a fake presence (whether closer or farther) from the opponent.

The video of Charley Burley is commonly passed around as knowledge but it lacks a lot of explanation. You cannot fight from one position the entire fight. You will have to move your head when punches come. And no opponent is foolish enough to attack a “fake center” forever.

Opponents will attack a fake line of center because it looks like you’re there. And it’s harder to hit you because you’re not actually there.


Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post:

Copyright © 2008-2013 How to Box | ExpertBoxing. All rights reserved