Learn how to throw an uppercut correctly. Study the same powerful uppercut thrown by Mike Tyson… not Ryu from Street Fighter.
About the Uppercut Punch
The uppercut is probably the most commonly abandoned punch in boxing as well as the most incorrectly thrown punch in boxing. I imagine part of the reason for this is because there are few pieces of boxing equipment that are made for practicing uppercuts. The other reason is that the uppercut is only meant to be used in close and boxers are usually taught to fight from a distance. In the ring, fighters are more likely to use a more direct punch like the cross because it travels faster to the opponent. Using an uppercut can be a risk because it momentarily drops your guard and leaves you open to counterpunches while you wait for the uppercut to land. A proper uppercut punch is a short crisp punch that comes from a deadly angle with a lot of force and can knockout your opponent.
How To Throw The Uppercut
Bend into your knees
This is number #1 most important rule. The power starts from the ground, so you always want to bend your knees to put draw power into your punches.
Keep the Hips Down
This is the trickiest part of the uppercut punch that confuses most people. During the uppercut, your hips will go DOWN into the ground while the punch goes UP into your opponent. The reason for this is because the uppercut punch doesn’t get its power from you jumping off the ground. The power is generated from the hip rotation, and to get powerful hip rotation your body (and hips) must stay grounded (low).
Rotate The Body
This is where all the power for your uppercut punch is being generated. Your hips generate power from the ground by ROTATING NOT JUMPING. You pivot your feet, pushing off the left calf for the left uppercut or off the right calf for the right uppercut. The foot that is not powering the uppercut will drop its heel to the ground. Your hips will rotate just as it would for any other punch spinning your whole body especially the hips and shoulders into the uppercut punch.
Release The Uppercut
The hand is momentarily relaxed as you quickly lower it into the desired uppercut angle and the palm is turned upwards towards the sky. The arm release is timed perfectly into the rotation of your body and you throw the uppercut with a relaxed arm at your opponent, tightening the fist right at impact.
The uppercut punching fist tightens on impact and SHOULD LAND RIGHT AFTER THE HIPS ROTATE. Just like a hook, the left uppercut should land right as the right heel touches the ground; vice versa, the right uppercut will land as the left heel touches the ground (the left heel may already be grounded if the previous punch was only the jab.) Again, the uppercut should land right as the hips finish rotating.
The uppercut should be recovered once it hits a certain distance. The punch shouldn’t just rocket into the sky when you miss. You should pull the punch straight back to your chin or drop it again to throw another uppercut. The main idea is to make sure your uppercut punch has an endpoint and it doesn’t go past that.
Common Mistakes on Bad Uppercuts
DON’T LIFT THE HIPS
This is the number #1 mistake boxers make when throwing the uppercut! They lower their body and then raise it when they throw their uppercut punch upwards. The reason many boxers commit this mistake is because they believe that by “jumping” their hips into the punch it adds upwards motion to their whole body which adds more power to the punch. Again, like I’ve said before: the uppercut gets its power from you rotating your hips NOT jumping your hips off the ground.
Many people see Mike Tyson duck just before throwing the uppercut so they think he’s exploding up into the uppercut. Let me reassure you, Mike Tyson isn’t jumping his body upwards into the uppercut punch, what he’s doing is rotating his hips upwards. He angles his hips and then rotates it upwards which explains why it looks like he’s coming up off the ground during the uppercut. Another reason why Mike Tyson looks like he’s jumping into the uppercut is because he fights out of a compressed “peek-a-boo” shell-type defense. So when he’s exploding out of his shell, his upper body will stretch making it appear as though he’s moving upwards. Last note about Tyson… study what he does in training (which is proper technique in controlled environment) as opposed to what he does in fights (which is out of control and overly aggressive).
What happens if you unground yourself and lift your whole body into the uppercut? You’ll be raising your center of gravity and making it easy for your opponent to push you off balance. If your opponent jabs you or throws a hook at the same time, you’ll easily fall off balance because your center of gravity is raised. Another disadvantage is that your uppercut will have much less power since the hips are just rotating in mid-air instead of rotating with grounded power.
ROTATE THE BODY
The uppercut punch requires you to rotate your body. I’ve seen many beginners just stand square and throw the punch using only their shoulders and legs. Again, the power comes from a grounded rotation. Another reason why you should rotate the body is so that after the punch, your body is loaded and ready to rotate back with another punch.
Stop the uppercut from going too far. The uppercut should be timed to reach maximum power right at the point of impact. The uppercut should land right as the hips finish rotating. If the uppercut lands before or after hip rotation, it won’t have as much power. Over-extended and longer uppercuts will also leave you very open to counter-punches as well as having less power. Again, all your uppercuts should have a measured distance and timed impact, and a point of recovery once you miss.
DON’T DROP YOUR HANDS
Many fighters like to drop the hand right before they throw the uppercut. This is unnecessary since the power comes from the hips and not the arms, so the hips should be dropped and not the hands. Dropping your hands telegraphs the punch and leaves you open. Don’t do it!
HUGE TIP!!! – Drop the hips throughout the ENTIRE uppercut
This is a visualization tip to help your uppercut. In actuality, your hips dip as you begin your uppercut and then rotate as your uppercut is being thrown. In visualization however, what you should think about is dropping your hips throughout the whole uppercut. When you think this way, your hips are being grounded much better and the uppercut will carry far more power. Visualizing your hips dropping throughout the whole uppercut punch ensures that you don’t lift your hips while throwing the uppercut (big mistake).
How to know if you’re throwing the uppercut correctly
The best way to know if your hips are dropping entirely throughout the punch is to throw 2 fast, hard, rear-uppercuts in a row! If you’re lifting your hips at the end of the uppercut, you’ll realize that your body requires more time to throw the second uppercut. However, if you ARE dropping your hips correctly you’ll realize the second uppercut comes out very quickly with lots of power since you only have to drop the hip again. So again… when you’re throwing 2 uppercuts, your hips should be going DOWN & DOWN AGAIN… NOT Down-Up, Down-Up.
Think Right Cross or Left Hook
Many fighters are thinking too much about the uppercut before they throw it that it becomes telegraphed and easy to see. Instead, you should think of the right uppercut as a right cross and the left uppercut as a left hook. When you think of the uppercut like this, your body moves more like a cross or hook and the uppercut is disguised better. Your opponent may think your throwing a 1-2 judging from the way your body is moving but actually you’re throwing a big uppercut after the jab and his defense won’t be ready for it.
Many fighters think of the uppercut as an upwards punch but it’s not always the case. The uppercut has horizontal movement as well. Sometimes, I like to think of my uppercuts as upside-down crosses. In other words, I would throw my right uppercut like a right cross but with the fist upside down and the palm facing up. My uppercut becomes very sneaky this way since it only dips down enough to evade my opponents guard and still travels a very direct path to my opponent’s chin. Throwing an uppercut more forwards than upwards can also help you practice it against a heavy bag.
Get The Hip Under The Uppercut
Since the uppercut punch is an upwards punch, you can get more power by keeping your hips under the uppercut punch. Another way to keep your hips under the uppercut is to not punch from far away. Far uppercuts are weaker because they’re just arm punches although they may land and look flashy. This uppercut tip is not a rule; it’s just a guide for putting more power into the uppercut punch.
Follow With Hooks
After you pop your opponent’s head up out of his shell, follow it with a hook to knock his head off. You can hook with the same arm or opposite arm if you like but uppercuts set up hooks very well. You can see deadly examples of the uppercut-hook combo here:
- Arturo Gatti throwing the uppercut-hook combo at 0:19
- Kermit Cintron throwing the uppercut-hook combo at 0:19
The uppercut, like other punches, is a deadly force when used properly. The uppercut’s unorthodox angle combined with its deadly power can cripple unsuspecting opponents. Learn to use the uppercut and you’ll have an extra weapon in your arsenal over your opponents.
Now that you know how to throw the uppercut, you might be interested in learning:
- When to Throw the Uppercut