How To Throw an Uppercut

May 23, 2010 May 23, 2010 by Johnny N Boxing Techniques, Punch Techniques 33 Comments

Learn how to throw an uppercut correctly. Study the same powerful uppercut thrown by Mike Tyson… not Ryu from Street Fighter.

How To Throw An Uppercut

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.

Timed 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.

Recover

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.

DON’T OVER-EXTEND

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!

 

Uppercut Tips

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.

Think Forward

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:

Conclusion

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
boxing ebook Advanced Boxing Techniques 30 Day Fighter's Diet Advanced Boxing Footwork Drills
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33 Comments

Dylan Richards July 25, 2010 at 6:20 am

Great Advice
Im just starting out in boxing and I’ve been reading a lot of your advice. This is really helping me develope the right techniques. Keep up the awesome articles.

Reply

Johnny N July 25, 2010 at 6:54 am

boxing advice
Thanks, Dylan!

I appreciate the compliments and hope to see you around soon. Feel free to post questions in the forums whenever you need and good luck with boxing!

Reply

Claude February 16, 2011 at 8:10 pm

super
I like very much this article ! I have to admit uppercut is a letal weapon for advanced boxers ! Look at Lucian Bute for example ! I have the opportunity to meet him in a boxing gym in Bucharest !

Reply

Johnny N February 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm

@Claude – you’re a lucky man! I really like Lucian Bute, amazing boxing skills. The first time I started to watch him was when he beat my former gym-mate Librado Andrade.

Reply

kenny March 31, 2011 at 8:38 am

Thanks for your psychological and advice for boxing tips.i really appreciate it cuz it improves me greatly and hopefully.

Reply

cozy July 19, 2011 at 3:25 am

:-)wow man, ur articles r great. it,s helping me a lot. wud u plz tl me wich muscles I have to grow for more effective punches?

Reply

Johnny N July 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm

@cozy – have you checked out my article called “Most Important Muscles For Fighting”? http://www.expertboxing.com/boxing-training/boxing-workouts/152-most-important-muscles-for-fighting

Reply

Anon September 14, 2011 at 3:27 am

Uppercuts to the body
Hi! Very helpful and informative guide!

I’ve been boxing for a year, kickboxing for two and the uppercut is a punch that hasn’t been taught in-depth to me in my gyms. Being short, I end up fighting on the inside a lot, and have been unable to find a good source for information on uppercuts to the body – do you have any tips etc. for those?

Reply

Johnny N September 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

@Anon – uppercuts to the body…I will have an in-depth guide coming out later. For now, make sure you keep your elbow tight when you throw it and also keep your weight over the pivoting front foot. Pivot hard and dig that uppercut HARD!

Reply

mdsnook November 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm

i jus started boxin nd this website is very helpful, i was jus wonderin how to throw tha left uppercut from tha southpaw other then that keep doin wat ur doin i learned alot from u

Reply

Johnny N November 6, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Mdsnook, thanks man. To throw it, just pivot your body and let that left hand fly. Don’t let it drop too low unless it’s going to the body. If it’s going to the head, treat it more like an upside down cross.

Reply

curtis c December 24, 2011 at 6:48 am

i’ve seen some tremendous uppercut footage on youtube. how do you set up a uppercut to the head coming up from a body shot? i’ve heard body punches weaken your opponent only to gradually and eventually come up with uppercut to the head. what are your 10 most recommended combo’s using uppercuts to the head?

Reply

Johnny N December 25, 2011 at 12:40 am

I’ll think of some combos and release that later! For now, try to make some up by sparring at close range.

Reply

curtis carpenter October 26, 2012 at 11:20 am

uppercuts can split the gloves. right? correct me if im wrong if i am what is the best time to do this?

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curtis carpenter October 26, 2012 at 11:28 am

what about nasty uppercuts on youtube, what do you think of that?

Reply

Johnny N November 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Yes, uppercuts can split the gloves at times. As would any other punch. Depending on how the opponent holds his gloves and the stiffness of your punch.

Reply

cherub85 December 28, 2011 at 10:10 am

Your website is really awesome and I really enjoy the precision of your articles! I think of myself as the slower more powerful boxer and I believe to be quite strong…. I have been intensely boxing for about six months now and still cannot achieve the same snap and power on the uppercut that I can on produce on any other punch… Any tips?

Reply

Johnny N December 29, 2011 at 4:24 am

2 tips:

1) drop your hips…

2) leave your weight on the side that’s throwing the punch. (If throwing right uppercut, leave your weight on the right foot.) Slow guys can’t shift weight fast enough, so just leave it there. Even fast guys do it, too.

Reply

Jamar September 5, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Hey John you should pu in ad on how to fight like tyson

Reply

Johnny N November 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Good idea for the future!

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Hugo November 19, 2012 at 11:21 am

This is great, thanks! Dropping the hips seems like the opposite of what a beginner might think to do — you tend to envision yourself “exploding” upwards with your body. But in reality dropping the hips makes more sense, for the same reason that a crane lifting a weight needs to be solidly anchored to the ground in order to have any kind of leverage and power.

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Shawn January 15, 2013 at 2:09 am

Johnny just wanted to say thanks for this, I recently started boxing about 2 months ago and definitely the uppercut was the hardest basic punch for me to understand as well as execute. Your easy to understand step by step instructions have finally lifted the fog for me and i cant wait to bust it out during practice later this week, thanks!

Reply

Marti February 25, 2013 at 11:38 am

Hey i know this article was written kind of a long time ago but i just wanted to ask when is the right time to throw the right uppercut? i kinda shy away from throwing it a lot because of getting countered with the left hook and i would like to know how to set it up so that i don’t get countered like that again, Thanks

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Johnny N February 26, 2013 at 10:24 am

Throw it when your opponent is leaning towards you. But don’t throw it when you’re leaning on him.

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Gary B October 4, 2013 at 8:16 am

Hi Johnny, thanks for these articles. I don’t have any interest in boxing per se, but I have been training in Krav Maga for about a year and have found it difficult to be really comfortable with the uppercut. So I’m very happy I found your page. Do you have any experience in translating boxing strikes to self-defense situations? And what have you found to be a good environment to train it? Heavy bags don’t seem to work very well for me as uppercuts just slide off it – it looks like the Bob bag might be a good tool. Thanks again!

Reply

Johnny N October 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm

The heavy bag is indeed tricky to practice uppercuts. That’s why they have the donut attachment, or also the uppercut bag. What I do is use a low uppercut or throw a shovel hook to practice that motion. I would use my boxing strikes the same way for any situation so no conversion is necessary.

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Gary B October 7, 2013 at 8:22 am

Johnny, thanks for all your great advice! I will definitely be revisiting your site often. I’m seeing more and more that every kind of striking or self-defense system has areas in which they are more advanced than others, and we’d be foolish not to bring in as much learning as we can.

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George November 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Great article! With that said, It had never entered my mind to throw my uppercuts straighter as you mentioned above. Are there any pro fighters that have done this that I can observe to get a better visual? Thanks, your articles have helpedme a ton!

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Johnny N November 22, 2013 at 9:46 pm

I provide that tip as one way to help you visualize the technique differently. Even if I showed you videos of pros who did this, you still might not be able to notice the subtle difference in technique. What matters is that you go out and TRY IT for yourself and see.

Reply

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