Learn how to slip punches like Floyd Mayweather. Ok, maybe not like Floyd but you’ll still drive your opponents crazy as they chase you around the ring unable to hit you.
I don’t even know why I wrote a guide to slipping before I wrote one on basic boxing defense. I’ll do what I can to make readers happy but I’m afraid of what it will do to beginner level boxers. I can already imagine legions of Mike Tyson hopefuls skipping over basic defense lessons and other boxers rolling their eyes at me for teaching advanced boxing to people who’ve never stepped foot in a ring.
If you’re not skilled enough to be doing this stuff, learn it for your enjoyment but PLEASE DO NOT rely on this as solid boxing defense. Enough warnings and disclaimers and on to the fun stuff!
Intro to Slipping
Slipping is the art of defending against a punch by moving slightly out of the way instead of blocking it. It’s a very advanced maneuever because you have to get yourself entirely out of the way of the punch while keeping yourself in range to counter-punch. Just like how a knockout is the best move you can make offensively, slipping is the best move you can make defensively. When slipping is performed masterfully, it is part of what makes boxing such a beautiful entertaining sport to watch.
Learning how to slip punches is a really advanced skill (almost unnecessarily advanced). How advanced? Advanced enough that some boxers can become world champions without ever becoming really good at slipping. Think Antonio Margarito.
Why Slip Punches Instead of Blocking
What Happens When Boxers Slip Punches
When you slip an opponent’s punch, it puts them at a great disadvantage. They may fall off-balance and become vulnerable for deadly counter-punches or become too scared to punch you in fear of being counter-punched. At the very least, slipping will also sap your opponent’s energy since it’s far more tiring to hit the air and miss than to hit a solid object (think of how tiring it is to punch full force against a double-end bag VS heavy bag).
Slipping Punches Makes Counter-Punches Easier
The best reason for slipping is that it frees up your arms to allowing you to counter-punch while your opponent is punching.. Your counter-punches will have greater effect since your opponents are less likely to be able to block them or even see them coming.
Slipping Elevates Your Game
In some cases, it’s impossible to penetrate a fighter with a very tight defense. Your opponent will never be open except for when he’s punching, so slipping is the only way to overcome his defense. By learning how to slip, you are creating opportunities to counter-punch that might not have otherwise been present.
When to Slip Punches
Knowing when to slip is crucial. The reason for this is because slipping requires a lot of energy and awareness. If you’re not careful, you’ll be wasting energy and allow your opponent to learn your slip pattern and anticipate your next move.
Slip During Combinations
Generally, slipping is a reflex that you will use while throwing combinations. So basically, you would come in, throw some punches and right when you see your opponent throw a counter-hook or right-cross, you’ll immediately slip outside of it. What you WOULDN’T normally do is slip the first punch he throws like for example, slipping the jab. This is dangerous because he hasn’t committed to punching you yet. An advanced boxer would see you slipping and immediately disengage from throwing any more punches. Next time he engages with you, he’ll most likely fake the jab and then uppercut right as you try slipping the jab. Again, slipping is something you do against the opponent as both of you are trading punches.
Slip The Bigger Punches
It’s better to slip your opponent’s bigger punches because he’s more vulnerable when committing to bigger punches. Don’t to slip too many jabs. They’re really fast punches with minimal recovery time so your counter might be too late. Slipping a jab also burns your energy since you have to move faster than the jab. (Slipping a left cross, is definitely ok!)
SLIP Head Punches but BLOCK Body Punches
When trying to slip a punch, make sure it’s a head punch. If you try to slip a body punch, you’ll be wasting energy and maybe even accidentally put your head in the way of his punch. If fact, many trainers will tell their fighters to use body punches when facing an opponent that slips constantly. If a body punch is coming at you, it’s much easier to just block it.
Guidelines to Slipping Punches
Use your legs, NOT your back.
You can look watch Mike Tyson slip in the last minute of this video. He’s using his leg muscles, NOT his back muscles. In fact, most trainers will tell you to use your legs to get low, NOT your back. Using your back to slip means you’re bent over too off-balanced to land a good counter-punch and vulnerable to uppercuts. Another risk to using your back to slip all the time is that you’ll wear it out and even damage your lower back. Always bend your knees to lower your head instead of bending your back. (Bending your back a little is ok but make sure you bend your knees first to maintain balance and power!)
Rotate the body
Generally if you’re moving to the right of a punch, you will rotate your body to the right; and vice versa to the left. The reason your body should be rotated is so that your body is prepared to come back with a hard counter-punch. Rotating your body will also help you get out of the way of your opponent’s punch.
Hold your balance
Your feet should stay under you. If you’re going to slip and move at the same time, make sure your feet stay under you. If you’re going to stay in one place while slipping, avoid waving your upper body so far off to the side that you’re off balance. Many trainers will tell their fighters never to let the shoulders go past the knees. You won’t be able to counter-punch effectively if you’re falling off balance after slipping a punch.
Use your eyes
You should be able to see your opponent at all times. If you can’t see him while slipping, you will not be able to slip his next punch and you also won’t know what counter-punch to use. Make sure you keep your eyes on your opponent at all times. If you find yourself leaning over and unable to see what’s around you, you’re probably not slipping punches correctly.
Miss by an inch, not by a mile
When you slip a punch, make it so that your opponent barely misses you. This means you’ll have more time to focus on counter-punching instead of worrying about getting out of the way. It takes a lot of skill to be able to perform subtle slipping but it will take less less energy and allow you to slip faster combinations.
Stay on the outside of the punch
When slipping, you want to slip to the outside of the punch. For example, when when you slip a punch from the left arm, you would move your head to the right of it so that his left arm is blocking his right arm from hitting you. The right arm doesn’t immediately have a direct path to hit and you’re a little safer. Not just that but when his left arm is in the middle of a punch, it means his left side is open and you want to be on his left (your right) so that you can throw a punch to the left side of his head or body. Examples of this is slipping outside the right cross and countering with a left hook. Or vice versa, you slip outside the jab and counter with an overhand right.
In some scenarios, you may want to slip to the inside of a punch so that you can throw a counter-punch on the inside. Examples of this is slipping inside his left jab and throwing a counter left jab. Or maybe you’ll slip inside his right hand and throw a right uppercut.
Learn his pattern & Hide yours
Slipping is much easier when you know what your opponent is going to throw. Study him and see how he likes to follow his punches (your trainer can help you with this). Throw some feints and move in and out to test him. At the same time, you are hiding your pattern and staying unpredictable. Don’t keep slipping the same way each time or else he’ll anticipate and nail you with a big counterpunch.
Slipping the jab or left cross
- Pivot clockwise, bend your knees and dip your head down to the right just enough to clear the jab.
- Come back with a right hand counter to the head or body.
- Alternative: You can also just bend your knees and throw a jab to his body instead.
Slipping the right hand
- Pivot counter-clockwise to the left, bend your knees, and dip your head down to clear the right hand.
- Come back with a left hook to the head or body.
- Alternative #1: You can also throw a right to his body as you’re slipping, followed up by a big left hook.
- Alternative #2: You can also pull your head straight up allowing the right hand to pass under your chin and then throwing a counter right over the top.
Slipping a 1-2
- Quickly bend your knees.
- Pivot clockwise and shift your upper body right to evade the jab.
- Reverse directions and pivot counter-clockwise quickly to evade the right cross.
- Throw a left-hook counter followed by a right cross.
Slipping the hooks & uppercuts
- Just pull your head back enough to clear the punch. (Don’t pull back so much that you leave yourself off balanced.)
- You can throw a counter jab to push him away. (Works for both uppercuts and hooks.)
- Alternative: You can also bend your knees and throw a counter left hook to his body as you do this. (For left hooks to the head only.)
- Shift your heels when you pivot back and forth, loading your counter-punches up as you slip.
- Sometimes you will lower your gloves from your eyes to your cheeks so that your gloves don’t get hit as you’re slipping closely.
- Keep your eyes on your opponent!
- It helps to contract your stomach a little and exhale as though the slip is a punch. (This allows you to move more explosively.)
Building Slip Reflexes
Slipping is NOT a dance or choreographed series of moves. You don’t learn slipping by walking around slipping imaginary punches. You have to work the mits with someone and have them throw punches at you while you’re hitting the pads. Two other good pieces of boxing equipment to help you practice your slipping is the slip bag and the double-end bag. The double-end bag is VERY useful because it trains your eyes and body to punch a moving object and then quickly avoid getting hit by a moving object. The slip bag is also good for you to practice your slipping movement as you throw combinations into the air.
Building Slip Muscles
It’s common to see beginning boxers slip punches incorrectly because their body doesn’t yet have the muscles required to slip properly. Slipping requires mostly legs and abs. For building up proper leg muscles, make sure you do proper squats. A great exercise for this is to put an exercise ball up against the wall and put your back to it as you do squats. When doing squats, make sure you pull your butt straight to the ground instead of out to the rear (which means you’re just bending over and using your back). You want your weight centered to build the proper leg muscles. For abs, do your regular ab work but also focus on your obliques. These are the muscles on the very side of your ribs and abs and allow you to twist your upper body quickly.
What To Do After Slipping A Punch
“Make him miss, make him pay.”
An old adage many boxing trainers will tell you over and over! When used properly, slipping is a defensive tactic used to counter-punch. Remember, the point of slipping is for you to put your opponent at a disadvantage and punish him with a counter-punch. Slipping a punch will free up your arms giving you a split-second chance to put yourself back on the offensive. The drawback to slipping punches is that it requires more energy than blocking and puts you at risk. If you’re not going to counter-punch and want to just stay on the defensive, then you better off just blocking the punch. Blocking a punch involves less energy, less skill, and less risk!
Always Come Back With Something
There is high risk to slipping punches and not retaliating. For one thing, your opponent is going to learn your pattern and ultimately catch you slipping. Another risk is that slipping will wear you out and your opponent can wear you down by making you move you entire body over and over even though he’s just throwing arm punches. Again if you’re going to slip a punch, come back with something – anything!
Slipping is an awesome skill to have in boxing. Aside from making you look cool, it’s quite useful in preserving your body and elevating your counter-punching skills to a whole new level. Beginners should expect to spend a lot of time and energy practicing before it feels natural to use against boxers of equal skill. Remember to use your legs and always come back with counter-punches. I would recommend watching the many different boxers out there and study how they slip punches. Many of them will do unorthodox things and even break the guidelines I’ve mentioned to slipping. Every boxer has a different style that you can mimic and learn from. After you learn the rules to slipping, you can start experimenting and figuring out your own crafty ways to avoid punches. Now go out and have fun!
Check out my updated boxing guide: How to Slip Punches