On the surface, boxing might look like a simple combat sport. Beat your opponent with your hands harder than they beat you, easy enough right? Then there’s the good old hook and jab, and some defensive head movements. Master these basic moves and you’re Duke McKenzie, right? Not so fast.
Although the mechanics may seem simple enough, there is actually a degree of intricacy in the practice of boxing. Advanced boxing requires a lot of tact and strategy. Various styles play into each other, contradict one another, or match up very well.
One key aspect of boxing is that strategy usually decides the victor, perhaps more than strength.
Maybe you’ve been training in boxing for some time and have mastered the basics, learned all the fundamentals and are looking to up your training. In addition to stepping up your physical conditioning, you’ll also need to start incorporating advanced boxing strategy into your game.
To help you on your way we’ll present three ways to take your boxing skills to the next level.
1.) Counter-Attacking Advanced Boxing Strategy
Once you’ve established a good stance, nimble footwork, and a few basic punches, you can start thinking about how to develop tactics that will outsmart opponents. The first of these tactics is counter-attacking.
You can’t realistically expect to win a fight just by deflecting punches-- you need to be prepared to hit back too. Chances are you’re familiar with the four main punches used in boxing: the jab, the hook, the uppercut, and the straight punch. Well, these can be used to come back at the opponent in a counterattack, you just need to know how.
Left Jab Counter
The jab is the punch boxers will face most often. To turn a left jab (jab from a right-handed boxer) into an attack, deflect the opponent’s punch by sending their glover over your left shoulder. A counter jab should then be delivered to your opponent's chin.
Another tactic is to lower your body by bending your knees and throw a counter jab straight to his torso. Aim for his left ribs and follow it up with a right cross to the head if you’re fast enough.
Right Cross Counter
Intercept a right cross with a left jab straight to your opponent’s head. Be sure to hold your left shoulder high to protect your head from his cross.
You can also block a right cross with your left glove and throw a right-hand jab immediately after the block. This will give you time to throw a counter right-hand punch before your opponent can retract his right arm.
Wide Right Hook Counter
If your opponent throws a wide right hook, wait until his glove leaves your chin. Then, pivot your body clockwise as you throw a left hook. Your head should be turned away from his right hook to minimize the damage if it lands.
2.) Defensive Advanced Boxing Tactics
The key to moving from beginner to intermediate and eventually advanced boxing strategy is mastering the parry and counter-parry. More efficient than blocking, parrying involves deflecting a punch into another direction. One main benefit is that it leaves your hands free to counter.
There are a few parrying techniques that you can use to deflect and counter against jabs and crosses. You can down parry, side parry, and loop parry. Each uses a slightly different technique and range in difficulty to learn.
How to Parry a Punch
Down Parry: The down parry is generally thought to be the easiest to master. In this technique, you slap your opponent’s hand very slightly in a downwards direction. Be sure not to pull your hand too far from your face. This would leave you open if he fakes a jab. From there you can throw a counter jab. The down perry works with both jabs and crosses.
Side Parry: Alternatively, rather than pushing your opponent’s hand down, with a side parry you force his hand to the side. Slightly more difficult than a down perry, this technique will protect you from body punches. If your opponent throws a particularly hard right hand and you opt for a down parry, you might not get hit in the face but you will be hit in the torso. In this case, a side parry is the best option. Basically, doing so will send your opponent’s glove over your shoulder, opening him up to left-hand counters to the body, or right-hand counters to the face.
Loop Parry: If your opponent throws a straight punch to your body from long-range, a loop parry can be used to push his hand away. Roll your forearm around his punch and deflect to the outside. From there you can counter jab and counter right-hand.
How to Counter-Parry
While not technically a defensive tactic, mastering the counter-parry is vital if you plan to compete against advanced fighters. An opponent that consistently parries your attacks can be especially tiring for your arms as well as your motivation. To keep up, you must learn to accurately counter your opponent’s perries.
Fake: Faking is the easiest technique for countering a parry. This technique works best again fast fighters with quick reflexes. These kinds of fighters follow your every move, making it easy to fake a jab. All you need to do to counter against a serial perrier is 1.) before throwing a jab, fake one; 2.) your opponent, following very closely, will fall for your fake leaving his face open for a jab or left hook; 3.) hit him with a real jab.
Loose Hook Rollover: Throwa loose punch and wait for him to parry it. Then, relax your arm, and allow his momentum to roll your fist down and over, forming a hook. Then surprise him with a left hook jab.
3.) Up-Leveling Your Training
If you’re looking to advance your boxing skills, you will also need to up-level your training. This includes cross-training in other disciplines, and of course beating the heavy bag.
Cross-Training for Boxing
There are a number of cross-training options for boxers. Some of the most common include running, cycling, swimming, and circuit training.
Running: One of the most cost-effective forms of cross-training, running is great for building endurance. While it’s best to have a training plan in mind before hitting the pavement, just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day can do wonders for the fast-twitch muscles required for advanced boxing.
To take your running workout up a notch, try the TrainingMask 3.0. This somewhat scary-looking oxygen mask delivers the benefits of altitude training without requiring a trip to the mountains. Using it regularly will quickly amp up the resistant of any workout while increasing the strength, performance, and efficiency of your respiratory muscles.
Cycling: Cycling is a great alternative to running. This aerobic exercise help boxers develop endurance, a strong core and legs, and more.
Swimming: Another endurance-based exercise, swimming is great for developing breath control and overall fitness.
Circuit Training: Great for building endurance and resistance, circuit training is a type of high-intensity exercise that involves completing all prescribed exercises in the program.
Many boxing circuit exercises involve skipping ropes, and battle ropes. Skipping rope, the time-honored classic boxing exercise is also frequently used by boxers as a warm up or cool down. It’s great for endurance, improving footwork, punching power, stamina, and breathing efficiency. It can also be a great exercise for your mind, to relax and remain focused before or after a fight.
Of course, if you’re looking to up-level your training, you’ll likely also need to upgrade that worn out heavy bag you’ve been punching around for ages. Once you get to the advanced boxing stage, which punch bag you choose can make a huge difference in your training.
Some of the top options include the Century BOB freestanding punch bag. BOB’s lifelike characteristics allow you to practice targeted punches. Additionally, with an adjustable stand, you can use BOB to practice landing punches on taller or shorter opponents. The regular BOB and Century BOB XL are an investment, so to know if it is the right punch bag for you, check out our Century BOB Buying Guide.
The Aqua Bag Bruiser Bag is also a great option for anyone looking to up-level their training. Similar to the BOB, the Bruiser Bag has a human form which allows you to perform both head and body strikes with more realistic combo training and movement. However, it functions more like a traditional heavy bag that swings back at you when hit, rather than the freestanding BOB.