Boxing may look intimidating, but it doesn’t have to feel that way. Arming yourself with a few basic moves before your first boxing class or training session will set you up for success in the ring.
“At any level, it’s always beneficial to brush up on the fundamentals,” says Tatiana Firpo, group fitness manager and trainer at Gotham Gym NYC. “Plus, it’s fun! When you learn correct technique and train to understand boxing, there are endless possibilities of progress, and it’s a great feeling of accomplishment.”
Before you get started, brush up on your stance and breathing technique then master the 6 basic moves below.
Boxing Stance: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart. If you’re right-handed, take one step back with right foot (left-handers will do the opposite) so that lead (in this case, left) toe is in line with rear (right) heel. Turn left (lead) shoulder to opponent or bag. Bend knees slightly for agility. This stagger stance helps you maintain balance, allows you to use your hips for power when throwing a punch, and in a real match, makes you a smaller target for your opponent, giving them less area to connect a hit. Tuck chin and place gloves up to cheekbones to protect face.
Boxing Breath: Inhale to prepare for a punch. As you throw, exhale fast through your mouth (vs. your nose) with a closed jaw. This should sound like a hiss. In a real match, you could risk breaking your jaw if mouth is open and you take a hit to the chin. The purpose of this sharp exhale is to engage the core and connect the punch to your body. This helps with both timing and power. Even if you never end up in a real fight, you’ll still look and sound like a pro.
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Start in boxing stance. As fast as possible, extend front arm straight out as you step forward with front foot. Front hand and front foot should connect simultaneously. Pull glove back to face as fast as possible to reset. The jab (usually referred to as 1) is your quickest punch and uses least amount of energy.
Start in boxing stance. Step front foot forward as you rotate at the hips, pivot rear foot forward, and extend rear arm straight out. Don’t cock arm back and remember to keep weight evenly distributed through both legs. Pull fist back to face as quickly as possible to reset. The cross (usually referred to as 2) is your power punch, since you can throw your whole body into it.
Start in boxing stance. For lead hook, lift front elbow to be parallel with floor (like you’re stirring a pot) and pivot on lead foot to turn knee and roll hip over for more power as you rotate everything at the same time to connect. Keep arm at a 90-degree bend (don’t extend through the punch). Repeat on opposite side for rear hook. The hook (lead is 3 and rear is 4) is a short range punch, so always keep opposite hand up to face to guard.
Start in boxing stance. On lead side, drop shoulder (like a side crunch) and load legs by bending at the knees slightly. Keep arm bent and throw punch from the ground up as you turn hip and pivot foot. Don’t curl arm—the power won’t come from biceps; it comes from legs. Pull fist back to face as quickly as possible to reset. Like the hook, the uppercut (lead is 5, rear is 6) is a short range shot, so don’t reach for it and end up with your knuckles in the air Mortal Combat-style. Keep opposite fist at face for protection.
Start in boxing stance with fists up to guard. If opponent throws toward your right side, rotate from waist to left, drop left shoulder, bend knees, and crunch to left to slip outside the line of opponent’s shot. Repeat on right side if opponent throws to left. Slipping is a defensive boxing technique and puts you in a position to counter as you rise back up to starting stance.
Start in boxing stance. As opponent throws a shot (like a hook), send hips back and bend knees (like a squat), then shift body weight from one leg to the opposite leg as you rise back up. Like slipping, ducking is a defensive technique. Unlike slipping, you’re ducking under the shot and rising up on the other side to throw a counter.
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