Archive for category Head Movement

How to Deal With the Counter Left Hook

This is not easy, some guys are really good at countering with the left hook and moving their head and feet at the same time.  They step back and fade away into safety and you become exposed as you come in short taking shots.  Even if you have your hands up high you’ll get knocked off balance to the left if the guy has some ‘umph’ on his hooks.

The better guys are able to throw two and three counter left hooks in succession, and a lot of guys with a good counter left will time it with your straight right hand, they will bring their left shoulder to their chin and block your shot and hit you at the same time.  This is a slick move that guys used to pull on me all the time and I was able to add it to my own game as I got better.

Think about the left hook for a second, what’s open when your opponent throws it? Well, the entire left side of his body is open.  The top left side of his head is open and technically his chin and the whole centre of his face is open up the middle.  For the most part you are going to nail this guy with the right hand, but at the same time that is exactly what he is hoping you will throw, so this is where the chess match ensues.

The left hook counter is very safe counter when moving backwards.  Especially for the taller outside fighter who counters with the left hook when you are throwing.  I’ve found three good general techniques to launch an attack against a guy who has a fascination with the counter left, the key is rhythm and timing. I’ll explain each of them below.

1)  Quick Jab and a power right hand to the body – Here you are trying to get your opponent to commit to a left hook by initiating the attack with a jab.  You throw a quick jab, it doesn’t matter if it lands, the key is to finish your jab before he has finished the left hook and drop levels to throw the right hand to his open body, a fake jab works great, you are trying to draw out your opponent.  A psychological tactic in boxing is to make your opponent think a technique will work on you and then try to get him to throw that technique, and then you answer with the natural counter.  If you understand rhythm in boxing you’ll know that you stepping in to throw a full jab gives your opponent enough time to connect with a left hook.  So you are going to throw a quick jab/fake jab while stepping with the left foot and then follow with a big right hand when your back foot catches up, it’s the classic one two combo.  If he doesn’t go for your bait and just blocks, then GOOD, you just follow up with the left hook and other punches and step out when you are done, or hang inside if you are a good inside fighter.  If he swings with the left hook and you have dropped nicely then your right hand will land, you will then step out to the right on an angle and start up a second attack.  This whole interaction should take about one second or less.

2) Quick/fake Jab, slip head left, left hook and then straight right hand – Similar to the first tactic, you want your opponent to throw the left hook, he loves it and thinks he’s good with it, so let him think it’s going to work and take it away from him.  In this combo you are only expecting to land the straight right, the rest of the punches are just a set up, this is the beauty of good boxing, the shot you intend to land is down the road and out of sight, but you know exactly what you are doing.  So, you throw a quick jab to entice him to throw his hook, you slip left, and then come back into him with a big left hook and then **bamn** the straight right.  When you slip left his left hook should graze you or even make contact, but since you are slipping in the same direction as the punch it will have little effect.

3)  Double jab and straight right – This is not your typical double jab and straight right, you are going to barrel down and drive through him and aim your jab for his chest on the left side, it’s not as savvy as your classic double jab and right hand where you stand tall. Instead you are going to get a bit lower, drop your chin deep into your chest, raise your hands extra high almost like you are going to dive head first into this guy.  You want to be extra protected because your goal is to take his left hook off the right glove and then throw your right just after you feel it.  When you go in with this you are trying to be solid like a train on tracks, you want to throw the jab at his left shoulder or left part of his chest, this will open him up a bit for when you throw the right hand.  He will throw his left hook and most likely two or three.  After your double jabs connect with his chest/shoulder you are going to throw that right hand straight up the middle.  You are essentially going to walk through the fire of his left hook in a compact position and throw the right hand after his left hook has fizzled out.


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Review of the Reflex Bag

A Youtube viewer writes in:

I have a request/ question. I just recently bought an Everlast ReflexBag and was carious what you think about it. Do you think its a worthy training tool? Have you ever tried it? If so how or what drill would you perform on it?
Thanks alot and Keep up the Vids!

When I first started boxing I gravitated towards the reflex bag, it was my favorite tool in the gym.  After all, I wanted to be like Mike Tyson, and slipping punches and throwing mad uppercuts was a surefire way to being the baddest man on the planet.  It didn’t take me long to catch on to the rhythm, I worked the reflex bag for a good 5-6 months, getting better at it as time went on.

My favorite combos were popping double and triple jabs in succession, and then doing that while side stepping to the left creating angles.  I would slip shots as the bag went by my head and then counter with left hooks and right hands.  It’s great tool to get your slipping and rhythm down pact, the key is is to let that bag graze the side of your head and sometimes touch your shoulder, keep those slips tight and always come back with your next shot.  The bonus of the reflex bag is it makes slipping a punch feel a bit more real in terms of closeness (but not speed).

One of my favorite combos is to throw the jab (or double jab), then slip left as the bag grazes me, and then land a sharp left hook to the front left side of the teardrop shaped bag.

It’s also a great tool for getting the feel for how to throw an uppercut right up the middle and on time.  If you throw a good firm jab you should be able to drop the right shoulder and connect with a sweet right uppercut, same goes for landing a left uppercut after throwing the right straight hand.  Watch the bag after you throw that uppercut, if it doesn’t go straight back then your uppercut is off.

Another thing you can learn quickly on the reflex bag is the habit of side-stepping to create angles, everytime you land a hook you’ll change the direction of the bag, you should quickly step 90 degrees left or right and start up with more punching.

The downside to the reflex bag, and this is a big downside, is that it is slow as hell and doesn’t really simulate anything you’ll experience in a real fight against an opponent who has more than 1 or 2 fights under his belt.   Your goal is to take everything you’ve learned on the reflex bag and bring it over to the double end bag that is roped up tight.  In fact, you should be working the double-end bag from day one, but the reflex bag is a great supplement for building confidence and getting a good feel for slipping.  The double-end bag won’t graze by you like the reflex bag, but since by now you’ve had experience slipping real punches your imagination and rhythm will be more than enough to get the effect you need.  The key is speed and frequent punching which leads to good technique and endurance.

My review of the reflex bag is that it’s a great beginner tool, work it for 4-6 months alongside the double-end bag, and then go on it rarely after that, maybe just to warm up and have fun or after a bit of a lay-off.

Let me know what you guys think.


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Boxing Footwork Instructional Video

Below is the promo video for the boxing footwork instructional video that I just produced, part of the goal of this video is to establish footwork basics for new boxers, but it is also geared towards offensive and defensive maneuvers for the intermediate to advanced fighter.  It will be available for purchase via download or DVD on this blog in the coming week for $19.95.


Compound Attacks

From a tactical point of view, I can’t think of anything that will take your boxing to the next level more than implementing and launching compound attacks.  The classic scenario is you go to your opponent with a set of punches and head movement, and whether it’s 3 punches or 8 he knows that after you have launched your attack he can make his move or at least take a break for a about 5-10 seconds while you reset.  When you set up a second immediate attack (within 1 or 2 seconds) there is an element of surprise and sustained pressure which separates you from 90% of fighters.

The best compound attacker right now is Pacquiao, that doesn’t mean he’s the best boxer, I still think it’s Mayweather, only time will tell.  However, watch what Pacquiao does and watch his fights, he throws a fury of punches after faking and setting up angles, he resets or steps back or creates an angle, and then goes in for a second helping of beat down on his opponent.

I picked this stuff up initially from watching tons of Tyson fights, he was a master at setting up second and third attacks, and he had to because every time he launched his opponent was on the run.  A good example of this is to watch him against Tyrell Biggs or Mitch Green, it took Tyson a couple of rounds to get close and start landing.  I learned a lot from watching Tyson and you probably can too, you can also learn a lot from watching Tyson lose to Douglas and Holyfield in their first fight.   It’s always good to see different strategies from both sides.

Ok, back to compound attacks.  The key is to set up your opponent for an attack down the road.  The biggest obstacle you will face is the conditioning to back it up, when you are not in shape you’ll be lucky to consistently get off strong single attacks, so you have to train for compound attacks.  Watch my video for some ideas on how to incorporate that in your training,  Slipping Punches – The Remix

You fake, move your head, and then go in with your attack, at the higher level of boxing most initial attacks will be neutralized or countered by your opponent.  If your boxing is tight then you will be able to neutralize your opponents counter or stay close enough to him on his retreat.  And so here lies the second attack and the compound attack; once your opponent has retreated or countered and you have successfully neutralized the counter, you then launch your second attack, it’s all about the footwork to create angles and stay close along with the constant head movement to avoid attacks.   You have to work out the specifics, but you get the idea.  The general pattern goes like this:

You: faking, moving side to side, in and out, moving your head

Opponent: doing the same as you

You: move in for your combination

Opponent: retreats or throws counter, or throws while retreating

You: stay within punching range as you move forward and moving head as soon as you finish punching, or move head in between punches while moving

Opponent: moves to safety or launches fresh attack against you

You:  pouncing on opponent as he moves to safety (since you are close enough), or countering his attack since you are ready for it and were about to launch again.

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Slipping Punches

I’m going to discuss slipping punches and how you can develop this skill in combat and make it an integral part of your game. In boxing in general, there are three major ways to defend. The first way to defend is to use footwork to simply move, this is often accompanied by covering up with your hands for added protection. The second method is to proactively block the attack with a defensive maneuver such as a parry, block, or shoulder roll. The third way is through evasion such as slipping, ducking, or leaning back to avoid the oncoming blow. The advantage to evasion, and more specifically slipping, is that it leaves both of your hands free to attack. Mastering this part of your game will keep your opponent guessing, force them to take greater risks to hit you, and it will open up a whole new world of counter-punching.

It’s difficult to properly teach slipping technique through the written form, so I highly recommend that you have a coach or boxer teach you the technique in person. The points I am going to outline below will tell you what to keep in mind and how to improve as you go.

1. Keep your hips loose and allow them to sway back and forth when you slip, this creates a pendulum effect on your body and allows you to move your head faster. Stetch your hips before and after training.

2. Keep your head moving in small motions in a rhythmic way even before your opponent has thrown any punches. This is part of your rhythm and will allow you to react faster, don’t stand still and straight up waiting to be hit.

3. Pay attention to the distance your opponent is from you, and keep your eyes on their upper chest or the base of their neck. When the opponent moves towards you and when their shoulders start to turn you know a punch is coming. This is the indicator that tells you to react. Timing this takes practice, you’ll get it over time.

4. To get good at slipping you have to take risks and try it in sparring. Choose a round and tell yourself that you are only going to slip to avoid punches for that round. Try to keep moving your head so that you become conditioned for this movement.

5. There are two basic ways to attack while slipping (essentially, slipping is a counter-attack). First, you can throw your punch and slip at the same time, this is extremely effective if you can time your opponent’s punch. A classic move is to slip to the left and throw your straight right or overhand right while your opponent jabs. Second, you can slip and then throw. Some classic moves are to slip to your left and then counter with the left hook, or to slip right and then counter with the straight right. It’s very difficult to slip left and then counter with the right hand unless you do it at the same time. However, some boxer’s are able to pull this off.

6. Keep trying to increase the speed of your slipping, and make sure to move after you slip and counter. Some opponents will figure out your pattern and will feed punches for you to slip so they can hit you as you lean to the side. You need to be fast and have good reaction to avoid this, and you need to make sure that you keep moving your head after you slip and counter.

7. Learn to move your feet while slipping so that you can advance and move your head at the same time. As well, practice moving forward after you slip to gain ground on a retreating opponent.

For more info check out my Youtube channel:

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