Whether you’re training for sports, or want to improve your self-defense, learning how to dodge a punch is a valuable skill that may serve you well in various scenarios.
For boxers, learning to dodge punches is essential. The average professional boxer can strike at a speed of around 25 miles per hour – so learning to dodge a punch efficiently (and fast) is essential.
With such speed and force coming your way, often unexpectedly, how do fighters manage to dodge their punches so well, and can you do it?
Gain A Solid Sightline
If you want to learn how to dodge punches effectively, you’ll first have to establish a strong sightline on your opponent. This in itself is an art.
Remember: many punches are thrown unexpectedly, and it’s not always possible to determine where a punch is coming from. For this reason, you should avoid focusing on a specific part of your opponent’s body.
Our eyes always detect movement faster through our peripheral vision, so holding your gaze unfixed is the best way to detect movement.
However, there are a few places on your opponent’s body that may give you some idea of where their attack will come from.
In boxing specifically, most fighters will adopt a certain leg stance for each punch. If your opponent uses specific footwork, then a repeated stance will tell you to expect a blow.
If you know their stances well enough, you may even be able to tell whereabouts the punch is coming from.
If your opponent is left-dominant, they may begin to attack on their right leg. This will tell you that their punch will be thrown from their dominant side.
However, you should avoid maintaining focus too strongly on the legs. You’ll leave yourself vulnerable to swift, sharp jabs from above if you do this for too long. So, while a quick glance won’t do you any harm, try to keep a neutral sightline as often as possible.
The collarbone is a central point of vision for most fighters. Most fighters will subconsciously drop their shoulders before they strike forwards.
If you focus on your opponent’s collarbone, you’ll automatically give yourself a peripheral vision of both shoulders. This can help you determine where a punch is coming from without focusing too strongly on one specific area.
Learn To Read Tension
One of the most important things you can do to dodge a punch is to learn how to read tension. Tension in your opponent’s body can give you a firm idea of their next move so that you can get ahead of the game.
Opponents may hold tension in the upper body, feet, front legs, back legs, and head. If you can determine which one of these is a tension spot, you may be able to decipher where the next move is coming from.
Most fighters will not attack from a relaxed stance, so watch for tension.
Breathing can also tell you when a move is coming. Short breaths often indicate sharper and tighter punches, while longer and deeper breaths could signify one powerful blow.
Dodge The Punch
If you’ve identified the signs that a punch is coming your way, it’s now time to dodge it. There are three main ways to dodge a punch, these are:
To slip dodge is essentially a swift head movement. However, the slip allows you to avoid your punch while staying in position so you can still deliver a punch back.
To do the slip, identify which side you need to move to dodge the punch. Then, lean on that leg and swing your hips in that direction. You should only be leaning enough to turn your head away from the ‘punching line’.
To execute the pullback maneuver, shift your weight onto your rear leg. You’ll essentially move your body backward to dodge the punch – however, this move can leave you susceptible to shifting out of position and being vulnerable to further attacks.
Bob And Weave
The bob and weave is an effective defense technique that allows you to dodge an incoming punch.
To use the bob and weave, bend your knees while simultaneously tilting your upper body forward and tucking your chin. If you make this move correctly, you’ll be able to move down low enough for a punch to pass over the top of your head.
Now, if a straight punch starts coming for you, weave. Then, to weave, use a controlled and tight motion at your head, shoulders, and waist to dodge the punch and move out the way. When you do this, the punch should slip slowly past you.
To move the two together, start off in a bobbing motion and use your knees to drop and spring yourself back into an upright position. The key to merging them together is to add in several slips as you duck and raise yourself up.
Other Ways To Dodge A Punch
Aside from boxing techniques, there are also other ways to dodge a punch, including:
- Moving back and keeping your fists up to maintain your guard
- Duck down to the ground with your knees and shoulders
- If you’re about to be punched to the stomach, clench your stomach muscles to protect your organs from injury, and exhale firmly through the nose just before impact
- Try and block a punch with your hands by pushing your opponent’s arm away with your hand, or aim to receive the punch on your knuckles
With just a few simple techniques, you can learn how to dodge a punch effectively in combat, even if you don’t see it coming. This is a skill that can serve you well not only in sports but also in real-life situations, too.
Remember: a huge part of dodging a punch is learning how to read your opponent. This means paying close attention to their body movements and breathing.
To dodge a punch, you need to stay ahead of the game – thankfully, your opponent may give you a few clues without even knowing it!