Types of Punches

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Are you looking to learn about the different types of punches? Are you wondering what the best techniques are to throw them? You may find that most boxers keep mentioning four primary punches: jabs, straights, hooks, and uppercuts.

Although they’re critical and recurrent throughout a match, other punches can be used to surprise your opponent. If your competitor is expecting your strike, it loses its efficiency and purpose. By switching up the strikes, your landing point won’t be as easily anticipated.

To lead you to successful combat, we explain beyond the four main punches. We also detail other frequent strikes and even a few that could knock out your rival in an instant. 



Prerequisite: Stance Position

All strikes start and finish in a stance position. To better explain the following punches, we begin them all with the left leg up front, turned to our right, with the left hand leading and the right to the back. This is an orthodox stance.

In this position, your strongest arm tends to be the one further back. This means that most right-handed boxers will place their left foot forward, and their right arm backward. Vice versa if you’re left-handed.

For better stability, place your feet wider than shoulder-width, knees slightly bent. As for your hands, always keep them up level with your eyes, with your elbows tucked in. They should be protecting your jaw and face at all times.

Keep your shoulders up but your chin and head down. You’re all set!




The Main Four Punches

If you’re new to boxing, these are the different types of punches you should start practicing to begin with:

  • Jabs.
  • Straights.
  • Side hooks.
  • Uppercuts.


The Jab

Learning to master the jab is similar to grasping how to walk. Because you’re using your front arm, this boxing punch is the fastest one you can throw. With your rear fist still protecting your face, it’s also a safe strike.

In terms of technicality, this punch is as easy as it can get:

  1. Your back heel should be up, while your front foot faces forward.
  2. Extend your arm towards your opponent, and bring it straight back. Depending on your punch, you might want to aim for either the solar plexus, the jaw or the head.
  3. Remember to keep your elbows down.



Straight Punch

Also called a ‘cross,’ many boxing combinations combine this strike with a jab. To throw this punch, you’ll use your rear hand. As you’ll be using your stronger arm, it should be one of the most powerful hits. 

  1. Maintain your shoulder position, and your left hand should be up.
  2. Keep your elbows down. 
  3. A straight punch uses your hips’ rotation to give it more power. As you’re straightening your right arm, twist your right leg, following the movement. 



Side Hooks

A side hook can be thrown either with your right or left arm, regardless of which foot is in front. It’s meant to counter your opponent’s defense and strike them from the side.

  1. This time, your elbow should be at shoulder height, forming a 90-degree angle. 
  2. By the end of the punch, your palm will be facing you. 
  3. Aim your punch towards the head, chin or even your opponent’s side and shoulders.
  4. Your hips and leg will also play a significant role in this punch. In a right hook, twist your leg towards the left. Don’t forget to keep your right arm up to your chin.



Uppercut Strikes

An uppercut punch is a robust strike thrown from below. It’s generally used when you’re close to your opponent. Just like the hook, it can be thrown from the right or left arm, whether your right foot is at the front or back. 

  1. Start in a stance position with your chin down.
  2. Both hands should be placed in front of your face, protecting it. Ensure that you can still see what’s happening in front of you. 
  3. To give your punch more power, use the power of your core. When punching from your right rear hand, rotate your back leg towards the left.
  4. Drive your punch down in a circular movement, before taking it back up. Your palm is facing you at all times. Try to aim just under the jaw. 




Other Popular Strikes

While the above four punches are at the core of boxing, others can be used with devastating effect:

  • Overhead punch.
  • Body punch.
  • Hammer punch.
  • Spinning punch.
  • Flying punch.
  • Lead punch.


Overhead Punch

The overhead punch hits your opponent from above, generally hitting the cheeks or nose. 

  1. From your initial stance, bring your left foot one step forward and slightly to the side. 
  2. With your right arm, make a circle motion to hit your attacker from the top of their head. How wide the arc should be is a personal preference. Bear in mind, however, that the larger the amplitude, the longer you’re left unprotected.



Body Punch

A body punch can be done with all strikes. Body hits can sometimes be underrated, yet can be extremely powerful when reaching the solar plexus area.

  1. Bend your knees to lower your center of gravity. The shorter your opponent, the more you’ll need to drop. 
  2. Proceed with the punch of your choice.



Hammer Punch

  1. From your stance position, take your right arm to the side, on a 45-degree angle. 
  2. This is the only punch where you’ll be using the heel of your fist. 
  3. The movement doesn’t end by reaching your rival. If you’ve started on the right side, continue the hammer punch across your body, over your left-hand-side. 

Reverse hammer strikes follow the same concept, yet start from your opposite arm’s side. 



Spinning Punch

Although you don’t see this strike as often as the others, it can be extremely beneficial in a fight and is mainly used in MMA. Many fighters use it after a side hook, but it can also be thrown following a leg kick.

  1. First, step across, continuing the hook’s motion. 
  2. Take advantage of the hook’s power to make a full spin. 
  3. As you’re ending the rotation, use your opposite arm fully extended to hit your opponent with the back of your arm.

As you’ll be exposing your back during the spin, this movement should happen within a second or two.



The Flying Punch

Also called the ‘superman strike,’ this isn’t the easiest punch to land and requires practice before mastering it. Exclusively used during kickboxing or MMA fights, the efficiency of this strike should be worth the effort. 

  1. Start by lifting your right leg in front of you.
  2. As you’re extending the right arm into a power punch, extend your left leg back to counterbalance your weight. 
  3. Land back on your left leg.

This is a great strike to use after a couple of leg kicks. Your rival will expect another leg kick and will receive a head punch instead. 



Lead Punch

A lead punch mixes widespread strikes — such as jabs and straights — with footwork. These punches are meant to hit when you’re too far to reach your opponent with a simple punch. 

  1. Start in your stance position, right foot at the back. Keep the same positioning throughout the strike.
  2. While striking with your lead hand, step forward with your front leg. Not only do you close the gap to your opponent, but you also increase the strength of your punch.




Knock Down Punches

These upcoming few strikes can bring your opponent to submission in a single hit. As most of these punches aren’t allowed during a competition, they should only be used for self-defense:

  • Rabbit punch.
  • Liver punch.
  • Kidney punch.
  • Low blow.


Rabbit Punch

This punch reaches the back of the neck or head and can be extremely dangerous due to the delicate nature of the neck and spinal cord. If it’s deemed as used deliberately in a competition, disqualification is likely.


Liver Punch

A punch to the liver can be extremely painful. Although it can cause serious injuries, and even rupture the liver, it’s allowed in most boxing competitions. 

As the liver is located just below the rib cage and on the front of the torso, it’s relatively accessible. While professional boxers may be able to take many hits over the head, a single liver strike could knock them down.

Since there are many ways to strike the torso, most punches, such as jabs, straights, hooks and uppercuts, can be used to deliver a liver punch.



Kidney Punch

The kidney punch isn’t as famous as the liver punch, yet almost as efficient. It’s harder to throw and is illegal in all forms of competition — both in MMA and boxing.

The kidneys are located on the lower back, making them challenging to reach. In order to land a kidney punch, step to the side, controlling your opponent’s arm closest to that side of their body. Slightly twist their torso to expose the back and proceed with a powerful strike.

To know more about kidney punches, read our full article here


Low Blow

Finally, a low punch is a strike anywhere below the waist. You might think that a groin protector should keep you protected; however, a blow at full force aimed at this location can be very painful.

Note that these are illegal in MMA, boxing and martial arts, and shouldn’t be delivered deliberately for fear of disqualification. However, it’s something you may want to keep in the back of your mind for self-defense purposes.




Striking Down

Beginners should start with the basic four punches. Once you can throw them without needing to focus on your technique, start incorporating new ones.

Don’t forget to combine the individual punches into powerful punches, which will keep the opponent guessing and deliver you an upper hand.

Knockdown punches are the most efficient. However, they aren’t always allowed during official combat sports as they could potentially be deadly. Don’t forget that the purpose of this sport is to have fun while getting an excellent workout, not to cause irreversible injuries to your opponent.

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