Right. So here it is. There is no such thing as THE best defensive technique. Surely different fighters usually tend to rely more on the techniques they are comfortable with but there isn’t exactly the best one. Use the one that fits your situation. Use the one that feels the most natural in that moment. If you have to overthink it, it’s not natural.
Different techniques will work best against different opponent styles. Great boxers are forever adapting their offense to get around your defence, so to be a great boxer yourself, you’ll have to keep changing up your defence to keep them off you.
When I teach defence, it is not about running away from your opponent. It is basically about not getting hit, while at the same time be in a position or in range to give you the best chance to throw your own punches. The best defence is a good offence.
Having great defence will give you the confidence to be on the offence while minimising the chances of being hit. In my opinion, the point of defence is to be more effectively offensive.
There are many defensive techniques and while it is hard to explain each and every one of them in a single blog post, I will break them down and provide a brief description for the different defensive techniques.
You can easily use your footwork to be your first line of defence. Use subtle feet movements to just create enough space to allow your opponent to miss so you can still be in range to counter. Find a way to subtly be in the middle of the ring which will give you more options when on the defence.
Some other examples will be such that you can step in to smother your opponent’s punches especially if he/ she is throwing wide swinging punches. You can take a step back especially if your opponent likes to commit with big power punches. You can step to your opponent’s side to make him miss and gives you another angle to go on the offence.
Blocking is a basic boxing defence. This is probably the first defensive technique you will learn as a boxer. When blocking, you will adopt the high guard, fists protecting the temple and elbows tucked in, read to dip to the side to block against a body shot.
It’s important to take note that blocking too much can leave you stuck in your defensive shell and lose decisions for not showing aggression.
Parrying is like a block but you’re slightly deflecting your opponent’s punch away with your hand. A small parry can take the power of your opponent’s hardest punches, whereas a big parry can guide your opponent off balance and vulnerable using his own momentum.
For a brief second after a successful parry, your opponent is then left wide open and vulnerable.
Parrying is a skill that comes with anticipation. Pay attention to your opponent’s habits and tendencies so you can anticipate as correctly as possible. You need to be ready and alert at what your opponent is going to throw so you can parry and counter accordingly.
Slipping is s high level defensive skill. It requires complete evasion of your opponent’s punch by displacing the head or body to one side, USUALLY by going to the outside of the oncoming punch. It is incredibly effective in that the opponent misses entirely and your hands are completely free to counter. After a successful slip, your feet can step away to gain a better position to punch again or escape.
Slipping requires very high skill and awareness to pull off successfully. I will always remind my boxers to not just slip but also follow it up with a counter. The real skill is not about slipping your opponent’s punch but the ability to slip and be in a balanced position to punch immediately.
Bobbing and Weaving
Bobbing and weaving in boxing is essential to a good defence. Head movement and placement is the foundation. By constantly shifting your head position up and down, and side to side (in addition of slipping), in different patterns and paces, opponents have difficulty pinning down the right timing. This makes you a moving target, erratic and much harder to hit because there is no particular rhythm that your opponent can read.
Active head movement does well in keeping opponents hesitant to commit and throw punches. When executed correctly (as in not mindless or based on luck), it can disrupt an opponent’s rhythm as they have to keep resetting to get the perfect timing to punch you. If you can add slipping together with bobbing and weaving, you will be on your way to becoming a slippery eel in the ring.
The natural thing to think about when we mention rolling is the shoulder roll. Think Floyd Mayweather, he is one of the greatest boxers to have mastered the roll. So you can read up on him and other blog posts that analyses the shoulder roll.
What I’m referring to now however is rolling your head and chin to avoid punches. No matter how slick you are, you will get hit, and if at the last second you can somehow see a punch coming and not able to guard, slip, or use any of the other defensive techniques, rolling your head and chin may be the best option.
However, my advice is to not use this as your primary defensive technique.
There are obviously a lot more defensive techniques that have not been included in this post. You can learn them when you join a gym and learn personally from a coach yourself. There are in fact numerous old school techniques that can still be applied in this era of fighting.
It is always important to work on your defence. Some of us are naturally gifted but for the most of us, continuous repetition of drills and situational sparring will help develop that defensive “sense” in us as a boxer. No shortcut, only hard, consistent work!