Boxing is physical chess. It is about hitting your opponent and not getting hit in return. No matter how solid your guard or defence is, you WILL get hit and it can take just one punch to determine between winning and losing a fight.
While some fighters are born with chin that is naturally solid, some others may not be so lucky. Whatever the situation of your chin is, you MUST learn how to take a punch in order to reach the elite level in the sport.
Be in Excellent Physical Condition
The better your conditioning, the better you can take a punch. It is no secret. As a boxer, you need to build a solid foundation, especially your core strength and legs. Your legs support your whole body and thus it is always important to have great strength and endurance in your legs to ensure better stability and balance throughout the fight. Weak legs will make you unbalanced and a strong punch at the right spot can turn the lights off for you. Also, when your legs are stronger, they can help you absorb a punch or recover faster after being hit.
Having strong legs is essential but mean nothing if you don’t understand body positioning. Always be at an angle where you can see where the punch is coming from. Also try to be at a position to limit your opponent’s punching options. This will help because you will know what type of punches may come.
A common mistake is when boxers square their feet and can be knocked off balance easily, even if we a slight push or worse, by a hard punch to the chin. Which is bad.
Never take your eyes off your opponent. It’s the punches that you don’t see that hurt the most. When I sparred with the pros here in the Philippines, they watch my every move. They keep their eyes open, catch my punches and defend accordingly. Even if I hit them, they stayed calm and watch for the follow up punch combinations. Of course this takes a lot of practice and confidence. This ability helps you to be more prepared in taking a punch, and when you know what to expect, the punches hurt less.
Don’t look away before a punch comes. And don’t close your eyes when punching or when absorbing a punch.
Keep Calm and Relaxed
Avoid tightening up to soon before impact. It makes you react slower and you will not be able to roll with the punches effectively. Keep your body loose, and trust your defence. Well, to be calm when you know someone is trying to rip your head off with a punch…this needs practice! Maintain your composure and do not panic.
Brace Yourself for Body Shots
Body shots hurt, especially those to the solar plexus or liver. Other than working on your core to help you absorb such punches, you can also work on your technique of absorbing body punches. Don’t hold your breath when the punch lands to your body. Instead, tighten your stomach muscles and breathe out on impact.
Strengthen Your Neck
Anytime you get hit in the chin or jaw, your head will either snap backward or make a sudden twist to the side. This will cause the brain to shift, crash against the side of your skull and this is what causes knockdowns or knockouts. Having a strong neck will minimize the whiplash effect when getting hit by a punch.
Go check out Youtube videos of Floyd Mayweather or Tyson strengthening their neck. There are also many articles on the Internet on the exercises you can do to strengthen your neck.
Look our for Strong Punches
After some time, you will be able to learn about the opponent in front of you. The more experienced you are, the better you will be at this. You can quickly learn his strengths and weaknesses. You will know his best punch and his “go to” or favourite combinations. If you know what punch is coming, it will make you more ready to defend. The punches will also then hurt less.
Learning to take a punch is an art. It takes a lot of practice. Get a partner to throw punches at you while you practice on your defence. As you get better, get your training partner to punch harder. Practice with different kinds of boxers so you don’t get accustomed to one style only. Be patient, be smart and don’t have a cocky attitude. Always be ready for counters. Once again, “it’s the punches that you don’t see that hurt the most”.
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