Boxing Technique: Foundations

sb-foundations-logo-150px-jpg When learning boxing, many beginners find themselves lost in details. For instance, where exactly should arms or legs be? What is the correct angle of the head, fists, and feet? Is this or that movement right? Too many questions…




1. Stance
2. Control distance


Once you get some experience, sooner or later you will realize that most of the answers can be reduced to few simple principles. You have two ways of learning: discover principles yourself or learn them from others. In this website, we will explain and illustrate some of these principles.

There is another reason why you should not simply copy others blindly. We are all different with different combinations of strong and weak characteristics.  Strong individual  features, properly cultivated, will develop into your own unique style. Unique style is something that makes you “special” as a fighter.

To learn the principles, you do not have to copy what is shown in figures. For example, below we are discussing the orthodox boxing stance. One of the principles is that the feet should not be on the same line, otherwise you are off-balanced. However, the exact distance between the feet, for instance, 10/20/30 cm, depends on your body type.

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In no sport the temptation is stronger than in boxing to run before you can walk. This temptation should be resisted at any cost. You must learn to stand in position before you begin to hit.

The figure compares two boxing stances: orthodox and modern.

Comparison Orthodox vs Modern

A comparison between orthodox (old school) and modern boxing stances. Color planes show line of attack  (A), plane of target (T), plane of defense (D), and the shoulder line (S).

In orthodox stance, the weight is on the right leg; the head is off-centre; right side is sunk; the left shoulder is raised naturally (the shoulder line (S) is inclined).

Opponent’s line of attack  (A) is now empty. To get at plane of target (T), the opponent must pass first the left shoulder or plane of defense (D)

In modern stance, the head is in the centre. The  plane of target (T) and plane of defense (D) are virtually in the same location. Every punch is risky and the defence depends on physical reaction.

For the better balance, the legs should not be on the same line; the rear foot is turned outwards.

orthodox boxing stance: top and front views

orthodox boxing stance: top and front views

You can use a tennis ball to work out the proper head position. Just place the ball between your left skullbone and collarbone like shown in figure below:

Tennis ball for orthodox boxing stance

produce proper head position in orthodox boxing stance with a help of a tennis ball

Here are examples of three fighters using orthodox boxing stance.

Orthodox Boxing Stance: Examples

orthodox boxing stance: examples

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Control Distance

When fighting at long range, to reach the opponent with your punch or to avoid the opponent punch, you need to increase/decrease distance between you. There are two options: you can bounce or shift your weight. Here we discuss the weight shifting principle.

Weight Shift Principle

control distance: weight shift principle

The weight is on the rear leg. By shifting the weight to the front leg, we shorten the distance. Usually, this is much faster and less energy consuming than via bouncing. It is important not stand completely on the rear foot heel. Otherwise, the rear leg is too stiff. It should act like a spring.

This weight shifting principle may seem deceitfully simple at a first glass. There are many way how you can mess up this technique. An example of wrong weight shifting is shown below:

Wrong Weight Shift in Boxing

example of wrong weight shifting technique

First of all, the stance is wrong: modern instead of orthodox. In this stance, the weight is in the middle. The boxer has to incline his body forward and backwards, instead of shifting the weight. Secondly, this waving movement (up and down) is more energy consuming than when you keep your movements in the same horizontal plane. Effectively, you will react slower on the opponent punches. This example demonstrates that the wrong stance and bad movement are linked together. Opposite is also true, if from the start you are maintaining proper stance, you will do proper movements in it.

Here is an example of a fight, where you can see the display of proper technique (by boxer in black trunks) and bad technique (by boxer in red trunks).

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1. Kostya Tszyu’s masterclass (in Russian)

2. Charley Burley: Analyzing Genius

3. Rashad Evans Meet Bernard Hopkins

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4 Responses to Boxing Technique: Foundations

  1. Malik says:

    What exactly are you doing to get into that boxing stance? Are you just tilting the shoulders?

    • SugarBoxing says:

      if you are talking about the classical orthodox stance, your shoulder will be tilted once you place your weight corrently on the bank foot

      • Malik says:

        and how do you place your weight correctly on your back foot?

        • SugarBoxing says:

          I do not like the word correctly. You have to change your thinking a bit. There is no such thing as a completely wrong technique. We list here most basic principles, but you gotta go and practice them, learn how to put them together. We cannot help you in developing the skills.

          By bending the right (back) knee and lifting the right (back) heel off the ground, you achieve placement of weight on the back foot. You gotta experiment a bit with that

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