The Science of Mike Tyson and Elements of Peek-A-Boo: part II

pab-logo-part-2-150pxThe stance, general evasive moves and the jab by Mike Tyson in the Peek-A-Boo style of Cus D’Amato.






1. Stance ; 2. General evasiveness ; 3. Jab


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We continue the Part I with the immediate discussion of the stance and evasive moves.

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Mike Tyson [MT1]:

“Cus thought that fighters got hit by right hands because they were stationary and had their gloves too low.”

We addressed the first part of the statement on not being stationary in Part I, now we will talk about low guards.

Hands high

Cus D’Amato [CD4, Percept of peekaking]:

“You gotta be protected, not part of the time, not most of the time, but all the time. You can not gamble by using open stance. Because everytime you gamble and lose you get hurt. And when a fighter gets hurt, he is intimidated, he thinks he is tired, pooped. He covers up.”


Keep hands high. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

Cus D’Amato [CD4, Percept of peekaking]:

“Now in my style [peek-a-boo] you cover up all the time, you never gamble. The right arm is always protecting the liver, the left the solar plexus. The hands are protecting the chin.”

Mike Tyson [MT1]:

“He taught me to keep both hands in front of your face almost like you were turtling.”

Chin down

Cus D’Amato [CD1]:

“Always keep your chin tucked down into your chest. I don’t care if you are running roadwork or just walking around school or watching T.V. Keep that chin tucked down. And your eyes looking up and out.”


Young Mike Tyson had his chin tucked almost to the chest. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window

The “chin down” rule is a special case which is 100% applicable in the current case of a fighter facing frontal his opponent. When punching, this rule might not be 100% valid and might be replaced with a more general statement, which we explore in Part III, Sec. 2..

Stages of the peek-a-boo stance from SugarBoxing

Watch COMPLETE tutorial with sound on YouTube in a new window. OPEN GFYCAT in a new window.

The peek-a-boo stance can be achieved by doing few simple steps:

  1. Bend knees.
  2. Spread legs to sides. Place the right foot to the right and backwards, so the right toe is under your right shoulder.
  3. Place the left foot to the left and forward, so the left heel is under your left shoulder so the right foot is under your right shoulder.
  4. Put hands high. Do not raise shoulders and keep them relaxed.
  5. Lean your upper body forward at the chest while keeping the butt right under it. Do not let the butt protrude backwards with help of your stomach muscles.
  6. Lower the chin, so it almost tucks to the chest.
  7. Turn forearms and wrists outwards.

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General Evasiveness

The peek-a-boo stance does not change when you move:

Mike Tyson [MT1]:

“Your hands and elbows move with you, so when the other guy throws the punch, you block it as you are coming forward, and then you counter.”

In the peek-a-boo, the breakdown of the defense into the stance and the defensive moves is somewhat artificial. The peek-a-boo is a system: the components (the stance and the defensive moves) supplement each other.

Move your head in the in a plane perpendicular to the punch

Leslie Park [LP4]:

“Cus spent time teaching the fighters exactly the angle at which they needed to hold their gloves so that a punch would glide off the outside of the glove and miss their head. The fighter held the gloves up to his head. Cus took his hands and changed the angle. He said that if he got hit on the arm or the glove, the way the fighter held his glove would guide his opponent’s punch right into his head. He had to angle it so that when the punch came it would glide off the glove and miss his head.”

Move with the punches

Cus D’Amato [DOC2]:

“Mike, it is like catching a ball, a guy throws a hard ball at you, and you catch it with your hands you go like this [pulling the hand backwards], it breaks the force of the blow, right? Same with the punches coming in, even if it hits you are moving with it. “

Below is an example of Mike Tyson slipping punches EXACTLY like Cus D’Amato wanted him to do:

Slipping Punches in Peekaboo: Theory by Cas D’Amato & Practice by Mike Tyson .

Watch original version on YouTube in a new window. Watch version with sound YouTube in a new window.

For the breakdown and detailed description of basic defensive elements, please, refer to our series on the Development of the Peek-a-boo boxer: Side bends Part Ia ; Bob & weave Part Ib ; Roll under Part Ic ; Slide leap & 180-turn Part Id

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Here we talk about a stiff hard jab, not a setup jab or a feint.


Example of Tyson’s jab. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

Big picture

Tyson’s stance is frontal. By frontal we mean the torso orientation relative to the direction at the opponent. If Tyson steps in directly forward against a taller opponent with longer reach, his head would just bump at the opponent’s left hand sticking out. This is why, throwing single jabs, Tyson rarely steps in straight forward. Instead, he does a diagonal move to pass the opponent’s orthodox guards and square him up. Anticipating a left or right hand counter from taller guys, the mechanics of Tyson’s jab is coupled with the slipping move to the outside after his arm is fully extended.


Phases of the general strategy for the jabbing move. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

Stepping in footwork

We mentioned the footwork of the jab (the hopping motion) previously here in details. You must feel your back (right) foot on the ground, and must lift your front (left) foot off the ground to comfortably throw a jab. Then you push with the back (right) leg and set your body weight diagonally forward. At this moment, your both feet are in the air, the front (left) foot being higher and the back (right) being lower. In the air, you perform a hop: the back (right) foot raises, while the front (left) foot goes down. The situation is reversed: now the front (left) foot is lower and the back (right) is higher. The front (left) foot touches the floor right before the fist hits the target.


Hopping footwork in the jab. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.


Typically, Tyson tries to get as much snap to his punches as possible. He was taught to throw the shoulder violently into every punch, including the jab [2]. The snap can be achieved by bringing the right shoulder backwards while using he hips to twist the torso clockwise.


Shoulder snap in the jab. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

Notice in examples there is a delay between the left shoulder thrown forward and the initial movement or rather the beginning of the acceleration of the fist towards the target. This is exactly the snap. The rendered GIF is exaggerated to outline the effect.


Examples of Mike Tyson snapping his jab at the shoulder (1/6 speed). CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

The slip

Anticipating a left or right hand counter from taller guys, the mechanics of Tyson’s jab is coupled with the slipping move to the outside after his arm is fully extended.


Jab with a slip to the outside in the end. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

In the examples, Tyson typically places his back (right) foot behind him while doing the slip. It reminds of a ballet-kinda move, and allows Tyson to keep the balance on the front (left) foot. He moves the right side of the body anti-clockwise to curl to the outside (left). Sometimes, he lowers his body even more to avoid the actual punch coming.


Example of Tyson’s jab. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

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All relevant References on Mike Tyson’s training and fighting, and the Peek-a-boo style by Cus D’Amato in one place.

1. Q&A: Dr. Scott Weiss on Cus D’Amato, Part I.

2. What It take’s To Be A Champ Like Mike Tyson

3. Title Boxing DVD Vol 08. How To Box – The Basics . source 1, source 2

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19 Responses to The Science of Mike Tyson and Elements of Peek-A-Boo: part II

  1. renan says:

    This technique is useless if you don’t have Tyson’s punching power, the speed, and the cardio in his prime

  2. Amir mahooty says:

    For those people who say: Yo gotta have mike’s power and speed to use peek-a-boo style…
    mike isn’t only person who used peek a boo…
    secondly mike was learning this style when he was a teenager…
    was teenaged mike as strong and fast as he was in his prime???

  3. R561 says:

    For the people who say you have to be Mike or short for cus’s style look up Jose torres

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