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

pab-logo-quick-waist-turn-150px-jpgMike Tyson punching principles applied to outside hooks and flurry of uppercuts.







1. Quick waist turn and outside left hook

2. Waist twister and flurry of uppercuts / shovels


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More on hooks and uppercuts. Material of the article is heavily based on books by Jack Dempsey, Edwin L. Haislet, and Frank Bulter [1-3]. Heavily means we are practically citing complete paragraphs from these books.

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Quick Waist Turn & Outside Left Hook

What would happen if you combine the hip hunch with the heel thud? Let’s try to find out.

Initial posture

For simplicity, we assume your feet are on the even line like in the basic peekaboo stance. Bend knees slightly more. Put right leg on the ball of its foot. Transfer slightly more weight on the left leg.


Initial posture to demonstrate the quick waist turn principle. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

Unlike the demonstration of the heel thud, here, you do not need to place your feet too far apart. Likewise, your right foot could be placed on its ball, not necessarily on the toe. As a result, your weight may stay more in the middle rather than be completely on the left leg. Just to make it clear: any technique would work as long as you raise the right heel and charge the left hip.

Clockwise quick waist turn

Now, roughly at the same time, attempt to hip hunch with the left leg while achieving a heel thud with the right. We recap for you in more details: whirl your body to your right in such fashion that your left hip comes up with a circling, shoveling hunch. Meanwhile, try to drop your some of your weight (but not all) on the right heel so violently that the right heel comes down with a thud.


The hip hunch and the heel thud executed simultaneously result in the quick waist turn. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

We would refer to this resulting motion as the quick waist turn [2]. Formally speaking, the quick waist turn is not the basic principle, because it can be derived from more basic principles such as the heel thud and the hip hunch. However, to explain other concepts and principles, we find it usefull to be introduced here.

Example of an outside hook by Mike Tyson

You may observe these and other technical elements in the example of an outside hook by Mike Tyson below.


Example of an outside hook by Mike Tyson. Highlighted is the quick waist turn (1/4 speed). CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

In the first couple of frames, he executes literally all the stages needed to get into the initial posture we described above. At the end of the initial moves, when he transfers more weight on the left leg, Mike drops the left fist from the jaw and keeps the striking elbow roughly horizontal relative to the ground. Immediately follows the left leg hip hunch and the right leg heel thud, resulting in the clockwise quick waist turn, which is highlighted in GIF above.

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Waist Twister & Flurry of Shovels / Uppercuts

We uncover the secret Cus D’Amato’s fighters were famous for: how to throw 4-6 twelve inch punches just in 2 seconds [4,5]. Unless you are extremely endowed by nature, you cannot just move your arms up and down to produce neither single nor multiple fast and hard uppercuts. In the example below, Mike Tyson before the fight with Lennox Luis, is just moving his arms up and down:

OPEN GFYCAT in a new window. OPEN PINTEREST in a new window.

The movement of arms should be passive in the sense that it should be driven by another movement. All what is required from the arms is that they can swing freely.


It is important to point out this is not a tutorial. We only outline the concepts and principles, but do not provide the full methodology to develop the technique from a beginner level. The rendered animated GIFs should not by any means be considered as examples of the ultimate technique. They illustrate only what they are said to illustrate in the describing text. Nothing more, nothing less. Always remember to watch actual fighters doing stuff.

Shrug of shoulders

The trick that allows your arms swinging freely on the shoulders is to pull your shoulders up and somewhat backwards as if you are doing a shrug. The shrug is done by contracting the trapezius muscles. Make sure that the deltoids are relaxed. See animations in GIF below:


Initial preparation: shrug your shoulders with trapezius muscles while keeping deltoids relaxed. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

Please note that our 3D model is showing the contraction of trapezius muscles inadequately.

Snapping mechanics

The reason to shrug your shoulders before attempting to punch is because by doing so you restrict the arm movements to rotations along the axis that goes through both shoulders. To check that, quickly turn your upperbody and shoulders somehow, for instance, by doing the quick waist turn or the shoulder whirl. The advancing forward shoulder would cause the corresponding arm to swing forward by itself because of the muscle tension is deltoids. In other words, you use the principle of the shoulder snap. See left animations in GIF below:


Swinging (left) vs twisting (right) arm motion. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

Contrary to that, if you do not shrug your shoulders beforehand, the arm movement in the shoulder would have two degree of freedom at least instead of one. Quickly turn your upperbody and shoulders again, the arm would more twist along the vertical axis rather than swinging forward. See right animations in GIF above.

The snapping mechanics can be understood much easier with outside hooks, however, now we are ready to discuss the flurry of uppercuts / shovel hooks only. In later posts, we will come back to the snapping mechanics when talking about multiple outside hooks and flurry of outside hooks.


To execute a flurry of punches, you need to alternate the advancing of one shoulder and the retracting of the other shoulder. Directly moving one shoulder forward and the other shoulder backwards is possible, but it might not be snappy enough. A better way is to cause the quick turn of the upperbody and shoulders in the clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. We would refer to this motion as the twister. See GIF below as an illustration:


The upperbody twister results in some sort of a flurry, but might not be not snappy enough. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

We want to point out once again that you do not really move your arms in shoulders. They snap by themselves if you shrug your shoulders properly.

Waist twister

You may use upperbody and shoulder to do the twister, it may work, but might not be snappy enough. A better way to achieve this is to make your waist turning clockwise and counter-clockwise somehow. Using the same term, you need to execute the waist twister. The obliques and other muscles of the upperbody would drive the shoulders forwards and backwards.


The twisting of waist causes a better more snappy arm movements. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

Compared to the upperbody / shoulder twister, the waist twister should result in more snappy arm movements, so they will move faster and reach further. We tried to emphasize this in GIF above.

How to do the waist twister?

You may have happened to notice that if you execute the clockwise quick waist turn, then at the end on the motion, it almost looks like your body would be in the position to execute the counter-clockwise quick waist turn. However, because of the violent hip hunch movement, most likely, you legs would tend to straighten and your waist would tend to raise. In this case, you need extra move to get back into the initial position. See left and middle animations in GIF below.


The waist twister principle: alternate clockwise and
counter-clockwise quick waist turns. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

You need to alternate the clockwise and counter-clockwise quick waist turns in such a way, that your waist height does not change much when you are shifting between the left leg hip hunch / the right leg heel thud and the right leg hip hunch / the left leg heel thud. See GIF animation below for the schematic leg movements:


The waist twister with highlighted tentative leg mechanics. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

The GIF above does NOT show proper muscle movements. Its mere purpose is to illustrate the general concept only. Crudely speaking, the technique reminds of running at the same spot, so your feet never fully leave the floor.

Examples of flurries by Mike Tyson

You may observe these and other technical elements in the examples of flurries by Mike Tyson below. The first example seemed to be a flurry of shovel hooks, though it can be easily confused with uppercuts. It appears to us that the waist twister mechanics is dominated by the hip hunch principle.

OPEN GFYCAT in a new window. OPEN PINTEREST in a new window.

Another example below is a re-post from the article on the snap. These punches in the flurry look more like uppercuts, though you may argue they are shovel hooks. Nevertheless, in this example, we think that the mechanics of the waist twister is dominated by the heel thud principle.

Wacth on YouTube in a new window. OPEN GFYCAT in a new window. OPEN GIF in a new window. You may see the GIF at our Pinterest: CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

In these two examples, it is hard to distinguish between flurry of uppercuts and shovel hooks by just looking at the movement of arms. One thing is for sure, the further you place your feet outside the more the punches change from uppercuts into outside hooks. We will come back to that in future posts. Mike would execute 2-6 punches and finish with an overhead right or a pair of outside hooks, followed by one or two rolls under.

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1. Jack Dempsey. Championship Fighting by Jack Dempsey (1950). pdf source 1, pdf source 2

2. Edwin L. Haislet. Boxing (1968). pdf source 1

3. Frank Bulter. Success in Boxing (1956).

4. Leslie Parke. Zen and the art of boxing.

5. Dr. Scott Weiss on Cus D’Amato, Part I.

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