The “Nature” of the Sport – Opposing Forces Work Together in the Ring

When you really stop and break down the techniques of boxing, it is amazing how everything works together. For every offensive move, there is a defensive answer.  For every punch, there is a counter punch.  For every type of boxer that exists he or she has a stylistically perfect match, in terms of an opponent.  It’s incredible how it all works together in harmony. Nature provides an ideal balance in all that happens, even when it comes to what goes on inside the boxing ring.

When a fighter is delivering a punch or is making a specific offensive move, there is, in almost every instance, a built-in defensive component.  This “byproduct” happens naturally when those offensive moves are performed correctly.

For instance, walk into any gym and you will constantly hear the phrase “keep your hands up your elbows in.” It sounds simple enough and is actually a pretty basic fundamental, but making this move also offers some built-in complexities/benefits that many people don’t even realize.

If you hold your hands high they are, defensively, in a better starting position to block punches quickly and easily.  You don’t have to reach up or around to catch an incoming punch.  Plus, by tucking your elbows in, this also makes it easier to keep your hands in that proper, high position and it also protects your rib cage and midsection.

From an offensive standpoint, with your hands up and your elbows tucked in, you also have your forearms in proper alignment with your shoulder joints so that your own punches have more accuracy and power. Part of natural power comes from locking your joints out when your punches are extended.  How many times have you heard the admonition that “power comes at the end of your punch.”   It’s true, but only when your punches are fully extended.

Another fundamental boxing technique is keeping your left shoulder out in front (not squaring your shoulders off to your opponent.)  Offensively, this places your jab closer to your opponent, so that you can reach him with it faster.  It also makes your jab longer by extending your shoulder out towards your opponent and utilizing your full range in its delivery.  From a defensive standpoint, leading with your shoulder out front makes you a narrower target and also creates a natural defensive benefit of having your shoulder slightly covering your chin, which helps protect it from a counter right cross.

The next offensive technique that has a beneficial defensive counter point (when its delivered correctly) can be achieved by turning your punches over, rolling your shoulders over when you deliver a jab or straight  cross.  By doing this, you not only extend your punch to its fullest range and maximize your reach, but you’re also keeping your chin behind your shoulders.  That is an ideal byproduct of delivering your punches correctly.

Even when throwing a right cross (assuming you’re right handed, otherwise it would be the opposite) if you shift your weight forward on to your left leg in the correct manner, that brings your weight forward, generates more momentum and also puts you in the proper position to follow up with a left hook, left hand to body or left uppercut, but it too provides a good defensive advantage.  By bringing your weight forward, it takes your head out of the center target range and out of the direct line of fire. Most counters or punches thrown at the same time will miss because you have moved your head out of the normal center position.

Boxing is a thinking man’s sport, so it’s important to realize that everything you do has a natural ebb and flow.  These are just a few of the numerous ways that offensive and defensive moves complement each other, so it’s important to remember that there’s purpose to all that you do in the ring.  When performed with exact form and technical precision, most everything in boxing works together in perfect synchronicity.

As many uncertainties as there are in athletics and especially boxing, it’s kind of reassuring to know that even in the ring, nature has a way of providing meaning.  Just like in life, there are natural dualities – light and dark, male and female, high and low, hot and cold – and in boxing you hit or get hit and you ultimately have control over both. Sometimes in one move.

Doug Ward is the President and Trainer for the Underground Boxing Company.