How to Take a Punch

How to condition yourself for getting hit.

Being able to get hit and keep coming forward has always been an admitted trait in boxing.  Hearing that you have a granite jaw or a good "beard" is about the best compliment you can pay a fighter.   On the other hand, no one wants to be suspected to having a glass jaw or a “questionable chin.”

Let's hope you don’t fall into the second category, but if you have any doubts or just want to go the extra mile to be able to "eat leather," there are a handful of exercises you can do to improve the strength of your jaw.  Obviously you want to avoid taking a clean blow, but if it happens, there are steps you can take to make your jaw more shatterproof.

Your first line of defense is a quality mouthpiece. Don't cut corners or try to save money here. Your sense and cents are both precious, so in this case, don't be afraid to put your money where your mouth is.  Even if a high grade mouthpiece provides a small increase in your ability to absorb a punch, it’s worth the investment. Don’t you think?

There are also a couple of exercises you can do to strengthen your jaw muscles:

  1. Place your fist under your jaw and apply upward pressure. While doing this, slowly open your mouth. Keep the pressure and the amount of resistance consistent. Perform this movement about ten times.
  2. After that, make a fist and place it against the right side of your jaw. Apply steady pressure and push your jaw against it and out of alignment. Reverse this movement and do the same thing on the left. Doing these two movements each ten times will work well.
  3. Next, place your fist on the point of your chin and jut your jaw out, again applying steady resistance. Do this ten times too.

Another trick is an old timer’s approach. Fighters from the past have been known to chew on flexible, but tough materials to strengthen their jaw muscles. Jack Dempsey, for instance, constantly chewed on a piece of leather and HE had a rock solid chin. Although it's not as hard or doesn't sound as tough, gum chewing has some equal benefits. It might not be as demanding as gnawing on a piece of leather, but it's a little more socially acceptable and certainly more convenient.

In the end, frankly, it all comes down to the fact that some guys are blessed with the ability to take a good shot, while others just aren't genetically gifted in  that way. In either case, the more you can do to NOT leave it all up to chance, the better off you'll be when that chin-checker moment happens.