How To Avoid Punches




There are two general, equally important methods of avoiding oncoming punches. One is “blocking,” which entails putting your glove between you and the punch. The second is “evading.” Evasive head movement gets you out of the way of the punch without making contact. This simple, four-part, evasive head movement partner drill is practical for all boxing skill levels.


There are four basic evasive head movement techniques this drill will help you perfect. These instructions are written for an orthodox boxer, but can be easily reversed for a southpaw.

Duck – Drop your level straight down so that the punch goes over your head. Do not adjust your stance.

Slip Right – Move your head to the right side of the jab. Keep your hands up. Pivot on the front leg so that the knee/foot are pointed to the right. The left shoulder should replace where your head was.

Slip Left – Move your head to the left side of the jab. Keep your hands up. Pivot on the rear leg so that the knee/foot are pointed to the left. It will look like you have to pee and that is ok (looking like it…not actually doing it)! The right shoulder should replace where your head was.

Pull Back – Without moving your feet and while keeping your chin down, shift your weight on to your rear leg and move your head back enough so that the punch does not touch your face. It is ok to take a small step back with the rear leg, but replace it quickly after the “pull.” Do not extend your head past the rear leg.


One partner will jab and the other will evade.  All of the evasive movements will be in response to the jab.

The evading partner will duck the first jab, slip the second, slip the third, to the opposite side, and pull back on the fourth.

For beginners, it may be a good idea for the jabbing partner to throw slightly more to one side of the head and then the other on the slips. The defensive partner should be able to see the punches coming and have time to respond. You can make the jabs more realistic and at a faster speed as skill improves.

Don’t forget to switch, so that both partners get a chance to practice the technique.


Once the drill has been mastered from the stationary position, move around and break the rhythm, while maintaining the same pattern. More advanced boxers may change the second slipping jab to a straight right hand if desired.

Hooks to the head may be added to the end of the jab combination. To roll the hook, step toward the direction the punch is coming from and lower your level so that it passes above your head. Repeat to the opposite side.

Some fighters tend to place less emphasis on practicing defense because it’s more reactive than active, but be sure to take time specifically focusing on it. Practice makes perfect and is also less painful.

Bryanna Fissori is a professional boxer and mixed martial artist. She has a law degree and has been writing professionally for over a decade. She has spent most of her professional combat sports career training on the Island of Oahu and has competed nationally and internationally. Bryanna currently competes and trains out of Denver, Colorado.

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