Bob and Weave – Roll With the Punches!

by Fran on July 19, 2010

About Rolling Punches/The Bob and Weave 

It doesn't come much better than slipping punches by 'rolling with them' (also referred to as 'bob and weave'.)  It is one of the boxing techniques that opens many doors, either during infighting, on the attack or on the retreat at long range.  It's very satisfying as a boxer to successfully execute the roll as it usually means that you have control of the opponent.  When using the roll, it's very possible to evade multiple shots during a single execution.  The fact that the head is moving in a non-linear way means that it's extremely difficult for an opponent to judge where to throw shots.  Add into the mix that at the end of a roll you can unleash big, big shots, and you must agree by now that it's a boxing technique that really does open doors!

This article covers both rolls; the Inside Roll and the Outside Roll.  The inside/outside bit relates to the fact that if the opponent threw a jab, we would end up the move on the inside (to your left) of the jab or the outside (to your right) of the jab.  Watch the video, then check out the mechanics and faults to make sure that you consider the right way and the wrong way to do the move!  Think also about what shots would feel good to throw at the end of the move.

Mechanics of Rolling Punches

Inside Roll

  1. From the boxing stance, the first action is a push from the front foot.  The push or 'thrust' provides the force necessary to rotate the body in a clockwise direction around the central axis.  You may recognize this, it is actually the skill slipping punches outside.
  2. The back leg pushes back and the front leg flexes to allow the body to 'weave' underneath incoming shots.  The upper body moves from right to left in a gentle arc, ending up back at the boxing stance.  It is vital that the legs remain relaxed and flexible.

Outside Roll

  1. From the boxing stance, the first action is a push from the back foot.  The push or 'thrust' provides the force necessary to rotate the body in an anti-clockwise direction around the central axis.  You may recognize this, it is actually the skill slipping punches inside.
  2. There is a push from the front leg and the back leg flexes to accommodate a gentle arc from left to right underneath incoming shots, with the move ending up back at the boxing stance.

Common Faults When Rolling Punches 

The following problems can occur when rolling punches:

  1. The boxer's arms become to 'loose'.  By this I mean that when slipping left for example (at the start of the outside roll), the right hand will drop, and vice versa for the inside roll.  Remember that this move is completed within range, so any major gaps in your defense will be found out at some point!
  2. The roll is facilitated by bending at the waist.  As always, the legs do the work!  If the body bends at the waist, the boxer is unable to see incoming shots and is unable to throw any worthwhile outgoing shots.  The likelihood of being banged with an uppercut to the head is very significant when bending at the waist, so avoid doing it!

Whether you say 'roll with the punches' or 'bob and weave', as long as you do it right it's a boxing technique that will pay dividends.  When we combine this with footwork and punching skills it really does deliver the complete package.

Cheers

Fran

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Tucker July 31, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Hi fran

Can you use a tiny bit of hip movement

Like in instead of using just legs can you use your full body but I don’t mean bringing at the waist to much just few inches

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Fran August 6, 2016 at 11:36 am

As long as you feel that you can punch and defend throughout the execution of the skill then give it a go.

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Dan June 9, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Great stuff as always Fran! In the past when I would roll I did NOT slip first…I’m surprised no one corrected me on that! The way you break everything down in steps is so effective! Thanks for your attention to detail. You always answer the “why” question that lingers when being shown all these moves, which for an analytical person like myself is critical.
I would love to see you execute some of the drills you have on your site with a colleague … but only more like extended versions though…It would really reinforce the importance of what your doing and help us build up some “mental movies” for shadow boxing. I would have no problem paying more money for those. Something like combining footwork and body movement while coming in on an opponent and then throwing some shots. Kind of like the set up, then throwing shots, and then just as important the exit out of harms way. Yes these are all things that you show us in short videos, but would give us just a little more imagination when doing it on our own if they were combined together.
Again Coach, I know it would be a ton of work to make but I would be more than happy to pay for the series on that. I guess more pad work videos so it is more of a match for us when shadow boxing versus limited mobility on the bag?
Sorry for the lengthy message!

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Fran June 13, 2016 at 7:29 pm

No problem Dan, love your message and some great ideas.

Keep your eye out over the next 4 weeks. It just so happens…

🙂

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Akil January 15, 2016 at 10:57 pm

Hi Coach Fran,

I recently started Krav Maga classes, and as a former basketball player I love drills and fundamentals development. I scoured the internet for the past four weeks for videos on slipping punches, bob and weave, etc. On YouTube I saw a guy slipping around five or more guys trying to full-out punch him, but he didn’t explain the mechanics.

Otherwise, all I could find was text and no video. And like a golden ray of light from the sky, you sent me the first video and second video this week on bobbing and weaving (without me writing this want to you.) Not only do you break the moves down, but you do it several times with alternating speed.

Up until this point, I was practicing a squat-like move in which I moved my head in a V-shape with my guard up, and I needed to re-balance by stepping out with my outside or inside foot. I honestly can’t thank you enough for your tutorials, I’ve been a subscriber for years and you’ve always been so gracious with sharing your knowledge and passion for the sport with us. Best wishes for 2016 Coach!

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Fran January 16, 2016 at 3:29 pm

That’s really kind of you to say Akil. Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, I hope the videos continue to help and inspire.

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Levent February 12, 2015 at 10:44 am

Hi Fran,

as I marked, when you show slip inside your back foot turns with the hips. But by rolling outside, you don’t turn back foot when slipping inside. I try doing all these in trainings but some diffuculties ocurring especially by handling the back foot. I hope that I could describe my misunderstanding. Thank you for all )

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fity October 20, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Is it my imagination or did the better boxers of the past,(not trained as Olympians,)rely less on upright movement?Sugar Ray Robinson,Jake LaMotta and Rocky Marciano and others would duck very low and lunge from low for body shots as well.

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Fran October 24, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Good spot fity. Hunched down slightly with their head off the centre line. Joe Louis is another.

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John September 24, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Hello Fran,

I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for such a great site. Your videos are simple and explained in an articulate manner. I do Kickboxing, Krav Maga and MMA, I have been looking to brush up on my boxing skills, mostly footwork and avoiding punches etc. I searched the web and was very impressed when I came across your site.

Keep up the good work

Regards

John

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Fran September 26, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Cheers John, really kind of you to say. Always good coming from a martial artist as well 🙂

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dylon January 20, 2013 at 12:07 am

Hey Fran, I’m a really tall guy, 6’9. Correct me if I”m wrong, but there’s really no sense in me trying to employ the bob and weave and practicing it. I mean wouldn’t just be bringing my head closer to the opponent who otherwise would most likely have idiffficulty reaching it.

Based on what I’ve seen from the successful tall heavyweights, none of them tuck their chins in, instead they stain erect and instead of bobing weaving slipping etc. they just seem to lean back or “lay back” (reference to your article).
Does this all seem true?

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Fran January 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Hi Dylon

In many ways yes it does ring true. However, I wouldn’t rule out bobbing and weaving altogether. It can be good as a feint to put pressure on your opponent and to cue up your big long and mid range hooks. Given your height, you will want to maintain long range as much as possible and yes you will find yourself using the lay back much more. But some variation with bobbing and weaving and hooking would be a plus.

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Austin January 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

stellar explanation Fran! I have also been wondering, as opposed to the traditional slip outside to avoid a right cross, would it be possible to evade a right hand by performing the inside roll technique, slipping inside the right hand and then weaving under it? Any advice or comments are greatly appreciated

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Fran January 8, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Thanks Austin. Absolutely. Roll inside and out, and do it often. Add a feint at the start to draw the lead so that you aren’t waiting for the shot.

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scott November 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Hi Fran

Had a look at a few differant sites for boxing training tips. When I come across yours, I was so impressed.
You explain things so well, you remind me of a military instructor with the attention to detail you show.
Great teacher !
Thanks
Scott

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Fran November 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Thanks very much Scott, very kind of you. Quite a compliment! 🙂

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james July 12, 2012 at 12:48 am

Thanks for the reply!

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james July 7, 2012 at 10:39 am

Fran,

I understand the benefits of keeping your back straight and using your legs like all of your other evasion techniques. But when watching footage of people such as Joe Frazier it seems like he is bending at the waist. Is this a fault from him or am I just looking at what he is doing incorrectly.

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Fran July 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Hey James. Good question. The coaching on this site is focused on successful amateur boxing. Smokin Joe was an amazing fighter. His constant movement (particularly the slipping and rolling) meant that his defense was a lot better than people gave him credit for. It also helped when he delivered those left hooks that put so many opponents to sleep. But that was Joe Frazier, a Heavyweight battling away for 12 or 15 rounds where power and endurance was key. It was his style, highly effective (most of the time), but not suited to the world of modern amateur boxing.

Great question James.

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Zack May 1, 2012 at 2:13 am

Wait, isn’t “rolling” with a punch when you take a hit, but move away from it to reduce the impact? Like if you’re about to get hit in the left side of the head and can’t avoid it, so you turn your head to the right as it hits you.

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Zack May 1, 2012 at 2:14 am

I say this because it’s really confusing to refer to bobbing and weaving as “rolling”, when rolling is something completely different.

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Fran May 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Hey Zack

I think I’ll stick with bobbing and weaving and rolling, using them interchangeably. What you describe for me is simply taking the sting out of a shot. My own view is that most experienced boxers do this instinctively if they see the shot coming; it’s a natural reaction to pull your head away from the punch. So, fighters with fast reactions will be better at it than those without. Would I coach boxers to do this? Only by virtue of of the ‘roll’ that comes by way of bobbing and weaving, slipping or laying back. In amateur boxing, remember also that if the shot lands then I’ve lost a point.

Cheers and thanks for the comment

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Mike March 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Gread information, imformative, and broken down well, so that it is easy to understand. Thanks!

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Fran March 25, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Thank you Mike.

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Andy October 30, 2011 at 5:34 pm

What a great drill, I have just spent the afternoon practising at my gym( ordinary fitness gym) in front of the studio mirror. I really nailed it after a while! It felt great, I came up up with a little practice tool, a bar with a boxing glove on end, I fixed the other end so that the glove was at head height pointing at me 🙂 it worked great as a solo training tool! I practised slipping, rolling both sides, I also practised the back hand block, using my legs instead of just my hand. It took a while but by the end of the session it was nicely in my nervous system! Iknow the glove does not hit back but just as a training tool it worked a treat. I also after a while found myself stepping of at angels naturally after the roll. I have a back ground in martial arts so am fairly decent at picking up movements and mimicking them. I honestly love your site! Such a great source of QUALITY information! I really appreciate the fact that you make it so simple and point out the common faults. Fran you really are my boxing coach 🙂

Cheers

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Fran November 1, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Thanks very much Andy. Keep up with the kind of commitment that you describe there and you’ll get real improvements. I notice that you are signed up for the mobility drills. These will help no end. Keep it up mate.

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patrick April 3, 2011 at 3:02 am

nice video. you explain things very well.

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Fran April 5, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Thanks Patrick

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vamshi September 8, 2010 at 6:35 pm

the point of looking at the lower chest(at least in kickboxing) is that all the striking points are in the peripheral field of vision.. that is,, though they are not clear, the hands, feet,knees,elbows are all visible,, and hence can be read as soon as they start.. if we look at the hands or the eyes, the foot gets into the visual field just when it about 10 cm from the head,, it would be too late to respond. when the central vision is fixed on the chest, BOTH the hands will be visible at all times.

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Lawrence Horry July 20, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Usually when practicing this move, we’ve just done the Bob/Dip and Weave. But I like how you incorporate the Slip first. One thing you can mention in a future post is stepping off the weave and gaining a better angle on your opponent.

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Fran July 20, 2010 at 8:42 pm

You read my mind Lawrence. Keep an eye out for the upcoming articles on diagonal foot movements. Combining the roll with footwork, especially diagonal movement, is pure gold!

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Karl July 20, 2010 at 5:03 pm

For myself, the key thing is to keep that back straight and let the legs do the work. Like all beginners I have a tendency to bend at the waist and rotate around without getting my legs involved. I’m trying to correct this common fault because it ties into another fault I have. Namely – not watching my opponent!

When you do this maneuver Fran, I see that your head remains nicely vertical along with your spine. You can comfortably watch what’s in front of you. Bending at the waist will tilt your head to the floor and you have to peer upwards. This is my bad habit. I’ve done it in super slow motion just to prove to myself why it’s bad. Sure enough, when you bend at the waist the guys head and shoulders go into your blind spot. You’ve lost sight of him and that’s always dangerous. You tend to pop up out of your weave and right into a fist. Bending at the waist is an invitation to stop paying attention.

Further to that. I notice myself losing concentration lots of times. Even just jabbing or circling. My coach has already addressed this, and he’s going to go into more detail as I progress. For now, he just tells me to avoid staring at any one thing (especially eyes) and don’t zone out. He’s always saying “it’s not about you – it’s about your opponent”. So I have to strive to be constantly receptive to the information my opponent is giving me, by watching him and paying attention. Doing the bob-and-weave properly allows you to do that, WHILE you avoid punches.

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Fran July 20, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Hey Karl

Some real good points there. This thing about what you look at, that’s particularly interesting. Myself, and a number of (much more talented and capable than myself) boxers who I have been involved with over the years focus most of the time on the chest of the opponent. I don’t know why, maybe it’s a sub-conscious thing, or maybe it’s experience in that you can understand subtle changes in your opponent’s body movements, I don’t know for sure.

On the vision issue, I used to watch quite a lot of war movies, and always remember seeing WWII tank commanders looking out the top of the turret. They could have been tucked away safe inside away from those nasty bullets, but then they wouldn’t have been able to see what’s going on around them. Moral of the story, seeing the threat is vital!

Cheers Karl

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