Boxing Defense – Deal with the Symptoms, Cure the Illness

by Fran on September 24, 2011

When you consider all of the many skills videos on the Myboxingcoach website, only the boxing punches are a clearly offensive tool (although by the end of this article you may even question this seemingly obvious statement). All aspects of footwork, defensive actions and body movements can all be used in a defensive setting. That’s a whole lot defensive options.

In this article I want to explore the application of boxing defence and why it is so important to see defence as part of the ‘bigger picture’ of the fight.

Not Feeling Well?

This may seem a little ‘Off on a tangent’, but bear with me and all will become clear. I’d like, just for a moment, to talk about the human body and its reaction to infection. If I have an infection somwhere in my body, then I’m going to feel unwell. I may have pain, inflammation and be running a fever. These are all symptoms of my infection. I can take various drugs to mask the pain, temporarily reduce the fever and ease the inflammation, but this does not resolve my underlying problem.

In order for me to get back to full fighting fitness, I need my Doctor to prescribe the right antibiotics for the type of infection that I have. The antibiotics will go to work, the symptoms will gradually subside and ultimately disappear all together. I’ve cured the underlying illness and all of the symptoms have gone. It’s a miracle, or witchcraft or something. Well, not really, just common sense and a Doctor’s knowledge of medicine.

Let’s now apply the infection/symptoms analogy to a boxing scenario. Any given opponent will throw punches at me. Some will throw lots of punches, others might not throw so many. But, as sure as eggs is eggs my opponent will try to hit me, and continue to do so until I’m unconscious or the bell signals the end of target practice. The punches travelling in my direction are not the core of the problem; they are merely a symptom of the problem.

Unleash Hell…

So, what is this problem? It’s quite simple really. My opponent has a strong desire to hit me. This desire will not leave him, even if he is very tired, the desire to land potentially fight ending punches on my person will not leave him. The only way that my opponent’s desire to hit will leave him is if I beat it out of him.

Ultimately I can use all of the boxing defence skills in the world to avoid or block incoming shots. The more I practice and use these skills the better I become. The better I become, the fewer shots get through. But without my capitalizing on my opponent’s lack of success at hitting me, he will continue to try. I am merely managing the symptoms of my opponent’s desire to hit me.

No. To truly defend yourself against an opponent, you must eradicate any conviction he or she has to hit you. The most effective way to destroy an opponent’s will to hit you is to make them associate the act of throwing their own punch with getting hit by you; learning by association.

Learn by Association…with Pain!

As a simple rule of thumb, the following should be considered:

  1. Having blocked an incoming jab, respond instantly with an outgoing jab of your own. When I say ‘instantly’, I really mean it. Aim to have your jab land on his head as his jab is still outstretched; your block and punch become one, slick movement.
  2. Having slipped inside an incoming punch, respond instantly with a lead hand hook of your own.
  3. Having successfully ducked a punch, respond with a straight back hand to the body.

You get the point. We are involved in a business that requires us to utterly smash the will of an opponent. In the battle of attrition that many boxing matches result in, look to cure the illness as well as deal with the symptoms. Boxing defense and boxing offense should combine to deliver a total boxing style.

Have I just made the case for becoming a fearsome counter attacker?



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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy September 28, 2011 at 9:23 am



Paul Smith September 27, 2011 at 10:29 pm


Yes, you certainly have made a nice case.

I see it as a Pavlov’s dog type of thinking – in reverse. My opponent must learn to equate his throwing a punch, with being hit by a punch from me. Instead of getting a treat – he gets beat!

Your ‘cure the illness’ theory was a good analogy.



Fran September 29, 2011 at 9:57 am

Exactly Paul. If you can get an opponment to the point where they are doubting their ability to throw a shot that victory is not too far away. Make ’em miss, make ’em pay!


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