The Reactive Strike Boxing Drill

by Fran on January 18, 2018


Your boxing training should incorporate lots of boxing drills. This is true regardless of where you are on your boxing journey, whether you are a beginner boxer or a seasoned competitor.

Even if you are using boxing purely for fitness purposes, boxing drills will improve your boxing technique which then will improve your overall fitness because more muscles and better endurance is required to maintain that technique.

There are a number of different way to work boxing drills. In this video I have chosen to show you a partner drill, also referred to as technical sparring (sparring without the punches to the head!)

This boxing drill video covers something I call the Reactive Strike and it’s a great basis for sound counterpunching.

The reactive strike is about using hand defences to react to an opponent’s punch – stopping the punch and responding in kind.

In essence, the fewer physical actions you need to take when an opponent throws a punch at you the better. By being efficient and using fewer physical actions you are more likely to a) stop the punch and b) get your counter punch to land.

Tip: Get your response back quickly otherwise the opening will be gone!

Comments and questions below



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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Pug January 20, 2018 at 4:40 pm

Hi Fran,

..just reading some of the feedback re: what do you do in the event of a 1-2 combination. 1. Always anticipate the 2 is going to follow; 2. Combine the reactive catch/block-jab with an outside slip, shifting your right foot slightly to the right so you are in position to create an angle and you are out of range of the 2 forcing your opponent to turn; 3. Or, on retracting your jab turn your glove and cover your head while raising and turning your left shoulder inwards to the right to block the 2. You are then in position to counter with your own 2.


Fran January 22, 2018 at 8:08 pm

I hope people read this comment – it’s absolutely inch perfect. Thanks Pug…I need add nothing


Bob January 23, 2018 at 9:46 am

Yes, many thanks Pug. Great suggestions.


Pug January 20, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Hi again Fran,

…just reading some of the other feedback. In respect of the question re: what do you do in the case of a 1-2 combination. Combine the block with an outside slip so you’re already in position to step to the right (back foot) and create an angle. The other way is to always anticipate that the 2 will follow. Make sure you retract the jab properly and you are in position to raise your left glove while turning your left shoulder and the back of your glove into a block.


Fran January 22, 2018 at 8:06 pm

Peach. Working the 2 defenses withe the second defense providing the platform for the counter.


Bob January 19, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Great video as ever Fran. One question please, what happens if the jab is part of a 1-2? Does that mean that as you’re preoccupied blocking the jab and throwing your own jab back, the opponent’s right hand can smack you in the mouth? Hope that question makes sense!


Fran January 19, 2018 at 9:47 pm

🙂 Knew that question would come. I will do a video, but in essence it’s getting your jab off then executing another defence. So – block, jab, duck as a pre-determined sequence. Make sense?


Bob January 20, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Thanks Fran, yes that does make sense, the duck would help you avoid a double jab too I guess. Although It does strike me that you’re going to have to have to do this all very quickly to avoid a swift 1-2 or double jab?


Fran January 22, 2018 at 8:06 pm

Check Pug’s comment Bob – that’ll help


Frank Mitchell January 19, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Nice. Means alot more with an opponent there.


Fran January 19, 2018 at 9:45 pm

Cheers Frank, many more to come.


Allison Young January 19, 2018 at 11:57 am

Thanks for clarifying proactive versus reactive striking. Takes some of the guess work out of defensive moves. Sometimes too many options cause hesitation or delayed reflex. Cheers!


Fran January 19, 2018 at 9:43 pm

No worries Allison, thanks for taking the time to feedback – really helpful.


Pug January 19, 2018 at 6:12 am

Sorry Fran, forgot to insert my info to the last one. Not anonymous.


Anonymous January 19, 2018 at 6:10 am

Nice demo Fran. Well executed. Kenny Weldon would be proud. As you may know, he developed a system of reactive punching against a number of different punches many years ago, ie., hooks to head and body, jab-H, uppercuts, etc.


Fran January 19, 2018 at 9:42 pm

Thanks Pug. Feel honoured to be even mentioned in the same breath as Kenny Weldon – groundbreaking coach. Love the reactive responses to shots – surefire way to introduce doubt and uncertainty into the opponent.


John January 18, 2018 at 10:14 pm

Nice drill! How would you modify it for an orthodox/southpaw partner pairing?


John January 19, 2018 at 1:59 pm

I guess just reverse front-hand/backhand? So if orthodox leads with a jab, southpaw reacts with straight backhand, and if southpaw leads with a jab, orthodox reacts with a straight backhand?


Fran January 19, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Yes John. Switch out the backhand block for the lead hand block and respond with either straight back hand (as you say) or for something a little more exotic a long range lead hand hook.


John January 19, 2018 at 9:52 pm

Thanks, Fran. I find partner drills very helpful, so I’m happy to try any that you might suggest. (A series on such drills would be quite welcome!) I’m getting to work with a southpaw these days–I’ll work out a long-range lead hook drill for the two of us. Looking forward to the proactive video when it comes our way.
A trainer I work with occasionally is big on McCloskey drills, which are similar to your reactive drill except it’s simultaneous–you’re always punching and catching your partner’s punch at the same time. Then you switch hands for the second round. Useful and tiring!
Thanks for what you do–you’re so clear and thorough.


Fran January 22, 2018 at 7:38 pm

Sounds good John – will look up McCloskey drills…they sound interesting.

John January 24, 2018 at 10:11 am

Hi Fran,
Checked in with my trainer about McCluskey drills (note change in spelling). It’s a local innovation, from Tom McCluskey, who was a trainer in Dartmouth, NS via Prince Edward Island. A few gyms around here use it. From a good stance, two people simultaneously catch throw jabs. For the second round, you switch hands–so two orthodox fighters would be throwing back hands. (With an orthodox-southpaw pairing, one throws a jab and the other throws a back hand.) You may do the first few punches stationary, and then start to move around a bit. People tend to increase the rhythm through the round. I’ve only done it with straight punches, but my trainer he says he likes to do other punches too, which I’ll get him to do with me next time we meet 🙂

Jaime January 18, 2018 at 9:41 pm

Nice and simple. Simple things are the best. I practice martial arts from long time ago and I have learnt that basic movements and techniques are the best. You can’t use complicated maneuvers in combat. It’s necesary mastering the basis. I like your point of view and philosophy about boxing. I’m very interested in this discipline. In fact, I’m starting to think that a martial artist should practice boxing. Thanks for your job.


Fran January 19, 2018 at 9:41 pm

You are of course absolutely correct Jaime. The basics done well will always bring positive results, simplicity is the key. Thanks Jaime


Fran January 26, 2018 at 8:48 pm

Thanks John.

Got you. So the block and the jab are executed at the same time. Good drill – be pinching that one to use in the gym 🙂

Let me know how it goes with the hooks etc. after you work it through. Pass on my thanks to your coach for helping with the elaboration.


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