Sometimes you get hit. It’s good to know that you can take a punch if you have to. But anyone who follows boxing or full-contact martial arts knows that some guys can take a hit better than others.
If you want to be able to take your opponent’s best stuff and just shrug it off, read on.
A good offense is a good defense
The best way to take a punch is to have good technique.
There are three main components to good technique:
- A proper stance and footwork lets you get in position to attack without opening yourself up to much of a counterattack.
- A good guard gives you protection for your most vulnerable areas while still allowing you to throw punches and combinations with speed and power.
- And finally, good punching technique incorporates defense within the offense.
Punch with proper technique and you reduce your chances of getting hurt from a punch. Even if a punch lands on you, it won’t knock you out or cut you up and your opponent will be in range for your counter attack.
Improper technique, however, opens you up to being hit. It leaves you vulnerable, off balance, and helpless.
Instead of worrying about taking someone’s best shot, worry about perfecting your own offensive weapons until they are the best they can be. Then, you’ll kill two birds with one stone.
For more than a century, fighters and their trainers have developed and refined proper technique until it is almost a (sweet) science. These days, you don’t have to go to a secret training camp to learn everything the professionals know about good punching form. There are many fine tutorials available for sale or for free, so there is no excuse for not working on your skills.
Protect your weak areas
If you get hit in a vulnerable area, you are going down:
- The point of the jaw (known as the button)
- The jawline
- The temple
- Any number of other areas that are illegal to hit in sport boxing, but are often targeted in street fighting, such as the throat, base of the skull, etc.
You must protect these areas by staying in your fighting stance and keeping your guard up.
You can catch punches all day long on the points of your elbows or on your forehead without suffering much damage. Your opponent, on the other hand, will destroy his hands if he hits you in those hardened areas.
Get a proper mouthguard
Getting hit in the jaw hurts. It makes your mandibular joint (the jaw joint) sore and it’s also the most common form of knockout.
But wearing a good boxing mouthguard cushions blows to your jaw. Many boxers claim that this reduces the severity of knockout.
Strengthen your neck to take a punch
There is plenty of evidence that fighters can “improve their chin” by strengthening their neck muscles.
If you think you have a weak chin or a glass jaw, bulk up your neck.
On the web, there are many folks who will advise you to do wrestler’s bridges to build your neck. I don’t agree with this idea. Wrester’s bridges are fine for wrestlers because they need to keep their backs off the mat to avoid losing a wrestling match. But for the rest of us, they’re the wrong exercise because they put major stress on the spinal ligaments and only work the neck muscles as an afterthought.
Here’s how to strengthen your neck so you can take a punch:
Get a long towel and wrap it around your skull. Then, have your training partner grab either end of the towel and carefully pull. You’ll have to counter this pulling with your neck muscles. Your partner is creating resistance and you are using it to train your neck muscles.
Or, use a flat resistance band for neck strengthening exercises. This makes it easy to get a good neck workout without a partner.
An alternative is just to use your hands to create resistance. This works well in the beginning stages. Later, you can invest in an inexpensive neck developer that will let you work the neck muscles against resistance provided by weight plates.
Protect against body blowsA good body shot can be a knockout punch. Hook punches to the liver are a favorite body blow used by smart boxers. But kidney punches and uppercuts to the short ribs are also devastating body shots. In street fights, there are few punches as effective as an uppercut to the groin.
The reason these areas are vulnerable is that there is no good way to toughen them up so they can withstand punches. For instance, you can’t develop a protective layer of muscle over your short ribs because there is no muscle in that location.
The best thing you can do is use good technique during a fight. Boxers and other strikers protect these vulnerable areas with the elbows and by subtle adjustments in the footwork that keep them just out of the opponent’s range.
Of course, it goes without saying that abdominal training is an indispensable way to harden yourself against body shots, so don’t neglect your floorwork.
Not having any success learning to fight from the internet?Check out my review of the best boxing training DVD.