I started writing blogs on the 8th of March. It’s been exactly 6 weeks. I didn’t even realise! Time really does fly.
My first martial arts post was written on the subject of boxing strikes. Boxing is not the only combat form worth learning but it’s a good one to start off with. It’s good for a martial artist to be efficient at striking standing up as well as being a good grappler.
For that reason, I started my blogs with the ‘Boxing for Newbie’s’ post. Boxing is the most common form of striking but very few people actually strike effectively when they get in a confrontation and are forced to protect themselves (unless they are experienced martial artists of course).
I mainly see people throwing windmill ‘arm’ punches. By this I mean they swing their arms and try to muster all the power they can from the use of just their arms and shoulders. I call this swing punching the ‘monkey style’.
This is a very inefficient way of striking that lacks real power and accuracy. Now there may be a few ‘black belts’ in the monkey style who actually manage to land a punch in this manner but there are more efficient and effective ways of punching.
Boxing clubs can be intimidating places for some people. I want to share some of my experiences and what I’ve learnt over time to help people who may not have the confidence or the time to attend a boxing club.
When I Was Starting Out
When I started boxing my left hand was weak as heck. I felt uncomfortable throwing a left-hand shot and with it I had about as much coordination as a drunken operating surgeon.
My right hand was ‘okay’ by this I mean I was comfortable throwing a right straight (although not a very good one) like most beginners. It’s strange to me now when I think of it, people always tend to carry on practicing things they are comfortable with. I always practiced with an emphasis on my right punches and avoided my left hand.
My Moment of Realisation
One day I had some spare time and I was browsing through some boxing matches. I watched fighters like Jack Dempsey, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson and Many Pacquiao. Whilst watching these fights I noticed something that changed how I approached my boxing training.
I quickly realised that a person who can throw shots with speed and power from both the left and right hand has an advantage when it come to boxing and unarmed combat as a whole.
I started to see the importance of developing my left hand as well as my right. Bear in mind my left hand needed a lot of work (A LOT), so I completely changed how I boxed and from then onwards I focused on my left hand to get it up to scratch.
Getting your weaker hand as fast and powerful as your dominant hand is probably the most useful thing you can do when it comes to boxing. So I made this one of my missions when starting out.
The greatest boxers had speed and power in both hands. This made them a force to be reckoned with. To see this in the modern era all we have to do is look at Gennady Golovkin (GGG). His boxing record is 34 fights, 34 wins and 31 KO’s! That’s a knockout percentage of 91%!
GGG regularly changes stances during punching which confuses his opponents. He has knocked opponents out with both his left and right hand.
If you’re right-handed (orthodox stance), one huge reason to get your left hand fast and powerful is because of the left hook. The left hook is a lead hook meaning it comes from the front, the side closest to the opponent.
It has a huge amount of power that can easily knock opponents out when landed cleanly on the chin, jaw or temple. It is a punch that all boxers/martial artists should develop in my opinion.
A good example of the power a left hook a produce is Khan Vs Garcia. Garcia hit Khan with a banging left hook that dropped him. Khan was unable to recover from this shot. If you’ve not seen it, watch the video from 16 seconds in. Garcia landed one heck of a left hook!
The Liver Shot
When watching boxing or MMA fights I remember seeing people sometimes fall in excruciating pain when getting hit to the body. I always wanted to know why this happened. As I watched more and more fights I noticed this effect mostly happened when the person was hit on the right side of the body.
Being the curious cat that I am, I started to look into what it was about the right side of the body that, when struck made even the biggest of men drop like a hot potato.
I found out that what was making this happen was the fact that the liver is placed in that spot. The right side of the body behind the floating rib (last rib at the bottom) is where the liver is. If you’ve ever been hit to the liver you know it feels like your insides are twisting up, leaving you in agonising pain.
“Kill the body and the head will die”. Joe Frazier.
The ‘liver shot’ is executed via a left hook to the body for orthodox fighters and right hook to the body for southpaws (lefties).
A classic example of a liver shot T.K.O is Hatton VS Castillo. Watch the video at 2:40 seconds and you can see the liver shot in action. Note the pain on Castillo’s face when Hatton hits him with the left hook to the body.
Left Hook to the Head;
There are different types of hooks. They can be thrown with palms facing down or facing towards you. I will be explaining the vertical fist (palm facing towards you).
Hooks are generally for close range fighting so the arm should be bent at around a 90° angle. Sometimes there may be a gap in your opponent’s guard allowing you to sneak a hook in behind the guard (or elbows if hooking the body) in this case the angle of the hook will be wider. In the video above I practice a range of tighter hooks and wider ones.
Dont forget to warm up first and stretch lightly. Begin by throwing light shots before progressing to harder power punches. The hooks can be practiced on a heavy bag, on pads or in the air (shadow boxing).
How it’s Done;
- Stand in the boxing stance.
- Keep your knees slightly bent. Lower your left arm at around a 50-degree angle and position it slightly to the left.
- Keep your right hand at the chin as a guard.
- Plant your right heel firmly on the floor whilst lifting the heel of your left foot off the floor.
- Then explosively twist your whole body towards the right.
- Simultaneously pivot on the toe of your left foot (like you are squashing a bug) twisting your left foot towards the right side with the rest of your body.
- At the same time as twisting your body to the right, throw the hook with the left hand with the palm facing towards you (thumb facing up).
- Tighten the fist as it impacts with the opponent. Don’t throw the hook all the way through. Overthrowing the hook will throw you off balance and enable the opponent to counter you. Stop at impact and bring the hand back fast to guard your chin.
NOTES: The power comes from the twist of the hips and the pivot of the left foot. There should be minimal weight on the left foot so you can twist explosively on the toes. Do not cock your arm all the way back when throwing the hook. This telegraphs the punch enabling the opponent to counter you with a punch.
The Left Hook to the Body
Like the left hook to the head, there are many different ways to throw hooks to the body. I will be explaining the digging left hook. This is power hook that leaves you in a good position to throw multiple body hooks.
How it’s Done
- Start in the boxing stance.
- Keep your hands protecting your chin.
- Bend your knees and waist whilst leaning slightly outside your lead foot (left).
- Bring your left hand down slightly ready to throw the hook.
- Plant your right heel down firmly and lift your left heel up so you can push into the hook.
- Twist your body to the right and push into the hook by pushing with your toes on the left foot.
- Throw the hook in a diagonal upward motion. Aim to drive the hook up and through your opponent’s body. Keep your right hand up to protecting the right side of your face.
- Return your left hand back quickly to protect your chin. Then set your body back to the position where you through the hook from (waist bent, leaning slightly outside your lead foot). Make sure both hands are protecting your chin. Don’t over rotate or ‘swing’ the hook.
- Return back to the normal boxing stance.
I’m about to say something that I’ve said in all my martial arts posts because I truly believe it is important; Don’t use this information for the wrong reasons.
Misuse of this information is very dangerous. I don’t condone street fighting unless absolutely necessary for protection. Using this for fun or ego purposes will certainly backfire on you.
Martial arts is about self-control. People who know how to fight rarely do so unless there is no other option. Once you start to enjoy your martial arts training and you progress you will also come to this understanding naturally.
I’ve seen some excellent left hooks in boxing. I love watching Joe Frazier’s left hooks. Have you got any favourite boxers that have a banging left hook? Drop a comment below.