Beginning with the Basics - The Stance
Getting Started: The Basics
The Boxing stance is the essence of your boxing. It will form the basis of your defence, your offence and the transitions between. It is your starting and ending position for all punches and the better your stance becomes, the better your boxing will become.
When beginning your stance the first thing to consider is whether you are an "Orthodox" or "Southpaw" Boxer. There are many fine points which differ between orthodox boxers and southpaws which will be examined in detail in future posts, However first and foremost the predominant difference is which hand and leg is at the front and which is at the back.
Most people who have never boxed will assume a southpaw stance out of instinct. That means that their right hand and foot is at the front and the left hand and foot is at the back. Their rationale is that they want their stronger hand at the front for ease of use. In actuality the reverse is true. Your stronger hand goes at the back so that it covers more distance and can generate more power. So generally speaking if your right hand is the strongest then it will go at the back and you will be an orthodox boxer. If your left is stronger then the reverse is true.
In future posts we will be examining different styles of stances. It is important to remember that Orthodox and Southpaw merely refers to which hand is where. So a boxer could be a Southpaw Peakaboo fighter or an Orthodox Peakaboo fighter or both (switch hitter). However this will make more sense in future posts. For now lets explore the basic stance in a bit more detail.
The Basic Stance The basic boxing stance refers to the typical boxing stance or guard taught to all beginners. As the saying goes "you need to learn the rules before you can break them", therefore the basic stance serves as a great starting point for all new boxers before they potentially move on to a more personalized style. The basics listed below are exactly the same for orthodox fighters and southpaws aside from which hand and foot is at the front and back. The correct basic boxing stance should involve the following 1. Feet staggered with your left foot in front of the right (for orthodox fighters)
2. Feet shoulder width apart to allow for even weight distribution
3. Heels off the floor so that weight is on the balls of the feet
4. Knees slightly bent so that you are like a coiled spring and able to move and react much faster than if you were flat footed with straight legs.
5. The lead foot should point slightly off to an angle (1 o'clock) with the rear foot pointed at a 45 degree angle (2 o'clock). This is extremely important as it will later serve as your base to generate power. If your feet aren't able to pivot then you will only perform "arm punches" meaning that you won't incorporate the benefit and power of your legs and hips behind your shots. This not only leads to sub optimal power but also leads to fatigue especially in later rounds and poor punching biomechanics which can leave you open to counter punches.
6. Brace your abs, curve your back slightly forward, roll your shoulders and 'tuck' your chin.
7. 'Hands up' with your left hand in front of your face and chin tucked behind your left shoulder and your right hand next to your chin.
8. Keep your chin 'tucked ' this is different to looking down. The action of tucking your chin is like you are trying to mimic having a 'double chin' or like your are a librarian trying to look down your nose over the top of your glasses. In this way your chin is protected but your ability to see punches coming is in tact. If you look down you can't see what your opponent is doing and open yourself up to a number of punches especially uppercuts and punches to the top of the head.
9. Keep your chin protected at ALL times. This is achieved by staying in the posture outlined in the previous few steps. Think of your chin like a racing car driver protected by the roll cage formed on one side by your shoulder and on the other side by your hand.
10. Keep your elbows tucked in to protect your body from body shots and also to provide the right trajectory for your punches. If your elbows are out wide not only will you be a target for body rips and hooks but your punches will also come out wide. As we will find in future posts: correct shoulder, hip and elbow placement are essential for making a good punch. The importance of each of these key points cannot be stressed highly enough. Like the old analogy "a beautiful house is useless without a firm foundation", so too in Boxing - beautiful punches are useless unless they start and finish in a safe guarded stance. Failure to do any of these points will inevitably either leave you open to attack or reduce the effectiveness of your own attack. If you are completely new to boxing spend as much time perfecting your guard and stance as possible. It's far easier to learn something properly even if it takes longer at first rather than progressing too quickly and having to unlearn a host of bad habits that you've accumulated. If you dont take my word for it trust me, Boxing is a brilliant teacher like that, one hard shot to the jaw is worth a thousand cries of "keep your hands up and your chin tucked". If you are not entirely new to boxing you will no doubt know that it is still imperative to focus much attention on your stance. However rather than simply improving your static stance eg how you look while standing still, your focus should move to how quickly you return to your stance after you throw your punches and whether you maintain your correct stance while performing your footwork.