Get out of the way of incoming straight shots by learning how to slip punches. It involves the transfer of weight from one leg to the other while subtly moving your upper body to avoid the jab or cross.
You may have seen elite fighters such as Sergio Martinez do this, and although it’s a fairly simple move, it’s actually very difficult to pull off.
Since you use the slip to avoid the jab or cross, which are two fast punches, your timing and reflexes have to be on point.
For beginners and even experienced fighters, this proves to be a problem because if you slip too early or too wide, then your opponent will see your movement and can take advantage. Slip too late, and you’ll get hit. Learn how to do it the correct way.
How to Perform a Slip
Please note: The following points are made assuming that you and your opponent are both orthodox fighters.
Slipping Inside the Jab
When you’re in front of your opponent, keep both hands up by your chin. Your weight should be centered. The following movements must all be done simultaneously.
- As he pumps out his jab, rotate your body anti-clockwise and lean slightly to your left putting a bit more weight on your lead leg. It’s possible to just lean instead of rotating , but the rotation helps the movement of your guard.
- Pivot your rear foot the same direction as your hip rotation, which is anti-clockwise.
- Raise your rear hand slightly just in case the left hook comes. You’ll find that because of your movement, if your opponent throws a left hook, you should already be under it.
- If you want to get in closer, then as you’re slipping using your hips, add a step-in with your front foot first, so it should all be in one motion. Another way is to slip the jab first, then do a step-in jab of your own.
You should then be positioned inside of your opponent’s jab, which you can then throw your own jab or left hook to the head or body. If you want to get back into your original stance or slip another punch, you need to slip to your inside.
Slipping Outside the Jab
If you’ve already slipped to the inside of your opponent’s jab, then he may throw another jab, in which case you need to slip to the other direction. Alternatively, you can do this just from your original stance also.
- As he pumps out his jab, rotate your body clockwise and lean slightly to your right, shifting a bit of weight to your rear leg.
- Pivot both your feet the same direction as your hip rotation, which is clockwise.
- Although you will be on the outside of your opponent’s jab, you can still raise your lead hand slightly.
- To get in closer, you can step-in while pumping out your own jab. As you’re doing this, your head should always be positioned outside of your opponent’s jab.
Now you’re on the outside of your opponent’s jab which you can then fire the cross over his jab or an uppercut/hook to his body.
Remember These Points
- Use your hips to slip punches, not your neck.
- All movements are subtle to conserve energy and to confuse your opponent.
- All movements of the slip are done simultaneously.
Examples of Slipping Punches
Mike Tyson Slipping Punches
At the beginning of the above video, you see Tyson practicing his slipping drill with his trainer, who quickly pumps out the southpaw jab but not fully extended as Tyson is already in close.
Tyson closes in at a very fast pace and though you cannot see his footwork, but this is a way that he’s able to do it.
- As Tyson slips to his left, outside of the jab, he takes a step forward with his front foot only.
- As he slips to the right, inside the jab, he takes a step forward with his back foot to maintain his original stance positioning.
- On the last slip, he pivots clockwise with his lead foot while swinging his back foot in the same direction. He ends up further to his left (on the southpaw’s right side), where he should be when fighting a southpaw.
At 50 seconds of the above video, you see Tyson’s opponent throwing the double jab, which Tyson slips to the inside of the first, then outside of the second and follows up with a strong stiff jab. Notice how he keeps his eyes focused around his opponent’s chest at all times.
Roberto Duran Slip Counter
At 1.03 minutes of the above video, you see Duran’s opponent pumping the double jab. Duran has both his hands down, but is able to just barely slip the first punch by pulling back slightly.
He then slips to his right ending up on the outside of the jab, then comes with a counter right cross over the jab.
- Slipping Too Early: Keep your eyes fixated on the center of your opponent, preferably his chin or chest area. You can spot movements from either side better. If you slip too early, your opponent will be to identify which side you’re slipping to and will counter you.
- Slipping Too Wide: This is probably the most common mistake fighters make when slipping. They slip too far to their left or right, which wastes energy and prolongs your movement to step-in with a counterpunch. Your head should only end up about a head’s width to either side.
- Slipping Inside the Cross: You may get away with slipping to the inside of your opponent’s cross, but technically speaking, you should be on the outside of it. This way, he cannot follow up with his lead hook.
- Only Moving Head: Don’t use your neck to move your head from side to side to avoid punches because it hinders your vision and makes you an easier target as opposed to using your hips.
- Dropping Guard: You’ve probably seen elite boxers such as Pernell Whitaker and Roy Jones Jr slip punches with their hands down. The main problem is, you’re not them. If you’re inexperienced, you won’t have the reflexes or ability. It’s hard enough to do it with your guard up, let alone dropping your hands.
- Legs Too Wide When Stepping-In: When you’re slipping punches, chances are, you’re trying to get in close to an opponent or is moving back. This requires stepping-in, but if you step-in too far with a single step, your stance becomes too wide and you’ll be off balance and slower to recover your positioning. Take small-medium steps in and always make sure that you recover your original feet positioning before taking another step forward.
This is what can happen if you have your guard down. Kostya Tszyu throws the jab (intended as a feint), which causes Zab Judah, who is a southpaw, to slip too early to the outside of it.
Tszyu, who sees his movement, immediately follows up with a powerful cross which Judah cannot get out of the way of in time, then it’s lights out.
Master Slipping Punches
- Practice: You can use a partner, preferably someone taller than you with a longer reach, to pump out the jab and then you can practice slipping to either side. Another method is to use a slip bag, which hangs from the ceiling and swings back and forth. This helps you to improve your movement, timing and eye co-ordination when slipping the bag.
To master slipping punches, it takes a lot of patience, practice and experience in live combat situations. It won’t come easily and it shouldn’t be your only form of defense. When combined with the bob and weave technique, parrying and blocking punches, your defensive skills then become much more complete and well-rounded.
To get the most out of your training, I highly recommend the following articles:
► How to Increase Punching Power
► 10 Tips to Improve Boxing Footwork
► Boxing Basics
► Top 10 Best Heavy Punching Bags
► Top 10 Best Boxing Gloves