Boxing’s all about hitting and not getting hit, and as much as you may not like it, anytime you step in the ring, you’re going to get hit. It’s inevitable.
Some fighter’s chins are just naturally solid as a rock, but for everyone else, you must learn how to take a punch in order to excel in the sport.
1) Build a Solid Foundation
Many reasons why fighters get hurt more than they’re supposed to is because of poor conditioning, especially to the legs. Your legs give you support, stability and balance, so it’s vital that you build your leg muscles for strength and endurance.
When you do get hit hard, your legs become like jelly and it’s difficult to stand, let alone move around. Having a strong base underneath you will help you to recover your legs much quicker.
2) Body Positioning
Having strong legs is one thing, but they’re no use if you don’t know the correct position to be in when a punch comes your way. Always try to be positioned at an angle where you can see the direction of your opponent’s punches (or ideally where they can’t even reach you).
Never square your feet up as you can easily be knocked off balance. Keep your knees slightly bent at all times to give your body much stronger support.
Also, remember to tuck your chin in towards your chest or behind your shoulder, because it’s the most vulnerable part above your neck.
3) Strengthen Your Neck
Think of your head as a gyro ball (a ball within a ball). Anytime there is a quick impact on the neck or above, the liquid surrounding your brain causes it to shudder.
This is why the jaw is the most vulnerable because whenever there is a forceful impact, it causes your head to accelerate in a certain direction while your muscles and bones acts as a stopper.
While this is happening, your brain is moving around and can crash into the side of your skull, which results in knockdowns, knockouts and even worse.
The last thing you want when someone hits you is for your neck to snap back (whiplash) or rotate quickly. By strengthening your neck as a shock absorber, you will minimize the possibility of sharp rotations to your head.
4) Stay Loose and Relaxed
If you tighten up before impact, you won’t be able to react as quickly when a punch is coming your way. This means that you’ll be slower to roll with the punches. Therefore, you must keep your entire body loose and relaxed to prepare for the moment of impact (purely on reflexes).
5) Roll With the Punches
Some of the greatest defensive fighters such as Floyd Mayweather Jr and James Toney adopt the shoulder roll technique because it enables them to not only deflect punches easier, but to also roll with them. It’s not that they never get hit, it’s the fact that they rarely ever get hit with CLEAN punches.
You’ve probably seen some boxers who roll punches with their head only (Muhammad Ali was great at doing this). This requires good reflexes and takes half the steam off a punch. Whether you’ve getting hit to the head or body, always roll and rotate towards the direction that the punch is going / away from the punch.
6) Watch Your Opponent
Always keep your eyes on your opponent because the punches that hurt the most are the ones that you don’t see.
A common mistake, especially for beginners is closing the eyes before a punch comes (even on feints). If you do this, snap out of the habit.
Some other bad habits are looking away before a punch comes and closing the eyes when throwing a punch. If you were to face a good counterpuncher, he may catch you with your eyes closed and it would be very bad news for you.
7) Tighten and Breath out for Body Shots
A well placed body shot to the solar plexus or liver will almost certainly cause your legs to collapse and fold you over. These kind of shots are nearly impossible to get up from and even if you do, it’ll affect you for the rest of the fight.
Aside from rolling with the body shot, the next best thing would be to tighten your muscles on impact and as you do, breathe out slightly. Don’t hold your breath as you’ll just end up getting the wind knocked out of you.
8) Don’t Collide
Whenever you fall into a punch, it increases the impact of the punch greatly. It’s like a train colliding head on with car. To prevent this from happening you have to keep your body weight gravity centered as much as possible.
This means that when you throw a punch, don’t lean in or commit to it too much (unless you’re very confident that it’ll land). If you’re carelessly throwing power shot after power shot, a good boxer will just step back, make you miss and fall onto a big counter.
9) Be in Top Physical Condition
The better your conditioning, the more punishment you can absorb. You must always be in top physical conditioning, not just in terms of strength and power, but more importantly endurance.
When you get hit hard, dizziness will set in and your muscles, particularly in the legs will cause spasms as a result of the millions of signals your brain is sending. How long you take to recover from this all depends on how well your muscles are able to cope under this type of stress.
A vital factor that plays a major role in your conditioning is your diet. You must learn how to properly cut weight without losing strength, which is why I recommend the 30 Day Fighter’s Diet program that has helped amateur and pro fighters lose weight while optimizing strength.
Stay Calm and Learn How to Survive
So you’ve just been hit by a massive punch and all the usual effects start to settle in. What do you do? Another clean punch can send you to the floor again and even turn your lights off.
This is where you must learn how to survive and the first step is to remain calm. It’s easier said than done, but if you’ve prepared for this moment then you can get through it without too much danger.
When your opponent gets close, push his head down and put your body weight on top or clinch him by tying up his arms. Don’t grab the waist, because it still allows your opponent to punch. You can also pivot out the way and then tie him up from behind or the side.
Whatever you do, don’t get trapped in the corner or on the ropes, and don’t trade punches. Wait until you have your senses back and then resume back to your original game plan.
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