How to Block and Counter in Boxing and MMA

Defense is one of the most fundamental parts of being a complete fighter, especially in your stand up game. Learning how to block punches and kicks and converting them into counters can create opportunities for you to take advantage of your opponent. This is especially true if your opponent is recklessly aggressive. Make them pay for over committing with a solid defense that transitions into a powerful offense.

Parry & Block Jabs and Uppercuts

Your basic defenses includes using your arms to block jabs and uppercuts. Before your opponent even throws the first punch, you want to pay a lot of attention to your posture and stance. Make sure your hands are up. An opponent will see your hands down as a signal that you are tired or gassed and will begin to punch you in your face.

Keep those hands where it makes them work to find an opening. Also, keep those elbows in, because flared out elbows not only make it hard for you to punch, but leave you open for a lot of stand up grappling techniques. All it takes is a split second for your elbows to be flared out for them to get a hook in and put you in an arm bar or a choke.

Once you have a solid stance, you can parry jabs with your hands. Use your hands to stop their punches, just like your sparring partner. Mirror your opponent and use your hands to block straights and uppercuts. And always remember, anytime you block to come back to a neutral position or be ready to throw a counter punch.

For straight up blocking as opposed to parries, put your hands on your head and roll your elbows to block the punches. It protects your head and makes your opponent desperate. They feel like they are connecting with great shots, but none of them are going to knock you out. This gives you time to find an opening and to begin your counter attack.

Block & Parry Hook

Hooks are the knockout punch for a lot of fighters. A hook to your temple or your liver is lights out, so use your hands to block that area. When you see the hook coming into your face, put your hand up to your ear and absorb the blow with your gloves.

Remember though, you will still be taking damage, so you can also parry the hook to set up a counter. With the opposite hand of whatever one your opponent is using, move your body into the hook and stop the punch with your hand. This opens up their body for a counter punch, or gives you a chance to shoot in for a takedown.

Watch this video demonstrating how to block punches from Andrew “The Squid” Montanez.

Blocking Muay Thai Kicks

Not everyone you will fight will be a boxer. Muay Thai fighters mix in a lot of leg work with their punching to make you play more defense.

Let’s say your opponent throws a low roundhouse kick. To block it, mirror your opponent just like with a punch, lift your leg, and check the kick with your shin. Point your toes up so that you can push their kick back.

If they come at you with a high kick, use your arms to block it. If he comes with the right foot, use your right arm and come across your body and block it with your forearm or elbow.  You will want to lean into the kick, so you can maintain your balance. Moving away from the kick can put your weight on your back foot, which can allow your opponent to move in with more strikes or to take you down.

If he is going at your head with a kick, or if the kick is coming in at an angle that you can’t decide, you need to bring your knee up to your elbow on that side and form a wall on that side of your body. Cup your hand to your ear just like if you were blocking a hook. Just remember, this movement can leave you open for a second to a take down, so be ready for it.

Blocking Push Kicks

Push kicks are designed to put you off balance, so when you see one coming you have several options to deal with it. If it is coming at your mid-section, tighten up those abs that you have been working on for stamina and take the kick in the stomach.

If you think this will gas you quicker, push the kick to the outside. Do this quickly and move with it, so your hands are not down for too long.

Don’t just stand there the whole fight and take punishment. A good defense includes giving it back as much as you are receiving. Keep a good stance, use the entire ring or octagon, and make your opponent work for every strike they try to deliver. Block, parry, and then counter attack with your own barrage.

Image Credit: Flickr/Peter Gordon via CC

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