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One of the most important fundamentals for any fighter, both amateur and professional, is the ability to play defense. Blocking and ducking kicks and punches, as well as dodging are all part of the complete defensive skill set. The most important of them all could arguably be dodging.
When you learn how to dodge punches you don’t get hit, and not getting hit means you don’t get hurt, and not getting hurt means you don’t get knocked out. Here are a few of the techniques that you will need to perfect to build a solid blocking foundation.
Slipping the Jab and Cross
Jabs and crosses are the most basic punches someone will throw at you in a fight. They are almost always used to set up a combination, so getting out of the way of them is a great way to disrupt their future plans. And although they take very little stamina to throw, it will cost you even less to dodge them, giving you the energy advantage.
The technique for dodging these two punches is called slipping. For a jab, you will stay in your normal stance and slightly bend from the waist up to the side, slipping out of the way of the jab. You will move to the outside of the punch, meaning against a right-handed fighter you will slip to the right, and for a southpaw, you will slip to the left. This will not only help you not get hit but also opens up the outside of their body for a hook or a liver kick. You can also use this to set up an uppercut or a knee.
Slipping a cross is very similar. You move to the outside of their body, left or right, depending on if they are right-handed or southpaw. It gives you a lot of options for punches to counter. Check out the video from MMA Surge explaining how to dodge punches in MMA.
Roll Towards the Hook
Hooks are usually the finishing shots for a lot of fighters. A hook has a lot of bad intentions behind it and can knock you out if hit flush.
Your first instinct is to move your head back when you see a hook coming. This is a mistake. By doing this, you are not only leaving your entire core open for punches, but you are also giving your body away for a potential takedown. You might even lose your footing.
Instead of getting on your heels, step towards them, and put your head into their armpit. Then roll outside of the hook and you have a lot of opportunities to work their face or body. Missing a big shot like a hook also sets them off balance, which can give you an opportunity to take their back for a slam or takedown.
Step Back Into a Lunge Position
If you want to create space between you and another fighter, you want to do it as defensively as possible. You don’t want to turn around and sprint to the other side of the ring or the octagon, but you can step back into a lunge position. This technique is pretty basic but can be super effective when executed.
While keeping your opponent in front of you, place your back foot a little further back as if you are doing a lunge exercise. This will lower your sightline to their chest or stomach area, so keep your eyes up when doing this. Also, use your lead hand like a blocker, palm out. Keep your other hand up in a strike.
This technique is great if you don’t have a lot of reach. It gives you the ability to create space while still giving you the ability to move in for a decent attack.
Putting It All Together for Combinations
Punches usually never come one at a time, so you need to be able to take all three of these techniques and combine them together.
For example, one of the most common boxing combinations is two straight hands and a hook. This just means you need to take the dodges you learned and combine them into a counter combination. Slip, slip again, and then roll. This dodges the jab, the cross and the hook.
Another punching combo is the cross to hook to cross. Put your moves together into a slip, a roll, then another slip.
When those combos are coming in, you will need to focus on your footwork and defense. You will be changing a lot of distance, and making a lot of moves to the left and right, so it is important to maintain the proper foot positions to not get tangled up or lose your balance.
Practice these techniques alone in a mirror, or with a heavy bag, so you can understand what your entire body looks like when dodging. And once you get comfortable by yourself, grab your training gloves and find a training buddy that will throw different combos at you in a sparring punch mitt session, so you can work on your technique in a more live situation.