How to punch – A comprehensive breakdown

how to punch

No matter if you goal is to improve your punching technique for Boxing or Kickboxing. There is little doubt that no punch is as effective as the boxer’s punch. Today you’re going to learn how to punch like a boxer.

Are you finding it confusing knowing the exact punching technique and footwork that will allow you to be the most effective? It can be a bit of a minefield out there. What’s the difference between a boxing punch vs. a Kickboxing punch? What about other martial arts?

This article will provide you with a comprehensive breakdown of everything you need to get the most pop from your punches while staying as safe as possible. It is important to remember that with any combat sport, it isn’t about just hitting the other person, it’s about avoiding being hit too!

This guide is suitable for absolute beginners and those currently training looking to brush up their punching skills for any style of combat sport. Allow us to utilise our experience as world champions and world class trainers to help you reach your potential.

  • 1 The stance

    Mission Control – How To Punch

    The example above is of an orthodox stance fighter [right hand dominant], if you are a southpaw [left hand dominant] simply switch the stance by putting your right foot forward.

    Balance is an essential component to any combat sport, you’ll notice that the feet aren’t too close together or too far apart, also that they are both turned outwards just off-centre to allow for optimal body mechanic balance.

    All of our punches today will begin and end in this stance.

    Let’s learn how to punch.

  • 2 The jab

    What is it?

    how to punch

    The strike thrown with your lead hand in a straight trajectory is your jab. This punch will be used when you’re looking to get offensive and/or if you need it for defensive reasons. Although it is a vitally important punch to master, many fighters including professional fighters do not put the time into developing a technically sound jab. They often pay dearly for it.

    How to do it right – Stationary execution

    Let’s start by looking at the foot positioning before the jab is thrown. You’ll notice that this is the standard stance. You do not want to be starting your jab in any other stance.

    how to punch

    Now, as you send your jab out in a straight trajectory, begin turning your wrist so that when contact is made your palm is facing down.

    how to punch

    Upon contact, you want to complete the same maneouvre but in reverse. So return your wrist back to its original position and recoil your arm until you find yourself back in your standard stance.

    how to punch

    If you followed the steps above, you completed a basic jab from a stationary position. Well done, you now know 50% of how to jab, let’s move onto the footwork.

  • 3 Jab in movement

    Finding your target – How To Punch

    Without getting into range to land your punch, it won’t do you much good. Let’s look at how we can do that.

    As always, we begin in our standard stance. 

    If we are moving forwards, towards our opponent, we will begin by taking the lead foot forward by half a step and then bring the rear foot forward by half a step so that we are back in the standard stance, but closer to our opponent.

    Now, if we are looking to get more space, retreat from a situation or bait an opponent, we would perform the same movement in reverse. Starting with a half step with your rear foot and then followed by a half step from your lead foot. Although your first thought might be to get out ASAP if you’re in trouble, throwing technique out of the window, this only leaves you more vulnerable. Stay disciplined.

     Moving laterally (side to side) is also very important, both to open up opportunities to land and to throw off the predictability of your movement. 


    • Moving right
      • Step with your rear foot to the right first

        • Then follow with your front foot(ending up in standard stance)

    • Moving left
      • Step with your front foot to the left first

      • Then follow with your rear foot (ending up in standard stance)

    how to punch


    • Moving right
      • Step with your front foot to the right first

      • Then follow with your rear foot (ending up in standard stance)

    • Moving left
      • Step with your rear foot to the left first

      • Then follow with your front foot (ending up in default stance)

    How about if you want to jab while moving?

  • 4 Power jab

    A serious weapon – How To Punch

    The power jab has the potential to do significant damage to your opponent, while putting you in a less compromising position than you’d be in if you threw a cross. While the power jab won’t match the kind of power that a cross can generate, it can still be a devastatingly effective punch if executed correctly.

    As always, begin in default stance.

    Now step forward a full step with your lead foot and throw your jab out upon the ball of your front foot touching the ground. 

    how to punch

    While the recoil is in motion, bring your rear foot into position by stepping forward with it so you are back in standard stance.

  • 5 Distance eliminator jab

    Getting close and personal – How To Punch

    Similar to the previous jab, there is movement of the feet that takes place when this manoeuvre is executed. However, the aim here is to get closer to your opponent without getting hit to allow for shorter range power shots to be landed i.e. hooks and uppercuts.

    As always, begin in your standard stance.

    Throw the jab as taught before from a stationary stance.

    Upon recoil take your step forward as taught previously

  • 6 The cross

    What is it?

    One of the most powerful shots you will ever learn to throw is the cross. This punch is thrown in a straight trajectory towards your opponent from your rear hand. In comparison to the jab, the cross can generate significantly more power due to its ability to utilise more of your body.

    How to do it right – Stationary execution [To the head]

    Just like the jab, you will be starting out in the standard boxing stance. Remember, you always want to start and end in the same stance. 

    Your rear foot will play a key role in this manoeuvre. On the ball of your foot, begin turning inwards, taking the knee and the hip with you.

    The indicator to release your punch is when your hips are directly in front of your opponent. Send forward that charged up energy through your rear hand by throwing it in a straight trajectory at your opponent like a rocket. While you’re in the motion of releasing the cross, twist your upper body into the shot slightly.

    Remember, technique is everything. Just like with the jab, you want to make contact with your opponent with your palm facing down and that during recoil you are completing exactly the same manoeuvre (from the throwing of the punch stage) but in reverse. Sloppiness will leave you vulnerable. Remember you’re trying to learn how to punch, not how to get knocked out.

  • 7 The cross in motion

    Putting their lights out – How To Punch

    Although a cross packs quite the punch (excuse the pun) compared to the jab, it exchanges speed for power. Therefore, cross punches are rarely ever thrown naked i.e. by themselves. There is very little difference between the footwork for a cross and a jab, other than the rotation that needs to be made and then corrected when the cross is thrown.

    Here are two examples that can be utilised effectively, allowing for optimal offence and defence.

    Example A – Simple 1 – 2 advancing into range

    Begin in your default stance

    Take 1 step towards your opponent (remember to bring your front and rear leg with you with you)

    Throw your jab (technique explained above)

    While it is recoiling through your cross

    how to punch

    Reset to standard stance

    Example B – Simple 1 – 2 baiting your opponent

    Begin in your standard stance

    Take 1 step backwards away from your opponent

    Wait for your opponent to come into range (just close enough  for you to land your jab at full perfect form extension).

    Once they do, react as if they’ve triggered a tripwire. Sending out your jab instantly.

    how to punch

    As it is recoiling simultaneously send out the cross.

  • 8 Body shot Cross

    What is it?

    how to punch

    Even to this day, with the amount of knowledge we have gathered through the years of watching the ‘sweet science’ in action, many boxers still almost exclusively head-hunt. While it is true that when a cross connects to the head it can be devastatingly effective, it is also highly guarded for this exact same reason. So what is the other option? Something that has been coined ‘putting water in the tank’. Utilising this shot will allow you to drain your opponent’s gas tank, open up opportunities to land that headshot you want and give your opponent more to think about.

    How to do it?

    Begin in your standard stance

    Drop your stance by bending your knees, until you’re directly inline with the position of the body you want to make contact with

    Begin turning on the ball of your rear foot, once your hips are directly in front of your opponent let your cross fire directly at your opponent’s mid-section. (don’t forget to turn the punch over as you would with a standard jab/cross, with your palm facing down upon impact)

    Recoil the manoeuvre in reverse as you would for any other punch

    End up back in standard stance

  • 9 Things to avoid

    Going ‘overboard’

    Balance is essential. Although it may be tempting to throw your body into a punch completely, you never want to go over your knee when throwing a punch. Keep your technique clean and you’ll be rewarded for it. Avoiding a shot is worth twice as much as landing a shot, don’t overreach and leave yourself more vulnerable than necessary.

    Arm punching

    This is a common error made by beginners that haven’t been shown how to throw a full punch adequately. The best way to understand the difference between a full punch and an arm punch is by using a car analogy. Your arm punch is like trying to drive a car as fast as you can in first gear, you’ll move but not with any real purpose. On the other hand, a full punch, utilising the entire body, will be like driving as fast as you can in 5th gear. You’re maximising your full jab potential.

  • 10 Conclusion

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    It takes consistent practise to master the techniques mentioned above. The most humble fighters, even world champions, will admit that they are still on the path to mastery. Although it may feel unnatural at first, training with sound technique is essential. This will ensure that you are not building any bad habits that you’ll have to spend twice as long in the future trying to unlearn. Clean, crisp technique with a clear mind and a solid gas tank makes for a formidable opponent, that is what you are aiming for. Good luck champ!

    If you’d like to train with world-class level instructors, in a friendly environment, TFC is your go-to location. We are based in Logan, South East Queensland. Book in a free trial session today here.

    Would you like to enjoy the benefits of TFC but are unable to make our in-person sessions? No problem! You can join our online program where Ben Johnston (former WBC World Muay Thai Champion) and Co. train you and provide essential tips to get the most out of your training. Find out more here.