Did you know there are only two basic forms of a punch?
What are they, you ask? Straights and Hooks! Simple right?
So these define the shape of the punch. The difference is very obvious.
There are dozens of variations of hooks. The uppercut is not a different punch. It is really just a vertical hook in reality.
Changing the angle of attack does not make it a different punch. It’s just a hook delivered upward!
I know what you are thinking, but what about all these other punches I hear about and have been taught!
They aren’t wrong. In fact, they are right. I’m just giving you the clear format and core of how that punch originates. All other punches are variations coming from these two choices.
And that’s why It’s called the art of boxing. You must be creative in there with only two weapons to use.
So what now?
As a former undefeated boxer, I’m going to give you the success you are looking for with the fundamentals of the hook.
Well, I was once a boxer. I understand that we want to know that we are doing it right to gain maximum power while not hurting ourselves.
So I’ve studied and put in countless hours of heavy lifting to get you to where I am now. I will break down this punch for you while answering some common questions and how to avoid common mistakes.
Ok, now that you are hooked, let’s curve right into the good stuff.
A hook ranks as the 2nd most destructive punch in boxing!
Primarily a short-range punch, used in compact spacing with an opponent or a bag, your choice of what you feel like hitting that day.
The power of the punch is generated from the balls of the feet going up into the butt cheek, then the obliques, and lastly, leaving through your fist as you complete the turning motion.
Great fighters who are known for hooks like Tommy Hearns with his length and speed he was able to throw a crisp short left hook making it look effortless, Roy Jones Jr with the double, triple combination of hooks, Mike Tyson with one punch knock out power in his hooks.
The hook is thrown in many different ways. As you can see, choosing what works best for you will take practice and patience.
Repetition, you are going to hear this a lot. Start off by getting in your proper boxing stance. You should have one by now.
The power starts from the ground up, keep your legs bent to generate more power.
Lower your center of gravity.
Your knees will also bend as you do this. Make sure your knees do not go too far forward.
Keep your chest up and your eyes straight ahead, looking at your target.
You should end up with your shins close to vertical and your shoulders over your toes.
How far apart you place your feet will vary between each fighting style.
For more power, get lower with a wider stance and really commit to the punch.
As you keep the momentum of energy transferring up through your body, the next step is the hips.
Either hand you use needs a pivot with some hip rotation and the opposite foot with the heel in the ground.
It can be confusing to understand how to rotate our bodies. Not all of us have full control over our bodies.
We may be looking like we are rotating our body like everyone else but are we doing it efficiently?
People thought about rotation as the twisting of the torso. What we want is the movement of the hips and stability of the lower back.
Injury-free is key. Let’s last long in this sport, champs!
Rotate your lead shoulder slightly inward.
The creation of rotation starts with the foot by pivoting. The feet are the drivers of the glutes and help us with core stability from the ground up.
Lead hook: You have two options, either you have a short quick hook or wind up power hook.
Short and quick, release the hand leading with the first two knuckles and the palm facing you or down in a fist.
Wind up for power, rotate the back shoulder forward and the lead shoulder down and away. This action is similar to throwing an overhand right (without actually throwing it).
Release the hand from your body out at a 90° angle horizontally. Rotate through your body, starting with your lead foot, all at the same speed to stay connected.
Rear hook: one option here, power!
Your backhand is already wound up behind you. Raise it into a 90°angle, turn the palm facing you or down and lead with your first two knuckles.
With either hand, you throw the opposite hand remains home protecting the face.
After you hit your opponent in the face/arm/body/liver/kidney/balls or just miss (hopefully not miss), you need to return back to your starting position.
This is one of the main reasons that technique is so crucial - because it's more about what you do after the punch than your punch itself. And your form needs to be on point if you're going to be in position to punch again, dodge, move, or block, or celebrate (in the event of a KO 😉
Always practice by returning to your starting position, fully balanced.
Lead arm you pull back to gain power while keeping it close to your body. This prevents opening up the punch too early.
As you throw the punch, keep your elbow up and wrist tight with the arms parallel to the floor.
The hook uses the full-body. Make sure to gain speed and power through your lower half by pivoting on the balls of your feet, rotating you’re through your hips and torso.
The opposite foot that is not pivoting has its heel in the ground to maintain balance.
The opposite hand will stay posted on the cheek to protect.
Rotate back to your starting position while throwing your next punch or just for defense. When you get back to the beginning, keep your hands up, body bladed, and light on your feet to move around.
Variations of the hook include
This is a short lead hook, a small pivot with the front foot—quick, tight rotation with the punch.
As the name says, you will be following through all the way. Good or bad, you are committed. This will give you the freedom to throw as much power as you can harness.
With good timing and footwork, this has tremendous upside. Your opponent is just out of range. You push off of both feet and turn your body in the air while throwing the hook.
Uppercut? The angle is right in between the two punches. The elbow isn’t fully down or up. It’s at 45°. This is best thrown as a liver shot or just a nasty body shot in general, digging upwards below the last rib.
Throw a hook anywhere! Give them dead arms, punch their gloves into their face, bruise their knuckles when they block it.
So many times, we get tied up on a specific target when we get another human in front of us. But when we work that bag, we just punish it anywhere and everywhere.
My advice to you, treat your opponent like a punching bag.
That being said, some direction helps too.
The best place to aim that hook is at their liver. It’s hard, and I mean hard to recover from a liver shot!
Recently Ryan Garcia defeated Luke Campbell with a liver shot; unable to get off the canvas, the fight was stopped with one punch.
Another great place is the head. Even if you block a headshot, you can feel it. It’s best to roll with a hook, but not all are great at rolling.
Body shots are king. Teddy Atlas says put water in the basement. This means even if you can’t visibly see your opponent hurting from the punches, trust the process because they are slowing him/her down guaranteed!
They will be drowning in the later rounds gasping for air.
Dropping your hands is a common mistake. I’ve done this because it helps with balance and feels like it gives me momentum. But it’s easy to get caught, and you don’t want that.
Standing straight up, you lose power by being tall. You can have a snappy lead hook, but that’s about it. In a bent-knee stance, you can have both.
Telegraphing is far too common. A big winding punch lets your opponent see what you are about to throw and so they block or move out of the way. Keep your punches tight.
Overextending, if you commit to the hook, that’s fine throw with no caution; you are all in. if you have other punches set up after or a defensive movement, that’s when you need to shorten the hook to bring it back.
Work on form, break down the movement.
Use light 2-5lb weights to build muscle endurance.
Use bands to build speed.
Use a bag to build strength.
Practice and patience; drillers make killers. Get the reps in. work on form, get a mirror, record yourself, keep studying greats like Joe Frazier and Oscar De La Hoya.
You have the tools. The rest is up to you to apply it. Bring it to life and show us why you’re the next champ, Champ.