Any boxer, whether they are a professional or a beginner who just likes throwing a few punches at the local gym, will rave about the importance of a balanced boxing stance. Maintaining a good stance will allow the boxer to execute punches successfully and accurately and will make it easier to position his feet correctly.
The boxing stance seen most commonly today is different to the one favoured in the late nineteenth century. Early twentieth century hookers chose to adopt a primarily horizontal guard with knuckles facing forward. Conversely, modern boxers appear to prefer an upright, vertical-armed guard. As well as this historical difference, there is a geographical difference. Fighters from North America appear to prefer a more balanced boxing stance and choose to face their opponent. Conversely, many European fighters twist their upper body to the side.
To adopt an orthodox stance, you should stand with your legs roughly shoulder-width apart. Your back foot should be about half a step behind your front foot. If your dominant boxing hand is your right hand, your left foot will lead. Lift your right heel off the ground by about 3 inches and point both feet inward (although do not exaggerate this movement). If you lift your heel too far off the ground, or turn your feet too far inward, you will become unbalanced. As a test, imagine someone pushing you from any direction. In a properly balanced stance, you should be able to maintain an upright position and not fall to the ground or sway from side to side. To increase the stability of your stance, keep your knees and hips slightly bent but make sure your back is straight.
Your lead fist (which will be your left fist if your dominant boxing hand is your right hand) should be positioned vertically at eye level, approximately six inches away from your face. Your right fist should be positioned next to your chin, with your elbow held against your ribcage. This is good defensive positioning and will effectively protect your body. Whilst watching televised boxing matches, you may have noticed the boxers tapping their cheeks with their hands. This repetitive action acts as a reminder to keep fists up at all times and is especially important as the match progresses and energy levels drop. To further protect yourself from blows from your opponent, keep your chin pressed against your chest. Punches to the jaw often cause knock-outs, so it is essential to keep this stance throughout the boxing match.
You may choose to fight from a crouch (or semi-crouch) position during a boxing match. If you choose this option, lean forward rather than maintaining an upright position, whilst making sure your feet are kept close together.
The most important thing to remember when adopting a balanced boxing stance is to relax. If you start to become tense, your balance will be negatively affected and you will be more likely to receive a harmful blow from your opponent. Your neck and back should never feel under any pressure. If your neck and back do feel tense, you may be leaning your shoulders too far forward and not rotating your hips in line with them.
If you want to increase the range of your punches, try positioning your front foot ahead of your head. To see the difference that this new stance can make, stand in front of a punch bag whilst keeping your back foot steady and in the normal position. Punch forward slowly and keep your punch at its full extension. After this, move your lead foot in front of your head and repeat the punching movement. Stop the punch at its full extension and you should be able to notice the increased range now available to you. When practising this variation, keep the other elements of the orthodox stance, such as the position of the elbows and chin, the same.
A southpaw stance is the stance commonly adopted by a left-handed fighter. In this stance, you should position your right foot forward and keep your left hand behind your right hand. The stance is essentially a mirror image of the standard boxing stance. Historically, this stance has been considered as less effective than the orthodox stance. However, boxers who solely use the orthodox stance can have problems when they encounter boxers using the southpaw stance. This is because all the punches will arrive from unexpected directions and angles. On the other hand, southpaw boxers are often left vulnerable to an opponent’s straight right hand.