Boxer's Bible of Counterpunching: The Killer Response to Any Attack
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Boxer's Bible of Counterpunching: The Killer Response to Any Attack

by Mark Hatmaker

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All the tools necessary to build a powerful defensive base for boxing—every defense for every punch from every angle—are included in this manual. Punching prowess has become equated with boxing, but what is done in response to that incoming flurry makes a truly good boxer: how to make an opponent miss, how to easily defend, and, most importantly,


All the tools necessary to build a powerful defensive base for boxing—every defense for every punch from every angle—are included in this manual. Punching prowess has become equated with boxing, but what is done in response to that incoming flurry makes a truly good boxer: how to make an opponent miss, how to easily defend, and, most importantly, how to counterattack. Building on that defensive base, this book explores natural punching triggers, or logical counterpunching sequences, that move past the beginner’s realm of being a mere puncher into the upper echelons of crafty counter boxing. With encyclopedic boxing defensive drills bolstered by numerous illustrative photographs, this is a one-stop resource for learning the art of counterpunching.

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Boxer's Bible of Counterpunching

The Killer Response to Any Attack

By Mark Hatmaker

Tracks Publishing

Copyright © 2012 Mark Hatmaker and Doug Werner
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-935937-49-4


Defenses per punch

Defenses for each punch and each angle are listed in order of ease of execution. That is, defenses toward the beginning of each section are for novice through pro levels. Those defenses found toward the end of each section move you closer to becoming smoke.

High jab defenses

Cage / pinch

• Simply keep your chin tucked and pinch your guard together. Receive the punch on paralleled forearms.


• This one has the appearance of unpreparedness, but it does the job in a pinch as long as you reset your guard quickly.

• Raise your rear arm to the horizontal position — forearm facing out.

• Drop the lead arm to horizontally cover your liver.

• Place the forehead in the crook of the rear arm to receive impact.


• Receive the punch in the palm of the rear hand.

• Give a light smack into and up to begin educating opening lines.

• Don't reach for punches, allow them to come to you. Reaching opens up more lines for attack.

Leverage block

• Think of this as a "missed" catch and you're on the right track.

• Use the forearm of the rear arm to drive up and out on your opponent's incoming jab.

Inside parry

• A parry is a slight redirect. Keep in mind it doesn't take much to redirect so don't over-compensate with your parries. A miss of an inch is as good as a mile.

• Use the inside edge of the palm/forearm to brush/pat the jab from the inside to the outside.

• Step inside and away from the attack. Angle your upper body away from the punch while you parry.

Outside parry

• Use the rear hand to cuff/tap the glove of the jab from the outside to the inside.

• Again, not much force is required to do the job.

Cross parry

• A little 80/20 violation — use the lead hand to parry the jab from the inside to the outside.

Rear stopping/muffling

• Use the rear hand to "anticipate" a punch being fired.

• You will cover your opponent's lead glove with the palm of your own before it is fired.

Muffling/stopping is a key skill when using any upper body mobility (slips, ducks and weaves) to the inside position. Moving inside takes you into your opponent's power hand and a muffle on the rear hand is a nice safety.

Slip inside

• To all appearances a slip looks like head movement to evade a punch. True, except that ...

• The head is moved in tandem with the body.

• To slip inside the high jab, turn your rear shoulder toward your lead knee, bend the knees and pivot toward the lead knee on the balls of both feet.

Slip outside

• Reverse the preceding instructions.

• Turn the lead shoulder toward the rear knee, bend the knees and pivot on the balls of your feet.

Rear cuff down

• Think of cuffing as being a parry that travels along the vertical axis — up or down.

• Use the rear palm to cuff/brush the jab down.

Lead cuff down

• Use the lead hand this time.

Rear cuff up

• Getting into a cuff up can feel a little artificial, but we drill it as a mighty useful defense when your hands are cheated into less than ideal position when your opponent's offense is launched.

• Use the back of the rear glove to brush/tap the punch upward.

Lead cuff up

• Use the lead hand this time.

We get into a few footwork options here — prime smoke material. For greater detail on developing your footwork, see our book Boxer's Book of Conditioning & Drilling.

Step back

• What it sounds like.

• Step the rear foot to the rear followed by the lead to reset your stance.

Stance shift

• Simply step the lead foot rearward, in essence making your rear hand your new lead.

Quick shift

• Assuming you are properly stanced, drop the rear heel.

• Pivot on the ball of the rear foot toward your rear foot.

• At the same time drag the ball of the lead foot approximately 10 inches toward your rear foot (the inside ball of the foot will be facing the rear foot).

• Drive off the lead foot and take a step with your rear foot to your inside.

• Pivot toward your opponent and reset your stance.

• Sounds like a lot of steps, but this is an important step to becoming smoke.

Rear shift

• Aside from the change in guard work, this is simply a quick shift to an alternate direction.

• Pivot toward the rear foot.

• Keep your eye on your opponent and go Bruce Lee, that is ...

• Lean back and drop the lead glove to cover your liver, your lead hand covers the lead side of the jaw — palm facing out.

• Drag the toes of the lead foot 10 inches toward the rear foot.

• Drive off the lead foot toes and step the rear foot to the rear.

• Reset your stance.

Drop shift

• Perhaps the toughest to master of the footwork evasions, but once you've got it down, it sets you up nicely for inside work.

• Hit a ¼ squat on both legs.

• Drag the lead foot back approximately 8-10 inches ...

• Step the rear foot to the lead position and stand up.

A few upper body evasions that require a bit more finesse than slipping.


• Ideally, to roll or pull you keep your stance stock still to stay in punching range.

• Assuming a proper stance, drop your rear heel and lean toward your rear foot.

• Tighten your guard and take it with you.

• The rearward motion dissipates the force of the punch.

Snap back

• A snap back is simply a slicker roll or pull.

• Here your pull/roll implies that you have had to receive zero impact.

• Essentially they are the same motion, but we are splitting hairs to help you decide which is ideal for your own reach requirements.


• Hit a slight dip with the knees accompanied by a bend at the waist allowing the punch to pass overhead.


• A seldom seen today evasion from the old school — think of it as a duck with a safety added.

• Hit a ¼ bend at the knees while bending forward at the waist.

• Throw both arms up with elbows angled toward the outside to knock the incoming punch up and/or to the outside.

Weaving aka bob & weave

This is a highly useful skill used by some of the best.

Weave form

It's worth breaking it into pieces to get it right from the get-go.

• Think of the weave as "weaving" together both forms of the slip (inside to outside or vice versa).

• Point the lead shoulder toward the rear knee accompanied by a slight waist bend.

• Keeping your waist bent, point your rear shoulder toward your lead knee and rise back to full guard.

• Now reverse the motion. Point the rear shoulder toward the lead knee first, stay low and point the lead shoulder toward the rear knee and then rise.

Weave partner drill #1

• Have your partner/coach stand in front of you and extend his arm placing the palm of his lead hand on top of your lead shoulder.

• Hit the preceding weave drill back and forth — his hand will travel from shoulder to shoulder across the back of your neck as you drill.

Weave partner drill #2

• Weaving can put you in jeopardy of eating your opponent's opposite hand, so it is wise to muffle/stop your partner's rear hand.

• Here, you will drill as in Weave Partner Drill #1, but your partner will hold his rear hand in guard.

• At the start of each weave cycle, place your open lead glove on top of his rear hand.

Now using the weave against the High Jab.

Weave to the inside

• Weave from outside of the punch to the inside position.

Weave to the outside

• You know what to do.

Low jab defenses

I provided you with lots of options for defending the high jab because it is far and away the most utilized punch in boxing (and for good reason). You need good answers for an offense that you will see every single time you step into the ring.

You will encounter the low jab less often, but is wise to stop here and ponder why we will encounter it. The jab to the body is not a finisher. It is a relatively weak punch and usually not intended to do major damage. The low jab is primarily used to bring the defender's hands down to set up the head. Let's keep that in mind as we drill the following defensive options.

Rear elbow block

• Your go-to defense for the low jab.

• Assuming you are still in good guard position, turn your body toward the inside as a unit to receive the blow off the rear elbow.

• Essential: Move the body, not the elbow — maintain good guard at all times.

Lead elbow block

• Performed as above moving the body to receive the blow on the lead elbow, but I urge you to use the rear elbow block more (approximately 80 percent) so the lead arm is ready to counter ASAP.

Low fold or Forearm block

• Risky as it leaves the chin open, but it is (and has been) used successfully by many counterboxing wizards.

• Stack the forearms in front of the body target areas — the rear forearm on top of the lead.

• Receive the blow on the forearms and get back to high guard immediately.

Rear low parry / rear low brush

• Essentially a sweep against the punch from the inside to the outside line.

• The upper arm stays pretty much in the same place since the rear forearm does the work.

Think of your elbow as being the pivot point of a ball-and-socket joint and you're good to go.

Lead low parry / lead low brush

• The same mechanics as above with the lead arm.

Post and step away

• An old school defense used quite successfully by quick boxers and/or those with an appreciable range advantage.

• Post the open lead glove on the head of your opponent.

• At the same time, shuffle-slide your lead foot back a few inches.

• Swing the rear leg back to accent and assist your lead foot shuffle.

• At the same time, apply a rear low parry/brush with the rear hand for safety.

High rear straight defenses


• Use the open lead glove to receive the blow.

• Driving the caught blow a fraction upward and to your inside will open up countering angles.

Leverage block

• Use the lead arm to reach for your opponent's rear shoulder (inside his punching arm).

• Straightening your arm and turning your palm to the outside will keep your elbow high for better defense. Seems a bit awkward at first, but palm out will save your butt.

Shoulder roll

• All of the following happens simultaneously.

• Turn toward your inside.

• Raise your lead shoulder and place the lead glove over your liver.

• Raise the open rear glove to cover your chin.

• Lean slightly over the rear foot.

• Receive the blow on your lead delts.

Circle away

• A preemptive footwork strategy.

• Keep your footwork tending to the inside to make your opponent constantly work to set the rear hand.

A note on circling away from the power hand (lead hooks and rear straights)

Often you can be preemptive about defense by circling. Circling in the case of defending against a lead hook is to keep your footwork circling and tending to the left versus an orthodox stance and circling/tending to the right versus a southpaw.

Circling is less about being reactive to a punch and more about planning ahead. There is a caveat regarding circling — circling away from a lead hook steps you into your opponent's rear straight while circling away from a rear straight steps you into your opponent's lead hook. This is a tough dilemma, but it does not mean you toss circling as a useful tool.

Choosing not to circle leaves your opponent set for both power shots — the lead hook and the rear straight. Your job is to do your homework. Know either from studying your opponent prior to the fight or with careful observation in early rounds to determine which of the two power shots is the baddest. Once you know which one to be most concerned with, circle appropriately.

Crowding or circling into the rear hand

• Power and speed need room to generate. With that in mind, you can adopt a strategy of tending your footwork into your opponent's power hand and keeping it crowded so that it never has the room he needs to work to optimum.

• Keep your hands high if you adopt this tactic.

Low rear straight defenses

Essentially your low jab defensive arsenal.

Elbow block

• Simply block the blow with the lead elbow or forearm.

• As a rule, turn your body so that the elbow is in front of the blow as opposed to moving only your elbow.

Low fold or forearm block

• Place the forearms parallel and horizontal in front of the liver — lead forearm on the bottom.

• A risky one since it opens up the chin, but it has its place in the arsenal.

High lead hook defenses


• A bread and butter basic.

• Place the rear hand over your ear as if holding a phone while keeping your rear elbow vertical — winging the elbow out opens the body.

• Remember to take your head to your hand and not your hand to your head — lifting the elbow opens the body to attack, taking your head to your hand compacts your defense.


• Maintain good guard and hit a quick straight down drop underneath the attack.

• A duck moves as close to straight up and down as can be managed. Leaning forward while ducking opens up nasty uppercut opportunities for your opponent.

Step back

• Keep in mind a step back, unless accompanied by a quick step back in, usually nullifies or mitigates your countering opportunities.


• Step the lead foot to the outside.

• Pivot on the lead foot resetting your stance away from your opponent's lead hook.

Low lead hook defense

Low fold

• Perform as you do with the lead fold versus the low jab.

High rear hook defenses

Shoulder stop

• Step into your opponent and place the lead hand on your opponent's rear shoulder.

Bicep stop

• Performed as above, but here the hand is placed on his rear biceps.



• Think of the block as a long cover.

• Place the forearm between the rear hook and its target.

Low rear hook defense

Low fold

• When you fold against the rear low hook, turn the body as a unit to receive the punch as you fold.

Lead uppercut defenses

Uppercuts travel a vertical arc, and the actual target can be tough to determine. That is, is it fired to the body or head? These defenses will work in both target instances.

Step back or lean

• Merely stepping back or leaning away from an uppercut is often enough to do the job.


• Drop the rear hand down and to the outside sweeping his uppercut away.

Cross brush

• A little riskier because it exposes the chin.

• Drop the lead glove down on the uppercut and sweep it to the inside.


• Think of a chop as a brush with "oomph!" to it.

• With your rear forearm, chop down HARD on the wrist of the uppercut arm.

Rear uppercut defenses

Duplicate the low lead uppercut defense and you're good to go.


Pragmatic first measures

Not every single possible counter per punch is shown here, but rather an exhaustive reference of the highest scoring returns used by the best counter boxers the sport has produced.

High jab first measures

Return jab

• A return jab is exactly what it sounds like — your opponent jabs and you return your own jab.

• The best counter boxer treats his opponent's offense as a trigger for his own. Keep this immediate response in mind throughout.

Riding the jab

• This is essentially rolling or snapping back with the jab and firing the return jab on your return to position.

Inside parry to return jab

Inside parry to return jab with inside step

• Use footwork to get closer to your opponent. This will add more stink to your punches and shorten his offense, thus mitigating his power.

• Hit your inside parry while taking a short step forward and inside.

Outside parry pin to return jab

• The pin is not essential, but it is a nice bonus if you can make it stick.

• Use your outside parry to slap pin his extended jab against the deltoid of your return jab arm.

• No worries if the slap-pin doesn't occur. We just need the punch to miss and our return jab to bite. The pin is gravy if it happens.

Outside parry pin to return jab plus forward step

• Sometimes a forward step mined with your outside parry sticks the pin a bit better.

Outside parry pin to return jab plus drop shift

• This is an ideal opportunity for the seldom used drop shift.


Excerpted from Boxer's Bible of Counterpunching by Mark Hatmaker. Copyright © 2012 Mark Hatmaker and Doug Werner. Excerpted by permission of Tracks Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Mark Hatmaker is the bestselling author of Boxer's Book of Conditioning & Drilling, Boxing Mastery, the MMA Mastery series, the No Holds Barred Fighting series, and No Second Chance. He has produced more than 40 instructional videos and he has extensive experience in the combat arts including boxing, wrestling, Jiu-jitsu, and Muay Thai. A highly regarded coach of professional and amateur fighters, law enforcement officials, and security personnel, he is also the founder of Extreme Self Protection, a research body that compiles, analyzes, and teaches the most effective Western combat methods known. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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