The best form of defence is evasion. You can evade passively or you can hit at the same time as evading. This is the beauty of boxing in that most times your hitting your opponent whilst evading his attack. There are basically two types of evading. First with footwork and then with body movement. Becoming good at evasion takes time and a bit of courage as the natural thing is to use your arms to block or ward off blows.
The thing is to work hard at it so that it becomes natural and you can evade under pressure. For the body you’ve got four types of evasion. First left to right slipping. Think of this like a metronome going left and right. Practice this standing in front of a mirror first and raise and lower your body as you do it. Then add punching between the beats.
The idea is to be mobile so that they can’t hit you. Then slip or bob forwards as if putting your head near their armpit. Again start by doing this rhythmically in a mirror or against a partner attacking slowly. Eventually you’ll be doing it at full speed but you need to start slow.
Third you’ve got bobbing and weaving. Bob and weave under their blows in particular hooks and wide swings; those that come around from left and right. Use your feet to move and let your body follow. Think of making your body twist like a helix. Eventually the head does hardly any movement you just disappear. Do bobbing and weaving and slipping pro-actively don’t wait until you see the blow. Think about having a slight bounce in your knees so that it’s easier to get started.
The last form of evasion is snapback where you use your rear foot and bounce back out of range using a rearwards step or just by bouncing on the back foot. Keep your leg fairly stiff and think of it like a little trampoline that you’re going to bounce of off. Normally you get about eighteen inches extra distance without doing a step and can get almost a meter if you do a six or eight inch step backwards. Remember to do the small step and then bounce back. Drills like the jab-catch drill are great for teaching this. This is one of my favourite ways of evading.
Do the drills first slowly in a mirror and then in shadow boxing. Ring the changes and don’t stay still or in one place for two long. The secret if there is one is to overdo the evasion in training so that you’ve got the body knowledge when you spar.
Start using it in sparring by going slowly or having it as a theme. Getting your opponent to hit the air around you is the ultimate aim. To hammer the point home give them a nonchalant look.
I’ll cover the footwork part of evasion in the next post.
Watch great boxers like the early Roberto Duran fights to see a master evader at work.