“It’s not the punches you throw, it’s how you throw them.”
It sounds like that cliche lecture you’ve heard all your life about quality over quantity. Well the saying holds true for boxing as well. Throwing quality punches (with accuracy and timing) is far more useful than throwing punches in bunches (wasting energy and leaving you vulnerable).
But it’s more than just quality. Throwing punches with different rhythms confuses opponents. You can use different rhythms to make your attacks more effective without inventing new punches or spending extra energy.
You can create an infinite number of combinations even while throwing the same punches over and over…simply by changing your attack rhythm!
Why You Should Change Your Attack Rhythm
Throwing combinations with the same rhythm is the easiest way to be predictable. Smart opponents can sense when the next punch will come and know how to react before you’ve even thrown the punch.
Q: What’s the most predictable attacking rhythm?
Throwing non-stop hard shots is how most beginners will attack. It doesn’t sound smart but that’s exactly what I used to do. I practiced nothing but hard shots for months. The punches got faster and stronger but they were still predictable. After a sparring session with a pro, he told me, “Johnny, I can feel your punches coming. You punch the same way all the time.”
He meant that I was throwing my combinations with the same rhythm — every combination sounded like *bam!-bam!-bam!*. Everybody could sense my rhythm and knew when I would attack. That little bit made it easier for everyone to evade my attacks. Fortunately, I learned how to alter my rhythm by changing the speed and holding back my power on certain punches. Over the years, I come to recognize these 7 basic attack rhythms you’ll see used over and over again.
Attack Rhythm #1. (fast-HARD-fast-HARD)
It’s simple but it works. Imagine somebody throwing a 1-2-1-2 combination. Instead of trying to throw all four punches powerfully, you throw the jabs super fast and then smash in the right hands. Instead of bam-BAM-bam-BAM, your combination sounds more like baBAM!-baBAM!
The combination is instantly more effective because you put more emphasis on the right hands by bringing them in faster. Your opponent is so busy trying to evade your jab, he gets hit by the hard right hand. This is a great rhythm for fighters with really hard crosses. Fast jab and HARD cross, over and over.
You could also be unorthodox like some fighters and throw a 2-3-2-3 combination with this rhythm. How this works is you would throw tapping right jabs followed by huge left hooks. I remember Roy Jones Jr easily outboxing his opponents in the Olympics with the same combination.
Attack Rhythm #2. (fast-fast-HARD)
It’s a simple combo but many fighters are scared to throw it exactly as described. They’re afraid to wait till the 3rd shot to throw the first hard punch. Anyways, so here’s how we do this: throw 2 really fast shots to surprise your opponent and then finish with the 3rd hard shot. In the first example combination, you throw 2 really fast jabs to disrupt your opponent. The 2nd jab will come as a surprise if you throw it fast enough, which sets up your right hand perfectly.
As shown above, you can also throw the 1-2-3 and 3-1-2 combination with this same rhythm. The first two fast shots should make your opponent put up his defense while the 3rd shot delivers the damage.
Attack Rhythm #3. (evade-fast-fast-fast)
This is an easy evasive attack rhythm that works surprisingly well. All you have to do is evade your opponents first punch, thus breaking his rhythm, and then blitz him with a fast 3-punch counter before he regathers his senses. Up above, I posted a few examples of easy combinations to throw. Don’t worry too much about what he throws; evade the first shot and counter with 3. Keep doing it over and over.
This is a great rhythm for high volume fighters or fighters with fast hands. I simply walk towards my opponent in a stalking manner. As soon as he fires, I pull away and then come back with 3 punches. Do it over and over for maximum damage. Try it!
Attack Rhythm #4. (fast-evade-HARD)
A quick counter rhythm to put your opponents on their toes. Throw a fast shot, evade the counter, then counter back hard. Throw a jab, slip the counter, counter right hand. Or throw a lead right, roll off the counter, then hard counter right. It helps to be fast and sneaky. This combo works best in the beginning of fights when it’s too early to commit, and at the end of fights when opponents get lazy with their counters.
Attack Rhythm #5. (fast-fast-fast-evade-HARD)
Another great attacking rhythm with an evasion and HARD counter at the end. Throw 3 fast punches to force your opponent to exchange, evade your opponent’s counter, and return a HARD counter. Do this right a few times and you’ll scare your opponent from fighting back.
In the first example combo, I’m slipping a counter jab. In the second example combo, I’m slipping a counter right. In the 3rd and 4th combos I’m rolling under counter rights and left hooks. These combos work best against aggresive fighters and punchers. They trade eagerly so you beat them by throwing fast shots to bait their counters, then evade before countering hard.
Attack Rhythm #6. (fast-HARD-HARD-fast)
- 1-2-3-2-1 (fast-HARD-HARD-HARD-fast)
This attack rhythm is a series of hard punches that start and end with fast shots. The fast shot at the beginning sets you up, the fast shot at the end gets you out. The finishing shot at the end must be fast to disrupt your opponent’s counter. Theoretically, you could throw endless hard shots and throw the fast one only when you sense your opponent about to counter.
Attack Rhythm #7. (HARD-HARD-HARD-evade-fast-fast-evade)
This rhythm is a lot of fun and incredibly annoying for your opponents. Throw 3 hard shots, move, double jab, move again. Your opponent will be thrown off because you keep switching between hard and fast combinations. You’re hitting him hard and then running, then throwing 2 jabs when he’s expected more power shots. On the repeat attack he might be expecting to exchange against jabs but now you’re throwing power shots again. Your constant movement will break up his counter attacks. He’ll be defending at the wrong times and trying to exchange at the wrong times.
Tips for Fighting On Rhythm
Some of you are wondering about the difference between a fast shot and a hard shot. Aren’t ALL punches supposed to be fast and hard? To some degree, yes. But it’s also impossible to shift your weight over on every punch AT FULL SPEED. So a punching rhythm is creating by mixing in arm punches for speed and full weight shifts for power. Using a rhythm throws off your opponent because some punches come faster or harder than others. He won’t know where to concentrate his defense and just the fact that you keep changing things up will confuse him.
Fast Shots Set Up the Hard Shots
The fast shots don’t necessarily have to land. They’re used to set up your harder shots. So instead of trying to connect, you could try throwing at different places (elbow, forehead, opposite side, etc) to make him defend a different area and expose himself for your hard shots. You could also throw the fast shots at your opponent’s guard or use feints to keep him defensive.
Combine Different Rhythms
If you haven’t already noticed by now, it’s possible to flow from one rhythm to another. Use different rhythms to make different combinations so your opponent’s can’t figure you out. You can win entire fights throwing nothing but the 1-2 over and over if you use different rhythms. Hell, that’s exactly what some world champions did. 😉
Great article Johnny. My natural rhythm according to this article is number 5. I’ll be sure to give these other rhythms a go too, now I know what they are and how to identify them.
NICE! #5 is a perfect rhythm for amateur style. Aggressive and then counter-aggressive.
I boxed my best friend last night in the dark. Haha. I was doing pretty good at first.. I followed some tips on here. I would set my head off to the right, and he threw that jab every time. I’d slip the jab and go to his body. That happened twice and he started to drop his right hand. He threw his jab again, and I slipped it, but I came through the middle with an uppercut. That made him mad. Haha. Then he just started to rush me and he was throwing like Tyson for about a minute and all I was doing was blocking the punches. A few of them got through. But, I blocked most of them. Now, he’s 18, I’m 17. He’s been boxing since he was about 8, and I started at 13. He’s a better “fighter” but I’m not sure who the better “boxer” is.. He gets predictable, I’m sure I prob. do too, but it’s easy for me to see what he was planning to do next. I knew that when I landed a solid shot, he’d rush me. So as soon as I landed the up, I backed off and covered up. He hits harder, he’s faster, and I feel like there’s no chance when I box him. But I still try him. I was just wondering if you could give me any advice or a gameplan when boxing him.. Or like, what you can see that I’m doing wrong or what I could do better. I know you can’t SEE me fight, but I’ve tried to explain it as much as I can.. If you can give me any advice, it’d be helpful. Thanks
When you land a solid shot, follow up with more before he can regain his senses. If you want to stop his rush, scare him with a feint as soon as you feel he’s about to be aggressive.
Boxing Training Fitness
I hope everyone takes heed of this. This is one of the first things I learned when sparring because I quickly realized how easy it was for more experienced fighters to just time my punches, and then clock me.
This should be called Tactics 101! Good stuff.
Diomedes aka JKD
Hey Johnny could you name a few boxers that reached the championship with the 1-2 like you mentioned?
Kostya Tszyu. Watch him paw with the jab and then BANG with a huge right hand (especially in his early fights). Lennox Lewis was another one.
Diomedes aka JKD
Diomedes aka JKD
What do you guys think about Kelly Pavlik? A bit one dimensional in footwork and head movement, but a skinny guy with amazing power, great chin.
He’s a good solid boxer and former world champion. I wouldn’t dare call him one-dimensional, perhaps he’s less skilled than other champions. But he’s definitely a champion in his own right.
Diomedes aka "JKD"
Do you think this is a feasible style( given an average chin) for an amateur . I feel like if this style where to work you would have to absorb copious amounts punishment.
I don’t see how it couldn’t be useful. Nobody intentionally adopts a style that requires punishment. (At least not fighters looking to be world champions.
manny pacquiao ? he 1-1-2’d everyone from featherweight to lightweight and developed a versatile right hook (manila ice is what they called it) after 2007. i dont think anyone in boxing history used the 1-2 that effectively. hearns was a devastating 1-1-2 and 1-2 guy, but he also jabbed and threw to the body and had a vicious left hook.
What does pull mean as in “pull-1-2-1”
“Pull” means to pull your head away. So for that combo, you pull it back slightly out of range, then counter 1-2-1.
This is a great article, I guess I use rythm #3 a lot, but I don’t even notice it. Like after boxing for 4 years, I kinda just subconciously learned rythm and didn’t even notice it. Like this article is really well written, but I just don’t think people should go memorizing the rythmic patterns and then try using them in a fight. It just seems way to confusing to do it like that. Instead, i feel they should learn it naturally. Just my opinion though.
I agree. Can’t go around remembering patterns. Just know that there are different rhythms of attack and these are some new one to try. Ultimately, you use whichever feels most natural to you. Sometimes you try something new and realize it feels more comfortable than what you’ve been doing all along.
great tip!!! again and again!!!
i notice myself throwing fast shots while moving, forward, backward, side, duck,slip … my hard shots just comes naturally by two factors: 1. my feet gets planted after the movements. 2. i see an opening….. take one away and the hard shots doesnt get thrown
i dont know if thats right or not, but it works for me. i dont know how to put it up…..
this boxing thing really is confusing to explain…. it really is a science/art of its own….
in the beginning, you start by learning the right way to throw punches…next thing you know is youre having trouble landing it while getting punched back… and that i think is where it starts to get really interesting
so by fast punches do you mean open fist while you land or close fist at landing point?
Always close the fist or else you might break your hand or hurt your fingers.
ok, i always thought speed is power
Thank you for the great articles like always! James Toney is good at this! When is the James Toney article coming out? I love that guy!
Not for a while, I’m afraid. Those videos take around 30-40 hours to make. lol
John Taylor York
Hey Johnny I was wondering why adrien broner is successful with poor stance and a shit jab….he is running the 130 pound division and I think could give mayweather a real hard time. He just walks you down and counters with the right uppercut or right straight. Imwas wondering if you could tell me why this style is working so good. I feel if I use this style I couldn’t counter quick enough. He rolls almost all shots with his shoulders and stands straight up
Adrien Broner is good. His stance is the athletic stance, it takes up a lot of space and hard to move but you can use it if you’re fast and powerful legs. His jab isn’t crap, he simply plays the counter punching game.
The style is easy for him because he’s taller and faster than everybody. He also has the skills and power to keep his opponents from engaging at close range. He’s also not straight up, he leans back a lot at times. His accuracy and power alone allows him to fight from this wide stance throwing only single punches at a time.
I use this sometimes. The important thing is not to look at the stance but to look at the skills he uses to make this stance work.
this is brutal johnny
Brutal, indeed. Some of these rhythms are killer. You can demoralize an opponent with these.
when explaining #1 rythm, when going 2-3-2-3 you wanted to say tapping right hand followed by huge LEFT hooks?
Oh, you’re right! Thanks MG. I fixed it just now.
John Taylor York
I meant to put shit in quotation marks haha. When he fought eloy Perez this past Saturday I heard Perez trainer telling him ” when he throws that shit jab counter over it” that’s not exactly his words but you get what I mean. I just think the shoulder defense is the best defense. When someone with good reflexes and quickness uses this it is unstoppable. I have not found a way to decipher it and exploit it’s weak points. I want to know your opinion on this style. I kinda wanna use it myself. It’s defensive yet offensive as we can see by his 19 knockouts out of 23 fights Or something like that
It’s a good style but has its limitations. There are so many guys who try to copy that in the amateurs with no success. That style is terrible for trading punches which is what happens often in the amateurs. You would have to fight at a decent level where everyone boxes rather than trades to make it work. If you want to see its weak points, try it in sparring and you’ll notice right away.
John Taylor York
Hahah I think I’ll ease into that style in slow sparring. But here recently I haven’t been in the gym cause the last gym I was at was good and everything and I had a good coach but when I sparred other people than my coach I could get my punches off. It was a weird feeling. It’s like their punches overwhelmed me and I ended up getting literally beat down. Guys would say “I’ll go easy and just work with you” and then they’d knock my damn head off. I’ve searched everywhere and there is no place in NC that does slow sparring. I’m at a loss and haven’t been doing much boxing other than punching my heavy bag in my basement and shadow boxing
Yeah, you won’t find slow sparring in many gyms. But don’t worry, find somebody who will work with you and your speed will pick up quickly. Try to rack in 1 to 2 hours of straight sparring, no breaks. (Go slow so you don’t get tired.) Going continuous will help you build that rhythm.
Johnny when are we going to see you on PPV in a corner of a fighter?? Seriously though bro do you have any plans to train professional fighters one day?
That’s a fantasy Alejandro and if I keep working hard, I might get the chance one day. Some of the amateur guys I’m training now are dreaming of going pro so who knows. Just to be a part of someone’s success is really a reward in itself. Every victory (even a small amateur bout) feels like a championship when you put in the work.
When are you going to write something about ring generalship, i’m dying to see it. Like how to create a turning point between you and any opponent in any round?
It’s on my to-do list but I probably won’t get to it for at last another month or so. But definitely a very important topic that has to be structured properly and covered.
ive always thought ring generalship was controlling the fight like floyd mayweather, manny paqiauo, bernard hopkins will do, having complete control of the fighting making your opponent do what you want and fighting the way you want him too, and i honestly see johnny Nguyen as a big time trainer in the future the type of trainer a fighter will pay top dollar to fight for, you will do it johnny i have belief in you
Who knows, give it 20 years or so Johnny Nguyen might end up becoming the next Freddy Roach (well, he’s the Freddy Roach of the internet as far as I’m concerned).
I’m the internet people’s Freddie Roach! lol
Your not the internet Freddie Roach with the utmost respects of course but your Johnny. Nyugen of expert boxing no need to shadow another person you have influenced others above and beyond boxing i give you partial responsibility to making me an intellectual fighter rather than a tough fighter you have changed the stereotype of a fighter your going to indpire many others to accomplish alot in life you have proven hard work dedication commitment and not quiting will turn you from a “beginner ” to “champion ship potential ” like you said in the description of your ebook im looking forward to a book about your life one day, this. is one of the. V ery few sites if not any
excuse me, if not the only sites where people can get on here and just flat out talk boxing thats great
you got that right!
wow another amazing article Mr.Johnny,
i think this is my problem with my boxing instructor, because he wants me to hit the mitts for hard combos the entire 3 minute. Is this good or bad? and its the only thing i ever do with him. he only wants me to mix rythm in shadow boxing.
It could be that your coach wants you to practice technique first before incorporating rhythm on the mitts, but wants you at the same time to develop your own natural rhythm and feeling through shadow boxing and sparring in the ring.
Don, most trainers will use the mitts to develop offense/defense reflexes and coordination. Rhythm is something you can practice on your own time such as during sparring or bagwork. Of course you can do rhythm on the mitts but that usually only happens once you’re able to hit the mitts without your coach having to call out the punches.
I also agree with Laura.
Don, its simple if you dont like your trainer find a new one
what do you think about micheal spinks?
He’s a good fighter.
fast-avoid-hard is perhaps the best `rhythm’ ive seen for fighters with less pop to hurt opponents. counterpunchers who can land the first quick shot and have quickness are best at this.
hey johnny, i think it would be fun to do the same rhythm treatment with combos going head body and down the middle (like a 1-2 to body-3-6 as up, down, up, middle). the rhythms are great for mixing with this variety of punching forcing opponents’ defenses open, and getting something to land. there’s a hypnotic quality about going up down and thru the middle that always disturbed me. and in my experience its much more taxing to defend reactively against these kind of combos. and over time they slow down and get hit a lot.
John Taylor York
My biggest problem is that i have trouble getting out of the way of punches when I am punching too. It seems to be the hardest thing ever and I get lost in a confusion of swinging it out. I don’t know what to do
And I seem to get the shit end of the stick whenever me and my opponent are both throwing.
Focus on getting a fair exchange (you landing yours while he lands his). After that, you work on being able to move slightly as you land your punch. Give it some time, developing true boxing skills takes FOREVER.
Hey Johnny,do you know if floyd Mayweather Sr own a boxing club? And were it is?
The Mayweathers do have a boxing gym out in Las Vegas.
Oky thanks! Would you recomend turning pro in America or in my home country South Africa?thank you!
I would guess America because there’s more money here. But I don’t know that for sure, maybe in South Africa you have a bigger following and more opportunities. I really don’t know.
Oky thank you!I will go to america! Wich club would you recomend I can go to!let’s say if you we’re in my shoes were would you go? Thank you!
If I were in your shoes, I would check out all sorts of different gyms. East coast, south, west coast, mid west. Do know that certain gyms are linked to certain promoters and get better coverage.
good article johnny rythm is a good way to box but trouble is hiding your rythm and reading theres a good way to accomplish this is fighting to a number say for instance 5 .so for the whole round you throw 5 punch combos.the trick is always pause in the middle 3 punches pause 2punches4 pause 1.2 pause 3 1 pause 4.4 pause 1.next round 4 punches so 3 pause1,3pause 1 2 pause 2, sounds easy to read trust me try it its not.
ofcourse this is actually an anti rythm to break there rythm but it works because its as fast as you can count to 5 or 4 or 3 and has no memorizing to slow your mind
also this can be incorperated into your 7 rythms above above so for example you can 1fast 2hard pause 3hard 4 fast .
Hey Johnny, have you thought about doing an article on short rhythm and long rhythm?
I not sure I understand you perfectly Laura. When you say long rhythm do you mean longer punch combinations?
great article Johnny!! keep it up!
man nice article right now i’m practicing Hard fast hard fast and fast evade then hard counter
may i know is there a way to train this? for i.e if do not warm up but walking in the street suddenly somebody attack you from behind and you need to fight back thus you give a fast combo 1-2-3-2
, i try this at home when i got up in the morning, i haven’t warm up but i throw this combo 1-2-3-2, i can feel that my heart really bound very fast after the combo and i could feel that my punches r weak and lost a little bit of balance during the combo.
Normally after the warm up i’ve no problem for that combination punches, but without warm up it is totally sucks…but i’m lazy to warm up in the morning…
Warming up will always allowing you to move better than without warming up. If you drill this long enough it WILL become second nature that you can do it even without warming up, but it still won’t be as fast as if you properly warm up.