I cover some boxing history and technical details of slipping to the inside of punches.
Maybe you’ve never thought about it that way but INSIDE SLIPPING is definitely making a comeback in the sport of boxing. It’s a trendy move I see in Instagram highlights like every other week. A good chunk of them are Lomachenko and other Cuban/Soviet style boxers. But there’s club-grade amateurs doing it, too. It looks slick as hell and very fun to do.
But what makes slipping inside special? And why is it so rare now to the point of being “special”? If you ask me…slipping inside isn’t even special at all…it’s just a forgotten art.
The history of INSIDE SLIPPING in old-school boxing techniques
INSIDE SLIPPING is an old-school boxing technique.
If you ask me, inside-slipping has been around forever. It was most definitely standard boxing technique since the beginning of the sport. Watch any old video or footage of “old-school” style boxers and you’ll see it used constantly.
- Sometimes they slip OUTSIDE of punches.
- Other times they slip INSIDE of punches.
The main point is that they used both. But in modern day boxing, nearly all fighters default to slipping OUTSIDE rather than inside. It seems almost none of them are trained to slip inside. I know I wasn’t!
Why did SLIPPING INSIDE go out of fashion?
If you ask me, it’s mostly due to 2 reasons:
- The amateur boxing system.
- The Mike Tyson era.
And while I’m not sure which is the bigger reason…I think reason #1 had more effect on today’s competing fighters, and reason #2 had more effect on today’s recreational boxers.
Watch any amateur boxing footage of the past 20 years and you’ll see what I mean. Lots of slipping to the outside. A lot of HIT-and RUN. It’s flashy, it’s athletic. It keeps you safe. And also, it’s very easy to see. When fighters slip outside, your eyes can see it happening easily. You can literally see the fighter pulling his head to the opposite side of the punch…going across it.
Slipping inside is hard to see to the untrained eye, it just looks like somebody throwing their head inside and into a clinching position. It looks messy from the outside and you don’t know exactly what’s going on. It’s also hard to score when fighters punch on the inside. It’s much easier to score (especially on the amateur point system) when they pull their head out and throw a clean (visible) punch from far away.
And of course, it’s easier to keep running around when amateurs only fight for 3 rounds. It favors a lot of explosive athleticism and long lanky body frames. But what happens when you look at the pro ranks? Fighters start to look a little shorter and thicker. Sure, there are still long lanky guys but there are also stockier tank-ish looking fighters. This adds to their durability on the inside during 12 rounds fights.
And if you look into boxing history, it wasn’t that long ago that they used to fight 15-round fights. The last one was Mike Tyson against Tyrrel Biggs in 1987. Just 33 years ago. Go further back into boxing history and you’ll see they fought even longer than that. So of course, those super long fights favor inside fighters. Why? Because inside fighting requires less energy running around. It’s a more energy-efficient boxing style.
Slipping outside uses more energy but looks cleaner and clearer. Also has lots more running around. Slipping inside saves energy but looks messy. Also has lots of clinching and dirty tactics. Both inside and outside fighting can be very powerful. Can be used to be aggressive (landing punches) or defensive (stalling fights).
And the way fighters slip punches dictates whether the fight is INSIDE or OUTSIDE.
- Slipping to the inside causes INSIDE fighting.
- Slipping to the outside causes OUTSIDE fighting.
So what does Mike Tyson have to do with any of this?
He changed the public perception of boxing technique overnight. I seriously think this dude singlehandedly influenced fundamental boxing technique in gyms all around the world.
And if you’re like me…and started boxing anytime within the past 30 years, then you were probably also naive to think that the boxing fundamentals you learned were the ONLY fundamentals that existed.
Here’s what we’re taught nowadays:
- SLIPPING (outside punches)
Yeaup, it just goes straight from BLOCKING to SLIPPING. Maybe some people teach parrying in there. But almost nobody teaches SLIPPING INSIDE of punches, or shoulder roll (which to me is another form of “slipping inside”).
And you can’t blame those coaches. You have to know that commonly-taught boxing techniques usually reflect the champions of their time. In Mike Tyson’s era, you had a bunch of old-school guys (getting older) jabbing, running, clinching…and then here comes this beast who stood out because he slipped to the OUTSIDE of punches and came back with huge knockout counter-punches from the outside. He looked so spectacular and so different. He looked perfect.
And so the sport copied Mike Tyson for a really really long time.
Just about every notable pro from the 1990’s and 2000’s were flashy outside-slipping distance fighters with nice knockout ratios. It fit the Tyson trend and also the boxing PPV television business model. People want to see flashy movements and clean knockouts. Slipping outside will give you exactly that!
But fast-forward it twenty years and what do you have now?
Now we’re living in the Floyd Mayweather era.
Just about everybody everywhere is doing shoulder rolls and teaching Philly shell defense. In Mike Tyson’s era, dropping the hands was “bad defensive habit” (and being too much like flashy Ali) but now lowering the front hand can be considered sound technique. Hahahah.
And the Floyd Mayweather style will persevere for another 20 years, I believe. It’s not gonna go away until we a new dominant style completely dismantling that one. Even today’s most skilled heavyweight champion, big man Tyson Fury, is using the shoulder roll and lots of flashy inside-slipping techniques. Oh, how the circle of life continues…
The ADVANTAGES of Slipping Inside of punches
ADVANTAGE #1 – Easier technique.
It’s way easier to do. Requires less technique and less vision. There’s so much I could explain about it but I’d rather you just listen and trust me on this.
We’ll start with the vision issue. When you want to slip inside a punch, you can initiate it by facing your torso towards the inside of the punch (AWAY from the arm being thrown at you). For example…if your opponent is throwing a right hand, you can easily slip inside it by turning your torso away from it (and then maybe a little bend in the knees and waist). That initial turn of the torso will be very natural since everyone instinctually likes to turn away from punches.
But what if you wanted to slip outside the right hand? Well, it feels very counter-intuitive. Because to get outside of the right hand, you have to turn your torso TOWARDS the right hand which can feel very scary and against your natural instinct.
ADVANTAGE #2 – Less energy (and athleticism) required.
When you try to want to slip outside many punches, you’ll see that you have to move a lot. Sure, the top guys can manage it with very little movement but that level of proficiency is extremely difficult to get to.
When you slip inside (even just one or two slips), you will immediately get to a safe place inside your opponent that his arm space is too smothered to throw any more punches. And if you follow the old school inside-fighters, many of them slip inside for this reason. It’s so easy to just slip inside and turn it into a phone booth fight. Instead of spending a lot of energy to slip outside and only end up farther away from your opponent.
If you’re getting bombarded by your opponents, you’ll probably get better results slipping inside which naturally smothers their space…than to slip OUTSIDE, which only leaves them more room to come after you. Slipping outside is great if you want to counter hard (using their returning momentum against them), but if you want to lay back and chill…probably better to go inside.
ADVANTAGE #3 – Closes distance.
- Maybe you want to close the distance to be more aggressive and throw shots.
- Maybe you want to get close to clinch or stall the fight.
Whatever your reason to get close (offensive or defensive), inside-slipping will allow you to close that ground and prevent opponents from sliding away when you slip their punches. Why? It has to do with the fact that your bodies are mirroring towards each other instead of crossing away from each other. I’ll do my best to explain.
- Try to imagine 2 fighters that keep turning their torso like in a mirror. One turns towards his right, while the other turns towards his left. And vice versa. You see how they keep facing to the same open side?
- Now imagine 2 fighters that keep turning torso opposite of each other. Both turning to their right, and then to their left. Do you see how they keep facing away?
Well, this is why inside fighters need to slip inside. Because by always facing in the same direction, every punch and defensive movement they make takes them closer to their opponent. If you’re the type of fighter to always turn away on every movement, you end up moving away from your opponent.
ADVANTAGE #4 – Safe punching rhythm.
You will also realize that if you get into the habit of slipping inside of punches, it’s very easy to find a safe punching rhythm because your punches are already rolling you away from his punches. For example you throw your left when he throws his right, and vice versa. And if your bodies are swinging at each other in a harmonious mirror fashion, it’s much safer this way.
But if you were always punching cross-arm at each other…your right vs his right, and your left vs his left…you will find that your torso (and HEAD) is always moving against his punch. Should one of you land a punch, the other is highly likely to get knocked out!
ADVANTAGES #5 – Less damage if hit.
Obviously, slipping inside costs you less if you get hit. Slipping inside goes with the flow of the punch instead of against. So when you get hit trying to slip inside a punch or doing a shoulder roll, the power is rolled off a bit since you moved away from it. But what about when you get hit trying to slip OUTSIDE a punch? You get knocked out!…because your head is moving against the punch—adding to its momentum and impact!
ADVANTAGE #6 – Rolling under punches.
Have you ever wanted to get good at rolling under punches but didn’t know how? I’ll let you in on a little secret. Stop trying to do that really difficult drill of staring right at your opponent and bending the knees. It’s hard as heck and not really how the slicksters do it. Instead they simply turn their torso INSIDE of the punch and bend down at the waist. Then pop back up after the punch passes over. So much easier this way. Watch the videos closely, ok? 😉
ADVANTAGE #7 – Different angles.
Slipping inside gives you different attack angles, defense angles, and footwork angles. It’s a whole different world of fun. I’ll make another guide on this later.
FIGHT STRATEGY for Slipping Inside
Being able to slip inside (and outside) opens up a world of possibilities for your boxing defense.
STRATEGY #1 – Closing distance
The most common strategy for slipping inside is to get closer. It’s shocking how many fighters don’t know this. And in this day and age, I hear of fighters begging for help all the time on how to get closer to their taller/longer opponents. And sure enough, haha…I see them trying to get closer by slipping outside of punches! Right from the very beginning, I see them trying to slip outside the opponent’s jab. Hahaha. That’ll never work.
As I’ve already explained, slipping outside always takes you away from them. Slipping inside brings you closer to them. So if you want to get closer…SLIP INSIDE! Slip INSIDE that first jab. If you slip inside the jab, you will end up inside! If you slip outside the jab, you’re going to end up farther and giving him perfect space to setup his right hand!
Now what can we do with closing distance? We can force exchanges. We can smother his punches. We can clinch. There are many fun options to play with. Oh and for all the short guys out there…YOU’RE WELCOME!
STRATEGY #2 – Going through
By “going through”, I mean that you can use inside slipping to move your body past his on the inside. This is a useful tactic for many purposes. Maybe he’s super aggressive and throwing himself onto you and you feel trapped. In this case, passing your body right through his would be a great way to escape and can also leave him off balance when he commits his balance forward into something that disappeared. Or maybe you’re trapped on the ropes, and want to escape or spin him into the ropes.
Inside slipping can help you do this very easily. What you do is wait for him to throw big punches and that’s when you move (or pivot) away from his punch. This can make him lose balance and fall (over-twist) through his punch giving you precious time to wiggle around. Yes…it’s easier said than done. Timing is key!
STRATEGY #3 – Setting angles
Being able to slip inside your opponent’s punches just gives you a billion more possibilities. You have different counters and angles now. You’re exponentially more elusive. You can put yourself in places most of today’s opponents wouldn’t expect. You’ll have more offensive, defensive, and footwork options at your disposal. Keep playing with things and see what you find.
TECHNIQUE for Slipping Inside
This really needs to be a video but I realized my own mind-traps in waiting for complete article and video sets…I end up not releasing videos because the article isn’t written yet, or not releasing articles because the video isn’t recorded yet.
For most of you reading this, the concept of slipping inside is going to be completely foreign. You’ve never been taught to visualize slipping in that direction and you might feel like it’s awkward at first. I promise you…it’s actually easier to do and you’ll pick it up in no time. Just following my technical tips below and explore during controlled sparring.
TECHNIQUE #1 – slipping inside the jab
This should be the first very paradigm shift you need to learn inside-slipping. Whatever habits you’ve been taught before about always slipping outside of jabs, put them aside for now. From here on out, you need to slip INSIDE the jab. This sets up everything else.
That same slip you used to slip outside the right hand, that’s the one we need to slip inside the jab. But there are a few nuances…one is that you should be as subtle as possible or as relaxed as possible. You can do it quick, or can do it smooth. Up to you. There are many ways. Try to get it so clean that their jab buzzes right past your right ear.
You can also…instead of slipping…you do a quick (footwork) cut dash inside of your opponent’s jab. Time it right and I promise you it’ll freak the hell out of them when you teleport into their peripheral like that. And while you may feel like it’s bringing you closer to their right hand, it’s not necessarily so! It’s an awkward angle for their right hand.
TECHNIQUE #2 – ducking and rolling the right hand
Because the right hand punch usually has an arc, it’s not easy to slip inside of it. Slipping outside of it is easy, but if you want to slip inside of it…it’s more of a shoulder roll or a duck (rather than a clean slip).
Turn your torso slightly away from it and maybe even bend at the waist and knees a bit if you need. The right hand should get blocked by your shoulder or back (and fly over your head). Once you’ve deflected the right hand, you can decide how you turn your torso back the other way (to land your own punch or to avoid the incoming hook). You can also use the slight-crouch position to roll under the right hand and come back with your own hook.
Slipping inside and rolling punches is somewhat similar!
If you’re starting to see a blurred overlap between slipping inside of punches and rolling off punches, you are correct! They are indeed similar. Both bring you inside the punch. It’s just that one avoids the punch entirely (no contact on your body) and the other one uses your body rotation to deflect punches away from the head. And you can adjust depending on the situation. Sometimes it’s more of a slip, other times it’s more of a shoulder roll.
TECHNIQUE #3 – slipping inside vs away from the punch
This is another small nuance that makes a world of difference. Most people can visualize slipping inside vs outside a punch. But now I want you to visualize the sub-nuances of slipping inside a punch.
- You can slip INSIDE getting closer.
- You can also slip INSIDE but getting farther.
The first one can feel like you’re slipping inside, getting into a close dangerous position for counter-hooks. The second one feels more like you’re stepping away laterally and stretching his punch out of reach.
How do we accomplish this? Well..it can be in the direction of how you move your head (closer vs farther) but can also be from how you use your feet (stepping closer vs sideways) when you slip. I’ve explained enough and I think you can play with options yourself.
TECHNIQUE #4 – slipping inside vs around punches
Yes…there are even more sub-nuances! This next detail applies only to power punches…which is any punch except the jab. When you slip inside your opponent’s (power) punch, you can do it in a straight line cut right through him OR circling around him with a pivot. If you find this hard to visualize, just watch lots of Lomachenko.
To slip inside and through, you do a quick cut step to the opposite side of your opponent’s punch. If he throws a right, you dash to his left. If he throws a left, you dash to his right. Do it at the right time and it’s like you’re sliding to the other side of his punch and he falls through. It’s some serious ninja sh*t.
To slip inside but circling around, you use a pivot. So when he throws with the right hand, you pivot towards his left. When he throws his left, you pivot towards his right. If he’s swinging hard enough, he’ll probably twist himself off balance as you get to the new angle. It’s a lot of fun to do.
USUALLY…and I say “usually” because this is what is common. It doesn’t mean this is a rule and that you can’t do it any other way. (I continue to be amazed by new observations every day.) USUALLY…
- Orthodox vs Southpaw matchups allow more circling possibilities. You can do linear cuts and circling pivots to both sides easily.
- Same stance matchups are slightly more limited. You can still circle pivot to both sides, but you can only dash to the side of the back leg. You can’t dash (as easily) to the front leg side because their front leg blocks yours.
Anyway, I’ve said too much. Please go play.
TECHNIQUE #5 – timing your inside slips
Slipping inside only requires timing, not speed.
Most people think you have to be ultra-fast to slip inside. And they’re wrong. Speed is nice, and helpful but to get inside you just need to know the timing. I wish I could give you a magical pill to read your opponent better but it doesn’t exist.
Spend lots of time sparring and pay attention to your opponent’s rhythm more so than where he attacks. Beginner fighters are so often trying to read punches…which arm, which direction. Try focusing on his timing instead. Get a sense of how many punches he throws, how long he pauses for, and how fast he throws. Once you know his rhythm, it isn’t that hard to slide inside.
TECHNIQUE #6 – counter position
If you want to slip to the left, put your head on the right a little bit (to give yourself more room to go left). If you want to slip to the right, then put your head to the left. As simple as that. Set your head on the opposite side of where you want to go so that you have more space to go the other way.
If you do it the wrong way, by already setting your head up in the direction that you want to go…it’s more obvious where you’re trying to go and also only very little movement room left before you go off-balance.
TECHNIQUE #7 – the double-slip
Some of you have a hard time finding opportunities to slip inside because all your trained habits are for slipping outside. It’s totally ok. You can use outside slips to set up your inside slips.
Try slipping twice in any direction, either left twice or right twice. For example:
- Your opponent throws right hand – you slip LEFT outside his right hand and then LEFT again away from his left hook. (Yes, you can pivot around away from the left hook.)
- Your opponent throws a jab – you slip RIGHT outside his jab and then RIGHT again circling away from his right hand.
TECHNIQUE #8 – setting up pivots
Many fighters think it’s really hard to pivot while slipping (inside) and it’s not. All you gotta do is shift weight on the first slip and then use the weight shift back going the other way to help you pivot away from the next punch. For example…
- Your opponent throws a jab – you shift weight to your back leg while slipping outside his jab, then you shift weight to your front leg as you pivot inwards INSIDE AROUND and AWAY from his right hand!
- Your opponent throws a right hand – you shift weight or even step to your left as you slip outside his right hand, then pivot around and away from his follow-up left hook.
TECHNIQUE #9 – mix between inside and outside slipping
If it isn’t obvious, the best way to confuse opponents is to mix up both outside and inside slipping. This way, they’ll never know which way you’re going. Go one way, then the other.
- Outside and outside.
- Inside and inside.
- Inside then outside.
- Outside then inside.
- Sometimes slip CLOSER, sometimes slip AWAY, sometimes slip AROUND.
- Sometimes when you slip inside, roll under too!
TECHNIQUE #10 – any direction can be evasive
I hope that learning how to slip inside makes you feel incredibly elusive. That you can evade punches no matter what direction you go. Just move from where you are and you’ll be ok! No more panicking about having to cut to the other side of punches. No more feeling the need to be fast, or herky jerky, or exhausting your energy to evade shots. You can calm down and avoid punches moving in any direction!
Learning more techniques should give you more freedom, not limitations.
What happened to the tradition of SLIPPING INSIDE?
Still here…but hard to see.
Truth be told, it never went anywhere. It’s just that the technique isn’t commonly taught as standard boxing foundation in many places. And due to that…it’s hard for the average fighter nowadays to see and recognize the techniques. Most boxing highly videos only showcase outside slipping maneuvers as those are easier to see to the untrained eye. And unfortunately…most people making boxing highlight reels aren’t really boxers. (Oh yeah, I’ve schemed of making my own but gave up because it’s way too much work.)
The MEDIA ASPECT of the sport caters to flashy fighters and knockout punchers.
Nowadays boxing is about entertainment for an uneducated non-boxing ADD crowd. They get bored if they don’t see something flashy. They need lots of fancy highlight-reel movements and and knockouts. This means athletic slicksters that slip outside of punches and returning head-snapping counters are going to get noticed more than finessed inside fighters who maul and dig body shots on the inside.
Best boxers to watch for inside slipping?
Try Roberto Duran, James Toney, Bernard Hopkins. Many short fighters are also forced to use it. Try Pernell Whitaker, Vasily Lomachenko. You should also check out Cubans like Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Just put it this way. If you ever see some fancy never-before-seen footwork or slipping maneuver today…just look closely. There’s a good chance all they’re doing is slipping inside. It only looks new to you because you haven’t learned from the old school fighters.
Watch closely and you will see INSIDE SLIPPING!