Slipping punches is good advice, but hard to follow. You probably already know the concept of moving your head and staying outside the punch. You heard, “Make him miss, make him pay.” a dozen times before.
But how are you supposed to slip exactly?
Knowing WHERE to move your head and HOW to move your head requires proper slipping technique. Good slipping technique allows you to avoid punches AND come back with a good counter-punch. I’ll show you the 3-point slip, the 2-point slip, and also how NOT to slip.
Today you’re going to learn how to slip punches CORRECTLY!
What is Slipping?
Slipping is an advanced defensive boxing technique that allows you avoid a punch without having to sacrifice an arm for defense. This allows you to counter-punch faster and from a deadlier angle while your opponent is still missing the punch.
A slip is a superior defensive maneuver to a normal blocking defense because you are not sacrificing an arm (a potential counter-punch) to shield the blow. You also avoid taking any partial damage through the guard and by slipping your opponent’s punch, his punch will take longer to return giving you more time to counter. The dangers of the slip is that you rely on reflexes instead of a physical barrier to protect yourself. Should you fail to move completely out of the way of the punch, you will get hit cleanly!
Slipping punches without getting hit requires timing, reflexes, and most important of all–PROPER SLIPPING TECHNIQUE! (That’s where I come in.)
My video demonstration explaining how to slip punches correctly.
The 3-Point Slip – to slip HIGH punches
What is the 3-point slip? It’s a made up name for a system that I teach. First we learn the basic positions and slipping technique. You’ll learn to slip by transitioning from one position to the next. Next, I’ll show what to do from those positions.
3 points of movement.
The 3-point slip gets its name from the 3 positions of moving your head. The focus of moving your head across the three points is to slip OUTSIDE the punch. This system will allow you to slip jabs, right hands, and left hooks.
A proper 3-point slip will move your head across all 3 axes:
- up & down
- forward & backward
Position 1 – back to the right
Pull your head back to the right.
- Shift your weight to your right leg slightly.
- Bend the knees as you crunch your abs.
- Pivot your feet and body slightly to your right.
- You can counter simultaneously with a jab to the body, or wait until after the slip and then counter with the overhand right.
Position 2 – forward to the left.
Pull your head UP & OVER to the left.
- Swing your head up (past the starting position), then down to your left. Bringing the head up is CRUCIAL! Even if you can’t get your head to the outside in time, just lifting your head up will be enough to slip the right hand.
- Bend the knees as you crunch your abs.
- Pivot your feet and body slightly to your left.
Position 3 – neutral stance.
Pull your head straight back to neutral position.
- Come back to your normal stance.
Using the 3-Point Slip
If you’ve paid close attention, you’ll notice that slipping has 4 essential movements:
- Starting position (point 3)
- RIGHT slip (point 1) – to get outside the jab
- UPWARD slip (back to point 3) – to quickly get over the right hand
- LEFT slip (point 2) – to get outside the right hand
- PULL BACK (back to point 3) – to pull away from the hook
When any of these movements are combined into repeated cycles, you will have the perfect slipping rhythm to keep your head moving as you avoid punches. Let’s go through the motions one at a time…
Position 1 – Slipping OUTSIDE the Jab
- To counter simultaneously, I jab to his body or face as I slip his jab.
- To counter after, I throw an overhand right or right cross over his jab.
Position 2 – Slipping OVER & OUTSIDE the Right Hand
- To counter simultaneously, I throw a right as I slip his right.
- To counter after, I throw a left hook to his head or body.
- Pay attention to your opponent. (Don’t be like me and look down at the ground! Haha)
Position 3 – Slipping OUTSIDE the Left Hook
- To counter simultaneously, I throw a left hook as I pull my head out.
- To counter after, I throw a right hand to his head or body.
…what have we learned?
The 3 point slip keeps you on the OUTSIDE of the punch.
You are always slipping to the outside of the punch. Slip outside the jab, slip outside the right hand, slip outside the left hook.
You may have noticed that I carefully chose the 3 points (1), (2), and (3) for a reason. Position 1, is best for avoiding the jab, which your trainer calls the “1”. Positions 2 & 3, avoid the right hand and left hook which your trainer calls “2” and “3”.
It is very important that you DO NOT swing your head straight from points (1) & (2). You should always swing your head past the neutral point (3). You need to move your head past all 3 points to effectively slip all jabs, right hands, and left hook. The upward curve is crucial to avoiding the horizontal punches. (Later on, I will explain this in a guide on how to REALLY slip right hands.)
Just remember: a good 3-point slip moves your head sideways left & right, up & down, forwards & backwards to avoid all types of punches.
Every slip sets up the next slip.
Standing in your neutral stance will bait your opponent to throw the jab. Slipping the jab puts your head in position to bait your opponent to throw the right. Slipping the right will bait your opponent to throw the left hook. If you feel your opponent repeating right hands and left hooks, keep slipping between Points (1) and (2) but making sure you swing your head past Point (3).
Now let’s talk about baiting and setting up your slips. If you want to slip your opponent’s jab, it’s best to leave your head at the neutral position. If you want to slip your opponent’s right hand, put your head in POSITION 1. This will give you more time and more room to slip that right hand. Too many beginners try to slip the right hand from POSITION 3 and they end up getting caught or can’t seem to come back with a counter.
Slipping 1-2’s and 2-3’s
Theoretically, you can slip your opponent’s 1-2 combination (jab, right hand) by just moving your head back and forth between positions #1 and #3. If you think about it, the left hand threatens upwards which means it’s easy to slip any left hand by pulling your head down. On the other hand, the right hand threatens downwards making it easy to slip any right hand by lifting your head up. So again, a long-range fighter can slide his head back and forth between positions 1 & 3 as he throws the long jab to keep his opponents away. You will see this a lot with Bernard Hopkins when he’s trying to establish range.
On the other hand, you can slip your opponent’s 2-3 combination (right hand, left hook) by just moving your head back and forth between positions #2 and #3. You’ll see a typical inside fighter do this as he stands on the inside and pulls his head in and out to slip his opponent’s 2-3 combinations. The fighter will also be countering with his own 2-3 combination as he slips his opponents’ punches.
Another IMPORTANT NOTE: you slip right hands from position #1, and slip left hooks from position #2. If you think about it, waiting from these positions gives you more room to slip because you are on the opposite side of the punch. His punch will take longer to reach you, given you more time to avoid it. If you try to slip the right hand from position #2, you will end up going under the punch and getting crushed. If you try to slip the left hook from position #1, you will run out of room and end up leaning back off balance.
How NOT to Slip Punches!
(My video demonstration of bad slipping technique.)
Now I have to warn you all about this crazy thing I’ve seen guys do. It’s a dangerous way to slip and I highly recommend for you not to do it. I call it the “2-point wobble”.
Left wobble & right wobble. BAD!!!
- The body is too square, making it an easy target.
- The body isn’t turned to any side, no counter punch is loaded.
- The head only swings side to side, it’s missing and UP & DOWN, FORWARD & BACK motion.
Your head only moves side to side, leaving you vulnerable to left hooks and curved right hands.
MISTAKE #1 – leaning outside the punch
Wrong way to slip outside the right hand.
- Hooray, I managed to avoid the right. But I’m too off-balance. I only pulled my head out of the way instead of pivoting my entire body. I’m too squared off and any counter I throw from here won’t have any power. Make sure you move (or pivot) your whole body when you slip, not just your head.
MISTAKE #2 – slipping under the punch
(BONUS) Here’s ANOTHER wrong way to slip punches.
- Your hips aren’t under you.
- Leaning too far over makes you lose balance and power. Your opponent can easily push you off balance or hold you down. If I was an over-aggressive puncher, I’d fall into Richard and crush him under me. If you’re going to slip and aggressive puncher, stay OUTSIDE his punches, not under…or else you won’t be able to counter. Notice how Richard can’t explode up on me if I fall into him.
- Also, how are you going to see follow-up punches or countering opportunities if you can’t even see him?
The 2-point wobble is just bad! Don’t do it! Don’t practice it! Every time I see this, I’m like HOLY CRAP, WHAT IS THIS?! It squares up your body making you an easier target and doesn’t load your counter punch. Your hips are not under your body which means you lose power and balance.
The “wobble” still leaves you vulnerable
to right hands and left hooks.
WORST OF ALL, you’re STILL in the line of fire! Most punches come from a side angle and because your head is not moving up/down or forwards/backwards, you are basically swinging your head into the punch! The only thing this movement can slip is a perfectly straight jab or perfectly straight right hand.
The move isn’t completely useless. Some fighters use it to slip a 1-2 and then counter with a left hook. It can be done if you’re only doing it slightly and skilled enough to avoid the punch by just a centimeter. I don’t recommend it for the beginner boxer. The 3-point slip can slip the same punches with slower movement and less risk.
NOW…there IS such a thing as a 2-point slip…and there IS a proper way to slip on two points.
The 2-Point Slip – for slipping LOW punches
Watch my video to learn how to slip low punches and read on to for the details.
2 points of movement.
- To do it properly, you have to bend your knees more and get lower to the ground. The goal is to cut under punches.
DOWN FORWARD to the Left
Pivot your feet and body as you swing your head forward to the left.
- This sharp movement must be done as fast as possible. This movement can defend both the right hand or left hook. Your head would either slip outside of a right hand or roll with a left hook (deflecting its power).
- Even though the movement is DOWN FORWARD, you’re really just going down and facing forward. Don’t let your head go forward past your front knee.
DOWN BACK to the Right
Pivot your feet and body as you pull your head down and back to the right.
- Notice that I am pulling my head BACK as I swing it to the right. This movement can roll with a right hand deflecting its power, or pull you head back away from a left hook. Don’t let your head go past or over your back knee. Make sure you’re pivoting your body slightly to the right.
You must get low to use the 2-point slip.
The 2-point slip is used for getting under punches and slipping lower to the ground. It can also get you out of tight situations when your opponents are throwing wildly. Never forget that it’s almost always better to slip on top using the 3-point slip. Slipping on top makes it easier for you to counter or move away since you’re standing up. Use your knees to bend, not your waist. This way you can keep your eyes on your opponent. Use your leg muscles, not your back.
Using the 2-Point Slip – to slip LOW punches
Slipping a low right hand.
- Keep your waist under you, stay upright and not leaning over or sideways. Stay OUTSIDE the punch, not under it. Keep your eyes on your opponent.
- I could have slipped using the 3-point slip, it’s not necessary to get low.
Slipping a low left hook.
- Same rules as above. Stay upright, bend the knees to get low. Stay outside the punch, not under it.
- I could have slipped using the 3-point slip, it’s not necessary to get low.
Countering off the low slip
I stand up out of the downward right hand,… and throw my own counter right!
- This is one of the most brutal counters used by the pros all the time. When you get good at it, you can throw the counter as you pop up over the right hand. It’s such an easy counter to do because right hands usually come at a downwards angle. Just pop your head over the top and knock him out.
The 2-point system is for breaking your opponent’s rhythm.
The only time I use the 2-point slip is when I get caught during a 3-point slip or my opponent has me cornered. That’s when I drop down to a 2-point slip, cut left and right a few times to shake him off. I bait the downward punches, then stand back up and counter on top.
Tips for Slipping Punches
Practicing the Slip
Practice the 3-point slip first. Start with basic drills where your partner throws the 1-2, pauses and then 1-2 again. Then do drills where your partner mixes up jabs and 1-2’s. You have to look for the next punch when you slip; don’t slip until you see the punch coming. Each slip sets up the next one. Don’t slip at the air. Have your opponent chase your head. START SLOW!
Once you get the hang of it, do the drills with all three punches, 1-2-3. First keep repeating the 1-2-3, then practice with different combinations thrown at random. Keep your eyes on your opponent, NOT his punch.
When you practice slipping,
make sure your partner is ALWAYS aiming for your head!
Once you get the 3-point slip down, the 2-point slip is simply going side to side but with your knees more bent. Once you’ve mastered both, immediately practice your counter punches after the slip! (I’ll have some slipping drills later on.)
“Make Him Miss, Make Him Pay”
Good Slipping does more than avoid a punch,
it prepares your counter-punch.
Slip with your whole body, not just with your head.
Pivot the feet, turn the hips, turn your shoulders as you turn your head. This is what allows you to have maximum control of your body at all times. At first, it may seem easier to just move your head because your body is not yet coordinated; don’t worry, this will improve with practice. When you slip to one side, load up a counter-punch from that side. Be careful not to stand off balance when you’re loading up the punch.
Slip OUTSIDE or OVER the Punch, Not Under
Notice how I showed you how to slip “high punches” and “low punches”. I never said to slip “inside” or “under”. You are always trying to get to the outside of the punch by going OVER them at the middle. I don’t recommend to swing your head straight through sideways because that’s how you get hit. With the 3-point slip, you move your head side to side by swinging OVER the center. The 2-point slip on the other hand swings your head past the center, but you should still visualize that you are keeping your head on the outside of the punch and over it. The moment that you try to slip “UNDER” a punch, you end up getting caught under your opponent. He’ll lean on you, pull your head down, or somehow block you from exploding with a counter.
You generally want to avoid slipping inside because punches naturally curve inwards.
The reason why you avoid slipping to the inside of the punch is because it doesn’t allow you to keep slipping. Think about it: if I want to slip multiple punches, bringing my head to the outside each time allows me to keep moving side to side. If I slip punches by bringing my head inside, I’m going to run out of room and eventually get hit with something. Sure you can slip to the inside, but you have to know what you’re doing and counter immediately.
Bend at the Knees, Not the Waist
Always keep your hips under you.
Too many boxers bend at the waist because they haven’t built the leg strength to slip quickly to one side. Bending at the waist leaves them off balance and less likely to come back with a counter punch. Sure they avoided that punch, but they won’t be able to avoid the next punch. Always try to keep yourself upright and bend more at your knees. It’s ok to bend a tiny bit at the waist. I suggest you watch videos of your sparring to see how much you’re bending at the waist, most beginners are shocked to see how poor their technique is.
In the pictures above, it looks like I’m bending my waist because my head has so much room, but in reality my head is moving because my hips are moving. I don’t need to bend at the waist because bending my knees brings my hip (and upper body) in and out of range as well as up and down. The body rotation furthers the APPEARANCE of a pendulum effect, but in reality my body is upright the whole time!
Always pivot your feet and body as if you’re throwing punches. This keeps your balance and power with you. And you’ll always ready to come back with a counter punch.
Keep Your Hips Down
Stay grounded when you slip. This allows you to slip and punch quickly because you’re not un-grounding yourself with each movement. When you come up from a slip, be careful not to pop up so much that you lift your hips. Keeping your hips down allows your to counter-punch more powerfully.
Look For the Opening, Not the Punch
Too many fighters are too busy looking for punches that they don’t see the counter-punching opportunities. Always remember Where to Look During a Fight, look at your opponent and not his punches. If you can’t keep your eyes on your opponent while slipping punches, your technique is probably wrong.
Slip as Little as Possible
Slip just enough to avoid the punch.
The point of slipping instead of blocking is to free your hands for a punch. You want to counter as soon as your head clears the punch. Your goal is not to avoid the punch as much as possible. Making too much movement is ineffective for slipping multiple punches and probably takes you off balance more than anything. Save time, save energy – slip as little as possible.
Move Your Feet
Slipping doesn’t always have to be about counter-punching. There will be times when you slip punches so you can get away. Slipping shouldn’t be your only defense. Use your legs. Not bending over and not squatting down too low will make it easier for you to pivot or step out of bad situations.
Exhale When You Slip
Think of your slip as a punch, an explosive movement–which it is. It’s an explosive defensive movement so you have to exhale sharply as if you’re punching. After all, your body is kind of rotating similarly to how you would when you punch. The breathing will also help you get into a punching rhythm so you can come back with a counter.
Slipping in Boxing
When used properly, slipping offers you a whole new level of evasive movement and counter-punching opportunity. Not having to use your hands to defend allows you to counter-punch sooner and punch from more unexpected angles. Learning how to slip takes your fighting defense and boxing ability to the next level. Did I forget to mention how cool you would look?
The only way to use the slip is to throw a counter punch. You cannot slip forever! You have to punch back or else your opponent will punch until he catches you. This is why you need to slip with your body to always be in position to come back with a powerful counter.
Make him miss, make him pay.
Watch how the defensive masters slip punches:
- Nicolino Locche
- Pernell Whitaker
- Mike Tyson
- PS: (I didn’t include James Toney or Floyd Mayweather because they’re better at shoulder rolls, not slipping.)
Got the hang of slipping?
- How to Shoulder Roll (learn how to roll punches)
- Learn how to REALLY slip the right hand.
- Learn how to slip hooks.
- Learn the up & down slip.
- Learn how to REALLY slip jabs.
- ALL COMING SOON!
The SLIPPING CHALLENGE:
Ok, for all your experts at slipping…here are some trick questions for you to think about. Work on the technique and post your findings in the comments. There’s no right or wrong answer. Share your experience and tips with us. Together, we will learn how slipping works.
- Slipping Challenge #1 – how do you slip using less movement?
- Slipping Challenge #2 – when and why should you slip more than one punch in a row?
- Slipping Challenge #3 – what slipping tactic do advanced boxers have that beginners don’t? (HINT: the answer is NOT athleticism, timing, or reflexes.)
…I shall reveal MY answers in a future slipping guide!