Beginner fighters (and even advanced fighters) will often ask me: how do I throw more combinations?
I feel like I’m always relying on the jab. Could you give me tips for increasing the amount of combinations thrown during sparring and training overall?
It’s a common problem and you’ll often hear trainers screaming at their fighters in sparring, “LET YOUR HANDS GO!” Which they never do. Hahaha.
Here are some good tips to remedy your gun-shy ways…
1. Stop standing sideways
You know who you are…I’m talking specifically to you three—MR. JAB EXPERT—MR. DEFENSE—and MR. COUNTER-PUNCHER. These are the three guys most likely to stand too sideways. They’re either trying to get longer reach on their jabs, hide behind their front arm, or waiting all day for the perfect shot. Nothing wrong with these styles at all but they do make it awfully hard to throw combinations. Look at Floyd Mayweather even, he has a great jab, great defense, and great counter-punching. But he doesn’t thrown combinations very often. But then what does he do when he DOES throw combinations?—HE SQUARES UP!
The explanation is simple. If you stand sideways, your right hand will be so far back that it’ll never reach. It’s like your jab has a crazy long reach but your right has only a short reach. Your jab makes contact from too far out that the distance takes away your confidence to throw the right. You’ll never put combinations together because you can’t even get to the second punch in the combination.
Square up a little. Make sure your right foot and right shoulder have a direct line of site to your opponent and that your feet aren’t so wide that the right hand can’t reach. If you’re in close range, you should square-up even more to do more damage with both hands. If you’re worried about defense, I suggest you learn how to defend by blocking and slipping rather than by taking the stronger half of your body out the fight.
Keep your right hand in range!
2. Start combos and counters with the right hand
Instead of starting all combinations with the jab, try to start some with the right hand. Or start some with the left hook. 2-3-2 is a great punch combination! By setting up your back hand as the first punch, there’s a very good chance you’ll be in range and position to land it again. Remember: you need both hands in range in order to throw more combinations. The right hand may be a little slower and require more set-up time but it does tremendous damage and sets up your deadly left hook.
Instead of always trying to jab to get away, try throwing a hard counter right. Or better yet, use the 2-3-2 as your counter-combination-punch! and follow it up. This works especially well against aggressive opponents as this counter will has more power to disrupt and hurt compared to your weaker jab.
Use the CROSS-HOOK-CROSS (2-3-2) combination more!
3. Prioritize speed over power
Instead of trying to always have maximum power on every punch, try focusing on speed more. This is especially the case for right hands. Many fighters think every right hand has to have 100% power and this isn’t the case. Sometimes you need a fast lead right, or maybe a quick right to setup a big left hook. Faster right hands can set up many great trick combos and throw off your opponent’s defensive rhythm.
Try throwing combinations faster instead of harder. Get yourself in the groove and find your punching rhythm before committing more power on your shots. You can also throw one-sided combos where all the left side punches have speed and right side punches have power. Or do the vice versa, where the right side has power and the left side has speed. Or you can throw a regular combination but speed up the first one or two punches to help the rest land.
Not all “power punches” have to be thrown with 100% power.
4. Stop waiting for opportunities
Here’s a big psychological one. Way too many fighters waiting around for an opening. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN! Nobody fighter is going to come at you with an open target. The more you wait, the more comfortable he gets; and the more comfortable he gets, the more effective he gets! Opportunities only come when you create them.
Create your opportunities by putting pressure on your opponent. Throw one punch to make him block, throw another to make him block elsewhere, throw another to make him duck under, and another to make him step back. PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH! The more pressure he gets, the more he loses his composure, eventually his defense will crack. But what if your combos don’t work? That’s why you gotta throw more so that you can eventually find one that works. What if he moves his head too much? Try aiming around the chest area and you’re bound to get something.
Throw punches even when you don’t see an opening!
Jabs will either help or hinder your combos
I think the biggest takeaway is that your jabs can either set-up or hinder your punch combinations. Many fighters can’t throw their combinations because they put too much focus on their jab or throw their jab in a way that blocks the right hand. The jab is just the set up, a little formality, a step BEFORE the real step. The goal of the game is to cause some damage. The jab is simply a tool to open the door for your combinations, so don’t pay too much attention for it. Use the jab as a set up, but keep your eyes on all the other punches that come after it.
The jab should HELP, not hinder your combinations!
Great information! I’m a counter puncher, so I’m gonna try this to rattle in some more combinations. I do wait and counter maybe too much.
Haha, your comment just made me think of another point. Post up some sparring videos on the FB group when you get the chance, Rian.
Sure will pal
I’d like to know your views on getting knocked out and/or down. Perhaps a great idea for another post
-How to regain your composure when getting knocked down
-how long should you stay down before trying to get back up
– how not to look stupid getting knocked out or trying to get up from a knock down e.g telling yourself you’re alright but end up wobbling around the ring like a circus clown
– and in the event of suffering an embarrassing knockout, how to recover mentally and emotionally I.e how to get your pride back.
It’s a great idea, and I can definitely do a quick guide on this, Ayrton!
Great article, still waiting for some southpaw articles as well
This is coming next!
Johnny did some southpaw articles but you can never have too many, except for the one the gives instruction how to fight a southpaw which Johnny should definitely take down if it’s still up!
Thank you for your effort
This is such good advice for amateur boxers, it’s so easy to lose bouts purely through inactivity and waiting for the “right moment”. Throw, throw and throw some more.
Great article .. you have actually mentioned the aspecta i was intresting to.. i was sometimes struggle with putting combos after sharp jab thats because propably i paid to much attention to it and then my right hand is often thrown short as my back.hip.cant see the target 😉
Thankyou Johnny, im glad you still posting great knowledge to your site. its been forever since you posted it. I’m taking boxing for a year now, my skills have improved thanks to your awesome guidance. Alot of the stuff you post, I didnt learn it from my boxing gym. It took a while to learn to something new there. haha
Definitely, Vincent. I’ve been so busy working on the latest projects such as the EB membership program, Secrets to Punching Power, and also updating the website design that it took me away from creating new guides in the last two years. Being busy in life also doesn’t help but rest assured boxing is still and will always be my passion. So glad my stuff could help you.
Bruce Lee reborn,
The Boxing Gods made you for this. Thank you Teacher.
Excellent advice. I have been boxing a year and low and behold, rely on my jab too much giving me a super slim stance that doesnt allow the right hand to reach.
Johnny, thanks for the great video.
I realized a few points as I was sparring with my friend who is much taller and bigger.
1) the left jab can throw sideways like 1-1-2 combination so Long it circles or disrupt using the jab without committing the jabs usually to land the right. Mix it up to be unpredictable
2) standing square is great advice, I think the point is turn our hip out for right punch further than left hip if we are closing range for the right straight punch. But importantly the timing of the 1–2 and above 1-1-2 punches must be lightning fast(and relaxed) for each jab and each punch without rest so the enemy don’t get away. And when we have the straight punch throw. Usually we can side step and go for the third punch or then step back or move side or diagonally of opponent so that we can strike the 3rd punch. If we don’t land the straight right punch quickly enough the person might land their upper cuts or left hooks to counter which I got hit many times. But imagine if your straight right lands to the head of his body depending which part is opened and what we want to do, then he will protect using his left and not much time to land his left hook or left upper cuts. But once you land your right, it is usually safer to protect. Remember when he is busy protecting then you can land 1 to 2 more punches or hooks or cut hooks or overhands or shovel hooks and change angles, levels and positions. Get behind the taller guy to Attack be Super sneaky. Initially I was wary of his left hand counter so I didn’t turn in enough to land my straight right and keep on blocking with my right hand or tried to parry but he would even step side or back and land left hooks or overhands or uppercuts. Mix up the sequence and add or reduce somethings to be unpredictable.
3) after the straight right punch is thrown, the hips can square up like wing Chun punches and don’t need to turn shoulders and hips at all and punch straight into their body centre line like solar plexus, can use vertical fists also.. also sit on your tail bone when doing that stance. if you managed to parry with your left or right hand their advancements or while they were slow in reaction to defend, then you can square up the hips when you land your straight right, but need to step one step forward when you are throwing your jabs to close range. And keep on attacking centre line of opponent, If you are relaxed or faster, side way or side diagonally and use parry or move his hands or head or shoulder and go to his side and even his back to launch attacks that he can’t counter easily.
4) step smaller steps but fast enough to evade, defend or Attack.
5) after 1-1-2, you can step back or step side to his lead side and then throw a straight or cross hook cross also.
the speed or loose(but alert) mid to longer jabs without fully commiting are like forward spears with parrying, blocking, or distracting or piercing effects, the right straight or right upper cut or right hook or right overhand is like a super quick extension of the left jabs but right hip must turn. for south paw opponent, we need to move to their right to avoid their usually power right.
parry or slap or block out the lead hand if their lead hand parries and then attack with 1-2 or 1-2-3 combos..
Also, after throwing the left or even straight can duck or weave or lean back or step back to non power side, then throw your right straight or combo again.