The uppercut is the punch that gives most people trouble learning and executing correctly out of all the basic punches.
The jab and rear straight become second nature to boxers and are extremely useful. Hooks and overhands are the power shots, but the uppercut is also very important, as it is the most potent punch in close distance and can be the best solution for some situations.
So, even though it is less versatile than straights and hooks, you still need to learn how to throw an uppercut properly.
The uppercut is a punch that travels upward, and the forearm usually ends up perpendicular to the floor. The uppercut is best thrown straight through the center to move between the opponent’s guard. This trajectory makes it harder to see and easier to land.
The uppercut can be thrown with either hand. When executed with the lead hand (left for orthodox and right for a southpaw), it’s called a lead uppercut, and rear uppercut when done with the rear hand.
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The lead uppercut may initially feel weak and awkward, but it can be very powerful. A lot of the power in the uppercut comes from the legs and the hips. The arm itself contributes little to the overall force. Here is how to throw a lead uppercut:
- Start from your boxing stance.
- Shift your weight to your front foot.
- Dip your head outside your lead foot, leaning in and slightly rotating your right shoulder forward.
- Thrust with your hips and rotate your whole body, creating upward motion.
- Throw the punch simultaneously with the palm facing you, aiming at your opponent’s chin and shifting your weight to your back foot.
- The arm is usually around 45 degrees towards the ground but can also be perpendicular.
- Return to the boxing stance. Your rear hand should stay tightly glued to your head throughout the entire motion.
The dip toward your lead leg plays two critical roles in the uppercut. First, the twist loads the punch. Otherwise,generating power with the lead uppercut is difficult without any wind-up. Your weight must be lowered a little so it can then explode upwards.
The second role of the dip is to move your head out of the centerline, ideally slipping a right straight from the opponent.
You may come across a second use for the term lead uppercut, which refers to an uppercut with the rear hand.
This is a punch with which you lead, meaning it’s the first punch you throw. If you step in and throw an uppercut with the right hand as an orthodox fighter, this could be called a lead uppercut.
The rear uppercut is easier to throw because the body is already in a solid position to throw it with power.
The mechanics are very similar to the rear straight, and the finished body position should be the same. However, the hand must first be lowered slightly to load up, while the straight starts ideally without any wind-up.
- From а solid boxing stance, slightly lower your rear hand.
- Pivot on your back foot, twisting the body through the hips.
- Punch upwards with the arm bent at 90° from the elbow.
- Aim at the chin while always guarding your chin with the lead hand.
The rear uppercut is extremely powerful and can be utilized in several ways and distances. The version I outlined is done at a close distance without the need to move your feet.
If you want to cover more distance, step with the front leg forward and out, opening the angle and loading the punch.
How To Throw An Uppercut To The Body
The rear uppercut to the solar plexus is а crippling short and can fold your opponent in two if timed right. The body uppercut is thrown with the same motion as the one to the head, but the hand drives forward, not upwards.
Aim for the center of the stomach. The body uppercut is a fast and sneaky shot and, especially in close quarters, can be hard to react to.
The same instruction goes for the lead body uppercut as well. Be extra careful with the defense because your lead hand needs to come down to punch and leave your whole side open while you are in a dangerous range.
Unlike the other punches, the uppercut is hard to train on a regular heavy bag. The body uppercuts are not a problem, just make sure you aim them at the right spots. It’s easier to aim as if the opponent is exactly your size, but as you progress you may also imagine a specific opponent and aim accordingly at their vital points.
To train head uppercuts effectively you will need a special bag. There are a few models in most boxing gyms that are good for that. To work on the power of the uppercut you will need the rounded heavy bag.
How To Throw An Uppercut On A Heavy Bag
Unlike the other punches, the uppercut is hard to train on a regular heavy bag, which is one of the reasons many people are not very good with uppercuts.
Body uppercuts are not a problem; just ensure you aim them at the right spot. It’s easier to aim as if the opponent is exactly your size, but as you progress, you may also imagine a specific opponent and aim accordingly at their vital points.
To train head uppercuts effectively, you will need a special bag. A few models in most boxing gyms are good for that. To work on the power of the uppercut, you will need an uppercut bag or а wall-mounted one.
Often, beginner boxers overextend on the uppercut and continue the swing too high. This leaves you open for counterstrikes as returning the hand to defend takes longer. The uppercut should reach slightly above the contact point so it has some follow-through power.
Overextending an uppercut may also come in the form that the punch is thrown from too far away, and the arm is straightened, significantly decreasing the punch’s power.
Dropping Both Hands
The uppercut requires you to lower the punching hand to gather power, making it risky. So, always keep the other hand close to the head and your chin tightly tucked. You are open to counters and punches thrown simultaneously with yours when uppercutting.
The most important part of any punch is timing it correctly, and the uppercut is even more dependent on proper timing and placement. Uppercuts are most useful when infighting and are the strongest weapon for good clinchers.
Slipping the opponent’s rear hand is the best way to use the lead uppercut. The dip to the outside loads up the punch, and it’s the perfect counter strike to a rear straight. A great example of using the lead uppercut as a deadly counter is Gervonta Davis’s insane knockout over Leo Santa Gruz.
In combinations, uppercuts are mainly used to lift the opponent’s head to open the way for other shots, often the hook. This is when the lead uppercut is thrown as a set-up shot and usually does not have much power but is used to position the opponent’s guard in a specific place.
The body uppercut comes into play in combinations nicely after the opponent’s guard has been lifted to protect the head and the body is wide open.
The rear uppercut is the perfect weapon against shorter fighters with a lot of head movement. If the opponent keeps his head low, it may be difficult for hooks to land, but the uppercut can succeed in these situations.
The rear uppercut is also a terrific counter strike, and you can often see boxers like Floyd Mayweather and James Toney, who use the shoulder roll defense to counter roll shots effectively with a nice strong rear uppercut.
The uppercut has a more limited use than other punches and different fighters will have different needs depending on their boxing style and height. Regardless, it’s always good to have more weapons at your disposal.
So, spend the time needed to drill a proper uppercut technique, and on the pads, you may practice at least a couple of scenarios where the uppercut is a perfect choice.
You may not use it as often as other punches, but an uppercut is the best solution for some situations and is one of the most devastating punches.