The uppercut is the punch that seems to give most people trouble to learn and execute properly out of the 4 basic punches. The jab and rear straight become second nature to boxers and they are extremely useful, the hooks are their power shots, but the uppercut is very important as well as it is the most potent punch in close distance. So, even though it is more specialized than straights and hooks, you still need to learn how to throw an uppercut properly.
The uppercut is a punch that travels in an upward motion and the forearm usually ends up perpendicular to the floor. The uppercut is best thrown straight through the center with the purpose 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.
The lead uppercut may feel a bit weak and awkward at first, but it can be very powerful. Even more so than other punches, the power in the uppercut comes from the legs and the hips. The arm itself contributes very 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 of your lead foot leaning in and slightly rotating your right shoulder forward.
- Thrust with your hips and rotate your whole body creating upwards motion.
- Throw the punch at the same time with the palm facing towards you aiming at your opponent’s chin.
- Return to the boxing stance. Through the entire motion, your rear hand should stay tightly glued to your head.
The dip toward your front leg plays two important roles in the uppercut. First, the twist loads the punch. It’s very difficult to generate power with the lead uppercut without any wind-up. Your weight must be lowered a little, so it can then explode upwards.
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The second role of the dip is that you move your head out of the centerline, ideally slipping a right straight from the opponent. There is merit in throwing the lead uppercut without any wind-up and set up only as a distraction move that leads to a stronger punch with the rear hand.
The rear uppercut is easier to throw because the body is already in a good position to throw it with power. The mechanics are very similar to that of the rear straight. However, the hand must first be lowered slightly to load up, while the straight starts ideally without any wind-up.
- From proper guard slightly lower your rear hand.
- Pivot on your back foot, twisting the body through the hips.
- Punch upwards with the arm folded 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 a few different ways and distances. The basic motion I outlined is done at a close distance without the need to move. If you want to cover a bit of 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 deadly 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 is driving forwards, not upwards. Aim for the center of the stomach. The body uppercut is very quick and especially in close quarters can be very hard to react to.
The same instruction goes for the lead body uppercut as well. Be extra careful with the defense though, because your lead hand needs to come down to punch while you sit in a dangerous range, where you can get blasted with hooks and uppercuts to the head.
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.
Oftentimes beginner boxers overextend on the uppercut and continue the swing too high. This leaves you open for counter strikes as it takes more time to return the hand to defend. Overextending the uppercut may also come in the form that the punch is thrown from too far away and the arm is straightened which significantly decreases the power of the punch.
The uppercut requires you to lower the punching hand to gather power and this makes it risky. So, make sure to always keep the other hand close to the head and your chin tightly tucked. When uppercutting you are open to counters and punches thrown simultaneously with yours.
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.
The best way to use the lead uppercut is when slipping the opponent’s rear hand. The dip to the outside loads up the punch and it’s the perfect counter strike to a rear straight.
The rear uppercut is also the perfect weapon against shorter fighters who use a lot of head movement. If the opponent keeps his head very low it may be difficult for even hooks to land, but the uppercut can be very successful 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 effectively counter rolled shots with a nice strong rear uppercut.
In combinations, uppercuts are mostly used to lift the opponent’s head to open the way for other shots, often the hook. 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.
As we already said the uppercut is more of a specialized punch and different fighters will have different needs depending on their boxing style and height. Regardless of that, 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 different scenarios where the uppercut is a perfect choice. You may not use it as often as other punches, but an uppercut at the right time is devastating. Just watch a couple of Mike Tyson’s matches.