How to Improve Your Boxing with Feints

Elite fighters are difficult to hit because they maintain an effective guard and possess skillful defensive techniques. An experienced boxer can defend against a single jab, but he can also easily counter the attack. That’s why you need to incorporate subtle offensive techniques to create openings on your opponent. This guide discusses the art of setting-up your opponent with fakes, known as “feints.”

Understanding the Feint

The term “feint” refers to a fake punch or misleading movement that causes an opponent to react and open up. Over the course of the bout, feinting exposes your opponent’s tendencies and reactions to specific punches. His reaction to your movement allows you to move forward in the match with a better understanding of where his vulnerabilities lay.

How to Feint

There are different types of feints — some involve just the eyes and hands, while others involve the entire body. Feints are the ultimate setup move, but success relies on your ability to land punches. Once you’ve hit your opponent, he’s much more likely to react quickly and emphasize his defense to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. If you’re good with your feints, you can take advantage of the openings that emerge each time he reacts.

A simple feint sequence plays out as follows:

  1. Look at a specific area on your opponent’s head or body.
  2. Begin to throw a punch, but stop the punch midway through the punching motion.
  3. Pay close attention to how your opponent reacts.
  4. Respond with a punch that exploits his vulnerabilities. For example, feint a jab to the head. Your opponent may raise his hands to block or parry your jab. Throw a cross to his body.

More advanced feints involve the use of clever footwork as well. Here’s an example:

  1. Look at a specific area on your opponent’s head or body.
  2. Jab step with your front foot — a jab step involves stepping forward quickly in the direction of your opponent, before returning your foot to its original position.
  3. While you’re jab stepping, simultaneously incorporate a head feint — move your head quickly forward then back to its original position.
  4. Respond to his reaction by feinting then attacking. If he simply backs up each time you feint, then continue to come forward and back him up against the ropes where you can bang away.

Steps two and three deceive your opponent by making him think you’re about to attack.

“Jose Torres, my former stable-mate and the light heavyweight champion of the world . . . gives the best definition of a feint that I’ve ever heard: ‘A feint is an outright lie. You make believe you’re going to hit your opponent in one place, he covers the spot and your punch lands on the other side. A left hook off the jab is a classy lie. You’re converting a I into an L. Making openings is starting a conversation with a guy, so another guy (your other hand) can come and hit him with a baseball bat.”

Floyd Patterson
Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion

Hot Tip: Creating Space

Feints are especially useful against aggressive opponents. Often you can stop an aggressive opponent in his tracks by feinting. Feinting creates space as he walks forward. If he doesn’t react to your feints, then blast him as he walks into your range.

Overwhelm Him

Clever fighters deceive opponents with feints and intricate punch combinations. Feints can confuse or surprise your opponent, since he has to determine whether or not each punch is a real threat to land. Likewise, combining feints with complex punch combinations can lead to easy points if your opponent visually exposes holes in his defensive game.

Lastly, be smart defensively. Don’t over-commit to a defensive maneuver, such as a parry, that could potentially leave you vulnerable. Keep your parries tight, knowing that your opponent may incorporate feints as well.

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