Straight Punch / Cross
The straight punch, which is a slight variation of the cross, is a punch thrown with your rear hand directly at your opponent in a straight line.
It’s the second most used punch after the jab, and is the best punch to use within mid-range to long-range. You should work extensively on your cross because:
- It’s the quickest way to reach your opponent with a power punch from a distance
- It’s easy to throw and set up, and can be thrown on its own
- It can open up opportunities to throw other punches
- When thrown properly, it can carry a lot of power.
Here’s the basics of a right cross / straight punch.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced boxer, it’s important to focus on the fundamentals of your technique. It’s important for beginners to practice the basics before going any further, but it’s also important that experienced boxers don’t neglect these basics or you could be losing time, energy and power by skipping over basic technique.
- Keep Your Guard Up (1): Ensure that you protect yourself by keeping your lead hand up. This is crucial when throwing the straight punch on its own, with no follow up.
- Fully Extend Your Arm (2): To get maximum power, you must fully extend your arm through your target – not just at your target. This is not essential if using the straight punch as a set up, but is important if you want to throw a power punch.
- Distribute Weight From Back to Front: The power of the cross is distributed from your rear foot to your lead foot. Do this by pivoting your rear foot, rotating your body, bending your knees and leaning forward very slightly. All done smoothly and simultaneously.
- Rotate Your Fist (3): While throwing the punch, just before hitting your target, smoothly rotate your fist so that your palm is facing downwards.
- Pivot Your Rear Foot (4): While you’re throwing the cross, pivot your rear foot. You should end up with your heel upwards, toes on the ground and your foot facing the target.
- Rotate Your Body (5): Most power in punches comes from the transformation of weight, by rotating your body smoothly with the punch – you will generate more power and will help you to retain good balance.
- Sit Down on Your Punch (6): Bending your knees as you throw the punch also helps to maintain balance, and will allow you to generate a lot more power – but don’t mistake this for being flat-footed.
- Align Your Body to Your Opponent: Ideally, your chest should be facing your opponent when throwing the cross. Just like foot positioning, you must be facing your target.
- Bring Your Hand Back: Always bring your rear hand back quickly to guard your chin, or else you will risk getting countered.
- Dip Your Head to the Outside: This is not essential, but can be very useful. Dipping your head slightly to the left (orthodox), right (southpaw) helps to turn your body and generate more power. It also helps to avoid counterpunches, and will put you in a great position to follow up with a lead hook.
- Lift Your Rear Foot: Many fighters make the crucial mistake of lifting their rear foot as they throw the cross, causing them to be off balance. This is usually the result of overextending. Make sure that the toes of your rear foot never leave the ground.
- Put All Your Weight on Your Lead Foot: Distribute weight from your rear foot to your front foot to generate power, but don’t put all of it on the front because it will cause you to fall into the punch. This means that if your opponent moves or ducks, then you’ll either have to take a step forward with your rear foot to maintain balance, or you’ll end up falling onto your opponent. Both of bad because you may end up falling into a counterpunch that could mean lights out for you.
- Over Extend: Make sure that your opponent is within range when throwing the cross. If you throw from too far out, you can end up being off balance or worse, damaging your elbow joint.
- Step in With Your Rear Foot: After throwing the cross, you shouldn’t step forward with your rear foot, causing you to switch stances. It’s another common mistake that many fighters make (unless it’s deliberate). This usually occurs when you over-extend or if you’re throwing the cross from too far out.
- Load Up: Don’t give any indication that you’re about to throw a punch. Cocking back your arm to throw the cross breaks that rule. Since the punch is in your opponent’s line of sight, he can easily spot it and move out the way or counter you.
- Stretch The Outside Of Your Arm: You should aim for the inside of your arm to be straight, instead of the outside. This means that your larger, inside knuckles are hitting the target rather than your smaller knuckles. This means, you should be using your bicep/back muscles instead of your tricep/back muscles – adding more power and aking it easier to throw a 1-2.
- Hyper-extend Your Elbow: Although you should extend your arm, beginners must be careful not to hyper-extend as this can damage the elbow and possibly the shoulder. To avoid this, don’t throw your straight punches too fast while shadowboxing – as you don’t have a target to prevent the extension.
This may sound awfully simple to you. But it is very difficult to master the straight punch, and a lot of martial artists have basic errors in their technique without realising it.
To reiterate the importance of properly extending your arm, here’s a video of some observations and some drills you can do to correct these mistakes.
The Perfect 1-2
Again, when mastering the art of boxing, you must have good fundamentals. Once you have a good jab and cross, it’s time to perfect the smooth 1-2 combination.
Here’s a video on how to throw a smooth 1-2 and avoid any silly mistakes.
For a more in-depth, professional assessment of how to throw a straight punch – I would recommend Johnny at ExpertBoxing.com
This is his video on how to throw a 1-2 combination.
There is a lot of practice that must go in to mastering the hook punch, but a lot of reward can come once you have every variation perfected and in your arsenal.
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