wikiHow to Block a Punch

Three Methods:Blocking a Punch with Your BodyBlocking with a ParryBlocking a Punch in the Ring

It has been said that "the best offense is a good defense." There are many different instances where you might need to apply this philosophy to block, soak, or evade a punch for your personal safety. From the boxing ring to a bar brawl, knowing the mechanics and the best approach to a fistfight can protect you from serious harm.

Method 1
Blocking a Punch with Your Body

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    Prepare your torso. A blow to the stomach can be devastating if you're not prepared. In the event that a blow comes too quickly, or you are unprepared for violence, your best course of action may be to tighten your stomach muscles and shift slightly so the blow lands off to the side of your body.[1]
    • By shifting, you diminish the force of the blow by not meeting it head on, but also allow your obliques (the muscles on the sides of your torso), to absorb the force as well.
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    Block with your head. This technique can be used if you are taken by surprise or or don't have a chance to block with your extremities. Blocking with your forehead can even lead to damaging your opponent's hand due to its hardness and resilience, leaving you unharmed. Tighten your neck muscles, clench your jaw, and lean into the oncoming blow so that you absorb it on your forehead.[2]
    • Exercise caution with this block; poor timing or placement could lead to a debilitating blow.
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    Heed his feet. When you feel like you might be in danger of violence, you should focus your awareness on the posture of your aggressor. This is very important because it can serve as an early warning to you. If your opponent has his right foot back, it's likely he will punch with that hand, and vice versa. Knowing this will allow you to prepare for the blow.[3][4]
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    Cover and direct the punch. Trying to block the punch head on is a recipe for disaster. As the majority of the force of the punch will be coming forward, you stand a better chance moving the blow to the side rather than opposing it directly. Bring your hand up to the inside of the oncoming punch to "cover" it with your own hand. Complete the move by guiding the strike to the outside.[5]
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    Answer the phone. Similar to covering and directing the punch, bringing your hand up to cover the strike as it's oncoming, continue the motion until your hand is close to the side of your head/crook of your neck and your elbow is raised in line with your assailant's forearm.[6]
    • Keep your stance tight, your neck muscles tensed, and your hand as close to your head as possible. Deflecting the blow in this way can still cause a transfer of force that may knock your own hand into your head, leaving you dazed and poorly protected.

Method 2
Blocking with a Parry

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    Know your aim. A parry is a counter blow that is intended to disarm or deflect a strike coming your way.[7][8] Parrying requires quick reflexes, but when executed well, it can take the fight out of your opponent more quickly than a simple block.
    • A parry can take the form of a jab, hook, or a close quarters strike. The parry you employ will be decided by circumstance and reflex, though most will be short distance strikes to a vulnerable part of your opponent's attacking extremity, making use his oncoming force to do damage.
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    Watch his posture. The stance of your opponent will telegraph important information to you, allowing you to respond co-occurringly with the blow as your assailant strikes. When you feel in danger of violence, take note of:
    • Which foot is leading and following, as a punch is usually thrown from the same side as the back foot.
    • The rotation of the body, as it has a tendency of rotating in the direction from which the attack is coming.
    • Any tensing, especially clenching of the fists, as this will be a good indicator that a blow is soon to come.[9]
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    Commit to a target. If you aren't an experienced fighter, you will likely be unaware of what kind of strike will be launched by your aggressor. Chances are, it will be a simple punch directed at your head, though this is not a guarantee. For an effective parry, you will need to commit to a counter-strike in the space where the blow is most likely to pass through.[10]
    • An excellent, and debilitating target, is the bicep muscle. Too often in combat, opponents regard the head as the main target, but the limbs are very susceptible to damage, and a strike to the bicep can leave your assailant's arm crippled for the rest of the fight.
    • The inside of the elbow joint will also be vulnerable when your aggressor extends his arm to try and land his blow.
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    Practice with a friend. Especially if you are inexperienced, you should always exercise caution when practicing self-defense, but to most effectively train parrying, you'll need a partner. Have your partner make strikes at you in slow motion following in as natural a way as possible. As his blow approaches, strike his extremity in such a way as to stop or deflect the blow.
    • Once you have the motions and your strike targets well practiced, you can speed up this drill, but be sure to do so with restraint. Neither you, nor your partner, should come into contact in such a way that you harm each other.
    • To improve reflex time, try training on a speed bag or double end bag, pick up a reflex oriented ball sport, like racquetball, and train with a reflex ball.[11][12]
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    Swat away blows and evade. Though this might not be the most elegant approach, it is highly effective. It takes a great deal of energy to throw a strong punch, and by slapping away your aggressor's fist to either side of your body, you will tire him out while keeping yourself safe.[13][14][15]

Method 3
Blocking a Punch in the Ring

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    Understand the rules. It is important to distinguish the differences between sport fighting and a life or death struggle. When sport fighting, like in boxing, there are rules in place to protect the contenders and ensure a "fair fight."[16] In a brawl situation, adherence to these rules can result in you getting hurt. In the real world, you can't always trust your opponent to follow the rules.[17]
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    Learn the basics. The basic boxing punches are: the jab, the cross, the hook and the uppercut. Knowing how each of these is executed is the first step in understanding how you can stop the blow.[18]
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    Prepare yourself for the jab. This is a fighter's most frequently used punch. The most effective way to block this shot is to deflect it with your palm, thereby deflecting the punch above your other shoulder.[19]
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    Avoid the cross. Blocking in boxing isn't just about using your gloves; you'll also need to be comfortable defending with your shoulders as well. A cross is a straight power punch thrown by your opponent. There will likely be too much power behind it to block with your hand, so you should instead try to take the blow on your shoulder.[20]
    • After you take the punch on your arm, you can shift your weight to your back foot, rotate your body hard and execute a counter punch.
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    Give the blow the slip. By turning hips slightly in time with the oncoming punch, your opponent won't have time to alter the course of his punch and it will "slip" right by you. Swaying requires you to lean straight back from your hips giving you time to move your head out of the way of an oncoming punch in a swaying motion.[21]
    • Though not technically a block, by evading the blow, you achieve the same purpose and, in some cases, leave yourself in a more fortunate situation/condition. Some opponents will be much stronger or larger; in this case, blocking the punch could be dangerous.
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    Duck the blow. There are two main benefits to this technique, one is avoiding a blow, the other is to give yourself an opening at some easy body shots. Duck your adversary's mitt by dropping down in an erect position. This move may cause the glove to graze your head or miss you completely.[22]
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    Bob and weave. You can escape an impending punch by "bobbing" your head while sliding underneath or to the side of your opponent's glove. As the mitt advances, bend your legs and move laterally in either direction. Once you have evaded the punch, "weave" into a standing position to either side of his outstretched arm.[23]
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    Engage in a battle of attrition. Also known as the rope-a-dope technique, this defensive move requires fighters to lean against the ropes of the ring while shielding themselves with their mitts and their body. The goal is to weather the assault, exhaust your opponent, and conserve energy. Successfully performing the rope-a-dope will leave your foe weakened and unable to throw any punches you have to worry about.


  • Keep eye contact, watch how your opponent is moving.
  • The instant before a blow lands, you should tense your muscles in that area to prevent the force from damaging your internal organs or the alignment of your bones.
  • Always keep your stance tight; your limbs should be close to your body or face. This will prevent you from having your own limbs jostled into you, potentially doing you harm.


  • These techniques can be very dangerous, even if executed perfectly. Always try to disarm a situation through non-violent means first before resorting to self defense.

Sources and Citations

  2. Piven, Joshua, and David Borgenicht. The Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle, 1999. Print.
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Article Info

Categories: Self Defense