3 Punches To Master

3 Punches To Master by Charles Sledge

Not all punches are created equal. Some are nice for movies and to show off on a punching bag but are pretty much completely useless when it comes to actually fighting. Whether in the ring or in a real encounter. The best punches are those that have a definite purpose, pack power, and are simple and too the point. Nothing fancy and nothing flashy. It has to be quick and easy to do. Here I’m going to lay out three of the simplest and most effective punches that there are. Practice these until you master them.

Don’t try to include one hundred different variations of punches in your training. You want to choose a few and really drill down and focus on them. As a matter of fact there are no more then ten punches that I would ever recommend training with. Remember what Bruce Lee said “I fear not the man that has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”. The same applies to punching and really just about anything else. Master these and a few other basics before worrying about anything else. And who knows you’re probably better off mastering nothing but the basics and constantly drilling them. No need to get fancy.

The Jolt

The jolt is essentially the same as a jab or a right except for it also has a falling step included in it. So what you’re going to do is throw a jolt either to your opponents chin or solar plexus. Now depending on what you’re target is is going to change how you throw the jolt. If you’re aiming for the opponents chin and it’s at your chin level or above then you are going to punch with your knuckles vertical. You’ll still hit with your ring finger knuckle but instead of turning your fist like most do with jabs and really every kind of punch you’re going to throw jolts at chin level or higher with your knuckles vertical.

This allows for a clearer shot and for you to make the most use of your power line. It packs more power then throwing a jolt above chin level with your fists horizontally. Now if you’re throwing a jolt to the opponents solar plexus and it’s below your chin level then you are going to strike with your fists horizontally like with a normal punch. The power line will be in tact when it’s at this angle. Remember the falling step is what makes it a jolt (as well as the vertical fist if it’s above the chin). These are going to be the heaviest punches in your arsenal and are to be used at “long range”.

The Shovel Hook

This is my favorite punch. I like it because it’s nasty and easy to sneak in. It’s mean, brutal, and effective. The shovel hook has been called the hookercuts because they are sort of a cross between and uppercut and a hook. Dempsey the great boxer called them inside hooks because of the elbow placement. With a shovel hook you’re elbow is going to be pressed against your body while with a regular hook your elbows are obviously flared out. While in a regular hook your fist is going to be striking with the knuckles facing towards the ceiling with the shovel hook it’s going to be different.

With the shovel hook your knuckles are going to be facing more towards the floor then the ceiling and they’ll be at a 45 degree angle slanted. For shovel hooks to your opponents chin you are going to place your elbow against your lower ribs and for shovel hooks to your opponents solar plexus you are going to have your elbow placed against your hips. This is something you’ll want to practice on the bag before using it in sparring as it takes some getting used to. But once you get it these punches are very deadly and can cause some great unexpected damage. These are to used in close range.

The Uppercut

The best way to think of an uppercut is using your fist to cut through a straight line running from the floor to your opponents chin. An uppercut is straight up and down. It’s great for when an opponent opens up their guard a bit and it very effective for surprising your opponent as an uppercut comes from under the opponents line of sight. Making it great for a surprise knockout. With an uppercut you are going to have to drop your weight and then send it up into the opponents chin. The uppercut is a very powerful blow and done right can be a one shot K.O. (alright to be fair I guess that could be said for all of these punches).

A word of caution when you are in your boxing stance you most likely shouldn’t throw uppercuts with your front hand because they won’t be able to generate a lot of power. Save throwing uppercuts with your weaker hand when your feet are almost even it’s then that you’ll be able to really throw some power into it. I would also discourage you from attempting uppercuts at long range which makes them sloppy and takes their power. The uppercut it be used when you are nose to nose with your opponent. Uppercuts were made for that situation use them when close in and they’ll do massive damage.


Obviously you should look into mastering other punches as well. The jab, the right, and hooks off the top of my head. However these three are all capable of being very powerful and all are knockout punches or the type of punches that cause your opponent to lose their lunch. Practice them all on both the chin and the solar plexus so you can feel how striking each one is different and adjust for those differences. Drill them and drill them often. Get it so it’s second nature to you. Master each of these punches and you’ll be a potent force both in the ring and outside the ring.

If you have any questions you would like to see answered in a future post send them to me at charlessledge001 (at) gmail (dot) com. If you found value in this post then I would encourage you to share this site with someone who may need it as well as check out my books here. I appreciate it. You can follow me on Twitter here.

-Charles Sledge

Charles Sledge

  • One punch that I particularly enjoyed, but am unsure of its effectiveness in a real fight is a downward angled punch to the clavicle of your opponent. Think of an upside down uppercut. We had one guy train this punch as his primary strike for TKD tournaments, a sport specializing in kicks, and by the end of the fight, his opponents could barely lift their arms because he’d just wear their clavicles out. Thoughts?

    • Sounds interesting. I know clavicles can be a weak spot and have LEOs talk about hammer fists to the clavicle can really do some damage. Apparently it’s easy to break and once it’s broken the arm on that side is pretty much useless. Sounds like it’d be a pretty mean punch if you practiced it enough although the angle would probably be a challenge unless they were on the ground.

  • Johnny Grube

    Are we talking in the ring or the street? In the street it’s
    always the head shot! Body shots if you are in a clinch,
    because you want separate, and not go to the ground if
    necessary. The street is WAY different then the ring, so
    the shortest distance between two points is a straight
    punch, you be real lucky to ever hit someone in the street
    with an uppercut, unless you got him by the hair to drag
    him over to deliver the upper cut.

    • Just all around. That’s a good point. Most fights I’ve seen/been involved with generally end after a strong hit to the face/chin. I remember when I was young my football coach told me the best way to win a fight was to just keep swinging for the guys face and being aggressive. It was pretty good advice.

  • SnapperTrx

    “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”

    Bruce Lee

    A small collection of well practiced combat tactics can serve you well against an untrained combatant. When you can properly land a punch or kick with power and precision with the right timing you can end a fight quickly, which should be the goal: Disable your attacker and then get out of dodge! I need to spend more time with it, but Lee’s Jeet Kun Do teaches fast and powerful punches that utilize the hips and forward motion for added power. You can learn the simple techniques from books he wrote, though a trainer is most ideal. The main thing, much like your strength training, is consistently training until the motions and techniques become calculated reaction instead of action. Done with little thought because your body has learned what it needs to do without being told.

    That being said, I need to go hit the bag.

    • Absolutely. Keep it simply and sweet. Drill it into your muscles until it’s second nature.

  • Hi Charles,
    Total newbie to punching and a little confused about how they are supposed to look. Do you have any links or videos to see what they are supposed to look like. This would really help. or even pictures. Thanks these are great articles !

    • Thaks Michael. There is a book called championship fighting that has diagrams of them all it’s by Jack Dempsey you can find it on Amazon. I’m sure there are diagrams online but their quality is questionable. Dempsey is the source and a heavyweight champ so I’d just throw down the 8$ or whatever for his book.

      • Mike Socarras

        Thanks that book is great there are also good videos explaining jack dempseys punches on youtube

        Thanks charles