How to Improve Defense in Boxing

See Into the Future – Improve Fight Reflexes

Remember – hand is quicker than the eye. When it come to a fight, the body responds in two ways – fight or flight. But unfortunately if you’re a fighter, you only have ‘one choice’ – and you already know which one it is. That is why you need to train your ‘Fight Reflex’.

While people focus on different aspects of fighting such as power, speed, agility, strategy, etc.; the one thing everyone seems to discount is ‘reflex’.

Fighting is ALL about reflex. It is your reflex VS your opponents’, and whoever’s faster – wins. It would be appropriate to define the idea of reflex as an ‘automated twitch reflex’. We flinch, blink and move out of harm’s way by instinct, which is in-built to avoid harm. But how cool is this? – You can actually learn to control or ‘direct’ this automated response to danger in a desired manner. And believe me, you’ll need more than a pair of boxing gloves or punching bags to fix it.

Fight reflex requires a stimulus in the form of incoming punches, opponent’s movement, discovering openings and finding weak-points in your opponent’s game. The response as a result to this stimuli comes in the form of attack or defense. If you can pin point these aspects you can capitalize on your opponent’s mistakes or recover from your own. These tips are not to focus on ‘techniques’ to improve, but highlights the fundamentals and how building on these will make you fight with awareness.


Training ‘Fight Reflex’ allows you to react or get out of the way in time with a counter or a dodge. The most effective way to train the eye for the faster hand is to, plain and simple, have punches thrown at you. You can stand in front of a mirror shadow slipping punches and ducking under ropes, but the matter of the fact is that a hand moves much, much faster than you moving your entire body. The point is to train your reflexes to move out of the way as soon as it notices the opponent’s body movement.

Practicing Patterns

We might look at a fight and think ‘wow he must have come up with that combo on the go’. There’s some truth to that – BUT, these are actually patterns thrown at the right time, given the right opening, or opportunity. The only way you can throw these combos is to react reflexively and throw them so effortlessly, that you feel this was your natural modus operandi.


Movement and rhythm are key to footwork and reflex. In a fight you cannot act as a stationary target. Movement is the key to seeing punches or evading them. It helps you calculate the distance between you and your opponent, when to close/slip in and out. Head movement plays an important roll. Fighters normally head hunt. It’s a habit. When you know what the target is, you just have him chasing. But your reflexes have to be fast enough to think (or act) literally a second in advance to his offense.


You might think this tip is slightly odd since, you know, how the hell does one relax while someone’s trying to take your head off? Relaxation and calmness comes with training, training and some more training. When you’re relaxed EVERYTHING flows. The punches, the movements, the senses. It all comes together, because if you’re relaxed in a fight, it probably means you’re confident. This doesn’t mean you just chill out, and let this guy crazy punching at you – it means that if you’ve practiced the above tips, you’ll have an armory of tools you can use within those split seconds when you find openings.

Watch Evasive Fighters

My final tip and example of a fighter with GREAT Fight Reflexes is the current UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominic Cruz. If you want an idea of how a fighter should move, take less damage and throw more – then the Dominator is your bet. Don’t even try emulating him through, it takes years of training and drills to get to where he is – but you’ll understand the efficacy if his game once you watch him.