The best form of defence is offence so the saying goes. There’s nothing so potent as attack. Next in that list is probably evasion. You can evade passively or you can hit at the same time as evading. In 4D I constantly remind students you're either the hunter or the hunted. Choose hunter. So change your mindset to I'm not evading I'm hunting them down. This is the beauty of boxing in that many times you're hitting your opponent whilst evading his attack. It doesn't always work that way but making them miss also hits at their confidence in their skill. Once they doubt themselves you're on the way to winning. There are basically two types of evading. First with body movement and then with footwork.
Becoming good at evasion takes time and a bit of courage as the natural thing is to use your arms to block or ward off blows using your box. The 4D approach is always about following your instincts. Aligning what you do with whats natural for you to do. Instinctively box is the first thing you’ll do. It's what all humans do first. Then your instincts will tell you either to fight or take flight. With evasion you can mix flight and fight. Remember mind set first, then skills. You’ve evaded but can still be hitting the opponent back. It’s a hard skill to develop though. Whilst evading you should think of using your body position to load the next punch. It changes how you evade. The thing is to work hard at it so that it becomes natural and you can evade under pressure.
For the body you’ve got four types of evasion.
First let’s look at left to right slipping. Think of this like a metronome going left and right. I call this Tik Tok as that’s the sound a metronome makes. Practice this standing in front of a mirror first and raise and lower your body as you do it. Don’t use your upper body to do this too much as it constricts the lungs and a bent back isn’t strong. Rather sway your hips out to counterbalance the top. You’ll need to work on your hips as probably movement wise this area doesn’t normally move this much in our modern culture. Then add punching between the beats; uppercuts and over hands work well with this but research what works for you. Add curves left and right to further empower this. The idea is to be mobile so that they can’t hit you. Mike Tyson is the master of this skill watch clips of him from YouTube. Particularly when he was younger (though he's still amazing in his 50's) This is the gold standard. Make it one of your key skills.
Then secondly, slip or bob forwards as if putting your head near their armpit. Slide your body down the side of their punch. Again start by doing this rhythmically in a mirror or against a partner attacking slowly. Eventually you’ll be doing it at full speed but you need to start slow. Remember to turn your body edge on with the left shoulder leading against their lead jab whether it’s real or imaginary and then with your right shoulder leading against the cross. This way you slide by their blows but keep your back straight, and you’re loading your body to deliver blows from the waist instead of from the arms.
Third you’ve got bobbing and weaving. Bob and weave under their blows in particular hooks and wide swings; those that come around from left and right. Think of making your body twist like a helix. Slide your body inwards like you’re going to slip then twist your body as you roll under. Get your position right with the Breen lean so that your head and body are free to move as they’re not jammed on top of the legs and all parts trying to move down and twist at the same time. It makes you slow. Each body part has its own air space. Lean in and twist Eventually the head does hardly any movement you just disappear. Sometimes when they jab and cross you can follow the jab back with your head as you know that punch is over. Similarly on the cross if the left hook is imminent.
Do bobbing and weaving and slipping pro-actively don’t wait until you see the blow. Think about having a slight bounce in your knees so that it’s easier to get started. On a micro level you’re doing it all the time so all you need to do is amplify that to suit the situation.
The fourth and last form of evasion is snapback where you use your rear foot and bounce back out of range using a rearwards step or just by bouncing on the back foot. Keep your leg fairly stiff and think of it like a little trampoline that you’re going to bounce off. Normally you get about 12-14 inches, (35 cm ) extra distance without doing a step and can get almost double that if you do a six or eight inch step backwards. Remember; keep the rear leg straight and knee locked and do the small step and then bounce back. Drills like the jab-catch drill are great for teaching this. This is one of my favourite ways of evading.
Do the drills for each type of evasion first slowly in a mirror and then in shadow boxing. Ring the changes and don’t stay still or in one place for two long. The secret if there is one is to overdo the evasion in training, put it in all the time so it’s what you do. Then it’ll be there when you need it when you spar or fight.
Start using it in sparring by going slowly or having it as a theme. Getting your opponent to hit the air around you is the ultimate aim. To hammer the point home give them a nonchalant look when they miss. Lastly if you do get hit don't fret over it. Just keep the pace slow and see it all as data. The more data you've got the more you can assess what to do next. It's not forebrain stuff so don't try to assimilate it that way. Feel the rhythm and tap into that. Watch great boxers like Jersey Joe Walcott to see a master evader at work.
I’ll cover the footwork part of evasion in a future post.