The term “chin” probably isn’t the best way to describe the ability to take strikes to the head since science says your chin doesn’t have much to do with how well you take a strike.
A knockout occurs when your brain slams hard against the walls of your skull due to a strike. That means the more your head moves after getting punched, the more likely you are to suffer a knockout.
How strong your chin or chin muscles are isn’t a factor when it comes to your ability to eat a shot. It comes down to how big and strong your neck is.
Your head rests on your neck, which connects it to the rest of your body, and we know that knockouts occur when your brain slams against your skull. That means the more your neck moves after impact, the more likely your brain is to slam hard against your skull. The bigger and broader your neck is, the less it will move after getting hit.
Genetics plays a role when it comes to how thick and strong your neck is, but it’s also a trainable attribute.
Developing an iron chin
Now that we know that your ability to take shots without getting knocked out has more to do with how strong your neck is and not your chin. Let’s take a look at some of the neck exercises tested and proven fighters have used to build up their chin:
1) Heavy neck exercises
Floyd Mayweather would not have a 50-0-0 professional boxing record if he didn’t have a rock-solid chin. Yes, he’s more technical savvy than any fighter of his generation, and his defense might be the best the sport of boxing has ever seen. However, all that wasn’t enough to prevent him from getting cracked a few times during his career.
“Sugar” Shane Mosley hit him with a huge right hand during the second round of their showdown, Marcos Maidana also caught him with a right hand, and Conor McGregor landed a clean uppercut during their circus bout.
It’s the secret weapon Mayweather always had: On the extremely rare occasion an opponent caught Mayweather with a perfect shot, he took it well. Mayweather is a fan of neck exercises, particularly while using heavy weights.
You’ll need a head harness to perform these neck exercises. As a warm-up, move your head up and down, side to side, left to right, counterclockwise, and anticlockwise. Perform each motion for 20 to 30 seconds to get the muscles and joints in your neck all warmed up and loose.
Here’s what a basic neck exercise looks like:
- Put on your head harness and attach a one or two-pound weight plate to start. You can use heavier weights as you become more comfortable with the exercise.
- Find a high platform like an exercise bench, boxing ring, or table you can lay horizontal on with your neck and head sticking out of its sides.
- Lay down on your back with your abdomen facing the ceiling.
- Move the harness so that the weight is behind you.
- Bring your chin towards your chest, hold the position for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 to 20 reps.
- Perform the same motions while laying on your stomach and your sides.
2) Neck mobility drills
These drills help to strengthen the deep neck anterior muscles, and they help you develop a habit of always keeping your chin tucked during striking exchanges. Keeping your chin tucked during striking exchanges helps to absorb the impact of blows. Here’s what a simple neck mobility drill looks like:
- Start laying down on something horizontal with your head sticking out of the edge. This gives you a wider range of motion when performing these exercises.
- Bring in your chin towards your neck. Try to get it as close as possible.
- While keeping your chin tucked, nod your head up and down as if you agreed to something. Perform the motion 30 times.
- Still keeping your chin tucked, move your head side to side as if you were saying no. Aim for 30 reps.
- With your chin still tucked, bring your ears towards your shoulders while tilting your head side to side as if you were saying maybe. Repeat for 30 reps.
- Now, return your chin to a neutral position. From there, bring your chin in towards your neck to the starting position you used for the earlier motions. Perform 30 reps.
3) Rolling with punches
As we mentioned earlier, knockouts result from your brain whiplashing against your skull, so rolling with strikes can help take some power off them. Think of it like a car getting hit from behind by another car while it’s moving forward. The accident’s impact would not be as significant as it would be if the car was stationary with its brakes on or, even worse, moving in the opposite direction.
This is why landing a knee or uppercut on an opponent as they shoot for a takedown can be so devastating in MMA. The person’s downward momentum plus the upward momentum of the strike practically doubles the force of the impact.
Make it a habit to always turn your head or body in the direction of a strike when sparring or competing. The technique comes in handy when you find a strike coming at your head while your hands are down. Rolling with a strike significantly reduces how hard it connects, and it’s a technique that has been perfected by legends of striking arts like Anderson Silva, Floyd Mayweather, and Canelo Alvarez.
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