If you’re a fan of boxing, you’ve probably seen a boxer knock an opponent out with a gazelle punch, even if you don’t recognize the technique by name. It’s one of the most effective ways to close the gap in boxing and it carries over into other combat sports like Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts as well.
Also known as the leaping jab/hook, the gazelle punch involves bending slightly at your legs to build explosive energy before lifting from a lowered position to execute the technique while lunging at your opponent. When done correctly, the punch should connect with its target while you’re still in the air, driving all of your momentum into it.
Perfecting The Gazelle Punch
The gazelle punch has been used as far back as the 1950s by boxing legends like Floyd Patterson. Other fighters who helped to popularize the technique include Rocky Marciano and Mike Tyson.
The gazelle punch is an advanced boxing technique so you should perfect the technique while shadowboxing, sparring, and hitting heavy bags before trying to use it during competitions. The technique can be quite dangerous when used incorrectly since it involves leaping toward your opponent. A counter-punch landing while you’re in the air could be devastating. The power of your opponent’s punch is increased by your forward momentum toward them.
Properly executing the gazelle punch is all about correctly timing your opponent and setting things up. Boxers like Mike Tyson often slipped off the centerline before throwing a gazelle punch, which lowers their guard, opening them up to the technique.
Some of the simple things you can do to set up a gazelle punch include:
- Land a few hooks to the body from the same direction you plan to throw the gazelle punch from to get your opponent to lower their guard.
- Use a feint to the body before throwing the punch.
- Make sure your opponent is close enough to connect before leaping. Being out of range exposes you to counters.
- Use the technique sparingly, it can be easily countered when anticipated.
Executing The Gazelle Punch
Here are the different steps involved when throwing a leaping jab/hook:
- Stance And Footwork: Start in your regular boxing stance. Ensure your feet are shoulder-width apart, giving you the balance needed for the jump. Shift your weight toward your rear foot, ready to spring forward.
- The Leap: Just like a gazelle, the leap is crucial. Push off from your back foot, propelling yourself forward and slightly upward. This movement should be swift and explosive.
- The Punch: As you leap, turn your lead hip and shoulder into the punch. Your lead arm should deliver a sharp, hooking punch targeting your opponent’s head. The momentum from your leap will add significant power.
- Landing And Recovery: After delivering the punch, it’s essential to land gracefully, ready to either throw another punch, defend, or move out of range. Your back foot should touch the ground first, followed by your lead foot, setting you back into your boxing stance.
- Breathing: Like all punches, breathing is crucial. Exhale sharply as you throw the gazelle punch. This not only adds power but ensures you maintain rhythm and don’t tire easily.
Practicing The Gazelle Punch
Here are some tips for practicing how to throw a gazelle punch correctly:
- Use A Mirror: Try the gazelle punch in front of a mirror before practicing it on heavy bags or while sparring. This allows you to see and correct your form so you don’t develop bad habits. Try not to overextend your shoulder or elbow when practicing the technique.
- Transition To A Heavy Bag: Once you have the technique’s mechanics down, start working the technique on a heavy bag. This will help to develop a feel for the power behind the technique while improving your timing.
- Stay Relaxed: Tension slows you down so keep your arms and shoulders relaxed while throwing the technique.
- Practice While Sparring: Once you’re comfortable with the technique, start incorporating it into your practice sessions. Using the technique while sparring will improve your timing and show you which feints work best to set it up.
Mistakes To Avoid When Throwing the Gazelle Punch
Some of the most common mistakes people new to the gazelle punch make when learning it include:
- Don’t Wind Up: Some boxers have a bad habit of winding up before throwing looping punches which ruins the element of surprise. Try not to do anything that telegraphs your intent when throwing the technique and start from your normal fighting stance.
- Avoid Overcommitting: Missing the punch or leaping too much makes it harder to land a gazelle punch and leaves you off-balance and vulnerable to counters.
- Keep Your Other Hand Up: As is the case when throwing any other punch, keep your free hand guarding your face while throwing a gazelle punch. This is particularly important as you leap into range – the most vulnerable part of the technique.
Benefits Of The Gazelle Punch
The are three main benefits of using the gazelle punch technique. First, it’s an unconventional movement that allows you to catch opponents off guard. They think they’re out of your range so your punch gets to catch them off guard. Second, jumping toward an opponent adds more force to your punch, making it more powerful than a regular jab or hook. Third, it’s an effective way to close the distance on opponents.
Worth Adding To Your Fighting Arsenal
The gazelle punch, while not a staple for every boxer, offers an exciting addition to a fighter’s repertoire. Its blend of athleticism, explosiveness, and technique can make it a game-changer in the ring. Like all advanced techniques, it requires practice, timing, and understanding to pull off. Incorporate the gazelle punch into your training, perfect it, and you’ll have an explosive tool that can catch even the most seasoned opponents off guard and end fights in an instant. Remember, boxing is as much about spectacle as it is about skill, and nothing speaks to that more than a perfectly executed gazelle punch.
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