When learning how to box, your instructor will begin by teaching you a proper stance, which will allow you to avoid and block punches while striking your opponent. Most boxers now use a classic on-guard stance, as it provides them with the balance and posture needed to survive. Most of the other stances used come as variations of this classic stance, and boxers use them to throw their opponents off and gain an advantage during a fight.
Classic On-Guard Stance
This stance starts with you standing sideways, so your front shoulder faces toward your opponent (right-handed fighters will put their left shoulder forward). Have your feet shoulder-width apart, with your back foot's heel lined up with the toe of your front foot. Swivel your feet to reach 45 degrees toward your opponent, while bending your knees and your hips slightly and keeping your back straight. Tuck your elbows into your sides and place your arms so they protect most of your torso. Bend your head down, so that your hands protect your cheeks and chin. Turn your palms inward.
Peek-a-Boo Guard Stance
The peek-a-boo guard features many similarities to the classic guard, except you crouch deeper behind your arms so you protect more of your body. Place your arms higher so they protect your head better. Leave your fists unclenched throughout, unless throwing a punch. Fighters use this stance for defensive purposes; as it allows them to avoid punches, while setting up a counter.
Philly Shell Stance
With the Philly shell, fighters carry their lead arm much lower to protect the body. Use your rear hand to protect your jaw, while carrying your lead shoulder much higher to help with this protection. Some fighters have problems using this stance because it makes it difficult to jab, but it does leave the fighter in great position to throw hooks.
When using the cross-guard stance, take a widened position, leaving you more open to your opponent. Cross your hands, with your lead hand protecting your rear jaw line and your rear hand protecting your front jaw line. Keep in mind that while this stance remains effective defensively, it's difficult generating much power offensively because it will cut down on your hand speed.
If you're left-handed, the traditional orthodox stance won't work for you. Instead, flip any orthodox stance around into what's commonly known as the southpaw stance. In this stance, your right hand will be your lead hand and your left hand, which has more power, will be your rear hand. The southpaw stance can also be occasionally effective for fighters who have significant power and speed with each hand.
- "Boxer's Start-Up: A Beginner's Guide to Boxing"; Doug Werner; 1998
- "Boxing Mastery: Advanced Technique, Tactics, and Strategies from the Sweet Science"; Mark Hatmaker, et al.; 2004