The straight is the second straight punch that boxers generally learn, with the jab being the first. It may also be known as the right cross, but other than the few differences between a true right cross and straight, the name “straight” tells you what the punch is all about, which is helpful for learning about this punch. Please note that the straight is simple enough in its description, but hard enough to execute correctly. While the technique for a jab and hooks may vary depending on style, the technique for a straight requires more emphasis.
What is a Straight:
A straight is a power punch thrown with your power hand. It uses both rotation and momentum to deliver its power. The rotation comes as you pivot your foot while you twist your hips and torso. The momentum comes as you extend your arm and slightly shift your weight forward. This punch is called the straight because it is thrown straight ahead and relies on an arm that is not bent but straight to deliver the power you’d have generated with the rotation and momentum. It has knockdown potential, but I would not bet on a knockout unless it is aimed at the chin. A straight is a fast and powerful punch, and it can get you through your opponent’s guard better than a jab can (provided that you’re fast and powerful enough). But, a straight is also easier for an opponent to move in and decrease the range when compared to a fast jab.
How to Throw a Straight:
- Assuming your stance and keeping your lead hand always at your face during the punch, start by twisting your hips from being angled to squared on your opponent. This motion is the basis for everything else about the punch. The punch starts with your hips angled and has landed when your hips are squared, which means that they are facing your target.
- While you begin the twist with you hips, two other body parts should follow. Your torso will rotate with your hips. Your rear leg will rotate and help your hips twist as fast as possible.
- Your rear foot should not only pivot but also push your weight forward as you throw the punch. Your weight should slightly shift forward at that point. The pivot helps ensure enough rotation and enough of a forward push. The forward push helps generate momentum while the shift in weight helps with sinking into the punch. (“Sinking” into a punch means that you slightly drop your level and thus become more stable. The slight shift in weight helps with this, but too much of a shift in weight leaves you off-balanced.)
- As your leg, hips, and torso rotate together, your rear hand should launch and begin rotating into position. At the end of the extension, its position will be with your palm facing down and your knuckles at your target, with your arm straight.
- Follow a straight path, “down the pipe” into your target. (“Down the pipe” means that your fist goes down an imaginary pipe between the target and itself.)
- Land the punch when your arm is straight so that all the generated power is delivered. The punch should snap and not be pushed through its target. Also, the heel of your rear foot should be near facing the ceiling and your foot should not lift off the floor. Flat-footed rookies only care about the punch but always forget to pivot the foot.
- Rotate your hips, torso, and leg back into their angled position, and bring your arm straight back into your guard.
How to Throw a Straight to the Body:
Straights to the body are done similarly to a regular straight aimed at the head. What is mostly different with a straight to the body is its target and the shift in your level. The target changes from the chin or nose to the solar plexus, which is the area where you’d imagine your stomach being. Its aimed here because there are more nerves here than other areas available as a target for a body straight. You shift your level more than the slight shift in level with the regular straight; the shift in level, that is, how low you have to get, should match the level of your target. When you throw this punch, expect your head to be at the same height as your opponent’s solar plexus.
When to Use the Straight:
Because the straight lands when your arm is straight, the punch is a mid-range or long-range punch. It is generally the power punch in these types of engagements and shouldn’t be used while infighting. But, it should be used with a jab and aimed to go through your opponent’s guard and land at his chin or nose. The straight can be used as a tool for getting through your opponent’s guard and getting inside to decrease the engagement range. As for the body straight, this punch is used to go for the body from the long-range and as a distraction to set up other punches. It can be effective since a long-ranged body shot can be unexpected.
Being the second straight punch in a boxer’s arsenal, the straight is both fast and powerful. It goes well when combined with jabs. Since many boxers stay in the mid-range and the long-range, the straight may be their most effective power punch, at the cost of being easier for an opponent to move in. Straights are more difficult to throw correctly than you’d expect but its mastery can make a boxer fully capable in the long-range and mid-range.