Lead and Rear Uppercuts


The last punches to learn are the uppercuts. If you’ve gone through the articles about all the punches, you might notice a trend. The jab is most versatile out of all the punches, and the straight is less versatile, with the hooks being even less versatile. The uppercuts follow this trend, as they are generally used to lift an opponent’s head up for a follow-up punch. An uppercut isn’t better than a hook for knockout potential, but like the straight, this punch can K.O. when it lands on the chin.

What is an Uppercut:

An uppercut is a punch that is thrown upwards instead of straight ahead (jab and straight) or looping to a side (lead and rear hooks). This punch must be thrown straight through the center line of your opponent if you want the punch to bypass the guard. Many rookies tend to drop their hand to throw the punch, leaving their face unguarded. But dropping the hand to throw an uppercut not only provides an opening for your opponent, but it also undermines where the power of the punch is actually generated. The power of the punch is generated with the legs and not the arm. So a proper uppercut starts with the fist at its position within your regular guard.

How to Throw a Lead Hand Uppercut:

  1. Assuming your stance, keeping your lead hand no lower than chin-level and your rear arm protecting your ribs, slightly dip your hips.
  2. At the same time, center your lead arm with your opponent’s guard by rotating your torso and hips. Your lead arm should also be protecting your ribs during the punch. (It must be centered because you have to throw your punch up through the opening of your opponent’s guard.)
  3. Drive your hips up while keeping your arm stiff to prevent it from dropping upon contact. Your lead foot should come up to help with the upward drive.
  4. Snap your punch when it lands and bring everything back to a ready position.


How to Throw a Rear Hand Uppercut:

Whereas the lead hand uppercut can be awkward and weak, the rear hand uppercut can be as comfortable to throw and as powerful as a straight. Boxers like Guillermo Rigondeaux sometimes throw their rear hand uppercuts just like they throw their straights. Although what I have in mind is a more advanced uppercut, the mechanics of the basic rear hand uppercut are very similar to those of the straight. Just like a straight, the power of the rear hand uppercut comes from the rotation of the hips and the momentum of the rear leg push. In practice, the rear leg push is required for the rear hand to reach its target. This punch is still an uppercut, so the punch must be centered and thrown upwards; but you’d rotate your hips, leg, and torso as you would with a straight.

When to Throw the Uppercut:

The uppercut is used to bring an opponent’s head up, so that you can land some other punch. That’s why you must watch for uppercuts when bobbing and weaving; with your head low, it is awkward and risky for your opponent to try to land jabs and straights, and possibly even hooks so an uppercut would be likely to come. The uppercut can also be used to land a punch on an opponent who blocks excessively.

When infighting, uppercuts are very useful as they are close-range punches, just like hooks. Also, an uppercut to the body, particularly to the solar plexus, can hurt more than a hook or a straight. If your opponent leaves that area open, be sure to punish her by throwing an uppercut to the solar plexus.


Uppercuts are specialized punches. They are used to lift an opponent’s head up or to break through the guard of a boxer excessively blocking. It’s important not to drop your hand when throwing this punch, especially against a skillful opponent. When thrown and used properly, though, the uppercut can be as useful as any other punch.

Author: Loc Ho

Loc Ho was assistant coach, team captain, and boxed at 139 lbs, 132 lbs, and 125 lbs for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s boxing team from 2016-2019. He has trained hundreds of novices and seasoned athletes and created the program’s year-long training curriculum that has taken complete beginners to elite collegiate competitors. With Loc as assistant coach for three years, the program placed six athletes regionally and nationally, including the program’s first men’s national champion at 119 lbs and a national runner-up at 195 lbs. Loc is currently studying law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

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