Parrying Punches


Parrying is a defensive maneuver, one that you’d probably learn last. The reason why this is the case is because it is arguably the hardest to do correctly. For this reason and the corresponding reason that rookies tend to botch this maneuver, I consider parrying (more) advanced, and therefore, in the advanced defense category. But once you know how to do it correctly, you can easily apply it into your defense. So far, we’ve covered the most fundamental defensive techniques and maneuvers. From most fundamental to least, they are the use of footwork, blocking, slipping, bobbing and weaving (or ducking). You can add parrying as the last of the clearly defined defensive maneuvers.

What is Parrying:

Parrying is similar to blocking. With blocking, you intercept a punch by blocking its target with your arms and hands. With parrying, you intercept a punch by swiping it away with your hands. This requires that you have to reach your hand out from your guard in order to swipe a punch away, and if this is done incorrectly, the result is a big opening for your opponent to land a punch. If done correctly, you just evaded a punch and have an opening for your own punch.

Parrying is the least fundamental of the defensive maneuvers because you can handle any offense with the rest of the defensive maneuvers. Footwork can be used to move out of the range of a punch; blocking can be used to cover any openings; slipping to evade and counter; bobbing and weaving to evade and time you opponent. So why parry at all? The astute reader might also ask this for slipping and bobbing and weaving, since these defensive maneuvers are also unnecessary for pure defense. Just like slipping has the double effect of defending and allowing for you to counter; and just like bobbing and weaving has the double effect of defending and allowing for you to time your opponent, parrying allows for you to defend while it actively creates openings for you. You have to decide to parry a certain punch, and when done, you’ve defended and set yourself up for a nice counter.

How to Parry:

  1. Assuming your stance, imagine or have a punch come at you.
  2. Reach out just enough so that you still have your guard ready. Reach out with the same-side hand. For example, parry an opponent’s jab with your rear hand (so that you can quickly return a jab of your own). When parrying, rookies always reach out too much and compromise their own guard, leaving an opening for their opponents.
  3. Swipe the punch away. The swipe needs little effort, as you just want to change the incoming punch’s course. Your hand should still be close to your face.
  4. Bring your hand back and choose whether to counter.

When to Parry:

Generally, you would want to parry a punch if your opponent over-commits to his punches or as insurance for other defensive maneuvers.

Here’s an example of the first situation: your opponent throws a power jab all the time. The jab is fast and slipping is too slow, so you parry the jab. This makes your opponent’s lead hand not only change course to and from her guard but also slows it down, both of which lead to an opening for your counter.

Here’s an example of the second situation: Your opponent throws a straight. Uncertain of whether another punch will come and not ready to counter, you parry the punch and preemptively slip.


Parrying is a simple maneuver once mastered but easy to do incorrectly. All it takes is reaching out too far or swiping too much, and you now have an opening for your opponent. That said, correct parrying lets you create an opening by directly intercepting your opponent’s punch. Many of the other defensive maneuvers can’t do this, as they depend a lot on the circumstances for creating an opening.

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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