Is Boxing Hard To Learn?

Whether you want to get into boxing for the combat sports aspect or you are looking for a new and fun way to keep fit, you might want to know how hard it is to learn and get comfortable with boxing. So, is boxing difficult to learn? 

Boxing is not hard to learn fundamentally, but it takes time to perfect your punching techniques and apply them to boxing drills and sparring as a whole. Learning the six basic punches and being able to do them on command takes about 10 sessions, mastering them can take much longer.

Read further to find out everything you need to know about learning to box. 

What Are the Six Punches in Boxing?

People that are new to boxing might not know that boxing consists primarily of six numbered punches. When you first start learning to box, your trainer will probably teach you the six basic punches, with a focus on the first two. So, what are the six punches in boxing? 

The six punches in boxing are the jab, cross, lead hook, rear hook, lead uppercut, and rear uppercut. Each punch has its own arm and body position, and it can take a few boxing sessions before you get to grips with each one. 

I’ll discuss the six punches in more detail below:  

1. Jab

As its name suggests, the jab is a quick, stab-like punch and a great way to score a quick hit on your opponent or create space to defend yourself. It’s the easiest punch to master, and your trainer will likely start you off by teaching you this basic move. 

With your body stationary, quickly punch directly in front of you by extending your lead arm straight ahead. Keep your power hand in a defensive stance (by making a fist and facing your fingers toward your temple). 

2. Cross

The second punching technique you’ll learn is the straight cross, a powerful and straight punch. 

The cross gets its name due to your arm’s movement when punching: with your lead arm in a defensive stance, you position your power hand behind it. Punch from your rear hand and rotate your torso to maximize force as you extend your arm to deliver a powerful punch. 

3. Lead Hook

The third punch is called a lead hook because your arm should form a hook shape when punching. Using your lead foot for pivoting, lift your lead arm so that it’s level with your shoulders. 

Bend your arm to form a 90° angle and deliver your punch. 

Once you master the lead hook, it’s the most powerful of the basic punches with a high potential to knock your opponent out. 

4. Rear Hook

The rear hook is similar to the lead hook because your arm forms a hook shape to deliver the punch. However, instead of using your lead arm, you’ll use the rear arm. 

Rest your lead hand on your face for stability, tuck your chin, and deliver the punch from the rear hand. 

5. Lead Uppercut

Uppercut punches involve your fists moving upward to deliver short and sharp punches to your opponent. 

With your knees slightly bent, lean your body in slightly, and punch your opponent with your dominant arm in an upward motion. These punches are typically aimed at your opponent’s chin or solar plexus. 

6. Rear Uppercut

Rear uppercut punches are similar to lead uppercuts, but instead of using your lead arm, you’ll use the rear one. 

Since it’s best to use uppercut punches when you’re very close to your opponent, use your other hand to protect your chin. 

What Is a Punch Number in Boxing?

After a few boxing sessions, you’ll hear your trainer mention punch numbers. What are punch numbers? 

A punch number in boxing refers to one of the basic punches mentioned above. During boxing lessons, it’s an easy way for your trainer to shout out specific punches. 

Here is a helpful table showing you the basic punches and their corresponding punch numbers: 

Basic Punch TypePunch Number
Jab 1
Cross 2
Lead Hook 3
Rear Hook 4
Lead Uppercut 5
Rear Uppercut 6
This table shows the names of the 6 basic punch types and their corresponding punch numbers.

Once you’ve mastered these six basic punches, your trainer might start teaching you more advanced punch moves by combining punch numbers. 

Does Fitness Play a Role in Boxing Skill Development?

Boxing is all about perfecting your punching technique and positioning your body correctly, right? So, do you need to be fit to start boxing and develop your skills as a boxer? 

Fitness plays a huge role in boxing skill development. Being able to perform punching combinations and have high-quality footwork for long periods of time and for many repetitions makes fitness essential for learning boxing optimally.

Learning new punching techniques is exciting, but you won’t get far if you can’t execute them properly due to poor fitness. 

Below are some excellent ways to increase your fitness to develop your skills as a boxer: 

  • Do cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week. Being quick on your feet and having stamina will help you be a great boxer, and cardiovascular exercise can help with this. Consider jogging, swimming, dance classes, or cycling several times a week to improve your general cardiovascular fitness level. 
  • Work on your upper body strength. You’ll be more successful as a boxer if you can deliver powerful punches, but your upper body muscles need to be strong and stable. Your regular workout routines should include a balanced combination of lifting and calisthenics.
  • Develop your leg muscles. Strong leg muscles with a focus on muscular endurance will allow you to move around easily and stay in a good fighting stance for long periods.
  • Strengthen your abs. Any successful boxer will tell you that having powerful abdominal muscles can help you punch with more strength as it connects various muscle groups to deliver punches. 

For more information to help you effectively balance your strength training routine check out my post Should You Choose Calisthenics or Lifting for Combat Sports? to help you decide what is right for you.

What Should You Focus on in Your First 6 Months of Boxing?

If you are a beginner who wants to fast-track their success and learning in boxing, you are probably wondering if there is anything you should focus on in the beginning? 

You should focus on basic combinations, learning your punch numbers, and perfecting basic punches and movements in your first six months of boxing. These skills may sound simple, but getting these skills built sets up a great foundation for future success in boxing.

If you work with a good trainer, they will work at your pace to ensure that you master the six basic punches before teaching you the more advanced punching combinations.

You might consider getting a punching bag to use at home to practice the basic punches whenever you have some free time. Installing a body-length mirror reflecting your punching bag can be helpful as you can monitor yourself to check if you’re using the correct technique. 

For light bag work as a beginner, the FITVEN Freestanding Punching Bag, available on Amazon, is a good choice and even comes with a set of durable faux leather boxing gloves. It’s compact, and you only need to find a few square feet to set it up.   

Sparring Tips for Beginner Boxers

If you already have a few boxing sessions under your belt and are looking to do some sparring in boxing, it might help to get some guidance before jumping right in.

When you are a beginner and just starting sparring it is easy to get overwhelmed, so focus on the following tips:

  1. Stay in structure. To ensure that you’re always ready to defend yourself and counterpunch, practice staying in structure by always having your guard up. This also means you’ll get hit less and absorb less force when you do get hit.  
  2. Focus on your opponent. Being a successful boxer involves always knowing what your opponent is doing and keeping your head up. When sparring, make sure your toes always point toward your opponent so that you’re ready to defend yourself. 
  3. Remember that winning isn’t everything. When you’re a beginner boxer, expect to feel like you know what you are doing infrequently, and win even less frequently than that.
  4. Focus on technique and not power. Throwing powerful punches can mean the difference between winning and losing in boxing fights, but when you’re sparring at the gym don’t throw huge power punches. Sparring should be viewed as practice and throwing power punches at your training partners who are likely taking it easy on you is just bad manners.
  5. Enjoy learning and perfecting your technique. You’ll find that with boxing, most of your enjoyment comes from executing combinations smoothly and gradually improving your technique. Enjoy the process and remember that the journey is gradual. 
  6. Exhale when throwing punches. One of the first things your trainer will tell you is to exhale as you punch. This method forms part of effective breathing in boxing and can help you prolong your endurance.  
  7. Be relentless. The most successful boxers never give up and continue punching even when they feel tired. This does not mean fighting to the death in sparring but instead means that you should keep working and trying to move and execute techniques and maximize your practice time.
  8. Always use protective equipment. Your hands can easily get injured by throwing punches continuously, wear boxing gloves that are at least 14oz each time you spar to reduce the chances of injury to your hands. Wearing headgear is also a good idea to prevent unnecessary cuts and abrasions.

Final Thoughts

Boxing is certainly a difficult sport to master due to the high physical requirements and soft skills required to truly excel in it. However, it is not especially hard to learn the basics and to get to the point where you never feel lost in classes. With a strong focus on mastering the fundamentals, you can pick up boxing and set up a great foundation to get to whatever skill level you want to be.

For more check out How Often Should You Train Boxing?


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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