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In Muay Thai sparring, most of the times when I go to throw a body punch it is because I see the defences of the head being too tight for a throw towards the head. The result of those attempts is commonly me bending down to reach the abdomen, and getting a direct hit in the face from a jab or even a cross. I have seen this happen to other people as well, especially novices with less than a year or two of experience.

My question is; when are you in a good position to throw a punch to the body/abdomen and when are you not in a good position. Accounting of course for the situation/position your opponent is in. Eg. After you have just thrown a jab? After you have made a quick side step and you are not in the direct line of a counter punch? After a failed combo of the opponent?

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6 Answers

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When you punch to the body don't keep standing up; you need to change your level.

Dip through your legs, like a small squat and duck down, like you would if you duck a punch. You don't just bend at the waist and lean over, you squat down. From there you can punch your regular punch. (i.e. a straight/hook)

Your ideas for when to throw the bodyshots are good; when he's defending upstairs from your jabs/combinations, then you go low.

Jab - > right straight to body can work, but probably not as the first combination in a match; you've got to get into your opponents head; some regular combo's upstairs and then boom, a combination that includes a body shot.

It is always wise to jab out; you've thrown you're combination and you're resetting/making some distance/getting your angle. Jab to keep him from retaliating.

So, TL;DR: make your bodyshot part of your combination, and change your level.

Watch some Bas Rutten clips on youtube to watch how he throws livershots. They can be a little different. Ask your instructor as well.

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Body shots are usually taken from the side and aimed at the floating ribs. Otherwise they are only employed when in a clinch. NEVER lunge your head forward.

Here's a nice video showing the proper technique.

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As Jack Slack notes in his discussion of body punching in MMA, one of the most successful methods for setting up a punch to the body is forcing the opponent to shell up first:

0:04 Max Holloway uses a double left hook (or a lever punch) to keep his opponent's hands high before sneaking a palm down right hook in to the body (George Foreman style) and a left hook to follow.

0:28 Cub Swanson punishes his opponent for lifting his leg to check a kick by leaping in with a left hook to the body. This kind of feinting an opponent into checking and shelling up, before sneaking a left hook through to their liver was a favourite of Ernesto Hoost.

...

3:30 Alistair Overeem demonstrates how punching always exposes the rib cage as he knees underneath his opponent's right straight. In Muay Thai this is usually accompanied with a parry, but Overeem eats the punch.

February 2014's UFC 169 also showed several key times to use body punches. In particular, it showed several situations where a body punch is a better choice than a body kick or knee. Lineker used body punches to cut off the cage, damage Bagautinov's body and cardio, and distract from head defense. Later, Jose Aldo used a left hook to the body to load up right kicks to Lamas' leg. Aldo frequently fired a straight right to cause his opponent to shell up or circle into the left body strike.

I personally have little boxing/kickboxing experience, but I most prefer throwing body shots after I make the opponent worry about a head shot. This might involve a jab high and then a low straight to the solar plexus or belly, or a combination that starts up top and ends with hooks to the ribs or liver. Against Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson had success throwing jabs to the body as an opening shot, perhaps due to a speed advantage. He also followed head shots with a same-side strike low.

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Why punch when you can kick/knee?

Body punch is basically used in MT to hit areas like the solar plexus or rib cage. These areas are very very painful when hit, but are a bit hard to hit with knee or kicks in short range. Elbows won't reach as well.

The thing is it is crucial to keep one hand up to protect while hitting with the other. Sneaking in a shot while in a clinch will also do.

But against an expert, body punches will never work as it leaves many openings.

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A good time is when you are circling away from their power hand. Throw some jabs or combos at their head and move away from their power. Then once in a while circle in closer to them and throw a punch at their kidneys. If they are right handed, circle to their left, punch with your right keeping your left guard up. They might get a bad angle punch with their weak hand but they will hit your guard. To use your left hand bring your right guard across your face. Try to stay close to them and use a hooking punch. You avoid a side kick.

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Since you know Muay Thai, you know you have a lot of close range weapons. There isn't a need for a close range body punch most of the time. Punches are more for medium-short to medium-long distance. Using your elbows and knees are for totally short distance right? And I'm sure you've heard that from your Muay Thai class or whoever you train with.

I'm not an expert, but I know a little. I would believe if someone told me body punches were more for combos, but I would agree with it for when you keep missing the head or when your opponent keeps blocking face punches. Then duck and hit to the body until the opponent lowers his/her guard. It might even give you a more surprising head punch if you hit the body and then suddenly throw a punch to the jaw. I mean, if you do it right.

I would say that you need to do SOME damage to the body, but consider some other options. Yes, I admit you can also pound the person's stomach, boxing style, which would also be pretty effective.

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