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This is a novice question related to boxing.

For a dominant right-hand boxer, what is the purpose of a left hook? By default, the opponent's right hand will be guarding the face, so can't get the jaw. Similarly, their elbow will guard the side, so body shots are difficult. Further, since its the left hand, it is not a power punch - so why do we learn it as one of the basic punches?

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Looking specifically at the weaker hand hook

  • When an opponent lunges forward, maintaining front foot position, you can steer around to your "back" side allowing the front hand hook to land clean across the chin. (I drill this often - it is much harder to explain than demonstrate).
  • When leaving a clinch/close position hands tend to be in the middle, a hook as you back away can open the guard for a straight shot with the dominant hand.
  • Play with angles - diagonal movement is key to breaking down many experiences fighters - adding hooks from either side can add further variety to where your punches come from. (Step the back foot diagonally forwards, hook with the front hand, a punch that travels almost straight but many opponents will be caught out by - amazing how many times I have landed this cleanly)

Why train my weaker hand (in general)?. A couple of key reasons from my (limited) experience.

If my opponent only throws their dominant hand I can disregard the weaker then:

  • I can move my guard to only cover their dominant hand
  • I can focus my actions and timings to counter just one hand - (this is so much easier)
  • I comfortably know which way to move when they lunge forward to avoid being hit.

Looking at these in reverse.

  • Using both hands (with a variety of punches) means our opponent has a larger area to guard, even with a jab, my left hand attacks from a different angle to my right meaning a solid defence from my right jab won't always stop my left. Whilst stepping around your opponent the gap may open for the weaker hand first, landing a strike with this often allows for a powerful punch with the other hand.
  • If they are concentrating on blocking your dominant hand attacks - your weaker hand may be able to land on a regular basis - keeping the scoreboard rolling in your favour if nothing else. Concentrating on attacks from more appendages is more mentally draining - hopefully draining enough that your opponent gets sloppy in later rounds.
  • When an opponent ducks and weaves their way out of an attack, naturally they will favour the opponents (generalisation here) left side (as most of their sparring partners will favour hitting with their right) if you are happy to land a powerful shot with your left as they go it will mess with their game plan. They may still favour this side over your dominant hand but they will have to absorb a hit each time.

The main purpose of jabbing with the weaker hand at the higher levels (and especially weights) is so that the stronger hand is poised for the powerful strikes that may end the bout early.

Everything above applies to hooks and jabs but obviously the distance is closer for a hook than it would be for a jab.

  • Dear Collett89, thanks for your well-written answer, but I am asking about a hook, not a jab. Both are different; a jab is thrown straight without any body twist, its a full arm punch, generally thrown from a safe distance. A hook on the other hand requires you to twist and uses the energy of that twist to land a sideways punch. Its bent elbow-not full arm, and therefore generally requires you to be close to the opponent (in his striking range). – user153812 May 31 '18 at 12:56
  • @Collett89 Your information about the hook is great. Could you edit your post to move that info to the top, so it's the focus of the post? – coinbird May 31 '18 at 14:18
  • This answer is wonderful now, thanks. Especially liked the idea of moving back and then doing the hook, I wrongly thought you only step forward and hook. Also I suppose a left hook to the body could drop guard, opening up face for jab-straight. – user153812 May 31 '18 at 16:57
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    @user153812 Step back hooks are a must have in your toolbox. When working on footwork you'll learn how to not get run down by an opponent that's pushing the action hard, trying to walk you down. A good step back cross or step back hook is the perfect way to keep them in check. I actually prefer the step back hook with your power hand. One big step back and it's now your lead hand for a killer hook. – coinbird May 31 '18 at 18:14
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    @user153812 - You will learn that every technique has multiple purposes. Yes, a hook to the body can get them to drop their guard for another hook to head. However a lot of the body shots in initial rounds are to weaken the fighter overall for a finish in later rounds. – JohnP May 31 '18 at 18:57
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The left hook is indeed generally used at close quarters but you will learn to jab and hook with the same hand. It's about opening up your opponents guard, it's not all power shots.

For smaller stockier fighters like me, a hook, with either hand is invaluable once you've worked your way in. Don't forget that to throw your close hook, you'll already be in a melee of arms and gloves, so good close control is vital.

If your left is weaker, train it more. I'm an orthodox boxer too but my left hook is sweeter than my right.

I would add that it's a good shot (among others) to throw to help you pivot away to the side and set up a wee combo.

I hope you enjoy learning, it's a great sport. Do your best to relax, every shot starts with the feet, a keep your hands up!

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