Your Ultimate Guide To Parrying Punches In Boxing

Parry as a term comes from the sport of fencing. Herein, to parry an attack refers to deflecting the attack of the sword with the intention of diverting your opponent’s sword in the opposite direction. 

In boxing sense, it’s pretty much the same. When we say parry in boxing, it means to deflect your opponent’s punch in the other direction. 

Parrying in boxing is a beautiful concept, with numerous layers to it. Today we’ll learn about parrying in-depth, it’s application and how you can effectively use it against your opponents.

Understanding Parry in Boxing

In boxing, parrying is often seen as a beautiful defensive maneuver that allows you to use your opponent’s momentum against him. Parrying is a defensive move generally used for blocking. But it’s different from blocking.

Blocking requires a fighter to take damage. However, parrying prevents the damage altogether. Nonetheless, parrying is still used in a defensive sense. The reason why it’s used in a defensive sense often is because it offers added protection whilst creating opportunities for better counters against your opponent.

Parrying doesn’t consume a lot of energy and moreover, it allows you to ride on your opponent’s momentum when he/she over commits.  

Why you should prefer parrying over-blocking?

As I mentioned earlier, blocking requires to take a considerable amount of damage. However, that’s not all. Parrying punches allows you to deal with stronger punches without eating them and using those incoming punches to set up your counter. Thus, instead of absorbing, you’re deflecting the punch and creating an opening for yourself.

With parrying, you have the ability to throw your opponent off balance and force them into a vulnerable position. Moreover, since you’re not blocking, you have your hands free to counter, which otherwise would be used to block your face to prevent the incoming punch from hitting.

Benefits of Parrying

When it comes to parrying in boxing, there are two major benefits of the move. First, it helps create an opening and use it against your opponent’s momentum and second at the highest level of boxing, punches are parried and not blocked.

Using your opponent’s momentum

The more power your opponent ends up utilizing in a punch, the more susceptible he becomes to your counter. Using his/her momentum to create counter opportunities is a great way to give him/her a setback. With parrying, you don’t lose a lot of energy, all you do is redirect the incoming punch and lead them off target. A simple motion of a quick wave of the hand can help you create a huge opening.

Parrying is used at the highest level in boxing

At the professional level, it’s not possible to constantly block punches. If you think it’s possible, think about blocking repeated hammer shots with your hand. And if you have sufficient knowledge about the power in punches, you’d be synonymous that a punch hits as hard as a hammer.

Most of the time, you’d see boxers either rolling the punch or parrying it. Like a boxer who’s just starting out, it’s crucial to learn about the techniques to deflect punches and ways to avoid them entirely. Once you have parrying mastered, you’d take your boxing game to the next level with slipping.

How to Parry a Punch?

Since parrying is not a simple maneuver, we cannot explain it in a single way. While the definition is clear, its application is quite complex, mainly because there are nearly dozens of ways to parry a punch. Thus, we’ll learn them one by one in this all-inclusive parrying punches in boxing guide.

Parrying Down

Parrying Down or Down Parry is generally used to parrying an opponent’s crosses or jabs. Down parry involves a light tap in the downward angle on your opponent’s hand. It’s useful when your opponent uses parry when he/she is leaning in, which helps you to make him/her go off-balance and become susceptible to your counterpunch.

Parrying Down a Jab

To parry down a jab, you should always use your rear hand whilst your lead hand is guarding your chin. When you parry the jab downwards, you can counter with the cross, perhaps clip your opponent on the right side or throw a jab of your own.

Parrying Down a Cross

As opposed to your rear hand while parrying a jab, you should use your lead hand. This technique is more difficult when it comes to execution. When using your lead hand, use your rear hand to guard your chin against an incoming lead hook. Now, when you parry down a cross, try to take a step back or lean backward. Why? Because a cross is a power punch and leaning back will make your opponent fall into you which will enable you to use his momentum against him. If you execute this well, you can counter with anything – cross, jab or even a lead hook.

Parrying Up

Up Parry or parrying up is one of the most challenging parrying techniques. You’re required to be extremely careful while executing this technique. Why? Because hooks might come from around the guard. Thus, your safest bet would be to use up parry against straight punches. Also, when you up parry, try to step in while parrying with your right hand. Not only will it shock your opponents but it will also help you get on the inside where you can land devastating counters.

Using inside parry

If you attempt a left inside parry using your forearm, make sure you roll away from the punch and shift your weight onto your lead leg. Rolling will help deflect the force of to your right. And keeping your weight on your front foot will allow you to counter since you’ll be in an active range.

Be extremely careful when attacking the inside, because as soon as you’re done throwing the right, your opponent can try and counter right away. However, you don’t have to worry as with concentration, you’ll be able to deflect the right using inside parry. So, what do we understand? You can parry > Counter > Fail > Get Countered > Parry again. What’s fascinating is that all of this will take place within a few seconds.

Long parry or Circle Parry

The circular parry and its motion are entirely taken from fencing. When doing a circular parry, you use your forearm to wrap it around your opponent’s forearm trying to deflect his punch to the outward angle in a circular motion.

The circular parry is best used from a long-range. When you circle parry your opponent’s jab to the outside, this peels your opponent’s shoulder away from his/her chin which creates an opening for a straight right hand. When your opponent has the tendency to throw punches from a distance, you can actively deflect all the punches and easily circle parry your opponent’s advances.

Using the circle parry is effective when you do it with your hands floating in a long-range. It’s quite similar to quite pawing the air. When executing the circular parry, make a habit of throwing the counter from the same hand with which you parried the opponent’s incoming punch. You can use circle parry at close range; however, they should be done only with an intention of parrying your opponent’s punches under your armpit so you can counter in the middle.

Forearm Parry

As the name suggests, a forearm parry is used to deflect the punches to the side or in the upward direction using your forearms. A well-time forearm parry will send your opponent’s punches above your shoulders which will leave his body open. You can do this move with either of your forearms – left or right forearm. You can use your right forearm to deflect punches upwards or to the side

You can also use your left forearm to deflect your opponent’s punch to the outside. For example, you can deflect your opponent’s right hands to the outside to create an opening for the right hand, counter jab or a 1-2 basic combination.  

Side Parry

The side parry as we’ve seen above is pretty similar to the down parry, with the major difference being that instead of parrying downwards you push your opponent’s hand sideways. When you execute a successful side parry, you’ll force your opponent in a position where he/she cannot follow up with an effective punch. Thus, it opens up a great opportunity for you to counter punch to his/her body.

To perform a side parry, use the rear hand to parry your opponent’s jab to the outside of your lead foot. If you’re an orthodox fighter against an orthodox opponent, you’d need to parry your opponent’s jab to your left. Upon doing so, your opponent’s lead side will be completely open which you can target to throw a rear hook. You can also throw a jab to the head or a cross. Additionally, you can even try an uppercut to a lead hook since your opponent will fall into the punch.

Loop Parry

A loop parry is an effective parrying technique that you can use to parry straight punches. Herein, you use your hand to push an incoming punch to the side, away from the body. For instance, when your opponent throws a jab to your body, you can use the palm of your rear end to push your opponent’s jab away from the body.

If you’re orthodox, you’ll push his/her jab to your right which will create an opening for a counter jab, preferably a lead uppercut. With loop parry, you should always be careful as your opponent’s rear hand will still be free and he can easily fire an overhand or a cross. To parry a cross, you can use the palm of your lead hand and try to deflect your opponent’s jab to your left so you can create an opening for a cross.

20 Parrying Tips for Boxing

Using Parry as a Shifting Guard

Parry in someway is a form of advanced block. However, that doesn’t mean you make extensive use of arm movement. As a beginner, first, try to block punches and then shift towards parrying. Unless you understand the range of motion and intricacies of an incoming punching, you won’t be able to parry.

You’ll only become great at parrying once you get better at reading punches. At first, try to make bigger motions and try to guide the punches further away from your body. Keep a tight defense and for starting out, just make use of slight parries.

Avoid chasing the punch

An important aspect of parrying is that you shouldn’t chase the punch and let it come to you. Because when you try and chase the punch, you often end up with your hands too far from your face which makes you vulnerable. And if your opponent uses a feint, you’ll be in a world of trouble. Beginners often commit the mistake of slapping wildly and end up exposing their heads. Avoid doing that.

Try and Parry Straight Punches

As mentioned earlier, the parry technique is the most effective when you use it to deflect the incoming thrusting attacks. With that said, a beginner would have a hard time parrying a looping punch such as a hook or an uppercut. Even if you try it, it’ll be too dangerous if it loops around your arm.

When you see a looping punch, try to get out of the way and then come back in with a counter after the opponent’s initial punch passes through. The most you can try is to bait your opponent by showing the face of your glove. That’s all.

Don’t dwell into small punches

Parrying works best when you use it against bigger punches. Avoid wasting your time and energy trying to parry smaller punches. If you intend to counter, then that’s fine or else avoid it. The moment you try and chase the small punches, you leave yourself vulnerable for big punches. What you can do here is block small punches, bait your opponents into hitting bigger punches and once they are committed then you can parry and land a counter.

Avoid Cross Parrying

Keep the cross parrying to the minimal and avoid it if you can. Didn’t get it? Don’t parry your opponent’s right against your own right hand and vice-versa. When you engage in cross parrying, you leave yourself open on one side which your opponent can target with his/her other hand. Always parry the left-handed punches with your right hand and vice-versa. And try to counter with the same hand after successful parrying.

Land an immediate counter

When parrying, the most important thing is to not telegraph and make your opponent realize that you’re actively parrying. Keep your motion so quick that your opponent cannot even understand what is happening. For instance, keep switching up. Once you’ve used a combination say parry 1-2, try to mix things up with parry-2-3-2. Don’t keep it simple and straight forward and avoid over parrying as most of the boxers who learn the technique have the tendency to overuse it.

Early Parrying

Though an advanced technique, if you really get comfortable with parrying then you should use this technique. Though you can relax a little more if you can parry well, don’t wait too much. In pro fights, you’d often see the professionals holding their hands to pre-emptively deflect the punches whilst moving away.

As a beginner, you should try and parry before your opponent even packs a punch. To do this, you can hold your hand outright and as soon as he/she strikes, your hand is already out to deflect it. Using Early Parrying you can control your opponent in tight situations and even slap his gloves down upon getting an opportunity.

Stance Switching Parrying

If early parrying was challenging, this is a more advanced technique. On paper stance switching parrying looks quite simple. It involves moving backward as you switch from orthodox to southpaw and vice-versa whilst parrying punches. The reason why it’s really advanced is that you are required to combine your parrying along with your footwork.

Change Directions of your Parrying

Above, we learned so many times of parrying. Make sure to vary your direction and make use of up to 3-4 different directions to mix it up. For instance, you can parry the punch down, lift the punch up, knock the punch in or knock the punch out. You can use the technique from the low-hand lead position or with your forearm or the elbow.

Keep changing the direction to maintain its uniqueness. As you might have learned by now, each parrying technique has a unique defensive advantage which can be transformed into an offensive maneuver if done right.

Don’t overly rely on reactive parrying. Stay active

Beginners often start with the subject of parrying by learning the reactive method. The name itself suggests that it’s a basic usage of parrying only as a reaction. For instance, parry when an opponent throws a jab or any other punch. While reactive parrying is a fundamental skill, IT’S NOT THE ONLY SKILL. And thus, you should not stick to it as if there’s no room for innovation. If you just use it in reactive terms, you’ll never be able to create openings and keep waiting for your opponent to pounce at you.

Use proactive parrying often

Complimenting the previous point, proactive parrying as the name suggests refers to parrying motion where a boxer is ready to parry even before the opponent has launched the attack. Though parrying the empty space my sound stupid, it does way and helps you take the initiative both defensively and offensively.

You can see Floyd relying on proactive parrying time and time again. It helps disrupts the opponent’s offense between exchanges as it adds to the unpredictability. Often times, it’s so capable of nullifying your opponent’s advances that they might shut draw up alternate plans. You can also use proactive parries as hand feints.

Develop and maintain your defensive radar

With the help of defensive radar, you will know when openings arrive and how you can benefit from then. Knowing what to do and what will be the consequences help you prepare better for the incoming threat.

For instance, if you’re parrying an opponent’s jab and you know beforehand that you’ll be open to a left hook, you can already prepare for it as you have the incoming left hook on your defensive radar.

When it comes to defensive radar, try to bolster your passive defense – using your off-hand and lead shoulder to form a tight guard is an effective way of adding an additional line of defense which will keep you safe when you’re busy with proactive parries.

Parry with your entire arm

When you learn to parry punches with your entire arm right from the start, you have more than your just forearms at your disposal. You can use your shoulders and elbows to knock punches off from their path. Not only will this reduce the chances of getting hit, but it will also provide you with a considerable amount of advantage. If you’re in MMA and Karate, using your entire arm of parrying can be even more fruitful.

Don’t be afraid to open the glove for hand parries

Close-gloved parries are very common and yet a big mistake. Beginners often commit these mistakes when they keep their hands in relax fists and close gloved. Remember, close parries are much harder to execute. On the contrary, if you use an open glove, you maximize the surface area of your hand and use it as a shield. The open glove parrying technique is pretty common in the world of MMA as compared to boxing.

Keep your motions small

Though parrying works the best when an opponent is attacking from a distance. You should try and keep your parry motions small. It should be effortless and good enough to help you capitalize on the openings.

Beginners often make a big mistake of overreaching when parrying which not only consumes more energy but also leaves you in a bad position – susceptible to incoming attacks.

Couple your parries with good head movements, and you’ll have small movements making a big difference. Numerically, your hand should not travel more than 3-4” from the face.

Maintain the eye contact without fail

It’s a basic rule of boxing. Ain’t it? Well, it applies to parries too. Taking your eyes off even for a second can lead your hard work undone. By maintaining your eye contact, you can spot openings and make your opponent hesitant. 

Thus, keep your eyes open and maintain eye contact at all times. You’d see a lot of boxers maintaining the creepy eyes cue. Passing that eye signal automatically sends active signals to your opponents as if you’re up to something. 

Keep elbows close to the body

Even though your hands are active when parrying, minimize the openings. One way to do so is to keep your elbows extremely close to your body when parrying. Even when you attempt to brush away body punches by using your elbows, ensure not to lift the elbow to meet the shot because if it follows through, then that can be a painful hit. Thus, keep your elbows glued to the body.

Work on Fluent transitions

As a beginner, you should spend a lot of time, working on parrying and slipping. Though parrying comes first, know what is to come ahead. Because when you learn to blend both of these, you make yourself very hard to get hit. Parrying is a defensive technique that helps you create and exploit openings but when you add fluid transitions to it, you can attack your opponents from angles that didn’t exist earlier.

Learn to parry without extending

The basic drill and the most important one is this. If you’ve been a loyal reader thus far, you’ll benefit the most from this technique. Start parrying punches from the guard without reaching. For parrying, you don’t always have to reach out. You can do so with subtle movements of your elbows, hand, and forearms right from your high guard. You don’t have to move your hands at a considerable distance from you to keep your opponents at bay.


Similar to the advanced techniques of changing levels, feinting and transitions, a boxer at a pro-level cannot do without parrying. You can’t master parrying overnight but when you apply the technique with the right science, you can learn to gather results very quickly. 

With parrying, it’s not the overdoing that matters, it’s just the simplicity and timing which makes all the difference. And not to forget – Reading of your opponent’s next move.