Most fighting styles train under the pretense of mutual combat.  This has both competitors in a fighting stance ready to engage.  But street fights often don’t reflect this level of sportsmanship, the sucker punch is all too common.  The effectiveness of the sucker punch relies on the intended victim being unprepared, don’t let that be you.  These are 3 techniques you can use to defend against the sucker punch.


Hands Up

As with any potentially dangerous situation the best way to protect yourself is to avoid the danger in the first place, so while you want to have your hands up to protect yourself from a potential sucker punch, you don’t want to escalate a situation that might otherwise be resolved by “putting up your dukes”.  Don’t take a fighting stance on someone just because they started posturing on you, instead keep your hands at your chest or shoulder height, fingers open, and don’t let them get wider than your shoulder width apart.  This will allow you to protect yourself quickly while only looking like you are animated with your hand gestures and not about to start a fight yourself.

Chin in

As with your hands being up, this should not be over exaggerated, but a slight tilt of the chin should be enough to allow for a quick response if a punch is thrown.  Do not answer posturing with posturing, do not spread your hands out to your sides, puff out your chest, and stick out your chin.  That is how you will get knocked out.

Body Language

Stay on guard, watching your potential attacker’s shoulders and hands more than their eyes, this will give you an early warning and ability to counter attack. If they move quickly, respond immediately with violence of force, with your chin down and hands up, if the punch is thrown, close the distance quickly leading with your forehead into their chin as you tie up their arms or counter strike with elbows or uppercuts which are more effective at close ranges than the wide haymaker punches often thrown.


Remember, the most dangerous punch is the one you don’t see.  You don’t have to be Bruce Lee fast to defend from a sucker punch, you just need to be ready to respond by keeping your hands up, chin down, and eyes on your opponent.

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