Uppercut

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The uppercut, also known as an upward punch, is technique used to strike targets using an upward trajectory under specific circumstances. Normally seen during close-range and in-fighting, certain variations of the uppercut can be used effectively at longer ranges. It can also be effectively utilized from any variation of a squared or side stance. The uppercut is most often used to target the chin, but is also used to target weak points on an opponent’s torso. It has a high success rate when used in close-range as a counter, and can also be utilized for offense when used linearly at longer ranges.

Lead uppercut

How to Uppercut – Circular Variation

The most powerful version of the uppercut is the circular variation. It is a close-range technique and is often seen in professional boxing or other punch-emphasized combat sports. The explosive, whip-like nature of this variation of the uppercut makes it a perfect counter to use on the inside or in very close-range. But a downside is that the further you are from the target, the slower and less effective the circular variation becomes. Make sure you understand how to properly make a fist and strike with it before attempting to practice this technique. We’ll start with a variation in a squared stance with a middle guard using the rear hand.

While in a neutral (squared) stance make sure your chin is lowered, your shoulders are raised to cover your chin level, your elbows are mostly in at your sides, and your fists (your guard) are raised to at least cheekbone level. Your rear fist should cover your chin, and your lead fist should be just slightly more forward than your rear fist. Your palms should be facing each other for this variation.

Begin by tightening your guard and crouching slightly inward. How deep you crouch depends on the height of the target or maximum power you are trying to achieve. Use caution when crouching too low as it will make you more vulnerable to knee strikes and upward kicks.

Next, simultaneously whip your punching shoulder upward as you rotate your rear hip inward. Pushing off the ground with your feet helps to power the technique. Make sure to keep your non-punching arm guarding your chin.

Finally, snap (or scoop) the punch through just before impact in a somewhat circular motion, keeping your elbow mostly pointing downward. Immediately return to your original guard and stance without dropping your hands when the strike is complete.

Mirror the last 3 steps when using the opposite hand.

How to Uppercut – Linear Variation (aka Upward Punch)

The version of the uppercut with the most reach is the linear variation. The linear upward punch is a longer ranged technique than its circular counterpart. Because of its angle of approach, the upward punch tends to slip nicely underneath & between the opponent’s guard. It is also easily chainable with and mechanically similar to other long-ranged punching techniques. And much like the jab and cross, the upward punch travels in a straight line to its target instead of in a circular motion. Make sure you understand how to properly make a fist and strike with it before attempting to practice this technique. We’ll start with a variation in a squared stance with a middle guard using the rear hand.

While in a neutral (squared) stance make sure your chin is lowered, your shoulders are raised to cover your chin level, your elbows are mostly in at your sides, and your fists (your guard) are raised to at least cheekbone level. Your rear fist should cover your chin, and your lead fist should be just slightly more forward than your rear fist. Your palms should be facing each other for this variation.

Begin by tightening your guard and crouching slightly inward. How deep you crouch depends on the height of the target or maximum power you are trying to achieve. Use caution when crouching too low as it will make you more vulnerable to knee strikes and upward kicks.

Next, push off the ground with your rear foot as you twist your rear hip and shift your rear shoulder forward. Rotate the palm of your punching hand upward as you do this. Make sure to keep your non-punching arm guarding your chin.

Finally, extend your punch straight out toward your target while keeing your palm up and elbow down. The strike should feel mechanically similar to a jab or rear straight punch. Immediately return to your original guard and stance without dropping your hands when the strike is complete.

Mirror the last 3 steps when using the opposite hand.

Common Uppercut Mistakes

Dropping the hand too low and drawing too large of a circle during a circular uppercut. This slows down the technique and makes it far too easy for the opponent to see your punch coming and counter accordingly.

Trying to throw the circular uppercut from too far away. The mechanics of this technique cease to function effectively when the arm is extended beyond a certain point.

Trying to throw the linear upward punch from too close to your target. You’ll need at least a few inches of space before your fist impacts its target to build enough acceleration in your punch to have a forceful impact. Otherwise, the strike will end up being more of a push.

Drills and Exercises for the Uppercut

Push ups, Chin Ups, Squats

Press Exercises

Dumbbell flys

Punch mitt or thai pad drills for speed and timing

Training  power and accuracy with a teardrop bag, hanging bag, or Body Opponent Bag

Note: there a numerous ways to throw uppercuts from a variety of stances and guards. The way I am describing the uppercuts in this article are not the only ways you should ever throw them. Instead, think of this as a starting variation for those new to martial arts training.

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