If your coach has told you a million times to keep your hands up at all times, you’re not alone. After all, having a basic or high guard has several advantages. But why do elite boxers keep their hands down?
Boxers keep their hands down because that makes it easier to stay offensive, evade jabs, and counter. In general, a low guard takes less energy than maintaining a high guard. Also, keeping one’s hands down taunts the opponent to attack.
Read on to learn more about the low guard and some of the advantages and disadvantages. If you’re an amateur boxer, there are a few noteworthy caveats.
The Advantages of Keeping Your Hands Down
It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or just started boxing. You should use a low guard occasionally.
Use a shoulder roll, high guard, low guard, sit down, and everything else in-between. As long as your technique is good, any guard can win the match.
Here are some pros of using a low guard.
A Low Guard Is Taunting
If your opponent isn’t confident and keeps a defensive guard all the time, lowering your hands invites them to attack. This technique is especially useful with newcomers or when fighting someone inferior.
Boxing is not only a physical match of who can throw the best punch. It’s a mind game. If you win the psychological battle, the match is pretty much in your hands at that point.
You lower your hands, the opponent tries to strike, you dodge it and counter. Rinse and repeat.
A Low Guard Is Better Offense
You can’t win a boxing duel by keeping your guard up and not throwing punches. If you keep your hand or both of them down, you can hit an up jab.
If you aren’t convinced, watch this video of Bob Foster winning matches with the up jab:
You’ve likely heard the old adage, “the best defense is a good offense.” In boxing, the more aggressive boxers win in the majority of matches.
A low guard enables the boxer to deliver faster and more powerful blows than a basic guard would.
You can keep your lead hand down most of the time, so your opponent won’t see the punch coming.
At the same time, keep your other hand ready to block. Even better, dodge with your whole body using good footwork.
If you can land a powerful uppercut after dodging, it’ll K.O. your opponent instantly.
But when you have both hands up, your opponent can be more aggressive and pin you. By keeping one hand down, your opponent has to be cautious the whole time.
In amateur boxing, who can deliver more punches is sometimes the most important. The technique you use to get there doesn’t matter much.
A low guard is one of the best offensive stances, so you can use it to deliver more blows than your enemy.
A Low Guard Conserves Energy
Having your hands up for an hour straight is exhausting. By the time the match is over, it’ll feel like your arms weigh a ton.
But if you keep your arms in a low guard from time to time, your muscles can relax. The more energy you restore, the more powerful your next punch will be.
Also, the footwork you have to do alone to dodge incoming blows is enough to exhaust you.
A weak and exhausted boxer is easy to knock out. That’s why it’s essential to conserve as much energy as possible.
A Low Guard Provides Better View
You can’t dodge an incoming punch if you can’t see it. By keeping your hands down low, you have a much better view of your opponent’s arms.
Large boxing gloves block your vision when you keep your hands up. By lowering your hands, you’ll see your foe’s whole body and their movement.
Moreover, you can move your head away from an incoming punch much quickly with your hands down.
It’s Easier To Counter Using a Low Guard
If you have good reflexes, you can quickly dodge a blow and follow it up with a quick counter.
Head movement and good footwork are fundamental here, so practice a lot. In my opinion, dodging is better than parrying and blocking because it allows you to deliver counterblows.
The Disadvantages of Keeping Your Hands Down
Keeping your hands down is suitable for elite boxers with well-developed muscle memory. However, beginners need to know the disadvantages of this guard.
It’s Easier To Get Punched
Since a low guard is an offensive stance, it makes sense that it’s not that good for defense.
Having both hands up allows for easier blocking and parrying. If you taunt your opponent to attack by keeping your hands down but don’t block or dodge fast enough, you’re in trouble.
It’s Difficult To Execute
If a boxer gets punched with a lowered guard, it’ll look bad. It might even become the next trending internet meme.
So, don’t use this technique if you just got started. Keep at least one hand up at all times to block punches.
It Can Be Dangerous
A high guard allows you to protect the most vulnerable part of your body – your head. But if your hands are down, your head becomes the primary target.
Your enemy won’t aim for your stomach if you have a low guard because those punches become easy to block.
Since boxing leaves you at high risk of a traumatic brain injury, it’s best not to use a low guard. Elite boxers have to risk their health because it’s their job.
I don’t encourage you to lower both hands if you aren’t fighting for a million dollars.
The low guard is a tremendous technique, but it’s not for everyone. Most amateur and novice boxers are better off with a basic or high guard.
There’s a reason why your coach told you to keep your hands up. You don’t want to risk a concussion just to taunt your opponent.
However, you can see your opponent better by keeping your hands down. This makes it easier to dodge and counter if you have good reflexes.
You can practice the low guard by lowering your lead hand and keeping your rear hand up for protection.