Keeping your knees bent is one of the golden rules for a proper boxing stance. The knees have to stay bent in order for you to keep your balance, but there’s no set angle, depth or level for the optimum knee bend. How much you bend your knees depends on your body type, fighting style and what you happen to be doing in the ring.
Every Body is Different
Everyone’s leg length is different. A taller person, or someone with longer legs, may have to bend a little further to feel steady as opposed to someone shorter, whose center of gravity is already closer to the ground. Varying factors, like flexibility and even the basic individual anatomy of each person’s leg bones and ankle joints, may affect how deep of a bend is comfortable and effective in a boxing stance. One size does not fit all when it comes to bending your knees in a boxing stance.
The last thing you want is for your opponent to be able to send you to the mat because you happened to be off balance. Keeping the knees bent is key in maintaining your balance, but everyone’s center of gravity is slightly different. Physics describes the center of gravity as the point where the mass of an object is concentrated. The lower your center of gravity, the greater your stability. How deep you bend the knees in order to lower your center of gravity, and keep your balance, depends on your personal body type and what you happen to be doing at any given moment in the ring.
Keeping your balance is one thing, but keeping your balance while you’re moving can be a completely different story. Some fighters keep an extremely deep knee bend in their fighting stance, almost like sitting. Others maintain a slight bend in the knees. Both fighters, however, are going to alter the depth of their knee bend once they start moving. Your center of gravity needs to move with you whether you slip, roll, bob weave or circle out of the pocket. Invariably, you’ll end up changing levels -- high to low or low to high -- with all of these movements. This means the depth of your knee bend will change. An effective fighter is constantly changing levels, feinting and psyching out the opposition with movement, so there’s no set depth for your knees to bend.
Knockout power comes from loading as much torque behind your punch as your body mass will allow. True punching power is initiated all the way down in the feet. The load starts with bending the knees to bear down through the balls of the feet, then upward through the whole of the lower body, finishing out through the arm. No bend in the knees means no power behind a punch. But the knee bend required for a body shot is going to be different from a knee bend required for a left hook to the head. The power is generated the same way, but the depth of your knee bend will be different for each shot since the targets are at different levels. Your knees will bend as much as they’ll need to from shot to shot in order to keep you stable and load your punches with power.
- ClassicBoxingCoach.com: Boxing 101: Stance & Footwork
- Applied Biomechanics; John McLester
- Physics Lab: Center of Mass
- Dale Herring, Head Coach and Owner, Fight Sport Fitness, Hixson, TN
- ExpertBoxing.com: How to Improve Your Boxing Balance
- MyBoxingCoach.com: Punching power – The 5 Building Blocks
Jullie Chung writes regularly for various websites. She is a nationally certified fitness trainer and performance enhancement specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and trains regularly in yoga, flatwater kayaking, boxing and mixed martial arts. An avid outdoor fan, she regularly hikes, climbs and trail runs.