How To Throw A Left Hook In Self-Defense

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The left hook is an extremely powerful punch that’s good to have in your self-defense toolbox. Some have said that more boxers are knocked out by the left hook than any other punch. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I do know that left hook is a very good punch. It’s deceptive and it hits super hard. Here’s what you need to know to properly throw a left hook:

Important: The Left Hook Is Usually A Follow-Up Punch

The first thing you need to know is that typically, you don’t lead off with a left hook. What that means is that you don’t usually throw a left hook first when you’re launching into an attack. Usually it’s a follow up punch, meaning that you put the left hook on the end of another punch.

However, for the sake of this video we are just going to focus on the hook itself.

Here’s the sequence of things you need to know:

Step One: Step With Your Left Leg And Twist Your Hips To “Load” The Left Hook

The starting point of a left hook is the step and load. Once you are ready with your stance and you’re following up after some other punch (say a right hand), step with the lead leg and then twists your hips to the left. This is what is meant by “step and load”. You do this motion just like you would if you had thrown a right hand (which is a very common way to initiate a left hook).

So, to start the left hook, step with the left leg and twist your body to the left to “load” your punch.

left hook
The “Step And Load” Position

Once I’m loaded up, my weight is on the front leg and I’m now ready to unload the weight. So the sequence is pretty simple. Step, twist your hips to the left and now you’re ready to fire the hook.

Note: It’s called ‘a hook’ because the punching arm stays bent at the elbow like a hook and the punch itself comes around from the side.

Step Two: Sharply Twist The Body To Your Right As You Throw The Hook

Body twisting is one of the major elements of the left hook punch. When your body twists, it’s almost as if your body kind of catches your shoulder and drags that whole fist and arm through. IN other words, from the load position, the body twists sharply to the right and the left shoulder “catches” the arm and the twisting body kind of “pulls” the hook behind it.

So when throwing this punch, make sure you twist hard into the direction of the punch and then come quickly back to recover.

At the point of impact, the fist position can either be vertical or horizontal. This is a matter of personal preference (I prefer vertical).

The image below shows you what you should look like at point of impact.

how to throw a left hook
Make sure to twist your body to the right to get maximum power out of your hook. The fist position at point of impact can either be vertical or horizontal.

Helpful Tip: Pivot On The Ball Of The Left Foot When You Throw The Hook

Footwork is critical for the left hook. In order throw a left hook, you need to step and load, twist/turn and unload and then come back again. To make this motion smooth, be sure to pivot on the ball of your front foot just like if you were squashing out a cigarette.

Left Hook technique
When you throw the punch, pivot on the ball of your front foot just like if you were squashing out a cigarette.

OF course after the punch lands, make sure you quickly come back to your fighting stance with your hands up.

The biggest mistake I see beginners make is they throw an “arm hook”, that is, a looping sort of punch that is arm only without any body twist.

It is absolutley critical that you turn your hips sharply into the hook to get maximum power, so make sure you avoid making this common mistake.

That’s about it! That’s the basics of the left hook punch. Rememver, the lect hook is a great punch, but like any punch, it requires a lot of practice. .

Summary: How To Throw A Left Hook

Here’s a summary of what you need to know when throwing this punch:

  1. The left hook is usually a follow-up punch. You don’t typically start an attack with it.
  2. To throw the punch, step with the lead leg, load the punch by twisting your body to the left while putting your weight on the left leg. Then sharply twist right turning your whole body and keeping your arm bent until the point of impact. The fist position at point of impact can either be vertical or horizontal. After the punch lands, quickly come back to your stance.
  3. The most common error that beginners make when throwing the hook is that they throw an “arm punch” meaning only the arm comes around and the body does not twist. 
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Father of eight, Dr. Scott Sullivan is the chief instructor at Bam Bam Martial Arts in Houston, TX. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas and is a seasoned martial arts instructor with over 30 years of experience. A firm believer that martial arts really does help people become more fit, safe, and happy, he remains vigilant about helping people improve their lives through martial arts.