The Art of Feinting
Feinting is body movement or an incomplete attack used primarily to create reactions. The idea is to create an opening or to draw the opponent into responding so you may anticipate and counter. For this purpose, feints play an integral role in relation to counterpunching. In order for feints to be successful they must make the opponent believe that a real punch is coming.
The most frequent feints revolve around the jab. Like feints, jabs are often thrown with the intention of creating reactions. You see, you may jab not solely for the purpose of landing it, but rather to see how your opponent responds. It’s important to note their tendencies, and how they avoid the jab (e.g. do they flinch, retreat, parry, catch, block, or slip). Also note where their head moves after you jab. Feinting may also be used to ascertain an opponent’s reactions. This information will serve you for when you begin to set up your punches.
“A good boxer knows what openings will result before he feints and makes use of this knowledge and initiates his follow-up action almost before the opening results." -Edwin Haislett.
To feint the jab is simple. Jerk your left shoulder forward as if you’re about to jab, but do not extend your arm. Feint the right in the same manner. This is commonly referred to as a shoulder feint and it is one of the safest ways to feint. To make your feints more believable you may want to grunt a little, use facial expression to indicate a real punch and have your eyes move correspondingly to where the feint is aimed. Sometimes adding a quick step or slightly dipping your body can make a feint appear all the more real.
If you land a good shot on your opponent, it can be especially useful to feint that punch later on. For instance, step forward and jab at your opponent’s solar-plexus. It's a relatively safe punch, whether you score or not it’ll draw your opponent’s attention. It isn't devastating to your opponent but it gives them a sinking feeling that they don't like! Now to feint your opponent, you would suddenly step forward and look down to the stomach area, perhaps moving your left shoulder forward while simultaneously shifting your weight preparing you to throw a straight right at their head. Feinting a left to the pit of the stomach is a ploy to get them to commit to protecting their midsection allowing you to land a punch on their unprotected head. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book to be used sparingly, and when it works, it’s a thing of beauty.
Floyd Patterson writes:
“Jose Torres, my former stable-mate and the light heavyweight champion of the world . . . gives the best definition of a feint that I’ve ever heard: ‘A feint is an outright lie. You make believe you’re going to hit your opponent in one place, he covers the spot and your punch lands on the other side. A left hook off the jab is a classy lie. You’re converting a I into an L. Making openings is starting a conversation with a guy, so another guy (your other hand) can come and hit him with a baseball bat."
“Remember, the hand is quicker than the eye. Being able to get your opponent to look for one thing and then doing another is feinting. Feinting is using your head to draw an opponent into committing himself and then taking advantage of that commitment to counter him. Feinting is pretending to go to the body so your opponent drops his guard, and then going to his head, or vice versa. It is looking one place and punching another, or moving your feet as if to throw a left, when you’re really going to throw a right.
All of these methods of feinting can be perfected, but only through long, had hours of practice. Again, a mirror is the place to start; then progress into sparring sessions. Don’t be disgusted with yourself if you fail at first—just keep practicing. The ability to out-think your opponent is essential to being a top-flight or championship-caliber boxer.”