Learn To Parry And Counter Like A Pro With Top-Tier MMA Coach Duane Ludwig
If you’re planning on practicing combat sports that involve striking—boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, ect.—it’s wise to learn how to parry your opponent’s punches and quickly counter. This technique can help you defend against strong punches thrown by your opponent while knocking them off-balance and vulnerable to your counterpunch. Parrying also saves your body from taking unnecessary punishment that kills stamina.
Parrying is the perfect way to open up your opponent so you can throw a power shot while they are temporarily defenseless. You can always try leaning and ducking your opponent’s oncoming punch, but if you get caught...well, just ask Billy Joe Saunders what happens if you duck into an oncoming uppercut.
Parry The Jab
“You hit and don’t get hit and that’s what counts,” Ludwig said. “But before we can counter, we need to defend.”
Being able to parry is pretty simple once you get the hang of it. You’re trying to use your opponent’s power against them when they throw a jab or straight at you. To do this, you’ll use what Ludwig calls a “cat’s claw” to knock away their punch and set up your counter.
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Let’s assume for a moment both you and your opponent are fighting orthodox and your opponent throws a jab at you. To parry their jab, you would use your right hand to swoop down over the punch when it’s nearly at full extension and knock it away in a circular motion, much like a cat’s claw. If done properly, this should knock your opponent off-balance and briefly open them up to your counterpunch.
Adding The Counterpunch
When first learning to parry, you would typically bring your hand back to guard after performing the move so it would be purely defensive action. Once you’re comfortable with the movement, add the counterpunch. In the video, Ludwig shows us how to perform an overhead right after parrying.
“I could just slip to the inside like we’ve done before, but I want to make sure that jab goes down. I want to make sure I have an actual opening,” Ludwig said. “So, he throws the jab, [you] parry and step inside. From the parry is where I continue the momentum and roll it into an overhand.”
The main thing to understand when performing this counterpunch is your arm does not stop moving toward your intended target once you parry. The movent is like a corkscrew once you’ve knocked away the opponent’s jab. Don’t forget to lean forward and to your left as you parry their punch. This will help keep the momentum of your counterpunch going to your opponent’s face or chest while they’re briefly defenseless.
Make sure to keep your counterpunch tight and the movement quick. Ludwig cautions about getting too wide when rolling your counterpunch because it slows you down and leaves you open for a brief moment, instead of your opponent.
Practicing With A Partner
Now it’s time to put it all together with a partner. Ludwig suggests starting off with just parrying your partner’s jab while stepping in and leaning to the left to get a feel for the movement needed. Once comfortable with this, add in the counterpunch and keep it tight.
Ludwig notes the length of the distance you need to step in depends on the height of your partner or opponent. If you are taller than your opponent, you might not have to step in too close because your reach can compensate for the distance. However, if you’re shorter you’ll most likely have to step in quite a bit to make sure you hit the target. The coach said how much you step in or not will depend on the actual distance.
Make sure your partner doesn’t have the pad your hitting too close to their face, said Ludwig. He suggests having them hold it about 2 inches away when drilling and remember to compensate for that distance by stepping in when sparring or in a match.
“It would be nice to have your hands by your face when you’re sparring or fighting. But when doing drills, keep them a little further away,” Ludwig said. “Now, he [your partner] doesn’t have the proper distance for the punch, but those are the little areas you’re going to have to make up the extra two or three inches when you spar or fight.”
Who Is Duane Ludwig?
Former UFC contender and mixed martial arts coach Duane Ludwig is probably best known for holding UFC’s record for fastest knockout (6.06 seconds) for more than a decade until Jorge Masvidal broke it in 2019. He is the creator of the BANG Muay Thai System which weaves elements of Muay Thai, American boxing, Dutch kickboxing along with other martial arts traditions. Ludwig studied under Bas Rutten and Trevor Wittman—both serve as coaches for Ludwig’s teachings. As a Muay Thai practitioner in the 1990s, Ludwig held numerous titles and awards with the International Kickboxing Federation, World Kickboxing Association and others.
Want to learn more defensive countering techniques to help increase your fight IQ? Check out “Countering the Jab By Duane Ludwig” and other great Ludwig instructionals available at DynamicStriking.com!