Bolo Punch: What Exactly Is It?

(Last Updated On: July 30, 2022)

Originally, the Bolo Punch is a Filipino martial arts punch (‘Bolo’ is a Filipino word for machete) that can be really powerful if used properly and at the right time. The Bolo Punch is considered to be an advanced boxing technique that not many boxers decide to use very often. But once you master the basic punches, you’ll most probably want to learn some advanced ones that will give you more options in the ring.

The Bolo Punch can be compared to a large circular uppercut punch and has a large wind-up. This is often used as a way to distract the boxing opponent and make him focus on the circling arm. While actually preparing to land a more traditional punch with the other hand. And if the boxing opponent chooses to focus on the hand that is not moving, the boxer will follow through with a full punch.

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History & Origins

The Bolo Punch history goes as back as the Spanish-American War when after the USA defeated Spain and took over occupation of the Philippine Islands, a large number of Filipinos started immigrating to the United States.

Most of the Filipinos chose to move to Central California and Hawaii, where they usually worked as farmers. Many of those farmers used to be practitioners of Filipino Martial Arts (which also included some boxing arts such as Pangamot, Suntukan and Panantukan), so after they realized that western boxing will bring them more money than farming, a big number of them started competing.

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Among the other unusual punches and techniques they used that other western boxers haven’t seen before, there was a certain punch that they decided to call the Bolo Punch. Because the movement of the punch reminded them of the way they were swinging a machete (bolo) when cutting crops on the farm.

Ceferino Garcia (World Middleweight Champion in 1939) is one of the boxers that made the bolo punch famous. He is often referred to as the very inventor of the move.

Aside from him, there were Kid Gavilan and Sugar Ray Leonard who are also often numbered as the two other best Bolo Punchers in boxing history, together with Garcia. Other famous boxers that often use it are Roy Jones Jr. and Joe Calzaghe.

The bolo punch that is still used in Filipino Panantukan managed to make its way and is still used not only in boxing, but also in MMA and Muay Thai.

How to Throw the Bolo Punch

Throwing a successful and nice bolo punch is not so easy. It takes a lot of practice and most of it comes down to learning how to recognize the right moment.

Follow these three steps:

  • Start by getting your opponent to slip low. One way to do this is by throwing a jab that will make your opponent duck when trying to miss it. This will give you a great starting position for throwing a Bolo Punch.
  • Stay relaxed and start looping your hand back and down in a circular motion
  • You can rip the punch towards your opponent’s face or body or choose to turn it into a straight punch. Also, if your opponent gets distracted by your circling hand, you can decide to punch your opponent with the other hand instead.

Alternate Uses

Even though the bolo punch is powerful and effective in itself, not many boxers choose to use it in the traditional way.

The way the hand moves while preparing to throw a Bolo Punch makes most of the fighters use it as a way to distract their opponents instead. When a fighter drops the backhand, which looks like preparing to throw a Bolo Punch, many times an opponent would get so focused on it that he wouldn’t see the forehand coming in.

There are different ways to achieve the bolo punch feint (known as showboating) but they are all done with the goal of distracting the opponent.

While it’s a great way to knock down your opponent, when used as a form of distraction, it needs to be done carefully and at the right time. This is because after you’ve tried it a few times before your opponent might get used to it and start expecting it. Another thing to keep in mind and be careful about is that a skillful opponent might use the moment when you prepare for a Bolo Punch and leave yourself wide open to knock you down.


The Bolo Punch is a very nice technique that many boxers are eager to learn after they’ve already been through and mastered the basics. But while many boxing fans might like the idea of it, due to its specificity, not many professionals, and even fewer amateurs, actually choose to use the bolo punch regularly.

But even though it takes some time to master the Bolo Punch and learn how to recognize the perfect moment to use it, it’s still a really powerful boxing technique that most of the time will bring you a definite advantage over your opponent.

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