The boxing stance
Probably the first thing you learn, together with keeping on guard and moving around. Always be moving. Once you practice these three together for a while, they become inseparable. They are your ticket back home from messy exchanges.
Then, there’s the pure defence (as in against the ropes, when it’s time to take some hits).
Later, we all want to try the combinations (crosses, uppercuts, hooks) the incessant jabbing and leading. Setting the tone. That’s important too.
Let’s not forget about slipping punches, though. Better not be there at all in some combos.
When I’m in trouble I think about the boxing stance and moving. Life is not a battle. It’s just messy. Most of the time there are not even opponents out there.
Everything except the basic stance (plus guard and moving, inseparable) has the potential to become messy. That’s the nature of things. Offensive and defensive modes happen but in them, our wellbeing is subject to the exchange and ultimately to others. The stance, however, is to look after yourself and keep moving while paying attention. The stance is only subject to you. Therefore a better ticket back home.
The problem is to get stuck in offensive and defensive. To default to either.
Whenever I catch myself slipping to many punches, throwing unsustainable combinations or just plainly against the ropes, I know it’s time to go back to the basics (and to keep moving).