In recent years many schools, colleges and universities have emphasised the importance of keeping fit and healthy through the use of free sport for students. This is something that I feel is an excellent means of encouraging people to keep active and fit on a day to day basis. The problem is due to government cut backs a lot of educational and council funded establishment alike are subsequently having to cut back on their range and promotions of free sport, which in hand, is deterring many people from taking up any sports, not just boxing. The main reason I took up boxing other than to see how I could turn my aggression into something productive, was because my university offered boxing training sessions coached by an English heavy weight boxing champion, completely for free, other than the optional expense of buying your own kit. Due to the changes to university funding and how individual universities are subsequently changing their distribution of spending, our university for example is having to alter the layout and degree of free sports available. Because of this, I am one of many people who is having to consider lowering my level of participation in sports at the university, simply due to not having £40 a month spare for hobbies, just like a vast amount of the nationwide student population.
Despite these changes to university and sport funding, I urge you to get involved in sports and fitness related activities while they are still free. This isn’t just in terms of boxing I’m talking about, I mean all sports and fitness activities ranging from everything from table tennis and equestrian sports to boxing and rugby. There are multiple benefits that can be obtained by participating in sports whether they are free or not! To begin with I guarantee you will feel a sense of accomplishment after learning about the new abilities and skills you have obtained through attending a new sport, all the way to making new friends for life along the way where you share the same tastes and hobbies due to the sport. In addition to this, there is also the obvious health benefits of getting involved in sport, regardless of the sport. Any sport is healthier than being a couch potato!!
Now it’s obvious that there is going to be certain pieces of gear and kit that you’ll need for boxing, the most obvious being a pair of gloves. But if you sit down and think about it there is more than you’d first expect. However, don’t fret! Most of this equipment is easy to get and can be bought for a reasonably cheap price. If we work our way form the bottom of the body to the top, the first thing you may need is a pair of boxing shoes. Now these aren’t completely necessary as any pair of sports shoes will suffice for light training but it is recommended that you have these for sparring and matches. These can be bought in most sports shops and can be found for a reasonable cheap price, I bought a pair made by Lonsdale, a reputable boxing brand, out of my local sports shop for less than £29.99. Following on from this, you may want to invest in a groin guard. This is padding that covers and protects your groin from any low shots from your opponent in sparring, think of it as a head mask for your groin. No one wants the breath taken out of them by a crotch shot. Moving up from this you would be wise to invest in some hand wraps. these are the tapes you see boxers wrap round their wrists and hands before they put their gloves on and their purpose is to help take the stress off your wrists and knuckles as over time constantly making hard contact between your hands and something such as a person or bag will put heavy work on them. These can be bought from any sports shop or alternatively online and are dirt cheap, I bought a pair for £3.99 from my local sports shop. Next up you’ll need the most obvious item, your boxing gloves. These are the item you should put the most research into before you buy them because they come in so many variants. You can buy gloves intended for fighting, sparring, or pad and bag work in particular, in numerous ounce weights. In addition to this, some will obviously be better in terms of quality than others. Since your gloves will be the only thing between your knuckles and what you’re punching it can be worth while pushing the boat out and buying slightly more expensive gloves, to make sure you don’t injure yourself.
Next up you will need a mouth guard. This won’t be necessary for pad and bag work but any sensible gym coach wont let you step foot in a ring to spar or fight without a mouth guard. You don’t want to lose any of those pearly whites! Finally, this is optional an many gyms may even provide you with one but it can sometimes be worthwhile looking into getting a head guard for sparring. This is because if you’re not in a competitive fight and only training, you don’t want to run the risks of getting unnecessary injuries!
When it comes to training, obviously practice makes perfect. You won’t become a champ overnight. When it comes to training you may not necessarily always have someone there with you to do pad work or to guide you. Because of this the bag is your best friend. He’s an inanimate object, you can’t hurt him, you can’t tire him and you can’t break his will. because of this the bag is one of your best training partners! I love the bag because you can’t get personal, you can unleash all your aggression and it isn’t going to hold a grudge against you where as you can’t unleash a relentless barrage against a light sparring partner. In addition to this, you can practice near enough any punch on a bad and due to there being so many different types you can master any technique. As well as the punch bag you can also put in some work on a speed bag. For those who do not know what this is it’s the small tear drop shaped bag that hangs from the side of a wall and you rapidly punch it in circular motions to help increase your hand speed.
To better show how to use a speed bag here is a clip of World champion ex-boxer Floyd Mayweather Demonstrating how to use one to increase hand speed:
Unless you’ve become Muhammad Ali over night or your opponent is abysmal, there will be times when you’re sparring or fighting that will require you to take a defensive stance as oppose to an attacking one. The basics are common sense, if you don’t want to take a heavy blow to the face you have to keep your hands up by your face to take the brunt of an impact. However, there’s more to it than this, you have to be able to bob and weave your opponent, to do this you need a good core as you will have to engage your whole body to move and avoid a blow. If your opponent is going for a body shot and it’s inevitable that it’s going to make contact than the best thing to do is to tuck your arms in tight to the body and twist your upper body so that your arm takes the blow instead of your stomach, which can in many cases be more serious than a hit to the face. In addition to this, if your opponent is lunging for a hit than you can put your glove out to contact it and divert the blow, resulting in the hit either missing or having the power removed from it. As seen in the picture above showing one of Ali’s many famous fights, he isn’t holding his hands up but this can be excused because of his speed and reaction times, if you have the speed to lean back or duck under a blow without being hit than you don’t need your hands up although for anyone other than pro’s I wouldn’t personally recommend it. With bobbing and weaving the key is to keep moving and bouncing around to dodge punches, and wait until your opponent leaves his or herself undefended momentarily and weave a hit to make contact.
To show how to successfully avoid punches, watch this clip of Muhammad Ali dodging 21 punches in 10 seconds showing textbook expertise in the art of avoiding punches:
When you think of the idea of hitting something or someone you probably don’t consider how to punch, you just do it. The problem here is a lot of people don’t know how to, and make a fool of themselves. If you can’t throw a punch correctly then this is where you need to be! We’ve covered a lot of cardio and gym workouts so far so that you can build yourself up but now we’ll delve into the fighting side of the sport. If we use my boxing club, Essex University Amateur Boxing Club, as an example, the first thing you do when you arrive for the session is a tough twenty minute warm up, this will consist of basic yet vital stretches and exercises such as jogging, short 20 second intervals of sprinting, press ups, sit ups and frog jumps. Regardless of what you are focusing on for that particular session it is vital that you include a full body warm up session before hand. After this you’re ready to get into the actual training. When throwing a punch it is vital that your footing and posture is correct. If it isn’t you’re either going to knock yourself off balance with the impact of the punch or you will simply do no damage to your opponent. To stand correctly, stand with your feet shoulders width apart with your front foot facing forward and your back foot outwards, keep your back straight and and your arms tucked in with your fists level with your cheeks. this will maintain your posture and allow you to pop your back and shoulders thus throwing faster punches. It is also important to keep on your toes bouncing and moving around, a moving target is harder to catch! When you go to throw a jab, it is always your hand that isn’t dominant, unless you’re more experienced and want to confuse your opponent. As you punch, keep your elbow facing down as it enables you to pull back your arm quicker to punch again, when you first go the throw the punch you fist should be sideways so your palm is vertical, once it’s extended it should be turned with the palm facing the ground.
Once you’ve grasped how to jab we can then include your dominant hand. The jab is more to keep them on their feet and to break up their defense, your dominant hand will cut them down. To throw this punch correctly once your jab has been withdrawn, twist your body all the way from your shoulder down to your back foot while extending your arm, again twisting your fist as you throw the punch. The tip is to simply carry on doing this until you grasp it, starting slow and building the speed and power up from there as practice makes perfect.
When it comes to eating we all know that there are perks that come with a healthy and balanced diet, the problem is, if you’re like me, you don’t particularly like eating healthy. I for one much prefer snacking on sugary treats and drinks as well as sitting down for playing a few hours of Battlefield or Call of Duty with a nice plate of pizza or curry which, as you can imagine… Isn’t the most healthy of diets. It is hard to say what the ideal diet is so I’m not going to hammer one particular diet plan into your mind because everyone has a different body and numerous things such as metabolism and level of health play important factors in determining what type of diet is correct for each individual. But saying that, it is clear to see that not eating a balanced diet will adversely effect your health in a negative way. Even i you go to the gym four or 5 times a week, you’ll be making those sessions pointless if you’re piling down the calories as soon as you leave.
It is important to also consider that if you’re looking to gain muscle you’ll need a calorie surplus, where your body has more than just the calories it needs to maintain itself so that there is energy and calories left to repair and grow further levels of muscle mass. However, as important as a calorie surplus is, it is important to make sure you achieve it through eating the correct foods, it won’t work if you hit this surplus via eating cakes and fizzy drinks, you need to do it with a balanced diet of healthy sugars from fruit, carbohydrates such as brown bread, rice and pasta and numerous forms of protein that can be found in multiple types of food items such as meat and muscle supplements. Remember to enhance your muscle growing and boxing capability to keep up with gym and boxing training to get the most out of your body. So the moral of the story for this post is consider the dietary information of what you’re eating before you eat it, plan what your’re going to eat for the day as that’ll help a lot and last but not least, drop the crisps and do some dips!
Whether you’re looking to take boxing seriously or just as a fitness hobby, it is important to take the work outside of the gym once your workouts finished! This is done in numerous forms, such as dieting, sleeping and mentality, fitness outside the gym and treating injuries. In this blog we will cover the simple, but important art of sleeping and mentality!
Now if you’re like me than you’re a night owl, a person who simple cannot sleep until its past 1/2 am. If you’re also like me… You hate that fact! Some people don’t get reap any problems with going to bed so early and getting up in 6 or 7 hours time but unfortunately not everyone can be the same. To make sure you get enough sleep and aren’t tired in the morning its important to ensure that you go to bed at a more reasonable time and don’t stay up once in bed. If you get enough sleep than you shouldn’t feel too tired or worn down when you wake up, given you wake up at a reasonable time, around 7-10 am. Not many people will put two and two together but by getting enough sleep you will positively influence your mentality and attitude towards working out, eating healthily and working hard towards your goals, whether they are financial, physical or academic! This is because if you’re getting up after a short night of bad quality sleep than you’re more likely to feel much less motivated to go to gym, will much rather stay in bed for longer and effectively waste more of the day, being much less productive. If you’re awake and refreshed after a long, great quality, nights sleep than you will be so much more likely to get up early, get things done and make sure you get as much productivity out of the day. Even if you manage to get down the gym while feeling fatigued, you’re not going to push yourself anywhere near your personal goals and much the session very productive at all and in terms of boxing or sparring, you will simply not have anywhere near enough energy to get in the ring and throw or take punches!
In essence, remember the importance of getting a good nights sleep as it’ll effect a lot more of the following day than you’d first think!