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!!
When you think of boxing training one of the first things you may think of is quick bursts of intense skipping. This isn’t just because boxers want some playground nostalgia, no. As well as skipping being a great cardio session and workout, it also helps boxers improve their hand, foot and arm speed. Firstly, skipping is a great workout, although it may not appear to be at first sight, due to the fact that continuously jumping on the spot, alongside the constant arm movement engages all key muscle areas such as the legs with the calf muscles in particular, the core, shoulders and arms. In addition to this, the more obvious part is that skipping is excellent cardio due to the fact that while skipping you’re continuously moving and can either speed up or slow down. I would recommend skipping to anyone who wants to further their boxing training simply due to the fact that it will benefit so much in terms of cardio and hand/foot speed.
Another good point to make is the fact that if you’re not very good at skipping than don’t fret! Skipping is like riding a bike, the more you do it the better and faster you get at it and subsequently, the better your boxing will become. Even now I’m no skipping expert but as long as you put in the work than it will more than pay off!
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:
Last time we covered the basics and how to build from the ground up with basic jabs and punches. This week we’ll build up on that and concentrate on hooks and uppercuts. As said last week, they key to learning these quickly and effectively is to start slow, forget about applying power to the swing and slowly build up the speed, adding the strength and power as you go.
If we start with the uppercut, the best way to get to grips with this punch is to take up the basic boxing stance discussed last time. Following from this you’ve got to consider what hand you’re throwing the punch with. If its your leading hand, your jab hand, that you’d drop your arm and rapidly bring it up with the aim of either sustaining a blow to your opponents stomach or head. As you raise your arm up you’d twist your front foot out slightly but quickly as it allows you to twist your body more, allowing a faster and more powerful punch. Its the same with your other hand although it’ll most likely be much more powerful, given that you twist the back foot out to allow the body to twist providing more power to the swing. An uppercut is arguably the most important punch when you’ve got your opponent against the ropes and you can unleash a barrage of blows to both the stomach and head while they try and protect themselves. Even if they put their arms around you to limit how many punches you can throw, it’ll be easier than a hook to successfully land a hit as you can go up the middle between the arms and hit critical areas.
Similarly to this, a hook is another type of throw that can have effective results on an opponent. It follows the same principle of the uppercut, if you’re swinging with your jab hand, you swing your arm out and twist the corresponding foot to allow more strength in the swing, if it’s your rear hand than you swing forward while twisting the rear foot. It’s best to try and keep your elbow bent at about 90 degrees, keeping your hand at shoulder height while throwing a hook as this will allow you to target either the body or the head, which ever is less protected and more vulnerable.
To show how effective uppercuts and hooks can be, here are 10 expert examples of world champion boxer Mike Tyson showing how they can be applied to devastate and knockout any opponent, arguably much more effective than any jab or cross:
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!