Tag: Technique

If you don’t skip the rope you’ll be on the ropes!

boxing skipping rope picWhen 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!

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Don’t bring a spoon to a knife fight: Make sure you’ve got the right gear.

equipmentNow 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!

Don’t burn your bridges: Practice your defense not just attacking.

box-defenseUnless 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: 

 

Go down swinging: Get to grips with uppercuts and hooks.

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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: 

Start from the ground up: How to punch.

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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.

Homework: you can’t achieve everything in the gym!

 

boxing homework pic.jpgWhether 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!

Get in the gym – Get them gains!

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Now unless you’re very lucky, most people aren’t naturally massively built, I know i’m not at least. there’s only one way that you can change that and that’s by hitting the gym! its important to make sure you keep up a regular schedule you’ve got to bare that in mind, going once or twice here and there? Hmm… you won’t be reaping and rewards! Remember changes won’t happen overnight it takes time and dedication to carve the better you!

Over the next few blogs we’re going to cover the different muscle groups and how push them to the limit, and no, we’re not skipping leg day! How’re you going to stand up straight when you receive a swift right hook to the chin if you haven’t got two ripped tree trunks firmly rooted to the ground?!

Today we’re going to start with cardio, there’s no point having the power behind your punch if you can only maintain it for one round, you’ll be done for! With amateur boxing, for guys, you’ll have 3 3 minute rounds with  and 1 minute interval between rounds, with girls instead having 4 2 minute rounds, also with a 1 minute interval between rounds. Although the amount of rounds increases with semi-pro, and furthermore with the big dogs, the professionals.

The first thing you want to do when you get into the gym is stretch and warm up, trust me from first hand experience, you’l be in and out pretty sharpish if you don’t. Spend 4 to 5 minutes doing basic stretches and warm ups, for instance, jog on the spot and change to 10 seconds sprinting on the spot and repeat, as well as your basic floor stretches to ensure you wont get an injury. Now, I for one am not a particularly big fan of cardio in general, i prefer weight training, if your’e like me the best way to get into it is not to spend the whole time on one type of machine, for example, lets start with a jog on the running machine, every few minutes raising the speed by a few kph until your’e at a decently paced speed. maintain this for 15-20 minutes and as you improve, your speed and/ or time running should increase accordingly. What I recommend doing to ensure you’ve given it all you physically can is, once your’e ending the run, crank the speed up to as fast as you can run with the energy you’ve got left. You’ll feel like you’ve destroyed your legs but in the long run you’ll thank yourself! After this have a few minutes rest, it’s vital to ensure you can have as long a workout as possible. After this you could move onto something else like a cross trainer, cycling machine, rowing machine or step climber machine and follow a similar guild line for speed and time.

The last thing to mention is once you’ve completed your workout, I know you’ll be exhausted (if you’re not, have you worked hard enough?) and all you’ll want to do is run for the shower and fall to the floor, but don’t let this be your excuse for skipping your warm down stretches. These are just as important as warm up’s and you are just as likely to cause an injury by missing them out!