In the simplest of terms, the boxing guard provides the boxer with protection while simultaneously allowing him or her to use all of the offensive and defensive tools at their disposal.
The guard provides adequate visibility without sacrificing exposure that cannot be compensated for by skill and reflexes.
That last statement is important, because no matter what guard you learn, you will eventually default to your own style and that style will depend heavily on your boxing skills – primarily your defensive skills.
For instance - if you are exceptional at slipping punches, you may feel it necessary to hold your hands away from your face and eyes to give you more visibility to react to incoming punches.
If you have a super strong core that can withstand a punch or two, you may opt to hold your forearms higher to protect your head at the expense of exposing your core more.
The point is to start with one of the boxing guards on this page and from there you can develop and adapt to whatever guard works best for you. As everyone is unique in their abilities and skill sets, you should be very wary of the coach or trainer that tells you a technique has to be done a certain way.
Get the fundamentals down - but you are your own guinea pig. Experiment and test things out. Keep what works and discard the rest.
You'll likely end up using all of these guards and their variations at some point depending on your opponent. It's good to mix things up.
When you learned the basic stance, either orthodox or southpaw, you were told to hold your hands up near your cheekbones with elbows tucked in tightly to your sides. This type of guard is known as a peek-a-boo guard and, in my opinion, offers the most protection while still providing access to the full range of offensive and defensive techniques. This is the primary reason it is taught to beginners, who generally have not developed the required reflexes and timing to slip, parry, or counter incoming punches.
To reiterate, once you are in your boxing stance, for orthodox fighters, you bring the left arm up at minimum so that your left fist is resting on your left cheekbone. Some fighters prefer to bring it up even higher – but beware – the higher you go, the more you expose your body. If you can withstand punches to the core, and/or have the reflexes to lower your elbows to block body shots as required, then go for it if it suits you.
The right fist is brought up and rests on the right cheekbone, just slightly lower than the left fist. Your elbows are held tightly against your body. Your head is tilted forward with chin to chest and your forearms are straight up and down providing protection of the lower part of your face, jaw, neck, and upper portion of your chest.
You’re peeking out between the wall you’ve formed with your fists and forearms and the boo comes when you open it up to deliver a punch or two. That is why it is called a peek-a-boo guard.
At the other end of the boxing guard spectrum is the philly shell. This type of guard is only for the advanced, experienced boxer who has developed a lot of coordination and fast reflexes. You completely expose your head to your opponent. Floyd Mayweather Jr likes to use this guard – so that will give you some indication of the caliber of skill you need to employ it properly.
Another drawback or benefit, depending on how you look at it, is the path your jab has to take to it’s target. It has a lot further to travel but it gets there at odd angles. It’s not the most efficient transfer of pivot energy and jabs have the tendency to turn into flicker jabs that don't do a lot of damage.
The upside to the philly shell is that you hold your fists at two different levels (one near your waist, the other near your head) which can cause confusion in your opponent as to exactly where you are launching your attacks from. Another upside is the visibility this guard provides. With only one fist in front of your face, you can see a lot more of what is going on. Your field of vision is not as restricted. This guard also lets you relax your jab arm and shoulder. Instead of holding it up which takes effort, it hangs out in front of you conserving energy.
From the orthodox boxing stance, your right arm is up so your fist is about cheekbone height, but the hand is not resting on the cheekbone. It is slightly more forward and centered on your face as it is the primary fist used for parrying and blocking no matter which side the punch is coming from.
The other hand hangs down near your left leg about waist height. Your head is still tucked down, but you really bury your chin into your left shoulder trying to achieve an added measure of protection that disappeared when you moved your forearm and fist down near your waist. You keep your body tilted back with a little more weight on the rear leg to keep your head out of striking distance.
If you don’t have the skills/reflexes to backup adopting this stance, then don’t. It leaves you far too exposed if you don’t know what you are doing.
Somewhere in between the peek-a-boo and the philly shell is a combination of the two, and is most likely what you are going to end up adopting at some point in your future boxing career.
As you get more comfortable with punches being thrown at you, you’ll probably find it less and less necessary to hold your hands really high against your face. You'll learn to slip and parry and use other defensive techniques.
Unless you like your arms and hands tight against your body face, you’ll probably end up lowering them a bit to aid in your vision and to let you relax a bit.
This more relaxed type of guard is known as a mixed guard.
The left arm (orthodox) is generally a bit further out from the face and lower. The right arm (orthodox) is also a little more relaxed and generally held a bit lower as well. Obviously the combination of both of these exposes your head, so again, this guard is something you work up to, not something to start out with while you are afraid of getting hit in the face.
Try them out - familiarize yourself with each guard. In front of your heavy bag or simply shadowboxing, do a minute of boxing with each guard to get a feel for them. Start with the peek-a-boo guard. Notice what your vision is like and how it tires the arms to hold them high and rigid. Next, relax a bit, opening up the guard and moving around noticing the differences. Last, go to the philly and see what that feels like.
One of these guards is going to feel more natural to you than the others - so use that as your base and branch out from there. No two opponents are the same so different guards may have different levels of effectiveness. You'll quickly find out when you're toe to toe.
I built and run Commando Boxing - so it should be no surprise where I stand on this...
I started boxing when I was 24. At the time, I lived in rural Saskatchewan, Canada and the closest boxing gym was a one and half hour drive to the big city of Saskatoon.
I was married with one young daughter, a son soon to be on the way, and a busy job that required me to work 12hr days on average.
Despite those challenges I still managed to find the energy and gas money to make that one and a half hour drive a couple times a week to train and then drive the one and a half hours home completely exhausted.
I'd like to say that I doggedly overcame the obstacles that stood in my way and that I went on to become the boxing champion of the world - but it didn't quite work out like that at all.
Instead my boxing training came to an abrupt halt a few months later when winter came and I could no longer afford the time, money, or risk to make that stupid drive through blizzards and blowing snow.
With no boxing club or boxing trainer in the place I lived - I did the only thing I could think of and turned to books and DVDs to try and learn how to box at home. Keep in mind that this was long before the internet and Youtube.
If there were any good books or programs back then - I didn't find them.
My story does have a happy ending though, as I eventually moved to a place where I did have access to a club and trainer and, of course, the internet came along and changed everything.
Way back in 2003 during my boxing drought - I figured there had to be others out there stranded like I was. People who wanted to learn how to box but did not have access to a boxing club or trainer for whatever reason. Maybe there simply was no club in their town or maybe they couldn't afford what a trainer costs.
I knew I could put together a better product than a lot of the books on the market - so I did and the first version of the web site that you're looking at now was born (it was called how-to-box.com until recently).
Since 2003 I've seen the debate rage on and offline in boxing circles as to whether someone can actually learn how to box online.
The arguments against online programs almost always center around the risk of the new boxer learning improper techniques that lead to injury or bad habits that a trainer will have to fix someday.
There are some people who say you can learn the fundamentals of boxing online - but that's it.Some people say you can only learn how to box online for fitness.
Some people flat out say that it is impossible to learn how to box online. These people annoy the shit out of me as they seem to believe they were given the authority to dictate how and where someone gets to learn how to box.
Personally I do not think it is so black or white - that you can or cannot learn how to box online. I think the success one can have with an online program varies by person - but I know - and I've proven it repeatedly - that one can develop reasonably good boxing skills with the right online boxing program.
More importantly - I believe that nobody has the right to tell you you can't learn to box online - especially if the alternative is to not box at all.
What if you truly don't have access to a boxing club or boxing trainer?
What if the only boxing instruction you can get is from a site like Commando Boxing, Youtube, a book, or DVD?
Should you just accept that you can't learn how to box and move on to something else?
That's exactly what some people would have you do. They will tell you you're just shit out of luck and that you might as well just give up.
That is bullshit. You do what you have to do.
If you want to learn how to box and you have access and the means to join a boxing club or hire a trainer then that is exactly what you should do. Nothing can take the place of a real-life trainer giving you feedback and coaching tips in real-time or real-life partners that you can practice with.
But when that club or trainer truly is not an option - then what is the alternative? You can either forget about boxing because you might learn bad habits or do what you can with what you can get.
I'd take the second option any day rather than give up on something I really want to do just because some cyberspace shithead who probably grew up with a trainer for a father and a club next door says it can't be done.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Even if you have access to a club or trainer - there is no guarantee you are not going to develop those "awful" bad habits or even be taught proper technique. In person, it all depends on the quality of the coach, much like it depends on the quality of instruction you can get online.
Any Tom, Dick, Harry, or Sally can open a boxing gym. Usually the people that do have some boxing background but that is not always the case.
I've been in my share of gyms and the majority of them have apprentice coaches who know jack shit but are left alone to teach the fundamentals to impressionable new boxers while the more experienced and certified coaches and trainers work exclusively with those they feel have the most potential.
Coaches have to coach to become certified club coaches in Canada so I understand why this happens - but if the argument against online programs is the development of bad habits, then I also argue that physical boxing gyms aren't necessarily any better in that regard.
Some gyms are so busy that the one trainer can't possibly ensure everyone is doing things correctly all the time.
There is no boxing standard. Different gyms and different trainers teach differently depending on their own background and how they learned. There is no overarching boxing curriculumn.
Are you starting to see the problem here?
Whether you learn how to box online or walk into a neighborhood gym - you're at the mercy of whomever is imparting their knowledge.
It's up to you, and only you, to decide if the program you are following - offline or online - is good enough for you and your goals.
Let's assume that the online boxing program you plan on using is provided by a boxing coach who knows what he is talking about and in real life is actually good at coaching boxing.
In your online boxing program - that coach demonstrates a movement, breaks it down into parts, and has you perform each part while giving you the things you need to look for to ensure you are doing the technique correctly.
Eventually you put all those parts together to perform the whole movement. If you paid attention to what you're doing and worked on doing the technique exactly as the coach told you - why exactly could you not end up performing it correctly?
I get that there is no immediate feedback from the trainer in the event that you are doing something wrong and aren't self-correcting, but what if you have the opportunity to upload a video where the coach can critique your form. How is that any different than the instruction you are getting from a trainer in a busy boxing gym?
Do you not think that you would be able to pick up and correct the major issues?
And let's be serious about the little issues you might miss...even the best boxers pick up some bad habits along they way. Those little differences are what form individual boxing styles. Very few boxers are technically perfect.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend like I can take you from zero to boxing champion of the world using my online boxing training program. That's simply not realistic and we all need to be very clear about the limitations of online boxing programs.
For starters, you need to be a member of a club in order to compete in the amateurs (at least in Canada).
While I can't claim to make you a champion online, your local boxing club can't claim to do that working with you in person either.
But I can claim a few things that are beneficial about online boxing training:
With any luck - I've convinced you that online boxing training isn't evil - if not - we'll have to agree to disagree, but I want to share some specific situations where I think online boxing training is beneficial and useful:
Absolutely YES, you can learn how to box online - and Commando Boxing will teach you. Start by subscribing to my newsletter to start training with free introductory boxing lessons from the Commando Boxing How to Box System and go from there.
More and more personal trainers want to add boxing workouts to their client's exercise plans - and for good reason - boxing workouts are some of the most effective and motivating workouts on the planet.
In terms of intensity - boxing workouts rank at the top of all sports. According to ESPN's panel of experts - pound for pound - boxing is the toughest sport around.
If you want a more effective exercise plan - you should consider adding one or two boxing workouts to your exercise workout plan each week - and here's why...
Boxing workouts must ensure that boxers are capable of 100% physical and mental effort - round after round - in combat. That is no small feat.
Physically that means that boxing workouts must develop strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, endurance, stamina, and balance.
Mentally that means that boxing workouts must develop resiliency and durability, nerve, superior hand-eye coordination, and analytic aptitude that facilitates instant decision making in high stress situations.
No other sport (with the possible exception of MMA) requires participants - amateur or professional - to reach such a high standard of physical and mental development where the consequences for failure are potentially catastrophic. Combat is unforgiving.
When people ask me this - it's often difficult to give a precise answer because boxing workouts can be so many different things depending on the focus of the training at that time. That said - when one thinks of a boxing workout certain generalizations come to mind:
I recommend adding two boxing workouts to your exercise workout plan each week separated by at least one day of active rest.
It should be obvious that your training focus in every workout cannot be on all things at the same time. Your exercise plan requires some manipulation so you can focus on one effect at a time whether it is strength, anaerobic, aerobic, boxing workout, or some other type of workout.
Spreading your focus too thin across all the different spheres that make up boxing training in every workout means that you'll never develop any of them.
Likewise - focusing only on boxing workouts to the detriment of supporting fitness aspects will eventually burn you out and limit your progress.
Further, boxing workouts should be progressive and consistently build on the skills and conditioning developed by previous workouts.
Over the years I've found that a weekly exercise workout plan such as the one shown below provides an optimal balance of strength training, anaerobic and aerobic conditioning, rest and repair, and boxing skills development:
I've done a lot of research to understand how the human body works and how certain workouts create certain results. The most frustrating thing is the sheer volume of conflicting advice in existence. For every study that supports one thing, there is a contradictory study supporting the opposite.
I've concluded that we would all be better off if we treated ourselves like guinea pigs - tracked our results - and made up our own minds about works for us as individuals.
However that doesn't mean that you disregard everything people have done before you and that's why I sought out the research of people like Dr. Frederick C. Hatfield, Ph.D., FISSA who did some very detailed scientific training analysis with Evander Holyfield.
Holyfield's training was incredibly scientific and he had the best in their respective disciplines training him including Lee Haney (former Mr. Olympia) and Dr. Hatfield. Hatfield convinced Holyfield that his conditioning would improve dramatically if he incorporated a variety of training principles based on scientific findings into his workouts. Being the scientist he was, Hatfield recorded everything and Hollyfield's conditioning 12 weeks later improved dramatically from his start state, not just in one area, but all of them: agility, strength limits, explosive power, and ability to recover.
In terms of an optimal boxing workout - we could do worse than start with the principles Hatfield recommended to Holyfield.
I compared Hatfield's recommendations to what other sports disciplines were doing including sprinting, basketball, and football where the kind of anaerobic and explosive power characteristic of boxing is required either for sustained amounts of time or in short bursts. Most of those sports had already gone high tech, so to speak, and their top athletes follow plyometrics programs, do sport specific workouts, and train in cycles (periodization).
Boxing, on the other hand, still has an abundance of people recommending the same training methods used fifty years ago. I compiled a list of boxing training myths. How many of them are you still following?
The first and foremost principle one can take away from Hatfield's research is the idea of a training cycle. A macrocycle consists of a predetermined period that is usually annual but can vary depending on the sport. Pro boxers tend to fight once or twice a year now (which is ridiculous) so a 12 week macrocycle makes sense. At the end of every 12 week cycle - the boxer is ready to fight.
The 12 week macrocycle consists of three week mesocycles - four equal parts.
Each mesocycle consists of smaller microcycles that concentrate on specific conditioning and sport specific skills and each mesocycle builds on the skills and conditioning learned in the previous one.
The boxer's level of skill and conditioning reaches a peak at the end of the macrocycle. Subsequent macrocycles then have heightened start states resulting in ever increasing end states.
All I just said is that it makes sense to build boxing workouts into exercise workout plans that are based on 12 week cycles.
Within those 12 weeks, there will be four x three week cycles with each one getting progressively harder. Completing one 12 week cycle will have you in exceptional shape. Completing more than one will make you one hell of a fine physical specimen.
Each 3 week cycle focuses on all the boxing workouts that will develop you as a boxer: explosive power and strength, endurance, stamina and agility, and so on.
Ok enough theory. I promised you a boxing workout, so here it is:
Get ready to sweat.
Like I've said over and over again, boxing workouts are by far the most intense, satisfying workouts you can do. I know you're going to love them.
All aspects of the boxing workout I outline below contain specific directions but in general they should be done in a boxing workout format - 3 minutes on, 1 minute off to simulate rounds in the ring.
When you begin - three minutes is going to seem like an eternity especially if you are giving it your all, but in time, things will get easier and that will be a sign that your conditioning is improving. To be able to go 12 x three minute rounds with one minute rest between each, you have to be in top shape.
Round 1: skip rope for 3 minutes, immediately followed by 25 pushups. Rest 1 minute
Round 2: skip rope for 3 minutes, immediately followed by 25 pushups. Rest 1 minute
Round 3: skip rope for 3 minutes, immediately followed by 25 pushups. Rest and wrap your hands.
Note: There are different ways to skip rope. Try mixing it up - boxer's shuffle, crossovers, double unders, side to sides, and so on. All increase the intensity. You should also get used to progressive overload. When you can do 25 pushups for three rounds you increase to 30 pushups, then 35, then 40 and so on. Always increase the intensity if possible.
Each round of shadowboxing has a specific focus but follows the same format:
You'll do three rounds of shadowboxing, one minute rest between rounds with each round consisting of:
1st minute: footwork only, work the long and short rhythm described on this site. Move left, move right, pivot...keep your hands up and consciously watch yourself to make sure you are doing it correctly.
2nd minute: Practice your defensive moves. Duck, slip, parry left, parry right, catch jabs. Picture an opponent throwing punches at you, get your imagination working.
3rd minute: Add in the punches. Start slow and end fast. Work through the major combinations: 1-1, 1-1-1, 1-2, 1-2-3. Speed is great, but technique is better at this stage, watch everything. Keep your hands up, stance correct. Picture that opponent, knock him down, knock him out.
To start with, do five x three minute rounds on the heavy bag with one minute rest between each round.
When you hit the heavy bag you focus on specific things. Here are seven sample phases to focus on when you go head to head with the bag (you can incorporate them all in a round or focus on one or two of them):
Incorporating all seven phases into each three minute round would look something like:
Now is when you take two or three rounds to develop some new boxing skill. Whatever it is you do one thing and you do it repeatedly for the entire round. For instance, if it's a certain combination such as a 1-2-5-3-2 you drill that over and over ensuring your technique is perfect.
This would also be the time when you'd do some sparring or mitt work with your coach.
I suspect that most of your boxing workouts are going to be without a partner. You'll likely only have a partner when you are in the gym with your trainer or the like. However, it is the times in between sparring sessions that you learn and perfect your skills - so use the time wisely.
Leading into the cooldown you'll do two sets of bodyweight training focusing on either the upper or lower body.Upper Body
You will do two rounds of core training at the end of each boxing workout. They can vary but something like the following works good:
The way it works is that you do as many of the specified exercise as you can for the time allotted, then switch to the next exercise without taking a break until the round is over.
Round 2: Repeat round 1.
Stretch it out. Work on your flexibility and mobility so you can do it all over again without the stiffness and soreness that is inevitable no matter what you do.
But damn - you'll be in good shape. Boxon.
Warning - you may see things in this article that are upsetting.
I wish I could tell you that the world you live in is perfectly safe and nothing bad will ever happen to you and you don't need to learn how to fight.
I wish I could tell you that you will never be involved in a situation where you have to defend yourself or a loved one from someone intent on hurting you/them.
Some naive people will tell you that if you're submissive, mind your own business and don't get involved you'll never have a need to defend yourself.
I won't - and that really is no way to live.
I'm probably overly cynical given my occupation and the evil I've seen in the world, but the honest truth is that there are evil people who want to hurt you and your loved ones. Just because you haven't encountered one yet doesn't mean it isn't going to happen.
I believe it is your responsibility to know how to protect yourself and those you care about. Learning to defend yourself is not a nice to have, a hobby, or something you do on Saturdays because your friend enticed you into it.
Learning to defend yourself is an essential aspect of living in the world we live in.
Most people live in their bubble and are content to simply go about their day doing the same thing over and over again. That small bubble generally keeps them in safe places where chances of attack are less.
There are other people who prefer to expand their bubbles and live a more exciting life. They explore new things, go different places and meet different people. Their bubbles are much larger and their view of the world they live in is much different than someone who limits their daily routine to waking up, working and going to sleep.
Whether you decide that you want to live a more fulfilling life full of experience or not is irrelevant. Your bubble, no matter how big or small, does not have impenetrable walls.
At any time - an evil person can walk into your bubble and create havoc with your life. In many instances the evil are actively looking for the timid, shy, and meek - the small bubbled people of the world - to hurt and take advantage of.
This isn't meant to be a philosophical debate about how you should live your life to the fullest, but I am trying to show you that no matter how safe you may think you are - you really aren't. If you don't learn how to defend yourself - when you find yourself in a bad situation - the result is going to be defined by someone else.
You're hinging your future and the future of people you care about on the mercy of the evil person you meet.
I'm not a fan of that idea.
There many self-defense courses and methods available and no one method is 100% effective on its own - but boxing comes damn close.
I can preach about the benefits of boxing all day long - but I think it will be more effective to show you what boxing can do in a street fight.
1. The Unsuspecting Couple Out for a Walk
Do you think for one second the couple walking by the dicks in this video figured they'd be involved in a fight seconds before? Would you be able to defend yourself or your girlfriend/wife like this guy does?
2. Taking Down a Mob
This man in Turkey shows that boxing can be effective against multiple attackers. Stay on your feet and you're a force to be reckoned with.
3 Stopping Things Before They Start
When you know things are going to go bad - pre-emption is your best tactic. Boxing can help you finish a fight before it starts.
When the sweet science of boxing can help you deliver a can of whoopass...
Before I turn you into a bully - I want to stress that I did not create Commando Boxing or share boxing techniques with you to turn you into a street fighting machine. The boxing techniques you learn on Commando Boxing are only for sport, self-defense or the defense of someone who can't defend themselves.
You also have to be careful of what learning some boxing skills will do to your level of confidence. You will carry yourself differently and it will send a clear signal to people that you are not someone to be messed with.
At the same time - it will entice others to try and take a shot at you. It's a double-edged sword - but use your new found confidence with some common sense and it's a blessing - not a curse. Even when it invites a challenge - you'll know how to take care of yourself.
If you consider that most street fights start with a punch you will instantly recognize the advantage that a trained boxer has in dealing with an aggressor.
You should prepare to defend against take downs and have at least a minimal skill set for fighting from the ground. Boxing in itself can prevent a fight from going to the ground, but if your opponent manages to put you down then you're suddenly going to be at a disadvantage if you don't know what to do when you get there. If you're learning to box to defend yourself then you should also spend some time learning a system that caters to all situations.
Knowing how to box or having the physical skills to defend yourself in a bad situation is only half the battle. When we train as boxers or MMA fighters - it is for a situation that involves rules and there is usually a third man in the ring who is ready to stop the fight if things get out of hand.
While we like to think of ourselves as warriors - in reality we are athletes at that stage. You become a warrior when you hoist aboard the fact that fighting on the street is real life combat. There is no referee. It is a fight for survival - you or your opponent.
The fight ends when you incapacitate your opponent permanently or long enough to exit the situation.
Prepare both body and mind for combat (in the ring and out of it). Boxon.
I was in the gym the other day and I overhead a guy telling his friend that the best thing for a boxer is LSD (long, slow, distance) roadwork.
That kind of thinking along with a few other 1950's training methodologies are what keep boxing training in the stone ages compared to how other sports train.
Alrighty let's clear a few things up right now:
It won't hurt, but it isn't going to make you the most effective boxer. LSD running targets the body's aerobic system and it has its place, but let's face it - boxers are not marathon runners. We are not looking to develop the long thin muscles found on distance runners. You know, the people who look so skinny and frail that you could blow them over. (Not saying they aren't great athletes, just saying I do not desire their physique at all.)
The energy systems used in boxing are primarily anaerobic, short burst energy systems 70-80% of the time. The aerobic energy system plays its part in keeping the boxer going during the rounds in between bouts of intense activity and while you are running around trying to catch your breath or sitting in the corner recovering between rounds. Aerobic activity is good for burning extra fat though and boxing roadwork serves a purpose, so don't give up on it entirely which brings me to...
Yes, you will burn fat, but you will burn just as much in a shorter time with a higher intensity workout. All things being equal, if you run at a moderate pace for an hour or a high intensity pace for an hour, you will burn more calories at the high intensity pace. Problem is that you probably can't keep up the high intensity pace for an hour. So does that reason that it's better to do a moderate intensity workout?
Not really because even though you can only work out for a shorter time, the higher intensity causes your body to keep burning calories after your workout is complete where the moderate pace doesn't stimulate the same kind of calorie burning reaction. Remedy? Work hard.
I think everyone has heard this. Simple and to the point - if you have fat covering your abs, no one is going to see them no matter how big they are. You have to remove the fat. You have to decrease your body fat percentage.
Okay, take the example of two boxers in the ring. They both have the same skills, the same speed, the same everything, except Boxer A is stronger than Boxer B. Who is going to win? For you dummies - Boxer A will win. Weight training makes you stronger. It provides the raw material to make your punches stronger. The proper weight training gives you more explosive movements. It will make you faster....not slower.
Weightlifting is anaerobic in nature, just like boxing. See a parallel here? Your muscles will be stronger, not tightened and tired. It is likely you will be able to move your muscle through a more increased range of motion because you practice doing that while lifting weights especially if you also incorporate flexibility and mobility training into your routine. There is nothing supporting the theory that strength training will decrease flexibility.
Light weights and high reps put you more in the aerobic range of training. You want to be in the ballistic, explosive, anaerobic area. That is done by lifting heavy or medium heavy with explosive ballistic movements. Do not be afraid of muscle. Look at Tyson, one of the greatest boxers of all time in his prime regardless of his actions outside the ring. Is he afraid to put on a few pounds of muscle?
Guess what, at 8:01pm your body does not shut off. It still chugs away burning calories to keep itself running and it does it all night long. Your metabolism may slow somewhat but with a regular exercise and training program in place your body becomes very efficient at burning calories - even after 8pm.
Punching power comes from technique and techniques are learned. True, some people have natural ability and some people are even stronger than other people. In 1955, Rocky Marciano had his punch measured at a USA military installation probably on a ballistic pendulum. It showed him punching with a force of 925 foot pounds (overhand right -- the same punch that nearly tore Jersey Joe Walcott's head off in their 1952 championship match).
If the myth is true then explain to me how someone with no boxing experience can walk into a gym and be taught, over time, to throw a knockout punch. That is the very definition of learning punching power if you ask me. Punching power is not arm strength. It comes from the legs, hips, the torso and the upper body. If, through practice, one can teach all of those systems to work together at the optimum level, then there is no doubt about it, punching power will be increased.
Um, no. I know a couple that are just the opposite. I'm sure you guys can post links to a few pics as well. Enough said.
This should ruffle a feather or two. I've read many, many posts on the various boxing boards around the net, that you don't need washboard abs or to look like Tyson in order to be fit and fight optimally. Some have even said that extra fat is desirable. Someone please enlighten me as to why that is so.
Fat doesn't do anything but keep you warm in the winter. If you have the opportunity to replace a pound of fat with a pound of muscle, why the hell wouldn't you. Muscle is useful. It makes you stronger and punch harder. It helps your speed and your confidence. Fat hangs there looking soft. Nice.
I'm sure you can list off a hundred boxers with high body fat percentages that still fight well. Imagine how well they would fight without the fat... An article on CNN details a study about how carrying extra fat still makes you unhealthy. Just having it on your body is not a good thing. As far as I'm concerned, fat and fit do not belong in the same sentence (except for the good fats your body requires)
Put an end to the lunacy and an end to the myths. Did I miss any?
The term shadowboxing comes from a training method that boxers use where they pretend to box their shadow on a wall, although more commonly they use a mirror.
Shadowboxing is the most cost effective boxing training method you can use to improve your boxing skills.
Shadowboxing requires absolutely no equipment, and you can do it anywhere and nearly anytime. I've routinely worked shadowboxing into my day, throwing punches as I walk up stairs or down a hallway. (I generally try to make sure no one is watching :)). Have to say, much to my embarrassment, that I've been caught more than once in my own little boxing world. Try explaining to a co-worker why you are jumping around like a lunatic in a suit in a board room punching something nobody else can see...
I guarantee you are going to feel awkward at first and feel like you're looking a little silly. Take a look at Harry Greb shadowboxing (at 3:06) above. Looks like something that should be sent to the insane asylum and you probably won't look much different at least at first. Don't worry, you get over it, and will see substantial improvements in the ring as well.
Shadowboxing is boxing yourself or an imaginary opponent. I don't think I'd be wrong if I said that every boxer uses shadowboxing as part of their training routine. The technique is incredibly useful for you to learn techniques and work drills through in your head. Shadowboxing basically has you punching the air and moving around practicing your drills and pretending to defend against an attacker.
Believe it or not, when you see someone shadowboxing they usually have an aim to what they are doing. Or at least they should. You can use shadowboxing a number of different ways to improve your boxing skills. It is not necessarily just random punching and moving, although it could be. Here are nine different shadowboxing drills for you to incorporate into your workouts:
1. Movement Shadowboxing. When practicing your movement while shadowboxing, you start out by not throwing any punches. Your goal here is to concentrate on how you are moving around in your boxing stance. Move forwards, backwards, side to side, pivot, hop, pendulum step, etc... This is where you develop some agility and light footwork. Once you get comfortable with the movement, add in some punches, but the focus is still on the movement. Visualize how your feet are turning, moving in relation to the punches you are throwing.
2. Pivot and T Frame Shadowboxing. In this round, while you shadowbox, your focus is on maintaining the T Frame, keeping your shoulders above your knees and pivoting correctly while throwing your punches. You can move around all you want, throw whatever you want, but at all times, your focus is on the pivot and T-Frame.
3. Shadowboxing Combinations. For beginners, I generally have them start out doing a round of movement shadowboxing followed by a couple more rounds of specific combinations. For instance, one entire round, I'll have them shadowbox jabs only. They can be single jabs, double jabs, triple jabs, jabs to body then to head, and so on. But, the focus is the jab. The next round, the focus may switch to the 1-2 in which case the boxer will spend the entire round throwing technically correct jabs followed by straight rights (or lefts for the southpaws). The next round they may do 1-2-3 combinations and so on. The key is to focus on drilling a specific combination for the entire round.
4. Shadowboxing for Speed. This is quite fun and introduces a little bit of competition into the mix. Shadowboxing for speed means the boxer will throw as many punches as he can in the span of the round. They should still be throwing technically correct punches, but the real aim is to let their hands fly and count how many punches they can throw in three minutes. It's best to track this so the boxer can attempt to beat whatever he did last time. Being able to throw 250-300 punches in three minutes is a good goal to work towards. One can also introduce constraints into this, for instance, throw as many jabs as you can in three minutes, etc... to mix it up and keep pers from getting bored.
5. Shadowboxing an Opponent. The opponent is yourself and this is where a mirror is really handy. Having the boxer box himself will show him where his weaknesses are. He can see when he leaves his head open or if his punches are off target. He can see if he is bending his knees fully when going down for a body punch or if his slips are crisp, clean, and fast. It may seem vain to an outsider, but boxing in a mirror will show you what your opponent sees and therefore what you need to fix before getting in the ring.
6. Shadowboxing Free For Alls. Anything goes. Picture an opponent and move, punch, and defend against what he is doing to you. Takes an imagination, but if you can picture yourself hitting someone and then reacting to whatever they do, you'll engrain it in your head that much quicker. This is where the real implantation happens from learning a skill to putting it in your arsenal. When you can visualize a scenario in vivid detail and respond with zero hesitation, you'll have that skill with you in the ring. It's kind of like learning a second language. Experts say that once you begin dreaming in that language, you're well on your way to becoming fluent in it.
7. Slow Motion Shadowboxing. Do everything deliberately in slow motion concentrating on perfect technique. This will show you the mechanics behind a certain combination or punch and allow you to correct the little things - foot off center, not enough pivot, weight distributed slightly wrong, etc...
8. Shadowboxing with Your Mouthpiece. Adds a new dynamic into the mix. Personally, I always train myself and those I train with their mouthpieces at all times. Train how you fight is the motto. Some don't though, and if you incorporate the mouthguard into your training, you see how breathing is a big part of the game. Same goes for handwraps, wear them when you train.
9. Shadowboxing with Weights. Start small, holding small dumbells or weights in either hand as you shadowbox. The added weight will not only aid in simulating a ring situation as you put on 10-16oz gloves, but the increased weight will help strengthen and develop your shoulders and possibly help your speed when you aren't holding the weights.
This may seem obvious, but shadowbox every chance you get. You can use it as a warmup, cooldown, skills session, or anything else you can imagine. For instance, with Commando Boxing's boxing training plans, if you don't have a heavy bag yet, substitute shadowboxing for the heavy bag drills. You'll miss out on the resistance, but you're still learning the drills.
The more you shadowbox, the quicker the drills and techniques are going to be implanted in your head and become instinct. Like I mentioned previously, nothing is stopping you from incorporating it into your daily routine. Sit at your desk and throw punches, walk down the hallway and throw punches, move like you're in the ring. You may look like a dork, but who cares. You're learning something and trying to condition your muscles and brain to react and throw in a certain way. The more you drill that in, the better. Boxon.
How do you incorporate shadowboxing into your training routine?
I recently got a question from Joe in Atlanta:
Hey coach Aaron -
I joined up for the lifetime membership last month. Boxing out of Atlanta. Question for you...and if you have already answered it just point me to the site And I'll find it Is there ever a good reason for a orthodox boxer to throw a right hook? The trainers at my gym are pretty aligned that unless you are a vicious inside fighter there is no good reason for a righty to throw a right hook. Thoughts?
As I have not addressed the steamy controversy surrounding right hooks on the site yet other than to include it in the training I figured now is as good a time as any to get into the debate.
For some reason the right hook is a punch that divides trainers with some in support of it and some that will vehemently deny its existence. I believe the latter is because a right hook can, and in less experienced boxers usually does, turn into a looping haymaker which isn't much of a punch at all as shown in this video:
Haymakers: How NOT to throw Left and Right Hooks
I'm on the side of the fence that says there is such a thing as a right hook and there is a use for it and I base my use of it on teachings by old school trainers. You can find reference to it in publications such as the Naval Aviation Physical Training Manuals.
The right hook is primarily a counter blow but is useful when going into or coming out of a clinch. Joe's trainers are correct in stating that it has limited application unless you're a vicious infighter. In close, it is a valuable infighting aid and naturally follows all other curved arm blows. At distance it is very difficult to use and is a relatively slow blow. The defender will usually have time to a1djust defenses unless you use it as a counter.
You really should not get hit by many right hooks unless you are in close exchanging blows.
Force is obtained in the same manner as a left hook. The left side of the body is hinged and force is generated by piv1oting around that hinge.
You probably see more right hooks than you think in your training and sparring sessions. What many people mistakenly refer to as a right cross is actually a right hook. If your opponent jabs at you and you cross over it with a right - the blow itself is a right hook. The act of countering the jab with the cross is where the right cross reference comes into play.
The right hook is a power shot just like its left hook brother and is delivered in much the same manner. Using the front left leg as the pivot point you turn the right shoulder and hip through to the center line while raising the right elbow to form a 90 degree bend in the arm and whip it around to the left shoulder.
It turns into a looping, ugly, haymaker when people straighten the arm. At that point it becomes useless. Power is dissipated, there is no follow through, it's super easy to see coming and defend against and its impossible to take advantage of the weight shift that occurs onto the left side of the body.
To recap how to throw the right hook (or left hook for southpaws):
The right hook is a natural, but slow counter for the left jab and a potential knock out punch. You can parry, cross parry or slip to the inside or outside position and then deliver the right hook.
Remember that a right cross not a punch - it is a counter using the right to cross over whatever punch is incoming. Here are a couple of scenarios:
It's evident there's a use for it and as part of a combination can be a devastating finishing blow. Consider using it in the following combinations but watch your technique. Keep it tight and do not devolve into haymakers:
Just in case you still doubt the right hooks existence or usefulness - it took me about 1 minute to find a video of Tyson using a right hook to knock out opponents. I did a little video editing to give you a slow motion look at one that took out Berbick.
That about sums it up. Any questions? Boxon.
You hear the clang of the bell and you move out of your corner towards your opponent.
Peering through your guard you inch closer to striking range as you reach the center of the ring.
Your muscles are tense and you're ready to strike like a snake at the first sign of an opening. You're intent on finding the opportunity to start the six punch combination you've been working on in the gym over the last few weeks.
Finally your mind registers a weakness in your opponent's defense and before you can think about it your jab fires out triggering the start of your combination.
Your jab strikes out with blistering speed but you're not even thinking about it anymore - you've already moved onto punch two in the combination - the straight right.
Your weight begins to shift and then....whack... you get smoked up side the head with your opponent's right as it crossed over your jab. Before you can figure out what's going on....whack....your head is snapped to your left as your opponent lands a left hook....whack....a straight right sends you reeling backwards.
Wait a second weren't you the one with the initiative. Weren't you the aggressor - the attacker - in control of the fight?
In the first part of this two part boxing combinations series I did a lot of talking about throwing boxing combinations.
Ask a boxer to describe boxing combinations and most will start listing the offensive combinations he or she likes to use in a fight. Rarely, if ever, will the boxer start listing a series of defensive moves, blocks, slips and parries used to nullify an attacker's offense.
This aspect of defensive combinations is equally as important unless you enjoy getting hit in the head.
Save what brain cells you have left and listen up...
The concepts of offensive boxing combinations apply to defensive combinations as well. Let's quickly review them:
But there is one concept that changes and it's related to flow. With an offensive combination - once you initiate the combo you follow through to completion. If one punch doesn't land there's still hope for the remaining punches in the combination.
A defensive combination is used only to the point where you nullify the attack. At any point in the combination - if there is an opportunity to go back onto the offense - you take it.
In reality you'll find it nearly impossible to disrupt a defensive combination once you start it. If it's instinct you'll likely finish the entire combination before your mind has a chance to stop it - but in an ideal world - you will instantly seize the initiative when the opportunity presents itself.
In combat the person who controls the battle has the initiative. He or she is free to make decisions on how the battle will proceed and forces adversaries into a defensive, reactionary posture.
You want the initiative and you want to maintain it for the duration of the fight.
There are sometimes points in the battle where neither you nor your opponent has the initiative or it is traded back and forth with lightning speed.
In the ring, one of those times is at the start of the bell. At that point initiative is sitting in the middle of the ring between you and your opponent. It's a race to get there and grab it. Once you have it you hold onto it with everything you've got.
You want to be in control.
You want to be making the decisions as to how the battle will proceed.
Being at the whim of your opponent and reacting to what they are doing is no way to win a fight. In fact you can't win from a defensive, reactionary posture. You have to have an offense.
The triggers I talked about in part one are even more important when you're on the defense. Every incoming punch requires an instant defensive combination response and every defensive combination is followed by an offensive combination to help you re-take the initiative.
If you get hit with a jab your reaction should be instant and immediate to nullify the remainder of your opponent's combination.
You must remember to expect to get hit with a flurry of punches - never just one - so if you just got hit with a jab, something else is already following it and you need to do something about that. Ideally, you're going to counter the jab before it hits you and maintain the initiative, but if you give the initiative to your opponent you have to defend until you can take it back.
At the point where you do take it back, you enter a transitional stage of the battle - where you aim to change from defense back to offense - and hopefully remain in that state as long as possible.
If you've been around a boxing ring long enough you'll see times where one of the boxers gets hit, covers up, and continues to get hit. They simply do not know what to do. They are frozen in a state of indecision and are paying the price because they have not drilled a defensive combination response to what is happening.
By contrast you'll see some boxers that get hit and immediately they are bobbing and weaving, ducking, slipping, moving regardless of whether punches are being thrown at them or not. Those boxers are running through a defensive combination designed for that situation.
Now this whole concept of defensive boxing combinations is not as intuitive as being told to throw a 1-2-3 combination so let's run through a simple example.
Consider that you're an orthodox fighter fighting and orthodox fighter. If your opponent leads with a jab you can be fairly certain that the next punch is going to be another jab or a straight right. If they connect with that first punch they are expecting your head to come back to a certain position. Instead, you rock to the left (inside) and let the straight right or second jab fly over your right shoulder. Without thinking you now bob and weave back to the right as their next punch (likely a left hook) flies harmlessly over your head. As you come up you throw your own jab which connects and triggers the start of your own combination. You're back in control.
So that defensive combination is a Left Slip, Bob and Weave Right followed by a 1 to transition back to the offense.
What would have happened if you did not immediately initiate the left slip off the trigger of getting hit by the jab? Your head would have remained in the same place and eaten the straight right followed by the left hook. I hope you're hungry.
We just covered this one. Getting hit with a straight punch from your opponent's lead hand is the trigger to slip left, bob and weave right and throw a 1 to transition back to the offense.
Getting hit with your opponent's rear hand is the trigger to immediately cover the right side of your body/head (expect the 3), duck and pivot right to nullify any power in the 3 and come up with a 4 to body or head to transition back to offense.
Getting hit with a left hook means a straight right (or right hook) is incoming. Step and pivot forward left (yes - towards the punch) and immediately throw your own left hook as you pivot, bob and weave right, 1 to transition back to offense.
A word of caution - these aren't always going to work as planned or look pretty. Timing may be off slightly or you may receive glancing blows - but the key is to do something on the first punch that connects to limit any damage the rest of the combination can inflict.
It would not hurt to add additional generic defensive movement to any of these defensive combinations to keep your head moving and confuse your opponent. Putting a couple extra left, right slips or bobs and weaves, blocks, parries, etc... onto any defensive combination or using them as your go to response to any hit won't hurt and is better than freezing and doing nothing.
Like him or hate him - Floyd Mayweather Jr is one hell of a defensive fighter. Have a look at this video and see if you can pick out some more defensive combinations to add to your game.
Now get in the gym and practice. Boxon.
As an attacker, throwing one perfect punch by itself can be effective but punches delivered in vollies of two, three, four, five, six or more become totally devastating.
As a defender, you can block, duck, or slip one punch fairly easily, but you'll have problems getting out of the way of five incoming, well thrown punches in sequence.
That specific sequence of punches forms a boxing combination. Boxers start by learning to throw individual punches but quickly progress to training that incorporates boxing combinations instead of single shots. Boxing combinations become the default attack and counter attack response and many trainers go as far as reprimanding their boxers for throwing a single jab in a fight or sparring situation.
Combinations take skill, stamina, and discipline to defend against and deliver. Just as you will train and prepare to throw combinations at your opponents, your opponents are training to throw them right back at you. Always expect a flurry of punches and when your opponent is unleashing combinations on you, you have to find the opportunity early to disrupt their flow and counter attack with a combination of your own.
You cannot possibly hope to slip or block every incoming punch and the more punches you let your opponent throw in the combination, the more likely one or more of them will connect. And when one does connect it raises the likelihood that the remaining punches in the combination will connect as well.
Once your opponent defeats your defense he or she seizes the initiative and can use the remaining punches in that combination to wreak havoc.
Let's consider the well-known 1-2 (jab, straight right). If your opponent lands a jab on you you are likely going to be momentarily stunned and your head may even get knocked back exposing your chin. The straight right immediately follows the jab and if it's timed correctly it's hitting that exposed chin or at very least connect somewhere as it follows the opening provided by the jab.
That's why it's important to nullify or counter attack as early into a combination as possible.
You can theoretically throw hundred punch boxing combinations over and over if you had perfect form and unlimited energy.
The next punch in a combination launches from the end position of the punch that happens before it requiring that you throw each punch, including recovery, correctly. Your technical form from beginning to end of your punch has to be perfect so that you are never off balance and your weight is positioned to allow for the next punch in the sequence.
This takes practice and attention to detail and your level of conditioning becomes very important. Boxing combinations require you to expend tremendous amounts of energy as you move through the sequence. You should be doing the proper boxing training to ensure you can last a whole fight whether it is one round or twelve.
Boxing combinations flow. They are never awkward to perform as long as all the punches are performed in sequence and with technical precision.
Boxing combinations feel right when you deliver them correctly, and it is because your weight is shifting and setting you up for every punch in the combination.
Going back to the 1-2 combination - imagine throwing a jab. You throw out the jab and your left hand is far forward hitting your target. When throwing the jab you torqued your left hip clockwise (for orthodox fighters) to give your jab a little extra power. The position you are in at that moment of impact sets you up perfectly to throw a hard straight right because as you recover your hips and jab arm back into your guard, you've already started the counter-clockwise torque of your hips required to throw the straight right.
From there, let the momentum carry you and you start to transfer weight to your left leg, continue the torque of your hips and thrust your right fist to the same location your left was just at to complete the straight right motion and impacting on target milliseconds after the jab.
Taking that further - notice how your weight and body is now setup and in perfect position to throw a left hook to bring your weight back to the right.
When throwing combinations you shouldn't have to move your feet. Maintain a grounded base to generate the power needed to control the weight transfer that is happening throughout the combination. Your choice of punches will allow you to shift your weight and maintain balance until you choose to end the combination and move to a new attack position.
If you have to take a step, you did something wrong, because your weight ended up shifting too far or not far enough to allow you to deliver the next punch.
That's not to say you will never have to adjust your position while delivering combinations. It is highly unlikely your opponent will just stand there and let you beat on him. If he does - take advantage of it and consider yourself lucky.
In boxing - amateur and professional - the more punches you throw, the more will connect, the more damage will be done to your opponent, the more points you will score, and the more matches you will win. Obviously throwing combinations will help out in that goal.
There are potentially hundreds and thousands of combinations depending on how well conditioned you are and once you understand how they work you can come up with your own. But in the beginning you must master the basics.
Start with the four fundamental boxing combinations below and then move on from there. At some point, the essence behind boxing combinations will click in your head and you will understand why one punch follows the one before it. At that point you should be able to make up your own combinations.
Attach combination use to a trigger. You have to visualize when and how you would use this combination in a fight so you can train your mind to subconsciously recognize when the conditions are right to use it. If you have to think about when to use it - you've already missed your opportunity.
Visualizing triggers is harder to do on the offence than the defense. On the defense, your trigger is usually your response to a punch from from your opponent. For example - if you elbow block a body shot to your right side (orthodox boxers), that is your trigger to immediately throw a 6-3-2. Elbow block on the left side of your body = 5-2-3.
Once you identify a combination you want to learn, you have to drill it until you no longer have to think about it to throw it. It's all fine and good to start off thinking to yourself - 1-2, 1-2-3, 2-3-2 - but every time you think about what punch comes next you lose that split second and your timing gets messed up. Once you start a combination you throw it to completion and it eventually becomes a punch of its own. You can even name them if you like.
If you've taken the time to drill these boxing combinations to the point of perfection, then when a target opens up, the combination will instantly flow out when you need it.
When trying to learn new combinations - do one at a time.
Why you ask?
Because if you don't you will end up with a bunch of imperfect combinations and none that really work well. They won't turn into punches of their own and they'll never really do what they are designed to do.
When learning a boxing combination, learn it in this sequence for the best results:
On the offense you have to visualize how your opponent might be setup that would make your combination effective. It might be that their front hand falls to shoulder height resulting in a 1-2. Maybe you visualize the front hand rising up as a trigger to go 3B-3H-2.
Once you've learned a combination to the point of it being instinctual you won't have to drill it as much but you can't forget it either. From time to time it should be a part of your training plan so you can prevent skill fade and keep the instinct alive and well.
So, a 1-1 is two jabs, a 1-1-1 is three jabs.
These combinations are an effective way to throw a bunch of punches from a distance. It is imperative you recover completely after each jab so subsequent jabs are delivered effectively and accurately.
One of the most important and famous of all combinations, the mighty 1-2. In this, you throw a jab which closes the distance and sets up the head for the power punch of the straight right delivered right after.
The objective with the jab is to snap your opponent's head back with your jab which exposes his chin. You then nail him with a right sending him to the mat. Throughout the whole sequence, you should feel firm on your feet, never off balance. If you do, you're not doing something right. It's one of two things, you are either reaching for the opponent or not recovering completely from your punches.
The other most important combination (good english eh), jab/straight right/left hook. This basically completes the 1-2.
Same objective for the first two punches, jab the head to expose the chin, nail the chin with the straight right. This creates a weight transfer to the left side which automatically sets you up to land a devastating left hook. Your target for the left hook is the right temple of your opponent - clobber it.
The right-left-right and the opposite left-right-left. The goal here is to time the weight shifts correctly. With every punch you throw, it should set you up nicely for the subsequent punch. The right shifts the weight over the left which is perfect for the left hook which subsequently puts the weight back over the right which naturally makes you want to throw the right again.
The challenge here is to ensure you are not just throwing a flurry of arm punches. You must get your body involved because that is where the power comes from. You'll devastate your opponent as you attack from two different angles (side/front).
That's part of the beauty of combinations. Delivered correctly, punches start hitting you from all different angles. It makes defense that much harder.
Perfecting these combinations will take some time but make sure you do, they are all natural and like all combinations must flow. You'll have a pretty good indication when you are doing them right because it will simply feel right, not to mention the power of your punches will increase.
The use of combinations while extremely effective, also requires extreme caution. It is easy to forget to recover after each punch or get sloppy in your technique. If you over expose yourself you can expect your opponent to disrupt your flow and you can kiss a few more brain cells bye bye.
You can use the boxing combination system taught in the Commando Boxing online boxing club to amass a virtually unlimited number of combinations and learn how to form your own.
The system is based on the number of types of punches used in a combination. They form the basis of a series of boxing combinations, there are seven series in total, and you can daisy chain them together:
A 1 Series combination is one that uses one type of punch (1-1, 1-1-1 for example). 2 Series = two types of punches (1-2, 1-2-1-2, 2-3, 3-2, for example). 3 Series = three types of punches and so on.
Personally I learn better when I understand the reasoning behind why something is done which is why I took the time to explain the theory behind boxing combinations rather than just give you a list of combinations to go learn. Maybe you don't care and just want the list - that's fine - whatever works for you. At any rate you should have a little more insight into how boxing combinations will make you a more effective boxer (or burn more calories if you're just using boxing workouts for fitness reasons).
That's the end of part one of this boxing combination series and focused primarily on how to throw boxing combinations. Part two will take a look at how to defend against boxing combinations to disrupt attacks early and take the initiative from your opponent. Until next time - Boxon.
P.S. Do you have a favorite boxing combination? Take a second a share it as a comment.
I have no doubt that online training can be useful for some boxers looking to learn the fundamentals on their own, and I've previously written about learning to box online using online boxing programs such as Commando Boxing's online boxing club. So it may surprise you when I now say that you need to go out and find other people to train with...
Not having access to a trainer or club doesn't mean you should lock yourself away and learn boxing all by yourself.
In this post I'm going to cover why you should be training with a partner, how a partner can help you improve as a boxer (whether the partner wants to learn to box or not) and give you a tool you can use to find sparring or training partners near where you live.
“You are never strong enough that you don't need help.” ― César Chávez
You might think of boxing as an individual sport and that is true to some extent. A lot of what you will go through to be a great boxer is individual effort.
You aim to better every aspect of your physical and mental conditioning so when you climb up those three or four steps to the ring, bend over and squeeze through the ropes and stand staring at an opponent across the ring who is there to hurt you - you have the confidence and skill to fight and win.
When that bell rings - there is no team. There is no backup. There is nowhere to hide. You fight or you don't and the results of any preparation or lack thereof are quickly apparent.
Even though everything you're going to go through as a boxer leads to an individual effort in the ring - boxing is not just an individual sport.
A boxing team may not have the same team dynamic as say a football or basketball team, but boxers don't get to the top of their sport by themselves. I know of no boxers that are self-taught and trained alone in a garage somewhere before emerging from obscurity fighting for a championship in a big pay per view event in Vegas.
No matter how much training you do by yourself, how much you visualize and react to those visualizations, practice punching and blocking and moving against an invisible opponent - you will never become a high level competition boxer on your own.
You have to train with real, unpredictable, thinking people who will adapt to your actions and fight back in order to seriously prepare to do it for real in or out of the ring.
“Every person that you meet knows something you don't; learn from them.”
― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
The next time you are training alone, remember that the heavy bag hanging in front of you is the perfect opponent. You can do no wrong in front of it. It's your admirer quietly reinforcing that you are the best. It is never critical of your form or technique. Every punch you throw lands. It never capitalizes on the moment you drop your hands or are slow to slip.
That's great for confidence but quickly leads to over-confidence or put another way - the "I'm the biggest bad ass on the planet" syndrome.
Especially in the beginning, the techniques you pick up will make you believe you're invincible and compared to what the normal population knows - you'll be miles ahead.
As your level of conditioning and skill starts to surpass those of the non-boxers around you - it's easy to lose perspective and start believing that you are superior in some way. Left unchecked it's a dangerous condition that breeds unsportsmanlike behavior and will generally just turn you into a major ass. Sometimes it's helpful to literally have someone knock some sense into you.
Don't get me wrong - confidence is good. It is absolutely necessary in the ring and it makes for a more fulfilling life - but there is a line that shouldn't be crossed. Most people can not see that line by themselves and even though they've never stood toe to toe across the ring from someone they believe that what they've learned and trained on their own has prepared them for that moment. That's a dangerous state of mind.
Before you turn into that major ass - you need to start training with other people. While you may not have access to a trainer or coach, you most certainly have access to someone - a friend or family member - that you can train with. Find someone, anyone, that is willing. At some point - you must stop being a hermit boxer.
“No matter our talent, we all know in the midnight of our souls that 90 percent of what we do is less than our best.”
― Robert McKee
We all have the instinctual mechanism for self-preservation. It keeps us alive - but it also keeps us from reaching our true potential.
It requires an immense level of self discipline to commit to boxing or any fitness program and consistently train yourself at or beyond your limits for any length of time. With nobody but yourself to be accountable to, you simply will not make the sacrifices or experience the hardship and sometimes short-term pain necessary to bring out higher levels of performance.
Even if you believe you are special and can push yourself harder than anyone you know, a point will come that you will consider your training good-enough and you may not even consciously make that decision. You'll just plateau - reach equilibrium - and train to that level because there is no stimulus to push harder. There is no obstacle to overcome or reason to reach further into yourself to see where your limits actually are.
You may think that that doesn't apply to you - that you can push yourself harder than other people. I thought that too. In fact I knew it to be true but I still had no idea that I wasn't training even close to my limits until I was pushed so hard that I nearly died.
In one instance - the environmental conditions, conditions in my body, and extreme effort combined and resulted in me laying in a hospital having my clothes cut off me with doctors and nurses furiously working to pump fluids back into my body. While I do not recommend you ever push yourself anywhere close to that hard, it made me keenly aware of what my limits actually are and not just what I thought they were.
But I did not push myself to that limit on my own. I, and 99% of the population, would have stopped long before my body began shutting down like it did had I been alone.
A partner is absolutely essential if you want to learn boxing for anything more than fitness and here are the reasons why:
Accountability - We all have good and bad days. On the good days - training and getting to the gym is effortless. On the bad days - the last thing you want to do is go get punched in the head. That's when a friend or training partner is worth their weight in gold.
The biggest battle to reaching peak performance is maintaining consistency. A good training partner will hold you accountable and make sure you show up to train even when you don't want to and he or she will make sure your training is as effective as it can be.
A word of warning though - find a training partner who shares your goals and work ethic. The wrong training partner could be more of a hindrance than a help and actually sabotage your efforts. Sometimes it's better to pick a training partner that you are not too close to. If they care about you too much they may hold back.
Introduces Chaos - There is a randomness and chaos to boxing that cannot be replicated in front of a heavy bag or by yourself in a front of a mirror shadowboxing. A sparring or training partner introduces that bit of randomness into the training session.
You can pretend to slip punches all you want, but the reality is that you know when you are going to throw them at yourself Only another human being can help you perfect your timing, improve your reflexes and fine tune your ability to pick out the subtle cues that precede an onslaught.
A training partner will give you a much better idea of how good your defensive and offensive techniques are when it really matters.
Opens up new ways to train - A partner allows you to do focus mitt drills, technical sparring, and work out techniques and combinations in real time so you truly understand the mechanics involved in a situation. All of these things only require a willing participant - your partner does not need to be a world-class trainer or boxer if they are simply willing to go through the motions to help you train. Teach them the absolute basics - jab, straight right, hook, uppercuts and they will know everything they need to to help you train.
Where one partner is good - many are better - That way you pit yourself against different styles and introduce more variables of randomness into your training.
You also benefit from belonging to a group and experience a sense of competition. The social aspect of the group is going to help you stick to your training and push you to excel.
Boxing naturally attracts competitive people so a group of boxers intent on learning and improving will naturally push each other harder than you ever could alone.
It's also more fun - you can only talk to a heavy bag for so long no matter what kind of relationship you develop with it.
Ideally you want to find a training partner that wants to learn how to box as well (or already knows). In that way you can both be teachers which helps to reinforce things you learn. But even if they do not want to learn how to box, there are five areas where a partner can really help a boxer excel. Use these techniques with your training partner and your skills, reflexes, and level of conditioning are going to improve dramatically.
Focus pad drills are extremely useful for developing accuracy, speed, and instinctive movements. Focus pads are basically targets that a partner presents to the boxer along with some type of instruction. For instance, you can call out jab, present the target and the boxer will jab. You then hide the target or move it to a new location in preparation for the next set of instructions.
Focus pads are held in one of three basic ways (relative to who is holding them):
Focus pad progression (pay attention to the positions of the pads and which punches are hitting them)
Focus pad drills can be instinctive or planned. With instinctive focus pad training, the boxer doesn't know what he is going to be doing before the target is thrown. Your partner will call out the instruction as he or she presents the target.
Planned focus pad training is when the boxer and trainer are working a certain combination. The video above is an example of planned focus pad combination training. Both boxer and trainer knows the drill. There is no need for an audible.
As a training partner, when presenting the targets, it is not enough to just limply hold them out there to be hit. You should present them crisply and move slightly into the punch - kind of like you are swatting at it, but only a very little bit. That provides some resistance to the boxer which is necessary to prevent injury to both the boxer and trainer (but more the boxer). If the targets are limp the boxer will just knock your arm backwards and can potentially hyperextend the punching arm. They need that bit of resistance and the training partner will maintain better control of the focus pads.
The following video shows focus pad drills as they apply to some MMA techniques but it's useful to get an idea of what can be accomplished between boxer and trainer with the focus pads. Notice how both boxer and trainer know what is happening (or rather just instinctually know) - no thinking - just reaction.
One last tip - if you are the training partner - when showing the target - don't hold it directly in front of your own head. A good hit will send your own hand into your own face and that is never a good thing.
Boxing chain drills or boxing flow drills resemble sparring but are highly controlled. Both training partner and the boxer are going to respond in a very choreographed fashion. They are used much like focus pads to drill responses to certain situations. The key to these is to start very slowly and make the boxer understand why he is blocking something or slipping a certain way. Eventually these flow drills will look really awesome and develop instinctual responses to some type of stimulus. Here's an example (can be done with focus pads as well):
The Elbow Block - 6-3-2
The initial block is the trigger for the combination.
There are different types of boxing sparring. Technical sparring is similar to flow drills but introduces some randomness into the equation. With flow drills, trainer and boxer both know what the other is going to do, but with technical sparring, the boxer is in the dark. Not completely though. You both know which drill you are going to work on, but you initiate the drill without warning. Once it is complete, you pause and then do it again. The randomness occurs with the boxer not knowing when you are going to start the drill. It's useful for perfecting timing and recognition of initiation sequences.
Start with one drill and increase the intensity and challenge by combining different flow drills. Trainer doesn't tell the boxer which one is coming so he/she has to recognize the drill and react accordingly. Technical sparring is the perfect lead up to full out sparring.
Boxing sparring seems like it is all out boxing, but in reality, both people sparring are there to learn. If the training partner has no interest in boxing the boxer should now go out and find a sparring partner.
Sparring is not an all out boxing match, but rather it can be done at half speed or three quarter speed, or even full speed, but the goal is not to knock each other out. You just want to train as if you were in a boxing match and try to prevent any injuries from occurring in the process.
Obviously it's important to use all the right protective equipment including headgear, mouth guard, and groin protector (and chest protector for the women out there).
In addition to all the skill development a training partner can be tremendously beneficial in the gym. In the boxing gym or weight room itself the partner can:
Although it looks a lot like the training partner is the boxer's slave - ideally the trainer is training as well, in which case everything is reciprocated.
A symbiotic relationship develops and both trainer/boxer share the same goals - trying to become as conditioned as possible, as fast as possible, as powerful as possible, and as skilled as possible.
You may find that you get more enjoyment out of teaching and training other boxers than you will in training yourself.
Those of you training away in your home gyms and garages may not have easy access to sparring partners and training partners. That's one area where boxing clubs are far superior to learning on your own - everyone is right there training together. You have a steady supply of sparring partners when you're ready to work against a real-life opponent.