Boxing Tip #3: Use Your Opponent’s Momentum

I mentioned in a previous boxing tip the idea of momentum and how you want to harness an opponent's momentum and use it to your advantage. In a way, you want to suck the force out of them and use it to double your own output in the ring. In the ring there is stationary and there is movement. Anytime movement is occurring, energy is being expended.

"Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only changed from one form to another."

What do you think happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? After the initial collision, they are at equilibrium meaning neither side is getting ahead. In order to win, either the unstoppable force or the immovable object has to take energy from the other player to disrupt that balance.

I'm sure that sounded way too much like 10th grade science class to most of you, but what I'm trying to get at in a not so eloquent way, is that you can use the movements and energy expenditures of your opponent to your advantage if you know how. If you understand a few simple concepts, you can tailor your ring game to use the laws of thermodynamics (specifically the second law) to your advantage:

  1. Two objects moving towards one another will produce a more violent collision than two objects moving in the same direction: In boxing terms if your opponent is moving towards you and meets your fist moving towards him, the added force of his forward momentum will make your punch that much more powerful and capable of inflicting more damage. Lesson: Try and hit an opponent as they are moving towards you or at least add some movement of your own when trying to inflict maximum damage with a punch.
  2. An opponent who is moving is easier to throw off balance than one who is stationary. In boxing terms, this describes weight transfer. It requires energy and force to stop and move one's weight in another direction. If that weight is in transfer and you interrupt it by punching or moving, it may be quite difficult for your opponent to maintain his or her balance leaving them susceptible to counter attack. As an example, picture a straight right. As your opponent throws they are expecting to make contact. If you side step and the punch misses, if your opponent was not prepared to miss, the weight transfer will pull them too far forward leaving them unbalanced for a split second. That is when you need to strike.
  3. It is easier to redirect a moving object than a stationary one. In boxing terms, picture a jab coming at your head. To hold your hand in front of it and absorb all the energy and force that was put into it without allowing your hand to move would be nearly impossible. At very least, it requires the same amount of force as was put into that punch. However, if you simply deflect the jab, causing it to change direction - say 45 degrees to the right or left causing it to harmlessly pass by your head, you only need a fraction of the energy in your blocking hand to do this. As an added bonus, the deflection may carry over into principle 2 here and cause an off balance situation.
  4. Kinetic energy can be transferred from one object to another. In boxing terms, this is what happens when you land a punch. This is how damage is caused. A clean, quick, SNAP, transfers all of the forward momentum from your punch into your opponent and this is when maximum damage is caused. If you push or pull your punches, the energy is not being transferred in its entirety. Thus, you really need to practice on punching at the optimal distance from your target.

How to Practice Sucking Force

First thing you need to do is completely visualize what is happening. That is itself will make you more aware of your opponent's movements and put you in a position to use those movements to your advantage.

Second, watch professionals box. Don't watch like a fan would watch, watch like a student. It is helpful to record the match and play it back in slow motion. Watch how the boxers react to each other and pick out the places where they are using their opponent's movements to launch their own counters or their own offensives.

Third, move that theory into practice by shadowboxing the movements with an imaginary opponent. Picture them doing something and then react to it.

Fourth, bring it into the ring and put it to the test. Repeated sparring is the only sure fire way to drill your reactions. Build up a repertoire of reactions by perfecting one and then working on another. In short order you will be able to anticipate your opponent's moves and know how to use those forces to your own advantage.

As a last note, perfect your striking distance. Transfering the energy from your punch to your opponent is your goal and when your striking distance is perfect that transfer occurs effortlessly. 

Coach Aaron

Coach Aaron founded Commando Boxing in 2003. When he's not boxing, he's running ultramarathons or using data science/blockchains to create mixed reality HoloLens applications.

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