Cross-Training Boxing Intro (diary entry)


slip1.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Private Lesson

Having completed the basic CCMA Self-Protection course, my client decided to pursue western boxing for his first cross-training experience. Boxing is a superb discipline for developing skills with hand striking. For reasons I have outlined in “Attribute Training” and “The Hierarchy of Training”, it is important that a client understands the objectives of another art when he steps off the self-protection line. The fighter acquires the attributes of the art and brings these experiences back to his self-defence hard skills and should avoid trying to apply them verbatim. We should never be a slave to any art, style, system or even method.

We began where we left off from the final part of the self-protection lesson and looked at footwork. Agility exercises are an excellent way to warm up using relevant movements and to promote coordination. The mind is most active early on in a training session and it is good to work on more technical skills at this stage. Next we moved onto forward and backward footwork, mirroring the coach. We then introduced the jab. This was the light and fast version of this technique and was performed in various numbers of reps. I believe in short bursts of repetition work for maximum retention of skill and to prevent bad habits from developing. Tiredness allows the mind to wander and go for easier options which can compromise defences.

We concentrated on keeping the jab straight. Obvious mistakes that creep in include bad retraction of the striking hand. A common neglected area of training is not focusing on retraction. It is equally important as the beginning striking motion. Other errors include dropping the non-striking hand. Discipline to retain the guard throughout an action is not easily learnt and many fighters betray and telegraph their techniques by dropping their non-striking hand just before they strike. This comes from thinking only about the striking action and not the wholeness of the tactic. We brought in the “T-Rex Arms” exercise, which I came across with several coaches during my training, whereby an item is clamped to a fighter’s body by the inside of their elbow. This both helps keep the arms in and also helps restrict the fighter to minimum movement, forcing him to increase his hand speed and to move his body. Most people rely too much on their shoulders and elbows when they strike, which robs them of the power they can generate with the rest of their body and also encourages the aforementioned telegraphing.

We then looked more at upper body defensive movement in line with the jab. I am careful when I teach evasions. It is human nature to want to simply avoid another strike and not to make use of the opening. This can promote a very negative and time-wasting defence. I like to encourage a counter-offensive attitude. When an opponent (or “enemy” if we are talking in self-defence terms) attacks, they open up a gap somewhere in their defence. The fighter needs to think about accessing that gap by working around the punch rather than simply evading the attack. Then it is all down to timing. We focused on slipping. As an exercise, the fighter slipped from side to side of the jab/cross combination, making sure he passed his opponent’s defence. Then he slipped the jab with a jab of his own.

Solo exercises to go away from this session included the following:

·         Various footwork agility exercises around cones, through ladders and improvised objects

·         Skipping to increase foot-speed and coordination

·         Slipping on the spot to increase defensive upper body movement

·         Slipping with footwork to connect and coordinate these two motions

·         Shadow boxing

·         T-Rex arms to increase hand speed and retain guard structure discipline

·         Press-ups for body structure, posture and to work the correct force vectors for punching


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