Filthy Boxing (diary entry)




Today my client took a break from grappling and we focused on some hand-striking. Rather than just working on modern western boxing for martial arts cross-training, we also brought in some “dirty boxing”. I am not quite sure I want to use that term, as it has become so generically thrown about in the martial arts world I am not whether it has a clear meaning anymore. Randy Couture used it to describe his wrestling based striking style; others have used it to definie Filipino “boxing” styles Suntukan/Panantukan and Yaw-Yan. The “dirty” name comes from the use of techniques outside of “clean” modern western boxing techniques. What one easily forgets is that western boxers regularly used a range of techniques outside of modern methods up until gloves became mandatory in competition. The likes of Colonel Monstery were teaching western boxing purely as a self-defence method in the 19th century and the sport of western boxing was practised for at least two hundred as a contest that involved various wrestling holds and above-the-waist throws. When my uncle was taught how to box he learnt modern western boxing, but he was still of a generation that was taught this art as a means for self-defence. He and his fellow boxers were taught the “dirty tricks” inside and outside the prize ring.


Not having really learnt any of this as a specific art-form or discipline maybe what I am could go by a different name, such as filthy or despicable boxing! In essence, it’s the use of punching whilst trapping and clinching, and using other striking weapons in close proximity. Many a top fighter can teach us a few “trade secrets” that can work well in self-defence application from head-butting in the clinch or off a weave to throwing a forearm/elbow strike on the back of a hook.


We warmed up with some light pad work. This began with lead hand work and footwork. We focused on the various jabs, setting up for other techniques and then started building a basic 11 punch combination. This was taught to increase fluidity and speed.


We next switched the full-boxing gloves for MMA gloves and the “dirty boxing” side of things. Here we looked at pawing at the guard, to reference, trap and control a limb at the same time as striking. We also looked at striking whilst being trapped. Then we brought in striking around objects, even striking from behind the shoulders of the coach for multiple opponent simulation. We then combined choking with striking. Finally we finished with eye-gouge/cross combination and the aforementioned hook into a forearm/elbow strike.


Photography by Sonia Audhali Photography 2010.

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