The fourth hour of my client’s 5:30 a.m. sessions in Basic Western Boxing for Martial Arts Cross Training brought more emphasis on upper-body mobility. We spent a lot of time on the slip, coordinating it with footwork and the basic 1-2 combination. Then I introduced the peek-a-boo guard as well as bobbing and weaving.
The lesson began with mirror footwork. This teaches better dynamic movement when facing an opponent, anticipating and predicting actions as well as understanding distancing. Punches are layered into this activity, working effective guards, catching and parrying as well as rebounding of an attack.
Then we brought our attention to the slip, covered in the previous lesson. Here we looked at tightening everything up. We looked at moving in and out both with and without footwork. We slipped inside and outside the jab and the cross, and then we built on the 1-2 combination within the slipping action. This section was finished with a series of quick-fire technical bursts of slip outside/jab/slip inside/cross combinations. These were done in sets of five with very short intervals.
Next, I introduced the peek-a-boo guard of Cus D’Amato fame. This is a great tool for helping a beginner gain confidence as the gloves provide a lot protection. When combined with good head movement it becomes very effective. We then covered bobbing and weaving. This was trained in isolation and then with the 1-2 punching combination. Finally, it was combined with the slip. We worked it all as a set combination before going onto the focus mitts for a freestyle round of head movements and punching.
Upper-body movement – slipping, bobbing and weaving – are best taught as reactions to incoming punches. However, it is good to keep the upper-body mobility. Students of the Cus D’Amato school move their heads constantly. This is not just to make the target hard to hit, but it also creates opportunities. Just as Mendoza, Pepp, Robinson, Ali and Leonard as well as countless others today make great use of skilful footwork to expose angles and lay traps for their opponents, the likes of Patterson and Tyson were experts at doing the same with their upper-bodies.