Tonight my client completed hour five of a 10 hour course in Western Boxing for Martial Arts Cross Training. In addition to reconfirming everything that had been covered in the previous lessons, we looked at the overhand punch. This powerful technique that was long criticised for being something akin to the days of haymakers and wild swings, has proven its worth as a legitimate technique that can be set up through a number of different ways.
Training is pretty much done outside with this client, who visits me at my home. I do not have a proper gym built here. Hell, I live on a zoo and have spent many hours training in sheds, negotiating my way around either animals or work tools. If I am not training a client at their home I am teaching in an old empty stable stall. The increasingly colder weather in this part of the country is a great motivator for work-rate. We got straight into things. During mirror footwork I looked more at escaping from corners and using the hips to change direction rather than leading with the feet. I then isolated slipping, ducking and rolling before putting them together.
We moved onto the focus mitts and went through all the previous combinations covered in the past few lessons, eventually working our way up to the 11 punch combinations. These were then blended in with footwork and upper body movement.
The overhand was then introduced. First we isolated this as a rear hand punch. I think of its root as being a rear straight (technically all punches that cross over the lead hand are crosses) that has been altered to clear an obstruction. The overhand is a looping punch that requires power to be generated up from the ground and then the weight dropped in a downward arc into the target. As with all punches the arm must be relaxed and the retrieval of the strike must follow back down its powerline. The latter point is to both maximise impact, creating a shockwave, and to ensure the fighter is not left open. The overhand can be particularly vulnerable in this case. Its action also requires a lot of balance.
Next, we set it up with a jab. This works well when cornering an opponent or in mid-range. Then we brought in the v-step. I particularly like the use of the v-step when throwing an overhand. It provides more protection and gives the fighter a better chance to hit the target. This is especially effective when the punch is added onto a slip/jab. Finally, we changed the slip/jab for a ducking action into a v-step. This surprisingly effective technique takes advantage of your opponent becoming used to being in one place. The proactive duck – not used to avoid a punch – can make a fighter virtually disappear from an opponent’s sight, only to reappear just outside the opponent’s peripheral vision to deliver the power punch. The trick with this rather dramatic technique is to set it up with plenty of upstairs straight punching action. The opponent needs to be used to fighting dead straight ahead on a linear path. However, this is a careful balancing act. One cannot presume that such a set-up can be done for too long. After all, the opponent is going to punch and have his own tactics too. A canny boxer does just enough to make his opponent assume a pattern before suddenly – and with timing – break it.
After drilling these set-ups and techniques as a partner exercises and on the focus mitts, we had a round of sparring.
The above photo is the title page for this excellent tutorial on overhand rights: