When You Throw and Miss

When your opponent actively blocks your shot they are usually right in front of you, you are within range and have a sense of where they are.  They have also used one of their weapons (arm/hand) to block yours, sometimes they will use both weapons as in the case where your opponent shuts down the middle with both arms to block an uppercut.  In this contact range there are a number predictable counters which are relatively easy to see and feel if you have enough experience.  The only thing that kills predictability is speed, just watch how many times Winky Wright picked off Trinidad with the jab if you want to see an example of that.

If you want to be a good elusive boxer who can set up compound attacks and anticipate counters, you need an instinct for what to do when you miss a punch.  The solution is very straightforward;  As soon as you miss a punch, move your head. 

If it’s a jab that you miss you will slip left or right while keeping your eye on your opponent, then jab again as you close the distance.  If he starts firing a full combo then its probably best to go on the defensive or keep moving your head until he’s done and then come through.  Most often when you miss it means your opponent has anticipated your move and is a half beat ahead of you, that’s all the time he needs to hit you with a clean shot.  Developing an instinct for moving your head after you miss takes time, it will become second nature through sparring and hard lessons in the gym.  Every now and then you will miss not because of the skill of your opponent but simply because you miscalculated or were off balance, either way the sames rules apply. 

Start to get a good feel for when you land or miss in sparring so that you don’t just barge ahead with combos that leave you exposed after the first punch.  You need sets of combos that can be adjusted and changed in mid flight.  As well, in order for the instinct to become a technique you obviously need the right way of moving, and this comes from hours on the heavy bag of jabbing and slipping, slipping then jabbing, hooking and rolling/ducking and vice versa. 

When you miss that shot your opponent is outside of your range, he could be left, right, or a bit too far in front of you.  It doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your plan, it means that you lost a beat, you lost a step, and moving your head while adjusting to your opponent is the best way to gain that step back and re-initiate.  Just as an example, many times you will miss the first jab you throw, guys are ready for it and they either step back or lean back,  and if they are good they’ll throw a counter shot right away (often a left hook).  In this case your staple combo will be – jab, slip, jab, jab, right.

Keep this in mind, apply it to your training, and come up with your own variations.


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Tabata Interval Timer

Tabata sets are the hallmark of high intensity training, if you haven’t put some steady work into Tabata sets then you are really missing out on a new level of conditioning.  You don’t have to make this a complicated matter, from my experience you’ll reap the most benefits from Tabata’s with sprints and punch-outs on the heavy bag.  There are a couple keys to this:

1) Make sure you are already in relatively decent shape, you don’t want to do these after coming off a layoff or when you just haven’t been putting in proper training.  Don’t look at Tabata’s as a quick fix, they are most effective on top of a solid base

2) Be steady with Tabata’s, you’ll start to feel a serious change in your athleticism after about 2-3 weeks of them done every couple of days.  Don’t burn out on these or spread them out too thin, 3 times a week is good.

One pain in the ass is having to look down at your watch to check the time, so below I’ve made a Tabata set timer for download (right click save target as), just put it on your MP3 player and go to town.  Once you click start you have 5 seconds to get ready, the first bell is the first 20 seconds of high intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest.  This repeats itself for 10 sets, only 8 sets are required for a complete Tabata workout.


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How to Deal With the Counter Left Hook

This is not easy, some guys are really good at countering with the left hook and moving their head and feet at the same time.  They step back and fade away into safety and you become exposed as you come in short taking shots.  Even if you have your hands up high you’ll get knocked off balance to the left if the guy has some ‘umph’ on his hooks.

The better guys are able to throw two and three counter left hooks in succession, and a lot of guys with a good counter left will time it with your straight right hand, they will bring their left shoulder to their chin and block your shot and hit you at the same time.  This is a slick move that guys used to pull on me all the time and I was able to add it to my own game as I got better.

Think about the left hook for a second, what’s open when your opponent throws it? Well, the entire left side of his body is open.  The top left side of his head is open and technically his chin and the whole centre of his face is open up the middle.  For the most part you are going to nail this guy with the right hand, but at the same time that is exactly what he is hoping you will throw, so this is where the chess match ensues.

The left hook counter is very safe counter when moving backwards.  Especially for the taller outside fighter who counters with the left hook when you are throwing.  I’ve found three good general techniques to launch an attack against a guy who has a fascination with the counter left, the key is rhythm and timing. I’ll explain each of them below.

1)  Quick Jab and a power right hand to the body – Here you are trying to get your opponent to commit to a left hook by initiating the attack with a jab.  You throw a quick jab, it doesn’t matter if it lands, the key is to finish your jab before he has finished the left hook and drop levels to throw the right hand to his open body, a fake jab works great, you are trying to draw out your opponent.  A psychological tactic in boxing is to make your opponent think a technique will work on you and then try to get him to throw that technique, and then you answer with the natural counter.  If you understand rhythm in boxing you’ll know that you stepping in to throw a full jab gives your opponent enough time to connect with a left hook.  So you are going to throw a quick jab/fake jab while stepping with the left foot and then follow with a big right hand when your back foot catches up, it’s the classic one two combo.  If he doesn’t go for your bait and just blocks, then GOOD, you just follow up with the left hook and other punches and step out when you are done, or hang inside if you are a good inside fighter.  If he swings with the left hook and you have dropped nicely then your right hand will land, you will then step out to the right on an angle and start up a second attack.  This whole interaction should take about one second or less.

2) Quick/fake Jab, slip head left, left hook and then straight right hand – Similar to the first tactic, you want your opponent to throw the left hook, he loves it and thinks he’s good with it, so let him think it’s going to work and take it away from him.  In this combo you are only expecting to land the straight right, the rest of the punches are just a set up, this is the beauty of good boxing, the shot you intend to land is down the road and out of sight, but you know exactly what you are doing.  So, you throw a quick jab to entice him to throw his hook, you slip left, and then come back into him with a big left hook and then **bamn** the straight right.  When you slip left his left hook should graze you or even make contact, but since you are slipping in the same direction as the punch it will have little effect.

3)  Double jab and straight right – This is not your typical double jab and straight right, you are going to barrel down and drive through him and aim your jab for his chest on the left side, it’s not as savvy as your classic double jab and right hand where you stand tall. Instead you are going to get a bit lower, drop your chin deep into your chest, raise your hands extra high almost like you are going to dive head first into this guy.  You want to be extra protected because your goal is to take his left hook off the right glove and then throw your right just after you feel it.  When you go in with this you are trying to be solid like a train on tracks, you want to throw the jab at his left shoulder or left part of his chest, this will open him up a bit for when you throw the right hand.  He will throw his left hook and most likely two or three.  After your double jabs connect with his chest/shoulder you are going to throw that right hand straight up the middle.  You are essentially going to walk through the fire of his left hook in a compact position and throw the right hand after his left hook has fizzled out.


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Review of the Reflex Bag

A Youtube viewer writes in:

I have a request/ question. I just recently bought an Everlast ReflexBag and was carious what you think about it. Do you think its a worthy training tool? Have you ever tried it? If so how or what drill would you perform on it?
Thanks alot and Keep up the Vids!

When I first started boxing I gravitated towards the reflex bag, it was my favorite tool in the gym.  After all, I wanted to be like Mike Tyson, and slipping punches and throwing mad uppercuts was a surefire way to being the baddest man on the planet.  It didn’t take me long to catch on to the rhythm, I worked the reflex bag for a good 5-6 months, getting better at it as time went on.

My favorite combos were popping double and triple jabs in succession, and then doing that while side stepping to the left creating angles.  I would slip shots as the bag went by my head and then counter with left hooks and right hands.  It’s great tool to get your slipping and rhythm down pact, the key is is to let that bag graze the side of your head and sometimes touch your shoulder, keep those slips tight and always come back with your next shot.  The bonus of the reflex bag is it makes slipping a punch feel a bit more real in terms of closeness (but not speed).

One of my favorite combos is to throw the jab (or double jab), then slip left as the bag grazes me, and then land a sharp left hook to the front left side of the teardrop shaped bag.

It’s also a great tool for getting the feel for how to throw an uppercut right up the middle and on time.  If you throw a good firm jab you should be able to drop the right shoulder and connect with a sweet right uppercut, same goes for landing a left uppercut after throwing the right straight hand.  Watch the bag after you throw that uppercut, if it doesn’t go straight back then your uppercut is off.

Another thing you can learn quickly on the reflex bag is the habit of side-stepping to create angles, everytime you land a hook you’ll change the direction of the bag, you should quickly step 90 degrees left or right and start up with more punching.

The downside to the reflex bag, and this is a big downside, is that it is slow as hell and doesn’t really simulate anything you’ll experience in a real fight against an opponent who has more than 1 or 2 fights under his belt.   Your goal is to take everything you’ve learned on the reflex bag and bring it over to the double end bag that is roped up tight.  In fact, you should be working the double-end bag from day one, but the reflex bag is a great supplement for building confidence and getting a good feel for slipping.  The double-end bag won’t graze by you like the reflex bag, but since by now you’ve had experience slipping real punches your imagination and rhythm will be more than enough to get the effect you need.  The key is speed and frequent punching which leads to good technique and endurance.

My review of the reflex bag is that it’s a great beginner tool, work it for 4-6 months alongside the double-end bag, and then go on it rarely after that, maybe just to warm up and have fun or after a bit of a lay-off.

Let me know what you guys think.


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Need a Portable Ring Timer?

A lot of guys train at home, in their garage, at the local YMCA or somewhere that is not a boxing gym and could really use a ringtimer.  A big part of proper boxing training is to perform a lot of your work based on a typical boxing round, 3 mins on and 1 min rest.  I’ve been using a track for years that has intervals broken out precisely this way.

Go to the link below and download this file I made (right click and save target as), it will come in handy as your portable Ring Timer, rounds of 3 mins and 1 min off.  Put it on your mp3 player, burn it to CD or overlay it onto music you like to train to if you have a digital music mixer (I used Acoustica).  Enjoy, and let me know what you think.


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Boxing Footwork Instructional Video

Below is the promo video for the boxing footwork instructional video that I just produced, part of the goal of this video is to establish footwork basics for new boxers, but it is also geared towards offensive and defensive maneuvers for the intermediate to advanced fighter.  It will be available for purchase via download or DVD on this blog in the coming week for $19.95.


Interval Training and Some Advice

Interval training is the heart and soul of conditioning for boxing.   Boxing itself is comprised of intervals, short bursts of speed throughout three minute rounds spread out among long arduous workouts.  It makes sense that if you want to be a top boxer, meaning you want to have the conditioning and skills to hang with the best, you must incorporate intervals into your training.

My favorites are 3 mins of high intensity with a 1 min break (heart rate at around 80-85% max), 400m sprints at 90% effort with a minute break, 30 sec full speed sprints with 30 sec off doing shuttle runs at a tennis/bball court, and I also love doing Tabata sets (sprints and heavybag punchouts).  Nevertheless, what to do is quite simple, the hard part is getting out there consistently and just doing it.  Two common mistakes that boxers make, myself included at times in the past, not thinking long-term about your intervals and not understanding their purpose.

Your intervals are not just to prepare you for an upcoming fight, they are preparing you for further training.  When you train today, you are training for the workouts of tomorrow, and next week, and next year, your ultimate goal is to be the best boxer you can be, and that doesn’t happen overnight no matter what your interval program.  Every workout should raise the bar by 1 inch, that’s how you have to think about your training.  You are not training today to fight tomorrow, if you train like that you’ll burn out fast.  Rather, you are training today to train better tomorrow, and to be your best come fight time, only to go back to training and be even better for the next fight.  It’s easy to lose focus on this perspective and rush, the key is to believe in yourself, trust your motivation, trust your commitment and your desire.  If you trust in those you have nothing to worry about, you can relinquish the pressure of ‘now’ to your benefit.

There comes a time to go all out, to train like every workout is your last, it’s an unbelievable feeling.  When this time comes you walk out your door on your way to the gym and you are thinking, ‘I’m gonna destroy myself today, I’m gonna run myself into the ground until I have nothing left’.   You have to earn this type of attitude from your self, it comes from day-in day-out training.  When you have put in the work you will start to have this type of hungry inner-dialogue, and not a dialogue that says, ‘shit, intervals today, I hope they go well’.

So, you’ve put your interval program to paper or at least have it clear in your mind, it should have some middle distance efforts (1:30 mins – 5 mins), and some sprint efforts (typically 15 – 30 seconds), now what?  Your goal is simply not to miss a workout and this is no easy task, everything from injuries, fatigue, negative self-talk, women and friends will try to get in your way.  Forget about your opponent, he wants you to train hard, he wants you to be in shape, as far as he is concerned it will be all the better for him when he dumps you on your ass, there’s no glory in beating an easy opponent.  Your biggest obstacle is not your opponent, he only shows up at the end of the story, your ability to focus and stay motivated is personal enemy #1.

The best way to not miss a workout is to stay hungry and motivated, in the beginning of your interval training phase I recommend taking it easy and not going all out.  This advice is counterintuitive, after all, we are talking about intervals here.  At the end of your workout, you should feel like you have some steam left in the tank, like you could come back tomorrow and do it all again.  Do this for a couple months, don’t miss a workout, stay hungry and stay positive.

You have a long way to go in the sport of boxing, intervals are the gateway to the next level, but don’t try to get there all in one workout, slowly groove your way into shape, steadily.  Trust me, there will come a time when you’ll be flying across the track, or barrelling down a 3 minute interval at 85% of your max heart rate like you were born for this.  Your mind and body will tell you when you are ready, in the meantime, take the pressure off, go a bit easier and be consistent!

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