Archive for January, 2012

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.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4633554/Boxing/Boxing%20Beats/RingTimer.mp3

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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.

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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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Why the F*ck do We Box!?

Why do I box?  I struggled with this one for years, mostly because I wanted to put it to myself in a way that would sound cool to everyone else.  I wanted a bullshit marketing spin that I could buy into and sell to the entire world.  I ran from the truth because I wanted to believe that boxing was for everyone, that everyone could benefit from this beast of an activity.  It took me a long time to get real with myself, and the truth hit me one day when I read something out of the Autobiography of Malcolm X.  My favourite book of all time, btw.

In that book, Malcolm X takes a visit to Mecca, during that visit he meets a man who spits some logic on him that blows his mind, it goes like this, “You have never truly believed [in something], until you want it for your brother as much as you want it for yourself.” Bamn! there it is….let it sink in.

Honestly, I don’t want boxing for everybody, I don’t want it for my mother, my friends, the kid who plays piano 3 hours a day, and I certainly don’t want it for the MBA student who does everything his parents ever told him to.  In fact, I don’t care who boxes and who doesn’t, and that’s because there are deeper issues at stake.  Namely, fear and self-worth, this is what’s at stake, this is what I care about and so should you.

What is boxing?  It is a medium for expressing yourself, it’s a tool and a set of techniques for relating to another human being, and that’s some classic Bruce Lee philosophy.  It’s one medium among many to overcome fear, to gain confidence, to prove what you are capable of, and to establish your self-worth.   Boxing is a sport, it’s also a form of combat, and in it lies the basic components of conflict that anyone trying to excel at something faces: 1) mastery over yourself, 2) mastery over your environment, 3) mastery over others.

This is what the CEO is doing, it’s what the b-boy is doing, it’s what the gold-digger is doing, it’s what the painter is doing, and it’s what you are doing everytime you step in the ring.  In boxing there are no liars, the truth finds you quickly, it’s a high risk and high reward program for discovering what kind of man you really are.  High reward because once you have put in the work, put in the time, gained the skills and conditioned your body to the best it can be, you know that you can walk down the street everyday for a week and not pass anybody who can do what you do.  Boxing is also high risk, you face your fear when you fight, and at the same time there is still a lot of fear, it’s not fear of pain, but fear of losing what you’ve gained, fear of losing your confidence and your status.  Fear of being the nobody you were before you boxed.  That’s why you better learn to love yourself somewhere along the way, because this boxing shit ain’t gonna last forever.

The boxer always has a tough dilemma, we are always one punch away from being knocked down, and I mean way down, if you don’t believe me just go ask Ricky Hatton.  The boxer who takes calculated risks deserves props because we all have our time when that punch turns our fate.  Props to Ricky Hatton, no matter what anyone has to say.  Mike Tyson took his fate turning punches from Douglas, Holyfield and Lewis.  Roy Jones took his from Tarver.  Roberto Duran took his from Hearns, and Hearns took his from Barkley and Hagler.  As fighters, active or not, we deserve recognition from ourselves for the risks taken to face our fears, to prove our self-worth, and to gain mastery.

So why do I box?  Because the pain and discontent inside me wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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Compound Attacks

From a tactical point of view, I can’t think of anything that will take your boxing to the next level more than implementing and launching compound attacks.  The classic scenario is you go to your opponent with a set of punches and head movement, and whether it’s 3 punches or 8 he knows that after you have launched your attack he can make his move or at least take a break for a about 5-10 seconds while you reset.  When you set up a second immediate attack (within 1 or 2 seconds) there is an element of surprise and sustained pressure which separates you from 90% of fighters.

The best compound attacker right now is Pacquiao, that doesn’t mean he’s the best boxer, I still think it’s Mayweather, only time will tell.  However, watch what Pacquiao does and watch his fights, he throws a fury of punches after faking and setting up angles, he resets or steps back or creates an angle, and then goes in for a second helping of beat down on his opponent.

I picked this stuff up initially from watching tons of Tyson fights, he was a master at setting up second and third attacks, and he had to because every time he launched his opponent was on the run.  A good example of this is to watch him against Tyrell Biggs or Mitch Green, it took Tyson a couple of rounds to get close and start landing.  I learned a lot from watching Tyson and you probably can too, you can also learn a lot from watching Tyson lose to Douglas and Holyfield in their first fight.   It’s always good to see different strategies from both sides.

Ok, back to compound attacks.  The key is to set up your opponent for an attack down the road.  The biggest obstacle you will face is the conditioning to back it up, when you are not in shape you’ll be lucky to consistently get off strong single attacks, so you have to train for compound attacks.  Watch my video for some ideas on how to incorporate that in your training,  Slipping Punches – The Remix

You fake, move your head, and then go in with your attack, at the higher level of boxing most initial attacks will be neutralized or countered by your opponent.  If your boxing is tight then you will be able to neutralize your opponents counter or stay close enough to him on his retreat.  And so here lies the second attack and the compound attack; once your opponent has retreated or countered and you have successfully neutralized the counter, you then launch your second attack, it’s all about the footwork to create angles and stay close along with the constant head movement to avoid attacks.   You have to work out the specifics, but you get the idea.  The general pattern goes like this:

You: faking, moving side to side, in and out, moving your head

Opponent: doing the same as you

You: move in for your combination

Opponent: retreats or throws counter, or throws while retreating

You: stay within punching range as you move forward and moving head as soon as you finish punching, or move head in between punches while moving

Opponent: moves to safety or launches fresh attack against you

You:  pouncing on opponent as he moves to safety (since you are close enough), or countering his attack since you are ready for it and were about to launch again.

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Skip Rope Like You Mean It!

The only thing that annoys me more than lazy skipping in the gym is a guy who doesn’t hit the heavybag, and trust me these guys are out there.  They show up, do an extended warm up, hit the double end bag and then mess around waiting to get padwork from their beloved coach.  Anyways, if you are anything like the way I started out then you’re probably skipping rope like you’re strolling through the housewares section at Sears…casually.  This is really not acceptable, you are wasting your potential by the day.  The difference in skipping ability between a real boxer and a posing trickster is…..

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………….SPEED! Turn that rope brotha!

What is your skip rope routine?  One thing about skipping rope is that it is much harder to increase your heart rate and level of work intensity than through running.  So you have to give more of yourself to get the same benefit.  If you had to choose between one or the other you’d be better off running, hands down (this includes sprints and intervals).  In the real world you should be doing both, and when you skip you want to hear the air around you whistle like you’re playing a tune for entire gym.

Here are some skipping routines that I typically use when I come in the gym.

1)  4 rounds of 3 minutes at interval pace.  Meaning, by the last 20 seconds of the round you are begging for a break.  think of it as an 800 metre run on the rope.

2)  10 sets of 50 double jumps  (one round warm up skip)

3)  10 Tabata sets of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off.  Use running on the spot skipping (this is the fastest skip step next to double jumps).  Meaning that going hard for 20 seconds and easy for 10 seconds equals one set.

4)  20 sets of 15 seconds high intensity followed by 15 seconds light intensity, this is a less intense version of Tabata’s

5) 30 minute endurance skip.  Every now and then it’s ok to go light, like just before or after a fight, or when you are coming back after a lay off.  Just don’t make it a habit.

Overall, skipping doesn’t cause much wear and tear on the body, you will adjust to the demands easily and quickly.  So do yourself, your boxing, and everyone you train with a favour by rasing the bar and skipping like you mean it!

Here is my skipping video if you want to get some ideas for variations to make it more fun.

watch?v=c9Igbz487fQ

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