Archive for category Speed

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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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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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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Breathing in Boxing

Your body’s ability to process and utilize oxygen effectively is essential to good boxing, even though research has shown boxing to be about 70% anaerobic.  This means that boxing simulates short sprints, explosive movements, and dextrous agility that requires big energy on demand and needs less oxygen a more aerobic activity.

The optimal training formula for for boxing is not locked in however, old school long distance roadwork is still a staple of many coaches and boxer’s regimen.  Most good boxers and coaches have figured out one thing though, and that is that training has to simulate the intensity of the actual event, anything less than training for what a fight feels like will leave you performing suboptimally.  There is a slight distinction between breathing, oxygen usage, and boxing efficiency, yet they are all related.  Below, one of my Youtube subscribers brings this issue to my attention, and I’ll attempt to answer it based on a holistic view of performance training for boxing.

I really enjoy your vids! Its helping me alot in every aspect. I was wondering about breathing in sparring. The funny thing is when i hit the bags, heavybag, double end bag, body snatcher bag. i dont have a problem. But when i spar i have a problem. I guess im holding my breath. Can you please give me some pointers? Any help would be greatly apprecated.

First off, the proper breathing technique for boxing allows you to expel air almost completely when you throw your punches so the body’s natural instinct to take air back in goes into effect.  This way you have a steady supply of new oxygen coming in.  To do this you have to exert your exhalation from the lowest part of your abdomen.  If you exhale and only exert exhalation pressure from your upper diaphram or chest then you are going to get tense and tired real quick.

The best way I’ve found to do this is to make a loud “hmph” or “hugh” sound on each punch while keeping your mouth closed and breathing out through your nose.  When the air goes out strong your body will call it back.  It’s ideal to breath back in through your nose, I’ve had a deviated sceptum for years so breathing back in through my nose has always been tough, but it’s ideal.  The specific noise you make when you exhale doesn’t matter, a lot of top boxers make a “SSS” sound when they punch, some like Ricky Hatton, make a loud “Hagh”.  The key is that the air has to come from the lowest part of your abdomen, this also makes your body a bit tougher and more durable against counters to the body.

One way to test this and get a feel is to put your fingertips right below your navel and let out a forceful “Hmph”, do three or four fast ones in a row just like when you throw a combo, you should feel the exertive outward pressure of your abdomen.  Now try this, put your fingertips on your upper abdomen and exhale forcefully without letting your lower abdomen exert pressure, you’ll notice that you feel tight and still have a lot of air left in your lungs to expel.  In the heat of real boxing, this is how a lot of people tend to breath, it takes training, experience and conditioning to get this properly calibrated.

There is a bigger problem for my prospective boxer above though, and poor breathing may be the sympton, but it’s not the cause.  One thing I stress in training is to simulate the fight feel and conditions as much as possible.  A lot of fighters either forget, are unaware, or lack drive to get in the proper shape for a fight.  Hitting the bag is the equivalent of a jog, and fighting is the equivalent of a sprint.  Sparring and fighting is high intensity for the simple reason that the opponent moves, and appliess pressure through offense and his ability to dodge your attacks.  It takes a lot of steam to launch an attack and to retreat to safety, with a bag it only takes about half the effort.  Let me put it to you in measurable terms:  If you are going to have a 100 punch output during a round of sparring, you need to be ready for a 300 punch round on the bag.  This is about the equivalent I have found, it may be a little less depending on your footwork and head movement, but you get the idea.

One thing I stress to fighters is to hit the bag at fight pace.  Fight pace is rapid, it’s dynamic, it incorporates head movement, in and outs, lateral motion, in fighting, and fast fast fast combos!  My recommendation is to have at least 2 workouts a week where you go 4 rounds at fight pace.  This means you warm up for 3 rounds.  And then when round 4 hits, its a mad fury and all out tactical brawl with the bag.

How will you know if you are doing it right?  By the end of the third round at fight pace you will be begging for the bell to ring.  Another way you’ll know is when everyone in the gym is staring at you wondering if they need to exorcise the demon within.

You need to simulate the feel of a real fight in training.  Another trick I used to do is when the bell would go for the round, I would bust out 20 straight burpees before stepping to the bag. I would do this for each round. Under these conditions you will learn to fight tired and under fatigue.  You don’t want to train this way all the time, I recommend twice a week.  Remember in training to simulate the feel of your toughest rounds in the ring!

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Timeless and Priceless Advice

You need to listen to this old school fighter and coach.  I’ve preached this stuff to fighters until I was blue in the face.  No more needs to be said, just watch this whole video and listen close.   Thank me by taking heed of his advice and training your ass off.

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