Styles, Strategies and Mechanics of Boxing
Original Poster: The BadBoy
Forum: Kickboxing & Boxing Forum
Posted On: 30-03-2007, 07:31
Orginal Post: The BadBoy: This kind of comes from the Question of the week thread. But not quite. Umy if you feel this would be better served in the Boxing Q&A then please delete and put it in there.
Every fortnight or so I will try to put up a heading regarding a certain aspect of boxing. Until the next heading goes up I would Like everyones thoughts and ideas as relating to that particular subject. Actually now that I think of it I think that I will let the dialogue continue till it dies and then put up the next heading.
I’d like to dicuss different styles of boxing the success these styles have had and why. Also I’d like to discuss strategies to use in boxing, and ofcourse the base mechanics of the techniques etc.
So let’s start…
As in practically all types of combat arts, the base is one of, if not, the most important part of the fighter?s make-up. With boxing too it is very high up the list; the fighter must have a wide (yet not uncomfortably wide) base, with a tendency to shift his weight from leg to leg trying not to become too static. The rear leg should be used like a spring; therefore the rear foot should be carried on the toe, with the knees slightly bent. The rear foot should also not be too far to the rear of the body, but practically underneath. The front foot moving forward, away from the body carries out the widening of the base. Remember power is generated from the legs, so it is imperative for the base to be correct; the biggest fault with novices is to carry the rear foot too much in line (when looking from the front) with the front foot. This creates problems when throwing the rear hand in power (lack of) and distance.
I know this is kinda covered in the Q&A but those are the opinions of the boxers. Here I would like the opinions of anyone who has one. Thanks and please discuss.
Im gonna leave this in here, I started the Q&A more for specific problems or questions the guys have, this is something you want people to discuss about so I dont see why I should have to move it
A strong base makes a strong fighter, boxers who dont have a strong base, who dont keep a shoulder width gap between feet all the time, who dont bend their lead knee slightly, who dont have their rear foot up to act as a spring are very easy to knock down because they will be off balance which is a key fault in many beginners.
One prime example is that of prince naseem hamed, nas only really ever got knocked down when he played around with unorthodox footwork and didnt have himself in a balanced stance or a strong base, try standing with your feet close together and then get someone to bull rush you, in about 5 seconds you will end up on your butt
A strong base isnt just important for balance but as badboy mentioned for stong punches as well, try throwing a flurry of hooks with your feet close together, now try throwing some with correct stance, you can really feel the difference.>
Post: The BadBoy:
When throwing punches I find that I’m off balance if I feel my weight further forward than my lead knee. Especially if this knee is then over my toes. Therefore I try to keep my weight behind my lead knee. As soon as I feel it going over I feel myself reachig for the punch and slightly off balance.>
I think that this is also a good point, you have to make sure you keep your trunk straight as you confortably can and not lean too forward when punching as once again, you will lose that balance that keeps you on your feet and off the canvas>
Post: The BadBoy:
Another thing which stems from punching and base is ‘sitting on your punches’
My take on ‘sitting on your punches’ is basicall shifting maximum weight to the leverage foot. Like when you throw a right cross you put ALL your weight on the lead leg and when you throw the left hook you put ALL the weight on the back foot as you pivot hard on the left.
It limits your reaction time and mobility, but you hit much harder. This is what I do when throwing 100% punches. Now what most people new to boxing don’t realise is that a boxer seldom throws 100% punches. If they did they would noway last the duration of the bout. Boxers will usually throw 60 – 80% punches. The difference that comes with experience is that they will know when o start sitting on their punches and teeing off on the opponent.>
Yeah your basically the same as me, no point throwing big power shots and leaving yourself off balance and tyred unless you need to, again i always stress it but its the punch you dont see that knocks you out, 6 or 7 light shots will scare you more than 1 big one very often (phycologically anyway )>
Post: The BadBoy:
C’mon, I know there are more than two people on this forum who might have something to say about boxing?>
I have a couple of questions. How does sitting on your punches affect your balance if you miss, and would you still be able to do it in an MMA environment? In other words, would it make you overly susceptible to leg kicks or takedowns?>
[quote=The BadBoy When throwing punches I find that I’m off balance if I feel my weight further forward than my lead knee. Especially if this knee is then over my toes. Therefore I try to keep my weight behind my lead knee. As soon as I feel it going over I feel myself reachig for the punch and slightly off balance.[/quote
I think this happens a lot to people in different striking arts. The idea of using the floorcraft, footwork and your lower body to generate the force behind the punch is something that is realtively new to beginners. So the motions are over-exaggerated and they really start leaning into a punch rather than sitting (or for our internal MA practitioners, “sinking”) into the punch. The net result may seem the same but leaning past your center throws it too far forward making your balance almost tight-rope like, very precarious. To me i think a majority of knock downs come from this, a person over-commits and their balance is too far forward, if the defnder slips and throws a solid hook to the head or body and lands it 9 times out of 10 that person will go down since they have no connection with their center to the floor. Comments? These are just my observations, I’d like to hear what everyone else thinks.>
Post: The BadBoy:
Gong Sao, sitting on your punches should not effect your balance. over commitment and reaching will as MrA pointed out. In MMA you can sit on your punches just as you would in Boxing, but again only when the time is right to tee off. Otherwise having too much weight on say the front leg will leave you suseptible (is that a word?) to leg sicks and singles etc.
MrA: Agree 100%>
suseptible (is that a word?)
Easily influenced or affected: ?She suddenly was too susceptible to her past? (Jimmy Breslin).
Likely to be affected: susceptible to colds.
Especially sensitive; highly impressionable.
Permitting an action to be performed; capable of undergoing: a statement susceptible of proof; a disease susceptible to treatment.
– Taken from dictionary.com
Anyway, keep this thread alive bro, whats next on the list?>
Post: The BadBoy:
Ok noone else wants to talk about base. I think a lot of good things have been said already though, but I’ll say one last thing and Umy, give me your thoughts on the matter and I’ll move the subject on tomorrow.
Seeing how we were talking about wieght distribution, I have noticed some boxers actually lean forward and carry their wieght forward a little when they are boxing. Then when the opponent comes to attack they sift their weight slightly back which in turn moves their body back to by about half a foot and out of range.
By doing this they seem to be able to steal a step so to speak, keep the opponent out of range but be in range for their own attacks.>
yeah, I hate those types. Ive found it helps to force them to lead and hurt the body while slipping, or double up the jab is good if you lead. Once they have backed up their stance it cant back up twice so you know where they will be. They will parry, clinch or hit back….if they are defensive minded (which they most likely will be to be pulling off such a move which loses them ground and position) they will parry. You can benefit from this. If they clinch, they are tired or fearful of you. If they are using their brain and hitting back on the 2nd beat, this is where you start slipping…You know what Im talking about! 8) 8) 8)>
Ive seen some people who lean forward that lil more for some extra power, its little subtle things like this that you have to experiment with in sparring, if you find you can get away with it easily then many people will use it, also it again depends on the style, it may benefit power punchers and knockout artists but not boxers.
Everything in boxing is really up to your style, your own style is tailor made by you to suit you.>
Question: It was mentioned earlier that the back foot should act like a spring with the heal of the ground. When you throw a punch does the foot plant itself or does it stay on its toes? Does it even matter?>
Post: The BadBoy:
I’ll answer it hear but umy you might want to cut and paste this in the boxing Q&A as it is a good question.
Answer: The heel is never planeted on the floor. If you plant your heel on the floor you will stop your body from flowing round and getting behind the punch. Watch a shot, putter, watch a golfer swing, watch a baseball player swing. The rear heel is up at the end of the punch. Its just the mechanics the human body requires to generate power. But don’t take my word for it. Throw a cross with the heel up and then plant your heel to the floor and throw it again.
Ok. now to move the topic on. We’ve discussed base so I feel that the natural progression of this thread would be to talk about footwork as thats the way the thread seems to be moving anyways. So here goes, my initial thoughts. I’m sure a lot more will come out later.
Another very important part of a boxer?s make-up. Whether he is a Tyson style fighter or a technical boxer like Lennox. When moving forward or to the rear, left or right, the feet must never cross, meet or come in line, the base must be kept at all times. Reasons for this being that when feet are close together or crossed it is a lot easier to lose your balance and fall when hit. If the base is not right then the power of your punching will suffer. The ideal would be to be able to punch with either hand with maximum power at any time during an altercation. For this I square up my base a little when boxing. But my coach hates me for it and suggests I don’t do it. But hey, I’m an MMAist at heart so screw him
The range between two fighters is made by use of the footwork, so constant range finding should be carried out, the ability to step in and punch and step out and punch is essential. Pressure can be applied on an adversary with the use of footwork, without having to throw a single punch, by travelling from the outer range to the medium range and back again quickly and continually. This causes the opponent to stutter with counters and make halfhearted leads for which he can be severely punished.>
the rear foot always stays on its toes, The front foot doesnt really matter as much.
I dont think you will loose power from keeping you rear heel on or off the ground anyway.>
Footwork is the key to a good fighter, if you arent mobile you will be easier to hit, a moving target is harder to hit.
Many people dont realise just how important footwork is, especially when controlling your preferred range, setting up shots and avoiding shots. The shoulder width distance is maintained at all times, some fighters (such as Ali and Hasim Rahman off the top of my head) widen this gap when throwing power shots or rather when they ‘go in for the kill’ but again its important that you arent too wide as your ever important balance will be at risk.
The distance of your steps or shuffle should not be strides as energy is wasted during movements like that, the boxing shuffle, as well with everything else, is short and sharp, phasic and effecient movement. A pro fighter doesnt waste energy.
Another key point it having a ‘flow’ in your footwork, never get caught flat footed but on the opposite side dont dance around and waste energy, Prince Nas vs Barrera is a prime example, barrera sticked to the book and Nas’s un-orthodox style just wasnt working, nas was off balance a lot and barrera sticked to the text book boxing he is so good at.
Flat footed boxers who tend to move around little are often easy to pick off at different angles, remember footwork isnt just back anf forth or side to side, footwork can move to do different angles required to throw and land your shots.>
Post: B Man:
the key to making footwork…work so well is to make it natural. I know when i first started i felt really akward with the nature of boxing/thai boxing footwork; but constant practice and drilling and you won’t even have to think about footwork when you’re sparring. The movement will be just movement to you.
my two cents
Post: The BadBoy:
I’m sure MrApollinax has some interesting things to say on footwork. Especially with all his fencing research, as I have found that the fencing footwork and strategies can translate quite well into the boxing ring. How they steal a step, How the use footork to give their opponent a flase sense of distance is all pretty similar to teh way a boxer does it. Hate to put you on the spot like this bro, but if your reading, i would love to hear some of your thoughts.>
I would to, I was watching some fencers on tv and noticed just how similar their straight strikes looked to the jab, also the footwork would work similar to a step in/step out style boxer.>
Hello friends! I’m traveling on business right now and I may not be able to check these boards often but I will try.
Boxing vs Fencing footwork:
The one thing that I’ve noticed with fencing footwork is the emphasis on full extension. Which makes sense in this case since you wish to have a full range of distance to land your point on the target.
in fencing the feet are perpendicular to each other where as in boxing your feet tend to parallel, with the hips squared. Again the idea of extension comes into play, in boxing you want to have TWO weapons equa-distant to your target and have the ability to use the same amount of force from either weapon. In fencing the feet are parallel and your hips are not square to your opponent, they are side ways. This gives you more range with your single weapon.
movement comes in in major categories, linear and circular. linear movement is very similar to boxing. your lead foot comes off of the ground slightly toe first then heel with the heel ending up where the toe wass positioned before. when combining with a strike, the weapon moves first just before the advance is made. Circular movment is also similar (but much more similar to stances that have power-side forward). Rear foot leads movements and the lead foot follows.
Circular movements then lead into attacking angles, which is also done in many other martial arts. Here is an example of The Spanish Circle taken from classicalfencing.com:
Diestros A and B stand at opposite ends of the diameter. To insure a safe position Diestro B responds by moving and maintaining the diameter. Red line is the new diameter.
Diestro A stops at point C while Diestro B continues moving, thus creating the opening for Diestro A to attack at an angle. Diestro A steps in at an acute angle along chord CD. Red lines indicate the acute angle.
Diestro A’s rapier travels at an even more acute angle toward Diestro B. A’s rapier controls B’s blade by opposition as it travels forward to B’s face.
Diestro B raises his guard (hilt) and deviates the point of Diestro A’s rapier (desvio). At the same instant B steps slightly to his right and lowers his point toward Diestro A’s face. Diestro A impales himself by the force of his own attack.
To execute an efficient Desvio the Diestro must place his blade against his adversary’s blade in such a manner as to not only deflect the attack but to enable him to counter attack in the same movement. This can only be done correctly if the Diestro has an understanding of angles and the different mechanical advantages achieved by the placement of his blade on the adversary’s blade.
Again, i encourage people to read more about fencing to find the concepts in them and see if they can be applied to your own martial training. Had i the time to do so I would gladly take fencing lessons to help gain further insight of my own physical attributes.>
Thanks bro, interesting.
Ive had the oppurunity to fence in the past but never took it, now i regret it, if I find the guy who used to teach it I might take it up :wink:>
Post: The BadBoy:
Angling is very important in hitting in boxing, and evading. Lets look at evading for a moment and how footworks helps with that. Take the Vitor Belfot/Wanderlie Silva fight as an example. I know it’s not a boxing match but it illustrates the point i want to make. The mistake Wanderlie made was to walk straight back after getting tagged. If he hadn’t gone straight back then Vitor would not have been able to run him down with his boxing blast.
What should have been done in that scenario was a side step or a quarter turn, or even a clinch.
The quarter turn is an excellent maneouver that will get the boxer out of a lot of sticky situations, It is definately one worthwile spending the tie to perfect. From when you stuck on the ropes, in a corner to when your opponent is stalking you, the quarter turn can aid you in reversing the situation and getting you out of trouble. Also a quarter turn to the left before a left hook will cause you hook to hit your opponent right downthe middle with you being out of teh way of any of his tools. Tricky to do though, I’ve only pulled it off a handful of times.>
Footwork plays a great role in evading your opponent, the art of boxing in cus damato’s words: ‘its always good to throw the punch where you know you can hit him and he cant hit you, when your able to do this your a fighter’.
Lets look at that defense wise, as I described in my Q&A you must be able to control and keep your opponent at the range that suits you, if your fighting a shorter opponent that may involve keeping him back using your jab and side stepping away from sudden bursts, if our fighting a southpaw and your orthodox that might mean circling away from his power hand, if your a power puncher that may mean getting into a range to fire your power shots.
All this is done with good footwork.
One question im asked a lot it what to do if your in a corner, i like to tie up and spin around my opponent leaving him in the corner, it requires practice but can be great espcecially against aggressive opponents.>
Post: The BadBoy:
Its in the corner that i like ot use the quarter turn most. It kinda helps me to spin the guy and reverse the situation. But you really gotta do it to find out how t do it. Its one of these things you wont get until you feel it.>
Post: The BadBoy:
When practicing footwork, you must pratice in conjunction with your punching. You need to get used to punching and moving in unison. Work it hard until it becomes second nature. Then you can use footwork to your advantage and strategise.
You can get accustomed to your opponents footwork and then adjust your own movement accordingly, either lengthening or shortening them just enough for him to miss or for you to instantiate an attack. You can stalk your opponent by making up a step whenever he moves. Follow him, if he steps back step forward, if he steps forward hold you ground, use your jab in conjunction with your footwork and you will soon have him scrambling or on the ropes.>
Drills to work on footwork:
double end bag
whats next on the list badboy?>
Post: The BadBoy:
Feinting and Conning
This is a part of the game that is at is very much at the forefront in modern day boxing and a fighter should try to learn this art from the very start and continue to practice it regularly. Feinting and conning can be carried out with the aid of the fighter?s footwork. It can be used by the front hand probing and flicking, drawing attention from the opponent, when suddenly the rear hand comes through either under to the body or straight to the head. There is a variation for scissor feints; feint rear hand, reverse and deliver a hook to the body or head; feint hook, reverse and deliver rear hand; feint jab hand deliver rear hand. All feints need to be emphatic and made to look real otherwise they will not work. Apart from the fact of conning your opponent and scoring a punch, carried out correctly using the mechanics of punching correctly will produce a great deal more power in the punch, plus you have the added advantage of the unexpected and often unseen punch landing on the target.>
Feinting is something any boxer needs to learn how to do, when there are 2 evenly matched fighters and the bout becomes a chess macth the feint will make the difference.
A lot of counter punchers can be beaten because of feints, also a lot of relaxed fighters can be put off by them. Something I mentioned before was feinting with the feet, taking a quick step forward then back, your opponent thinks you advance so goes for a shot, when he misses he’s left open for a counter. Ive worked that one well in the past.
For every feint you throw there is an opening, understanding what feints open what gaps will only come through practice.
Feints are also good for setting up your shots and guaranteeing that you hit something that you can damage.
Against nervous, quick reacting opponents, short and sharp feints must be used. Against more relaxed fighters your feint may be a touch more exagerrated.
My own personal rule is to never throw more than 3 feints in a row because by then most people click on.>
Post: The Axe Murderer:
Off-Topic:Hey King Umy, That dude that got ko’ed, did he like elbow the opponent because that’s illegal and the dude that ko’ed him did a fast left hook which was awesome.>
Post: The BadBoy:
Ok, it’s been a while since I posted but we’ll see if we can revive this topic shall we.
Next subject of discussion.
Another very important part of a boxers programme. The ability to turn an opponent on the ropes when under pressure is essential, but it is also important that when he has turned him, he himself must attack reversing the pressure. The ability to get oneself out of a corner, by feinting in either direction, or drawing your opponent into throwing the punch you expect and slipping it. In reverse the ability to corner your opponent by cutting his ground out.
Always try and avoid having your back to the ropes, it limits you to only two ways to move instead of three. The ability to hold the centre of the ring against the hard man.
This is a huge topic, hopefully someone will have something to say.>
ring craft, I dont really think of anything specific when hearing this but I suppose ill cover the subject of dirty tricks ive been thinking of lately, ill briefly cover a few and how to get away with them
Ever been hit on the upper thigh/hip area and got a numbing feeling in your leg, a ‘dead leg’ will really put you off as far as balance and co-ordination is concerned for a good few seconds which your opponent can use to end a fight or just stop him from wanting to fight inside with you. The way to conceal punches the the hips is generally by throwing a few body hooks and landing one to the hip area of your opponent with a fair bit of force, is done in a combination they are hard to notice by the referee.
Yep, unless the guy has his groin protection pulled up to his chest this should be fairly easy, Bernard Hopkins is king of this, basically the ideal time to throw low blosw is when the ref cant see them (duh) meaning when hes at the other side of you, remember they should be annoying and not too hard otherwise when your opponent grabs his crotch and starts screaming you may get a point deducted
Enter Evander Holyfield, jump in close with your forehead first, also when fighting in close push heads with your opponent, this can be very annoying and can often cause cuts and brusing, as long as no-one realises where they came from you should be ok.
Shoulders and elbows…
These 2 are my trademark dirty tricks, imagine having your opponents shoulders in your face when you try to close the gap, this is where your shoulders come in.
I like to apply pressure using my shoulders, American football/Rugby players use the shoulder barge pretty well, why not adapt it so its more of a shoulder push than a barge and use it to push your man around, this works very well from my experience and no-one ever complained about me using it.
Next my second favourite trick, the elbow.
I cant begin to tell you how much damage can be done by blocking with an elbow to the bicep/forearm of an opponent, ive bruised and once broke opponents forearms and wrists blocking with my elbows, the key is to adapt a traditional block to move high enough so that you block with your elbow for a short period of time without exposing your ribs too much, this can be done with practice and with all other tricks should be done moderatly.
well there is a few from the top of my head, of course there are many more but ill leave you with these for now…>
oh and axe murderer, the guy just used a classic sharp left hook, no elbows :wink:>
Post: The BadBoy:
Ok, gonna revive this old thread with some more aspects of Ring Craft. I’ll start with some thoughts on The Southpaw
Southpaws appear by nature to be natural counter punchers. Do not be too eager to lead to him, con him with footwork pressure to lead then counter with fast combinations looking to finish with the left hand. Do not look to circle away continually in direction away from his left hand, southpaws are invariably very strong punchers with the right (front) hand, more so with the hook (from my experience anyways). The straight Right down the middle seems to catch a lot of southpaws, because of his opposing stance it’s usually got a clean path down the middle to his chin.
The southpaw himself should look to slip to the outside of the orthodox left lead and counter to head and body. To bring the left hand up through the defence to the head and body and follow with the right hook. He should be looking to draw the right cross and counter over the top, but be vary of the left hook, it is considered by many to be the best punch against the southpaw.>
Southpaws very often make alot of orthodox fighters look stupid, most people dislike fighting southpaws.
In my experience a great way of catching a southpaw is to tap down his lead hand with your lead hand and then jabbing over it, this works because his lead hand is no longer there for a split second to guard his face. The speed of this should be just as fast as a double jab would be, the quicker his hand goes down and your jab comes out the better.
Building up on this you could just as easily tap down his lead hand with yours and then fire a straight right over the top of his lead hand.
The old school combo many go for against southpaws is the jab, right hand to the body finished with a left hook. I love this technique as you set him up for the left hook beautifully, also as ive mentioned in other posts in the past, an individual is in the best position to throw a left hook as soon as he’s threw a right hand.
Try is on the bag, throw a left hook by itself, then try throwing a right hand and then a left hook as a combo. You’ll find your second left hook had a lot more power.
Anyway, back to southpaws
Circle to the left, away from their left power hand, attack from different angles, kill the body with rights, as badboy mentioned earlier they are great when launched straight through the middle of the guard.
As for fighting southpaw yourself, I find changing to southpaw for a few seconds and throwing the odd left hand to the body makes a hell of a difference, infact I had one sparring partner who didnt see that punch coming, leaving the session with breathing problems :shock:>
Post: The BadBoy:
There has to be more than two boxers on this site? anyways I’m gonna take the discussion towards boxers and their style of fighting. Hopefully this might bring in some more contributers.
Cus D’Amato (Mike Tyson’s trainer) developed a style called “elusive aggression”. It is mailny a counter-punching style that involves having your arms up so that your forearms cover your upper body – like a shield – and you “peek” out from just above your gloves (some call the style “peek-a-boo”). Your gloves are out in front of you the whole time. As the opponent throws a punch, you roll, slip, bob under it, and then counter with an uppercut or hook.
If you watch some of Mike Tson’s earlier bouts you can see that Tyson was a master at this, and was known as one of the best defensive fighters of all time (he would slip a punch and then counter with a massive uppercut or hook). What I would like to discuss with probably onle you Umy is what kind of an idividual would beneift from this style? What kind of individual should avoid it. What are the keys to making it useful and basically any other commenst you may have about it. Cheers.
I love the peek-a-boo style, it really enables a fighter to get in close.
What I have noticed is, is that there is a great deal of head movement emphasised in this system, if you watch the old training tapes of a young fresh mike you often see other boxers in the room continuously moving their heads side to side, slipping imaginary punches after every combo thrown on the bag or pads. Cus and the other trainers would fire shots at the fighters head to allow them to learn to slip and duck actively.
This style is ideal for in-fighters or close range fighters, and is also ideal for shorter fighters who often find themselves against larger, longer reached opponents, this is because it allows a fighter to quickly get inside whilst maintaining their guard and keeping most of their body covered, which will generally leave an in-fighter in their desired range. Of course there are exceptions to this as with everything else.
The peek-a-boo guard was taught at another gym in my town, one of my old training buddies left our gym for that one for transport reasons, and upon meeting him one day we quickly began discussing his new training. He mentioned that the peek-a-boo guard felt a lot ‘safer’ and a lot more ‘natural’ than the conventional boxing guard, he was quite an agressive fighter himself, I think this style also helps pressure fighters as well as defensive fighters (counter punchers).
However for your average boxer I believe the conventional boxing style does a lot more in terms of control, your lead hand is placed slightly in front in the conventional boxing stance, allowing the jab to flow more easily, blocking and parrying are used more in conventional boxing styles and also its easier to maintain the outside range with the conventional system.>
Wow, reading over this thread Ive realised just how intricate the game can be.
I recently finished watchin Rodney Kings streetboxing dvd (the first one in the series) and was wondering if maybe badboy, 8LS or anyone else who has seen the dvd’s, would like to post a few details on specific points raised by Rodney that you feel should be incorporated into a boxers game.
I’ll probably list a few when I take in what I saw :lol:>
Post: The BadBoy:
Woah! I forgot all about this thread. Time to revive I think. I’ve just seen Rodney kinds new Sparring 101 DVD so will make some notes and post them here in the next few days. I think it’s appropriate to add them now as his style in my opinion is similar to the peek a boo style and a peeka boo fighter will be most comfortable in adapting the few changes that will make the crazy monky work for him.>
Post: The BadBoy:
Will post more on Crazy Monkey later, but for now here is an interesting article for your reading pleasure.
Boxing With A Poker Face
By Ross Enamait – Published in 2006
The card game of poker involves deception and concealed emotions. A player will bet that the value of his cards is greater than that of the hands held by others, in which each subsequent player must either equal or raise the bet, or drop out. Card players are said to wear a poker face, meaning that they conceal their true thoughts and feelings to mislead or persuade the other members of the game. For example, you may present an image that you have an excellent hand, when in fact you do not.
While I am not suggesting that you become an avid gambler, a fighter can certainly learn from concept of the poker face.
A boxer must also conceal emotions throughout the competition. If he is hurt or fatigued, he must mask these feelings from his opponent. The idea behind the poker face is to present a specific image to your opponent. For example, entering the final round of a bout, there is a good chance that both you and your opponent are battling with fatigue. Your arms may feel heavy, the legs unsteady. It is during these times that you will look to identify a weakness within your opponent. Is he also tired? Is he breathing heavy? What can you read from his body language?
The last thing that a tired fighter wants to see is a look of vigor and energy from his opponent. A tired fighter is hoping that his opponent is equally tired, or perhaps even more exhausted. You have likely seen or experienced bouts where both men essentially draw a mutual ceasefire. The two athletes will hold on the inside, neither man punching. Each man is completely exhausted, and trying to buy a few moments of rest, hoping that his opponent is in the same situation. Don?t buy into this storyline. Don?t let anyone know that you are tired. If your opponent is offering a momentary ceasefire, rip an uppercut on the inside. There will be no ceasefires until the final bell rings.
Seeing your opponent gasping for air and looking to hold will often add fuel to your fire. You will quickly gain a second wind, sensing that your opponent has run out of gas. During such times, you will put your fatigue aside, as you capitalize on your opponent?s weakness
Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi once said, ?Fatigue makes cowards of us all.? No man is immune to fatigue. The best fighters in the world will eventually battle with exhaustion. Great fighters learn to box effectively through fatigue.
The ability to mask fatigue must be developed, just like any skill. This is not something that you can expect to do without preparation. A fighter needs to train with the look of strength and vitality. No matter how hard you train at the gym, you should maintain composure.
For example, suppose you are hitting the mitts with your trainer. Now is the perfect time to work on this unique skill. Don?t let your trainer know how tired you are. At the end of the round, take deep breathes and relax. Do not slouch over as if you are about to pass out. No matter how tired you are, now is the time to mask the fatigue. Apply this mentality to all aspects of training (ex. bag work, sparring, conditioning drills).
You may be running intervals or sprinting hills early in the morning. No one is there to see you panting on the side of the road. This is no excuse to let your guard down. In between intervals, stay calm, maintain composure, and keep the fatigue to yourself. You do not need to put on a show, by falling to the ground in agony. Walk around, shadow box lightly, and focus on being a fighter.
Masking fatigue is just one of many forms of deception, similar to feinting. Feinting is defined as ?A mock blow or attack on or toward one part in order to distract attention from the point one really intends to attack.? For example, a boxer may fake the jab, and then step in with a short left hook. Feints are used to keep your opponent guessing and off balance. You are essentially deceiving him, in preparation for your next attack. Feinting can also help you buy time when fatigue sets in. You may be in need of a quick break in the action, so you can temporarily freeze your opponent with effective feints.
Masking fatigue could even be considered a form of feinting. You are deceiving your opponent, by giving him the impression that you feel fresh and ready for action.
Hiding your fatigue can also be useful with the judges. Judges are human beings, capable of being persuaded and manipulated. Don?t show the judges that you are completely exhausted. Show them that you are in shape, and ready for more action.
Furthermore, you should hide fatigue both during and in between rounds. Many trainers will glance over at the other corner in between rounds. If they see you slumped over the stool, gasping for air, it will often provide that much needed spark for their fighter. You?ll often hear a trainer say words such as, ?Look at him, he?s out of gas! He?s all done. Jump on him!?
Don?t give the other corner this ammunition. Sit up in your stool and maintain your poker face. Let everyone know that you feel strong and are ready to fight.
Maintain your poker face inside the ring.>
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