Thursday, March 13, 2014


(thanks for the inspiration David)

Recently, a few of my friends have enrolled in Executive Fight Night/White Collar Boxing.  This is a charity event held in various locations and usually sponsored/attended by people in the broader financial services community.  This one is scheduled for May 23 in Tokyo, but I have seen events like this in Hong Kong and Singapore over the past several years.

Since most of the fighters are bankers and other office types and not professional fighters, the event serves to be a great opportunity to get in shape, learn some boxing basics, and "live the dream" of getting in the ring for a few rounds.  The rules appear to be standard boxing rules, with three 2-minute rounds.  All proper headgear is used and the chance of percussion/concussion injury to the fighters is relatively low.

The boxers will train at Club 360 in Tokyo several times per week to prepare for the fight and will have an experienced boxing coach, Jan Kaszuba, on hand to assist their preparation.  If it were up to me, how would I train for this event?  What advice could I give?

Cardio is KING
To fight at full activity for three 2-minute rounds requires the stamina to box 10-12 2-minute rounds (30 sec rest in between) continuously.  What many people don't realize is that round 1 has a huge adrenaline kick, which quickly wears off and leaves both fighters exhausted.  I see a big difference in the guards and activity levels in rounds 2 and 3.  Bright lights, deafening noise, cheering crowds all contribute to high stress and high adrenaline responses, which use up energy reserves quickly.  Thus, constant cardio training is key.

I have discussed this in other posts, but footwork makes the difference between success and failure.  Ali was not the hardest hitter, but he had great hand speed, and his footwork set him apart from every other boxer who has ever set foot in the ring.  In particular, the 45 degree Filipino footwork we use is very helpful in cutting angles on the opponent, adjusting range/distance, and driving the other guy into the ropes and corners.  Good footwork, as Mike Tyson proved, can take away the advantage of reach by a taller opponent, since the zig-zag entry helps a smaller fighter to get inside the guard to deliver the devastating hooks and uppercuts.  Good boxers spend endless hours on this, so should you.

Having a good guard is a basic skill that everyone should have before stepping into the ring.  This means having a strong stance, and the gloves well-anchored to the cheekbone or forehead.  The eyes should not be covered, but allow you to see between your gloves to find opportunities for fire back when you are being hit.
Gloves should always return to guard immediately after being thrown, and one glove must ALWAYS be back to protect the head.  "One glove out, one glove back" is the rule.

Reaction Timing
Usually, if you can touch the opponent, the opponent can touch you.  This means that anytime the opponent reaches for you, something must be open for you to hit.  A good drill is to work with the feeder so that every time you are touched you instantly respond with a jab or jab/cross of your own.  Shortening the response time in this drill will help you take advantage of counterpunching and not just stand and take hits.

Body Shots
Although most fighters will reach decent condition before the fight night, they are not professionals and do not have the professional fighter's core.  That means that body shots will be more effective than they would be in a fight between two pro boxers.  The liver and spleen both represent great body targets and can help get the gloves to drop.  One good way is to work these body shots in behind lead jabs.

The Importance of The Jab
You can never throw too many jabs.  During a fight, the jab should be out all the time, annoying the opponent, probing the guard and looking for opportunity.  The jab always stays in his face, obstructing vision and keeping him from getting settled.  If the jab touches something other than the glove, the cross should come immediately.  That is another good reaction drill to train.  In training, you should spend as much time as possible throwing jabs.

Footwork is never straight back or straight forward in boxing.  When we need to give ground we always work to the side angles either clockwise or counter-clockwise.  This helps avoid getting moved back onto the ropes or into a corner. In training, working around the heavy bag in both directions throwing punches is a key way to develop this skill.  Going forward, we advance on the 45 degree angles to close distance and start getting around the guard and into the body or head right away.

Move, Set, Fire, Move
This is the pace and rhythm.  Never punch while you are moving.  Move, set, punch, move.  You need to be stationary when punching to you can get hip rotation and power from your legs into your punches.  Muhammad Ali could fire with power while moving, you can't (don't feel bad - neither can I).  After punching (and of course immediate return to guard) your move will usually want to be 45 degrees angled away rather than straight back, as this makes it harder to get countered.

On the Ropes
When you get someone on the ropes, avoid simply hammering into their gloves/guard, which just makes you tired.  Ali used this in later years to wear down his opponents when he was on the ropes, before firing back and ending the fight.
Instead, take a short shuffle 45 degrees to either side, and you will find the body shots and head hook start to go around the gloves and contact the side of the head/ear or the liver/spleen.  When the opponent adjusts, use your other hand to go down the middle again.  Conversely, if you find yourself on the ropes, your goal is to pass the opponent's hand and get out forward away from the ropes, not along them (since you will end up in the corner).

It is incredibly brave to get into the ring and face your fear.  Much respect should be given to any man (or woman) for showing such courage, especially for charity.  That said, a few basic tips and boxing common sense can help to get a better outcome.

we buy things we don't need
with money we don't have
to impress people we don't like
-Tyler Durden

No comments: