The Boxing Details that Make You Look Like a Pro
By Bryanna Fissori
When watching people hit the heavy bag there are a couple of factors that determine who looks like they know what they are doing and who does not. Details are crucial! Here are a few boxing details you can use to clean up your technique and box like a pro.
No Chicken Wings!
It is important to keep your elbows from flaring out when you punch. It is common for beginners to start their punches by lifting the elbow. Doing this leaves you vulnerable to body punches and takes longer for your punch to reach its destination. There are several ways to correct this using some serious mental focus.
- Imagine you are throwing your elbow rather than your fist. This boxing detail should help propel your elbow forward rather than to the side.
- Focus on pinching your elbows to your sides until the last second of your punch.
- Pretend you are Superman and someone tries to attack you in your phone booth (There is a chance you may be too young to know what a phone booth is). The space is too small to flare your elbows. Focus on punching the bad guy straight ahead of you in your limited space.
You are high class and that includes in boxing. Sophisticated people drink tea with their pinky finger up. When you punch, keep your fist closed, but angle that pinky finger up like you are sipping a cup of tea. This will help straighten out your punches and allow you to connect with your first and second knuckles, which is ideal. This angling of the wrist also assists in splitting someone’s guard (punching between their gloves). This technique may also help correct the chicken winging because if you were to bring your elbow out before throwing with the pinky up, it is going to feel kinda weird.
Keep Your Hands Up
The number one sign of a newbie is that their hands do not return to their face after each punch. It is an EXTREMELY obvious indicator of inexperience and not difficult to correct. There should never be a time when one of your gloves is not touching your face. This would mean that you were punching with both hands at the same time. That’s a no-no. Please don’t do that. As far as boxing details go, this might be the most important.
Keeping your hands up is not only crucial for defense, but also for proper punching technique. Your punches should never start from your hip. (Yes, there are exceptions to this, but until you can move like Floyd Mayweather you better keep your hands on your face!). Your punch should initiate from the defensive position against your cheek, extend out to your opponent and then come right back. A punch is a great toy to play with, but we have to put our toys back where we got them.
In order to generate power, you have to be able to engage your hips and core while maintaining stability. Standing with both feet parallel to the heavy bag is going to leave you powerless and off balance. In a fight, it will get you knocked out faster than you can say “jab-cross!”
Your specific stance will strongly depend on whether you are right-handed or left-handed. If you are right handed you will generally stand with your left foot forward. This is an “orthodox” stance. Left-handed people generally stand with the right foot forward and this is called the “southpaw” stance. The front leg should be facing forward and the rear leg angled slightly (45 degrees or so) to the outside. Your weight should be on the balls of your feet for ease of movement.
An easy way to check your stance and balance is to have a training partner push you (not hard) from each side, as well as front and back. You should be able to easily adjust to not fall over or stumble.
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Everything You Need to Know About Shadowboxing
By Bryanna Fissori
What is Shadowboxing?
Shadowboxing is the act of moving and throwing punches in a way that mimics fighting or sparring an opponent without an actual opponent present. Punches are thrown to the air as if there is an imaginary person to hit.
Why is Shadowboxing Important?
Having the ability to practice lifelike movement repetitively without an actual threat is instrumental in developing muscle memory. From proper footwork to solid technique, it is important to drill these movements to the point where they are fluid and natural. Getting comfortable with new combinations, defensive styles and general movement can be done through shadowboxing. This is not just a drill for beginners. Professionals at the very highest levels of boxing still shadowbox every practice to reap the benefits of training movement.
The Basics of Boxing to the Air
The overall point of shadowboxing is developing proper muscle memory for solid boxing technique. That being said, shadowboxing can also be a great cardio workout. It is important to remember that when you are moving you should always use proper fundamentals such as keeping your hands up, elbows in and moving your head. Shadowboxing is mostly a freestyle activity and a way to figure out how your body is comfortable moving.
This can be done virtually anywhere!
- In the kitchen while waiting for your morning cup of coffee: shadowbox
- Standing in line at the bank: shadowbox
- At the park with the kids: shadowbox
- In the shower: not recommended
Suggestions For a Better Shadowboxing Session
Stand in Front of a Mirror:
If you have the availability of a large mirror to stand in front of while you shadowbox, you should use it. This is a good way to keep yourself in check. If you look goofy, if you drop your hands, if you are slouching it will show in the mirror. This allows faster adjustments and less propensity for bad habits to develop.
Upbeat Music for a Better Cardio Burn:
Boxing is like dancing. There is a certain rhythm to the movement. Everyone is different, but we recommend listening to something you can dance to, and we don’t mean slow dance. Put on something that inspires you to keep up with the tempo and you will see the sweat start to fly.
Don’t Skip the Defense:
It is fun to throw punches, but it is important to practice your defensives skills as well. Starting out with one or two minute of just blocking and evading imaginary punches can be crucial to rounding out a solid shadowboxing session. By placing the heavy defensive work in the beginning of your rounds you are more likely to remember proper footwork and blocking throughout the rest of your session.
Use a Place Marker as an Opponent:
A cone or a piece of tape can make a great opponent for shadowboxing. Having a place marker to represent a person can help with distancing and angles. Try and stay within punching distance of your marker. This will also encourage lateral movement and angles rather than just in and out attacks.
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Why Boxing is Perfect for Absolutely Everyone
By Bryanna Fissori
There are a lot of fitness trends that may sound good but are just not a good fit for all levels. Basketball may look like fun, but for those who aren’t naturally coordinated, it may prove to be a bit of a struggle. Running can be a great way to zone out and get fit but quickly wears on joints and ligaments. Fitness boxing is perfect for a number of reasons.
Train at your own pace
If you are new to putting on the gloves, there is no real pressure to have to keep up. The heavy bag is not going anywhere. You will not get “left behind.” There is certainly technique to punching, but really all you are expected to do on day one is put leather to leather… or leather to air. Shadowboxing is awesome.
Uses the whole body = Plenty of Options
There is more to fitness boxing than just arm strength; much, much more. Boxing uses the whole body, literally from head to toe. Let’s say your shoulder is feeling a bit sore. That’s a great opportunity to work on footwork! Knee a little tight? Sounds like it is time to work on your straight punches to the head, with a little less bend. With options for core strengthening, legs, arms and even head movement, there is always something that can be done.
Regardless of age, gender or fitness level, you start where you start. Your level of intensity is dependent completely on your personal progression. If you would like to prioritize technique without power punching, that is up to you. Working out on your own, you have the ability to set your timer for one minute rounds or five minute rounds. You can build at your own pace, easily keeping yourself accountable with the help of a timer or boxing app (yes, that is a thing).
There are old grandmas who take boxing fitness classes, and there are children who are running circles around some of the adults. From professionals to those who have never even seen a heavy bag, the learning curve for basics is not steep. Even those in wheelchairs have been known to get work in with a partner or a coach holding mitts.
The moral of the story is, drop the excuses, grab your gloves and let’s do this.
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Conversational Sport Boxing Vocabulary
By Bryanna Fissori
So, you are absolutely loving your fitness boxing class and feel like you have gotten the hang of it. You know the difference between a jab, cross, hook and uppercut. You can throw them all in various combinations on command. So now you want to watch a boxing match with your friends who have been fans for over a decade. Here is some basic boxing vocabulary you should know in order to keep up.
Do not confuse boxing with a brawl or a street fight, or with other sports such as Mixed Martial Arts or kickboxing. Boxing has very specific rules participants must follow and the only weapons boxers are given are two gloved fists. Kicking and grappling of any sort are not allowed. If you yell, “Take him down!” in the middle of a boxing match, people will look at you like you are crazy. Your face will turn red and it will be very embarrassing. Don’t do that.
The Boxing Ring
Your gym may or may not have a boxing ring in it. A boxing ring is where the match takes place. Despite its name, a boxing ring is not round. It is a square. Flexible but sturdy ropes enclose the ring. This is the same enclosed space used for the sports of kickboxing and muay thai. MMA, unlike boxing, takes place in a cage. The ring itself is raised off of the ground and covered with a canvas material over about an inch of padding. There are no doors and participants step in between the ropes to enter and exit.
The People in the Ring
Once the bout (also called a match or a fight) begins, the only people inside the ring should be the two boxers and one referee. On a televised or high profile match, there will be a plethora of other people packed in the ring before and after. Those people usually consist of coaches, promoters, managers, announcer and media. Let’s break those down a little to expand your boxing vocabulary.
- Competitors/Boxers: The two athletes who are competing against each other
- Coaches: The people who have trained the competitors to fight
- Managers: Each boxer is typically represented by a manager who takes care of a lot of the financial aspects for the boxer such as securing matches, negotiating, ensuring all details are taken care of.
- Promoter: This is the person that hosts the event. That means that they have worked with managers to secure the fights and they will be the one paying the boxers.
- Media: Television, magazine and online publication reporters, photographers and videographers who will be disseminating information about the fight during or after. This may also include cameramen from the live broadcast.
- Referee: The person who stays in the ring with the boxers and ensures they are safe and rules are enforced.
- Announcer: The person with the microphone who introduces the competitors.
Weight Classes and Glove Sizes
Each boxer is categorized into a weight class depending on his or her size. This is usually the lowest weight a person can achieve while still being able to perform. The weight for each individual bout is decided at the time the match is made and is written in to the contracts. If a boxer does not step on the scale at the appropriate weight they are typically granted an hour to try and get to the weight. If that does not happen, they often are obligated to forfeit a portion of their pay (also called a purse).
Competitors typically “weigh-in” the day before the match and have approximately 24 hours to re-hydrate. It is not uncommon for an athlete to step on the scale dehydrated and to rehydrate to be 15 to 30 pounds heavier at the time of the match. It sounds crazy, but this is really how it works.
Glove sizes are also chosen according to the weights of the competitors. The gloves are used to protect fighters’ hands and minimize damage to faces. In general, fighters over 147 pounds use 10-ounce gloves and lighter fighters use 8-ounce gloves. This can vary for female fighters. Amateur fighters use larger gloves than professionals (they also typically use headgear).
There are quite a few things that boxers cannot do in the ring. This helps to prevent injury and keep the fight from becoming a street-brawl. Boxer’s cannot do the following:
• Strike below the belt
• Kick or knee
• Strike when an opponent is down on the canvas
• Grab the Ropes
• Strike with elbows, forearms or the inside of the hand (slap)
• Wrestle, grapple or hold the opponent excessively
• Bite ears (Yes, this actually has been a problem)
• Poke the eye with a thumb (This has also been a problem)
• Strike intentionally with the back of the glove
If any of these things occur the referee has a few options. Depending on the severity of the offense the fight can be stopped and the offended athlete disqualified. If the offense is minor but has some effect on the fight, or has been repeated and the boxer warned, the referee may call for a point to be deducted off of that competitor’s scorecard.
The most common instructions you will hear from the referee to the boxers are: Stop, Break and Fight.
The amount of maximum rounds a bout can go is pre-determined at the time the agreement (contract) is signed. This is assuming no one is knocked out prior to the end of the bout. The maximum any boxing match can last is 12 rounds. This is typical for the biggest or most highly promoted fight of the night. Each round often lasts three minutes during these high-level bouts. There is a minute rest in between each round during which each boxer returns to their corner of the ring where they are met by their coaches (also called corners) who usually give them water and advise. The number of and length of rounds are not the same for every bout.
Additional Boxing Vocabulary:
- Card: This is the list of bouts on a single event.
- Main Event: The most highly promoted/marketed fight of the event. Typically the last fight to happen on the card.
- Cutman: The person in the corner whose job is to take care of any cuts or abrasions that could hinder a boxer from continuing to fight.
- Eight Count: When an athlete is knocked down and the fight is in jeopardy of being stopped a referee can count to eight to give the boxer time to recover and continue or for the referee to stop the fight if the competitor cannot continue. Some events may use a ten count instead of eight.