Category Archives: Boxing

Power Punching with the Waist

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Increasing Punching Power by Opening and Closing

aliforeman 300x222 Power Punching with the WaistThe waist area is packed with muscle and potentially will add substantially to your power punching. In karate Senseis often tell you to use your hips but they should really be interested in the waist. After all the hip is no more than a joint between leg and pelvis. There is a lot of muscle working across and around this joint which can contribute to the power and force produced in a punch if it is applied correctly. And that’s probably what those Senseis actually mean though.

Opening and Closing separates the actions within the whipping punch sequence

When performing a whipping punch a defined sequence is performed; the snapping action at the waist causes the hip to snap toward the target quickly followed by the shoulder and then the arm. At the waist, this action involves a stretch, opening it up, and then a contraction causing it to close again. This opening and closing process is a critical part of the whipping punch and is apparent across other joints too. When learning this punch the most difficult part, or one of them, was ‘leaving the shoulder behind’. Differentiating between the hip and shoulder actions within the sequence is key, doing so will produce the desired whipping action and hugely improve power. Opening and then closing actions at a joint precipitate the next opening and closing actions in the sequence….


Years of punching in stance had negated this opening and closing action, certainly at the waist. Emphasising pushing the hip and shoulder through, towards the target, left my punches, well frankly substandard. Differentiating the hip and shoulder action was the first step in improving this part of delivering a punch. It took a fair bit of practice but I got it eventually. Pulling back the shoulder to produce a stretch across the pecs, opening the area, causes the shoulder action to follow the hip creating the sequential feel to the whipping action.

Improving Power Punching requires tension!

If the shoulder is just opened and the muscle is not activated, power potential will not be achieved. The muscle stretched must be done so under tension. It’s awkward even typing that word as the general association when using it is of a stiff puncher relying on arm muscles to produce power by pushing the punch. The feeling of stretching under tension is a little like the following:

pacquiao knockout punch vs hatton 300x240 Power Punching with the WaistImagine someone is pushing against your arm, you stand still and resist but the arm is pushed backward stretching the pec under tension as it is resisting the push. If it wasn’t under tension the arm would just shoot back and you would follow. Probably not the best analogy but it gives you an idea. The opening and closing actions must be performed under tension to optimise your power punching. Of course you have no-one providing the resistance so you need to produce your own tension.

This process can be repeated at the waist by opening and closing it under tension. The action is not as obvious here but it is possible. The opening action involves stretching open the thighs, a kind of drawing back of the rear hip, if punching with the rear hand. This produces a stretch, which can be done under tension, this produces the potential for power. This must then be transferred toward the target by the hip closing rapidly. The front and rear hips perform different actions, one forward the other back to open and stretch the waist.

The interesting thing is that this opening and closing action is present in saifa kata and although I was told to perform this action in the kata it was not emphasised in regular training. It’s a great pity. I always enjoyed that part of the kata, it felt good because it felt like I was power punching!

Originally posted 2011-03-17 15:08:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Absorbing the impression

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 Absorbing the impressionIn last weeks post about creating an impression of the early years Tyson I tried to get over how I attempted to achieve this rather abstract concept. It’s not easy to describe, almost by definition, because describing the process requires you to be left brained about a right brain activity. While, of course, the left and right hemisphere’s of the brain interact through the course of our everyday lives, the left hemisphere is dominant.

This is essential to enable us to complete our regular tasks, although at certain times the dominant side can interfere where it’s not wanted. An obvious example is when we’re under pressure, the left hemisphere can bully its way to the fore when really the right side is better placed to take control.

I’m really thinking of sporting examples, Tim Henman was a  great tennis player but toward the end of big matches you could see him tightening up and not going for the ‘big shots’. It was almost as if he was trying to consciously control what he was doing, when really he needed to let go and just play. The irony is, that letting go and just playing his game is probably what got him into the good position in a match.

In times of stress when snap judgements are required the subconscious is really set up to draw on our experience and to make a rapid decisions. This is part of the survival mechanism if only we were to work with these cognitions, see the Blink post. Of course, if the stress response is too severe we can become too aroused for anything other than fight, flight or freeze.

When not under stress we can relax the conscious left brain and allow the right brain to have more of a say. This is a very natural process and we all do this on a daily basis, when we are drifting off to sleep, or start to daydream. Any creative process involves fanciful right brain activity, but often though default left brain will butt in to rubbish that creativity with its logical criticism.

In terms of absorbing the impression you may want to build of Tyson you really do have to let the right side get fanciful, become child-like. This always reminds me of a TV program I watched as a kid. It was of a schoolboy who dreamed of playing cricket for England. It really struck a chord with me because I used to behave so much like the hero of the program. He’d be walking down the street with radio/tv commentary going on in his head as he struck the winning runs.

I’m not suggesting you actively embed a commentary of you destroying fighters in a Tyson-esque manner, although that might work, rather it’s that kind of daydream mind you need to activate in order to absorb the essence of Tyson. Open up and soak up the impression of him you get from watching clips like those in the previous post, then take that feeling and use it in training. It’s amazing how you can feel like you ARE Tyson.

I image my brain as a sponge, mopping up the essence of Tyson, this may or may not be appropriate for you, it’s a pretty personal experience.

It may sound ridiculous, but suspend belief, don’t listen to Mr Logic Left-brain, and give it a go. It’s not an immediate thing, and it does take some effort to try to extrapolate from watching to doing, but it’s a great tool and can help you improve if you give it a good go.

Originally posted 2009-09-04 07:49:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Screaming: Beyond the Karate Breaking Demonstration

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A strong ‘hi-ya’ Kiai is commonly associated with spectacular Karate breaking demonstrations and is the subject of the following video. Taken from the Sports Science series the video shows an investigation into the scream of the ‘breaking’ world champion. The scientists test whether the scream is necessary in the production of power delivered into the slabs being broken. They cite the use of screams by weightlifters and tennis players to suggest the use of screaming as a tool to develop power.


The test would seem to provide some proof that screaming is required to maximise power production in Karate breaking demonstration. The trouble with these sort of programs is that they like to generalise from findings with individuals which is obviously flawed. There are many problems with their conclusion that screaming improves your power by 25%, not least the dodgy maths! The bloke in the video managed 500lbs of force more with screaming than without; this equates to a third of the non-screaming amount of 1500lbs, or about 33%.  Then there is no consideration of the type of scream, the tennis players scream is shorter than that of the weight lifter. I could go on.

While flawed, the findings are nevertheless interesting, as are the explanation of how the effect works. Although simplistic, the explanation that a scream can enhance “the complex combination of physics, body chemistry and performance psychology” is intriguing and certainly has a ring of truth about, especially given the subjects results.

karate breaking Screaming: Beyond the Karate Breaking Demonstration


Although not all tennis players or weightlifters scream during their shots/lifts many do and certainly in other sports people scream too. The Karate Kiai is an obvious example as is the grunt/scream of boxers, such as Ricky Hatton. During my training at Primal I picked up the habit of screaming, or rather barking, while hitting or kicking for that matter. Different to a scream as such I find it an excellent way to concentrate the mind and body interaction into a powerful strike.

There is no one size fits all scream as such, rather the intensity of the sound drives the intensity of the technique which is specific to different techniques. The scream or bark for a kick is different to that of a punch which is different depending on the range or duration, short or long. The actual sound itself can be used to get you going, i.e. enhance the force of a strike. And it can REALLY get you going! You can read more on the Vocalisation post from a while back.

Now, I can’t help but make a noise when I strike and when illustrating a detail often use a sound rather than a word, it can help someone get the idea more easily than a description and certainly enhances a demonstration. Suffice to say I’m a fan of screaming, or barking, and if I did karate breaking demonstrations I’d be screaming, that’s for sure!

Originally posted 2010-10-14 15:32:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

More than just Martial Arts Training

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In the short film about the Astoria Boxing Club there was mention of the positive impact boxing can have on people. This is not new, boxing has saved many famous fighters across the years. Champions such as Ali and Tyson are just two.

Garrido Boxing 300x205 More than just Martial Arts Training

Over on Ross Training there was a post about an amazing underground boxing club that was set up by an old pro boxer called Nilson Garrido. Not an ordinary club as we would know it as this club is housed under on of Sao Paulo’s highway viaducts. Garrido wanted to bring boxing to the poor and with it a sense of purpose and hope.

The use of low tech equipment is spectacular, tyres to hit and lift, old car and truck parts to use as further resistance training devices. It’s certainly rough and ready and has developed with other sports being on offer too.

In another Reuters report from, this time from Chapeu Mangueira favela in Leme, a slum bordering Copacabana there is Nativo an ex-gang member who now competes and teaches MMA.

Nativo 300x202 More than just Martial Arts Training

On being arrested for drug offences Nativo was pushed into taking up BJJ and eventually moved onto MMA. He has won the first four fights in his feldgling career. Although not outside, training is not in a UFC super-gym. Martial Arts training again provides purpose and hope for some very poor people.

MT group traiing 300x199 More than just Martial Arts Training

Similar to the viaduct boxing academies in Sao Paulo, but this time in one of the largest urban slums in the world the Muay Thai gym, 96 Penang is situated under one of the city’s expressways. Again training provides more than an activity as the author puts it

the dedicated people who run the gym, offering the kids of Klong Toei a place to find confidence, self-respect, love and a sense of meaning in a world where drugs, violence, prostitution and death are a fact of life

Once more, equipment is anything but nice and shiney but the sweat and toil is tangible in this fantastic report. Martial arts training is a worldwide phenomenon, with people training for a multitude of reasons. In all the examples of training in this post people get a huge amount beyond just training while there is not a sniff of McDojo or a hint of Health & Safety, just real gritty backstreet boxing, MMA and Muay Thai.

In addition to the post about the viaducts boxing gyms, Ross Training has very recently posted about a boxing gym in Uganda again making the point that high tech equipment is far from essential. This is clear in all of the examples here, but what is also clear is the sense of hope and purpose that these low tech environments bring to some of the most impoverished people in the world

Originally posted 2011-05-28 20:25:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao

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 Manny "Pac Man" PacquiaoRated, by Ring magazine, as best pound for pound fighter in the world, Pacquiao is also the first fighter to become lineal champion at four different weight classes. He recently destroyed Ricky Hatton in the second round by KO after knocking him down twice in the first. He’s quick, to say the least and moves so well, his timing is exquisite and he really can hit hard, here’s the link to the fight on you tube, it may be removed soon. The clip shows the final KO several times, Pacquiao whips in a huge left hook leading with his head, it’s a great shot. It’s interesting that the commentators say that Pacquiao has learned a lot in recent years and really come on. Something that Ricky Hatton could heed if he’s to continue…..!

Steve Morris encourages us to ‘watch the fight’ to help continue to learn, and at the moment Pacquiao is my favourite. The idea is not just to watch and enjoy but to get the impression of the fighter, be inspired and try to take on that impression. You can read Steve’s views on this here and here.

Watching great fighters in this manner is an excellent way to pick useful stuff up. The Pacman has supreme footwork/movement and exquisite timing and this is shown clearly in the following training highlight. His hand speed is incredible throughout the clip, but in the section where he is shadow boxing the way in which the hands lead the feet is stunningly rapid. Getting the hands to set the pace for the feet is something that Morris bangs on about and is an excellent way to get yourself moving more effectively. It’s a bit like a sprinter using his arms.

During the subsequent section of sparring Pacquiao’s timing and movement allow him to completely dominate his sparring partners. While this, of course, would be expected, it’s an excellent illustration of timing, in my opinion. He is forever beating the opponent to the punch, or put another way using the interval of time (as Morris calls it) to either hit or avoid/defend. It’s a great clip, inspiring and kinda gets you going.


Originally posted 2009-07-12 16:00:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Training to fight multiple attackers

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multiples1 Training to fight multiple attackersTraining to fight multiple opponents is an aspect of martial arts that is covered in many styles with varying degrees of validity. A trade off between safety and ‘reality’ or validity is required to train for multiple attackers. Too little validity/reality and the training has minimal transferable value to a real life situation. If safety is completely compromised for the sake of making the training directly transferable the outcome would result in the loss of training partners to injury.

There clearly is a market for ‘keeping it real’ and judging by the price of the equipment it’s making someone a decent wedge! There will always be arguments over the veracity of using protective equipment such as Tony Blauer’s High Gear. Because although full force, or at least near full force strikes can be absorbed the use of any safety equipment skews the training away from ‘reality’ to some degree. Put simply, there has to be some form of trade off.

In contrast, an overly safe approach to multiple attacker training can have close to zero or even negative transfer to the real world scenario. If multiples training were to simply comprise of three man Ippon Kumite, similar to what you can still see at demonstrations it would have negligible real world use. That’s a bit daft but there you go. In fact, that sort of training could be counterproductive as the practitioner might even decide to fight several attackers instead of running due to overconfidence in his/her ability.

I intend to cover the way in which we train for fighting against multiple attackers. We manage this without specifically running a multiples program as such. This means we cover the skills required to fight multiple attackers through a mixture of drills gleaned from internet articles and clips, taking stuff from training with Steve Morris (who has never specifically covered multiples with me) and others and adapting regular training drills but without bringing in a self defence expert and buying expensive protective equipment. There’s a huge amount of information available on multiples training but to get value requires sorting the wheat from the chaff.


My favourite clip of successful defence against multiple attackers is the one of an altercation in the middle of a busy road in Turkey. It’s been around for a few years now and shows an argument leading to one bloke fighting multiple opponents amongst parked cars and traffic. The bloke on his own has clearly trained, probably boxing, and deals with the three attackers pretty comfortably. He’s a flurry of continual movement, striking and defending on the move. It’s an excellent example of how to defend against several opponents.

So information from this and other sources will do a reasonable job in my mind. A series of posts will follow this that address the issue of training to fight multiple opponents without an actual program to train for multiple attackers as such. Does that make sense? Anyway watch this space.

Originally posted 2010-05-25 23:55:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Gregory McCalium beaten

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greg mccalium Gregory McCalium beaten

Gregory McCalium

Sense prevails! With the justice system often favouring the perpetrator, or so it seems, it’s refreshing to see the opposite. McCalium was not the victim in this instance, he broke into the house of neighbours armed with a knife. Pensioner Frank Corti defended himself and his wife by giving McCalium a few licks.

Former soldier Frank Corti subdued his attacker before the police arrived, “The jury might well have concluded you got what you deserved,” prosecutor Angela Morris said to McCalium during sentencing. Indeed, I bet they did. Although 72, Frank Corti was able to use his former boxing skills to sort out the 24 year old burglar who ended up being sentenced to 4 and a half years. Cool, age is just a number then!

Originally posted 2009-07-15 09:10:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Boxing Fight News: Antonio Maragito vs Pacquiao and the Battle of Britain – Harrison Haye

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Freddie Roach talks about Antonio Margarito vs Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach is always worth listening to, not only because he is a great trainer but also because he says it like it is. In this interview (see below) he talks about Saturday’s fight for the vacant WBC junior middleweight between Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito. Pacquiao is fighting at 150 pounds, yet another step up in weight but you have to fancy him due to his speed, power and movement. Unsurprisingly, Roach agree’s, saying fihgts are won on skill not size and Pacquiao has too much for Margarito.

There’s an amusing bit in the interview when talking about Tyson, Roach explains how he came to watch Pacquiao train one particular time.

It’s funny because Mike came to Manny’s last workout before his last fight. He was watching Pacquiao workout and he said, “Freddie, you should slow him down—he’s got a fight coming in a couple of days”. I said, “Mike, this is slow”.

Also Roach talks about Amir Khan’s fight in December with Marcos Maidana, attempting to defend his WBA junior welterweight title, future opponents and a potential match up with Floyd Mayweather, if he continues to duck Pacquiao. Amusing given the shenanigans surrounding the greatest fight ever, which may end up being the greatest ever fight not to happen!

It’s a pretty decent interview and the On the Ropes internet radio looks pretty good too.

On the Ropes Interview with Freddie Roach on Blog Talk Radio
Listen to internet radio with On The Ropes on Blog Talk Radio
INFORMATION – To listen to the whole interview with Freddie Roach, press play, wait for the buffering to finish and click on the player’s progress bar until you find 100 minutes and 50 seconds where the interview starts. Alternatively you can read the transcribed version of the Freddie Roach interview

Harrison Haye Saturday night in Manchester

Most people were irritated with Haye when he ducked the Klitschkos to defend his WBA Heavyweight title, of course Haye says he didn’t avoid anyone. Against Audrey he should have no trouble at all. He may be arrogant but Harrison is delusional. He has put in a lot of disappointing performances over the years and only just managed to win his only title of note, after the Olympic gold of course, with a Final round knockout of Michael Sprott when behind on points in April this year. This title win enabled this World title shot tomorrow night.


Of course, Haye was delighted to take Harrison on, it’s a no brainer for him in terms of the payday. The biggest home grown fight for a long time in the UK means huge interest and massive money all round. The war of words has stoked up interest and it will be well watched in the UK. I will be watching it in 3D, no less, in the pub at my mates birthday party, which will be interesting. With Harrison being so slow there’ll be no worries about dodging his virtual 3D punches, although it may be a little tricky with Haye!

Harrison has the size and could pull out a big shot to finish Haye, but given the size of the monster Haye beat to win the title in the first place, he won’t be too bothered by the size difference. And some size difference it is, Haye has weighed in at three stone lighter than Audrey, who, in my opinion, will have to hope that God is indeed in his corner!

Originally posted 2010-11-12 22:16:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Power Punching Tips: Throwing the Kitchen Sink

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Dempsey 236x300 Power Punching Tips: Throwing the Kitchen Sink

Power Punching

We recently had a BJJ session with a very young coach who put together a great session for us. He really is a young man and is tiny, weighing only 50 kilos. His assistant told me how strong the coach was despite looking like he wasn’t. I mentioned that no-one would like to be hit with 50 kilos.

It’s an important point but is often forgotten when considering how to increase punching power. When looking at a 50 kilo, 5 foot 6 high bloke most of us would be forgiven for thinking he would not pose much of a threat but anyone that size still has the potential to cause damage.

Power Punching Tips – using your mass/weight

If you were in the way of a 50 kilo anvil travelling toward you at speed you’d be keen to move out of the way! Similarly, if stood on the top of a high building and said anvil was attached to your neck then thrown from the top of said high building you would probably follow it! While 50 kilo anvils pose little threat as they are usually restricted to cartoons, a person of equivalent weight also fails to impose a threat, unless this person was able to throw themselves at you in the manner of a cartoon or a baby falling from a window. The question is how to manage throwing the entire 50 kilo’s when power punching!

What would happen if a year-old baby fell from a fourth-floor window onto the head of a burly truck driver, standing on the sidewalk? It’s practically certain that the truckman would be knocked unconscious. He might die of brain concussion or a broken neck. Even an innocent little baby can become a dangerous missile WHEN ITS BODY-WEIGHT IS SET INTO FAST MOTION. – Jack Dempsey

Most people hold something back when power punching, even when they think they are giving it their all. This occurs for a number of reasons one being poor alignment and/or posture. Karate stances are often guilty of this as they tend to restrict the transfer of momentum into the target. This is pretty easy to correct and I have written about it elsewhere – on your marksgetting on the bus

mike tyson kos frank bruno 300x212 Power Punching Tips: Throwing the Kitchen SinkAnother way people fail to get everything into their punch is by holding back. It’s a weird thing and really is a hurdle that needs to be overcome. It’s not holding back by being lazy rather it’s more of a sub-conscious thing.

At Primal, on one occasion I remember being told that I was holding back when trying to hit a pad as hard as I could. I kept making adjustments but just couldn’t ‘get it’. It wasn’t like I was unable to produce power, my punches were hard, but the elusive extra was precisely that, elusive. It just didn’t feel like I was holding anything back although I was being told that I was. Frustrating!

Power Punching Tips – letting go!
Now, however, I know that I was AND I know that it was something that is difficult to describe because it is happening at a sub-conscious level. I think of this holding back as inhibition similar to that of stretch receptors which prevent severe overstretching in elongated muscles.

The body has numerous receptors with all manner of functions some of which are involved in stopping muscles stretching too far and tearing. If you slip on ice and end up doing the splits quickly receptors notice this and cause the legs to contract preventing the splits going too far, hopefully. If you are performing stretching exercises you must overcome this ‘block’, or inhibition, before you can stretch further.

In a similar way you have to overcome an internal inhibition to be able to maximize your punching power. One way to help overcome this ‘block’ is to imagine you are hitting someone you dislike intensely. We use this often and it does work, some people really get a boost from this taking them beyond regular power punching.

Originally posted 2011-02-11 03:22:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan – The fight of their lives

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Someone commenting on my original post concerning the Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan world title fight from way back in 1995 indicated that a new documentary about the fight was going to be screened on ITV in December. I missed the screening on the 5th but have just watched it on ITV player (there are still 21 days left to watch the documentary – The Fight of Their Lives). The bloke who commented mentioned that the fight still sent shivers down  his spine, well the documentary does an excellent job of doing that too.

It’s brilliantly put together and portrays the fight, the before and aftermath spectacularly well. The vicious damage the two fighters dished out on each other and the incredible turn around Benn managed still gets me out of my seat. As Frank Bruno says in the documentary the fight was completely absorbing and although he had Frank Warren and Don King on either side of him it could have been Mickey Mouse and Batman!

Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan – the build up

Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan 300x202 Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan   The fight of their livesNigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan came about as Benn was World Champion and McClellan was a devastating power puncher on the way up, at 31 Benn was supposed to keep away from such a difficult opponent. But Benn being Benn he didn’t avoid anything and instead took the challenge right on. Despite everyone saying he was going to lose, which he almost did, he went on to overcome the odds. To me it really is the most overwhelming example of underdog defying the odds. The French ref gave Benn a chance, more than once during the fight, as his trainer said, luck was on their side that night. In the first round, when knocked out of the ring Benn was given a long time to get back in, McClellan’s corner though he should’ve won at that point, which is a good point. However, with incredible grit and ferocious spirit Benn made it through to round ten.

Nigel Benn; born again

After boxing Benn partied and apparently attempted suicide. Going off the rails and associated struggles had a lot to do with the injuries that McClellan suffered that night. Benn needed forgiveness and even arranged a benefit dinner which McClellan and his sister, who cares for him, both attended. The scene in the documentary where the three of them meet after 12 years is intense and extremely moving. Both parties seem to have benefited from that and Benn is now a Christian which seems to have straightened him out.

Gerald McClellan still struggles today

McClellan has terrible injuries from the bloodclot on the brain that was removed. He needs care all the time and the pitiful amount of money he was paid for the fight is all gone. It’s shocking how little he was paid. King and Warren apparently gave the family much more than they were obliged to but he still struggles, there is a Gerald McClellan trust fund which helps to keep him going.

After this fight a boxing ban was apparently debated in parliament but refuted. As Barry McGuigan suggests boxing saves more lives than it takes, many more. This site has indicated this previously, what with the Astoria Boxing Club and the outdoor gyms in Sao Paulo giving people hope where there is very little. The appalling injuries could’ve been averted, according to the experts in the documentary, there were problems with the ref and with Gerald McClellan’s corner – Brendan Ingle’s opinion is very damning – if only he had kept Manny Stewart as trainer! But that is all history now, the fight was extraordinary, this documentary is a must see, so get to the ITV player and watch it!

Originally posted 2011-12-15 00:38:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter