So you don’t have access to a boxing gym or a knowledgeable trainer, but you want to learn enough to beat most untrained guys your own size? You can do it if you work at it.
Boxing is not a skill; it is a collection of skills. Beginners have to prioritize. The way to get good enough to easily beat untrained fighters is to focus on a few basic tactics.
One: Learn the straight punches
Occasionally you’ll see an untrained fighter throwing jabs, but usually they just swing away with haymakers. Straight punches have more range than haymakers. Your straight punches will land on unskilled, haymaker-throwing idiots, and they won’t be able to hit you back with wild swings.
Use straight punches against unskilled haymaker-throwing idiots
Start by learning the jab. It will serve you well in most street self-defense situations. Work on it every day; the front of your shoulder will feel sore, but that’s the price you have to pay to get better.
While you’re learning the jab, make sure to work on the straight right hand (or left hand, if you’re a lefty). This is your power punch. When you learn it, you’ll be more dangerous than 90% of the untrained guys who might start trouble with you.
Once you are good at the jab and the straight right, create a few boxing combinations and practice them until you can do them without thinking. Combinations are carefully crafted groups of punches that flow naturally out of one another; the more you know about boxing, the better you become at developing punching combinations that suit your personal style.
The famous 1-2 combination – a lead jab followed by a straight right hand – is probably the most effective fighting move ever developed, so make sure you practice until it becomes second nature. Later, work on the double jab/right hand combination. It’s all you need to beat most bullies.
Remember what I said about prioritizing during training? Save the hook punches and uppercuts for later. If you’re great at straight punches, you’re just throwing away your skill advantage when you resort to short-range punches like hooks and uppercuts.
Two: Practice footwork
Footwork doesn’t mean dancing around like Bugs Bunny when he fought the Champ. Instead, it means moving in any direction while maintaining your boxing stance.Without footwork, your legs get crossed up and you lose your balance. When this happens against an unskilled fighter, it means you won’t be able to hit him hard enough to hurt him. If it happens against a skilled boxer, you’re done.
Learn to move forward and back while jabbing. Later, learn to shift to either side. When you can sidestep an onrushing opponent, you’ll beat him easily.
With a bit of footwork, you’ll be unhittable. Even better, you’ll be able to hit with power while maintaining your defensive boxing stance. Guys will be forced to (try to) grab you because they won’t have a chance of punching you before you tattoo them with your combinations.
Three: Get in shape
It takes hard work to develop basic boxing skills. If you’re out of shape, you won’t get very good. But when you work on your boxing fitness, good things happen.
- Shadow boxing will get your shoulders in shape. You’ll be able to train longer and harder before fatigue sets in.
- Core training gives you increased punching power and lets you take a harder punch (if it comes to that). Obviously, you want to work your abs, but don’t forget the lower back too.
- Good footwork means staying on your toes. Get your legs in shape and your training sessions will be more productive.
So, do you get in shape to fight better, or do you practice your fighting to get in shape? I’m not sure if it really matters, but boxing training is a great way to keep in shape and to stay motivated to work out.
Four: Sparring is important
Sure, practicing by yourself makes you a better fighter (assuming you know a thing or two about basic technique). But it’s impossible to overstate the value of sparring sessions. Controlled sparring drills with a partner turn you into a much better fighter than someone who never practices the fight game.
Sparring doesn’t mean getting together with a crazy friend and beating the stuffing out of each other. It should be a learning experience. Use it to develop muscle memory and to work on techniques that you otherwise can’t perfect. Without sparring, you’ll know nothing about defensive moves, distancing, and clinching.
By sparring regularly, even if you never learn a single thing about proper punching technique, you’ll still be a better fighter than someone who doesn’t spar, no matter how much they work on their punching. Let me put it this way: if you spar every day for a year, and your opponent works the heavy bag every day for a year, you should beat him easily.
Five: Don’t forget necessary safety gear
If you plan to spend your practice sessions shadow boxing and punching air, forget this section. But if you are going to hit the punching bag or spar with a partner, you must use the appropriate safety equipment.
Hitting things – even if they’re soft things like punching bags – is bad for your hands. As a beginner, you can’t expect the bones and connective tissue in your hands and wrists to stand up to repetitive stress caused by power punching. No matter how tough you think you are, you’re making a mistake if you hit the bag without hand wraps and padded gloves. You may not realize it at the time, but the quality of your workouts will suffer unless you protect your hands.
Sparring carries with it a certain risk. Your teeth are vulnerable to punches, and so is your nose, lips, ears, the skin around your eyes, and anything else that might get hit. A good boxing mouthpiece, some sparring headgear, and padded boxing gloves are the difference between having a productive workout or having a joke session that doesn’t even come close to simulating a real fight.
Your hands, too, are in danger during sparring. If you accidentally hit your partner’s elbow or even his forehead, you’ll break your hand. Nobody sets out to hit an elbow, but it happens. Always wear hand wraps and padded gloves.
The best boxing tip: Take it to the next level
Follow those tips and you’ll have a great chance to beat any untrained fighter. But remember: those are just beginner’s boxing tips. Anyone who trains under a good coach will clean the floor with you. Don’t think you’re tough just because you practice the one-two combination every day in front of the bathroom mirror.
To take it to the next level, get some professional coaching. Join a boxing gym or at least get some video coaching from the boxing tutorial videos that are reviewed on heavyfists.com.
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