Boxing: ‘Simplicity is the Last Step in Art and the Beginning of Nature’.

 

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Without wanting to get too technical, boxing is one of few sports which delivers a truly comprehensive workout.

The thing I like best about boxing is that it is the essence of the maxim, ‘easy to learn but hard to master.’ It’s quick and easy for you to get going and begin developing your fitness, but it doesn’t require much space and equipment.

Most significantly, it is highly technical and strategic, which means that it is psychologically engaging. The bottom line: I don’t exercise because it is good for me; I exercise because it’s fun.

I have put together the following workout to introduce you to the greatness of boxing.

  1. The plank

The plank is a core exercise. The word ‘core’ is bandied about relentlessly, but what it refers to is the deepest layer of abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominus.

That layer of tissue is the fundament of your balance and is the place your limbs are anchored into. Also, good spinal health is dependent on a strong and healthy core.

THE EXERCISE:

  • Prop yourself on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders and your legs out with feet together.
  • Lift up the hips so the body is entirely supported by the balls of the feet – toes back – and the elbows and forearms
  • Squeeze the glutes and legs. The legs are essential!
  • Tilt the pelvis. Don’t arch your lower back
  • Head up. If you drop your eyes, you’ll lose the straight line through your body
  • Your goal is a straight line from your ankle, through your knee, through your pelvis, through your shoulder to your ear.
  1. Rotation

Your torso is the engine of your power. Striking is not a matter of using the limb; it’s a matter of conducting body weight through the limb by rotating. This activity is also a very effective core exercise and warms up the lower back.

It’s a good place to begin because it conditions you toward the fundamental task: rotation of the body weight around the midline.

THE EXERCISE:

  • Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart
  • Take the foot on your dominant side (if you’re right handed, it’s your right foot) back until your toe is level with your heel
  • Bend your knees
  • Keeping your spine straight, oscillate from side to side
  • Use your eyes to guide the movement
  • Turn your heels out to maximise the rotation of the hips
  1. Jab

The jab is a straight punch with the front hand, or the hand closest to the opponent. It’s essentially a range finder; if you can reach with the jab, you can reach with the rest of your weapons

THE EXERCISE:

  • Front foot is flat; rear foot is elevated.
  • Keep your elbow under your hand and your hand against your face
  • Extend your elbow to almost full extension
  • Turn your fist so that it’s horizontal to make maximum contact with the knuckles
  • Bring your hand back to your face.

…That’s all! The trick with boxing is to avoid doing anything except what you have to. The paradox of the activity is you’re refining your body language until you do nothing but the effective bare minimum.

  1. Cross

The cross is a straight punch from the back hand, so named because it crosses the body.

THE EXERCISE:

  • Push through the back leg welling up out of the toe
  • Rotate the hips
  • Extend the right elbow almost all the way, while keeping it exactly beneath the hand
  • Turn the fist to horizontal for maximum contact
  • Shift your weight fully onto your front foot
  • Simultaneously bring your jab hand back to your face.

The hands move in concert with the body, the way that pistons are driven by a cam.

  1. Left Hook

The hook is a circular short-range punch targeted at the side of the head. It begins as the cross returns to your chin.

THE EXERCISE:

  • Extend the front elbow to 45 degrees, allowing the hand to leave the face
  • Drive the rotation of the torso from the front leg, shifting the weight towards the back leg (this is counter-intuitive, but essential to making the punch work)
  • Lift the elbow as the hand moves towards the target
  • Turn the fist horizontal to maximise contact with the knuckles
  • Pull the right hand tight to your own chin as the left hand – the hook – finds its target
  • Finish by planting your weight on your back foot.
  1. Right uppercut

The right uppercut is targeted at the chin and is intended to lift the opponent’ eyes so he – or she – can’t see you.

THE EXERCISE

  • Bend your knees and carry your body weight from your back foot towards your front
  • Extend the back elbow to forty five degrees
  • Extend both arm and shoulder, keeping the elbow directly underneath your fist and target
  • Extend the legs, effectively using the body – rather than just the arm – to deliver the blow
  • Pull the left hand tight to your own chin as the right hand finds the target.
  1. Left hook

The left hook is the coup de grace. The other punches have closed the distance and confused your opponent. The final left hook is intended to conclude the engagement.

THE EXERCISE:

  • Extend the front elbow to 45 degrees, allowing the hand to leave the face
  • Drive the rotation of the torso from the front leg, shifting the weight towards the back leg (this is counter-intuitive, but essential to making the punch work)
  • Lift the elbow as the hand moves towards the target
  • Turn the fist horizontal to maximise contact with the knuckles
  • Pull the right hand tight to your own chin as the left hand – the hook – finds its target
  • Finish by planting your weight on your back foot.

Make sure you breathe! Good boxing is like good tennis; a good hit feels effortless, and often seems to be the result of relaxing. Use your breathing to punctuate your techniques.

Once you become proficient with the sequence, you can begin to change the punches around, or add some. First and foremost, focus on your breathing. Then, think balance. Lastly, remember co-ordination. From there, it is a simple matter of repetition.

“Simplicity is the last step in art and the beginning of nature.”

– Bruce Lee.

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