So, I'm working out at Mendez Boxing four or five days a week right now, which is good. My hands are beat to sh*t, and I have some early-onset arthritis problems already, so I'm trying to take fairly good care of them right now. Going from primarily grappling-centered workouts to boxing full time does a toll on the hands, but the change in muscle groups getting worked on is nice, also.
After my workout, there were a couple of big heavyweights sparring and most of the gym was standing around watching. I watched about three rounds of the session, and was really struck by how few punches were thrown by these two guys. Neither of them really were as interested in hitting the other guy as they were not getting hit. I didn't really comment on this to the coaches, but I think the coaches were well aware of this problem.
One of the things about boxing is that the guys do hit so hard that there's this major concern with defensive boxing. I don't think that "defensive boxing" is necessarily bad, I should say, but I do think that timid boxing is something that has to be discouraged, and there's a fine line there. I also think that recognizing something many MMA fighters know [which is that sometimes you're going to have to make yourself vulnerable to create an opportunity] is important for a lot of boxers. Historically, this has been a part of professional boxing, but it does seem to be an unpopular thought right now.
The lesson that I'm working through with Ivan, one of the coaches, is actually about staying off of the balls of my feet. I tend to lean in a bit and leave my shoulders a bit out in front of my toes, because of my grappling background. I really like that position, and I find it well balanced and powerful. The point that Ivan keeps hammering me with is that I need to be more concerned with mobility and the versatility of a position than with being a hammer on the inside.
As we work through how I work angles and slip punches, it becomes pretty clear to me that actually what I want is something more straight-backed and on the centers of my feet than what I'm used to. I'm still adjusting to the feel of that position, but it is certainly one that is working a lot better for pad work and general head movement. I have fairly quick hands and my punches pop well, but its become good for me to focus on not worrying about hitting so hard.
The other concern is about keeping the movements sharp and quick. One of the things that it is easy to get into the habit of as a grappler in MMA is that it is acceptable to hang your punches out a little when setting up shots, in part because you're trying to bait the strike that you're working off of. I particularly like doing that when it comes to set up the clinch, especially off of the left hook. In boxing it is a terrible habit, and one that I'm working on breaking to improve my awareness of how I'm throwing my punches and to make sure that the punches are crisp and the punch defense is staying strong and together.
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