Friday, November 15, 2013

Don't Make Training Process Difficult

Boxing is hard enough. Don't make the training process harder than it has to be. In fact, try to make it as easy and convenient as possible. With an easy and convenient training process, training will occur more often, will be more consistent over the long term, and is more in line with what motivates people in general, and boxers, specifically. The training process should be based on a system of creating a routine, and should utilize planned training, and time management skills. Making your diet easy is also an important factor by letting you focus on boxing not dieting, scheduling meals to avoid cravings, and proactively eating to create a healthy athlete and not just a boxer that is sometimes healthy.

Making the training process easier will make you a better boxer. A quick look around shows that things that are easy and convenient are done more often, and things that are done more often are done better, faster, and more efficiently. Making things easier also means that you will do them for a longer period of time. How much of a better boxer will you be after training more often, longer, and more efficiently --all because you set up the training process to be easier?

An easy training process becomes easier with a system. Make training a routine by training at a specific time of the day (cue), having pre-planned activities set (routine), and treating yourself to proper rest and a healthy meal (reward). Plan your training the night before or even at the start of the week so that you know exactly what you must do, when, and how. This is especially important when it comes to sparring so that certain skills are focused on with the sparring partner who will test you on those skills. Also, utilize time management so that you can balance your day and week with training, work, and family life. Most fighters, especially in the beginning, suffer unnecessarily by not having time management skills. Scheduling your day hour by hour may seem dry and boring, but it allows you to get so much more done with less stress.

Making your diet easier will make your training process easier and more convenient. Making your eating style a proactive one by focusing on what to eat instead of what not to eat creates less stress, less overeating, and helps you keep in shape in between fights. There is no reason why a professional boxer should look like a chubby first-baseman between fights. Learning how to eat properly and making it a habit, not a forced sacrifice, will allow you to focus on increasing your boxing skills. Scheduling your meals the night or even the week before allows you to take the thinking out of your eating choices, have healthy food available and ready when cravings occur, and have the food you need available when you need it. As a result, being in good shape and health becomes who you are and not some temporary thing you do.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lack of Blog Posts

Boxing Fanatics,

I can give you some sorry excuse for not writing any blog posts recently. But I won't. I'll start again next week. Or maybe I won't. We'll see. In the meantime, keep your guard up, chin tucked in, and legs steady. Or fight like Ricardo Mayorga would. It's your choice.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Jab 101

The jab is the most important punch in boxing. Three important factors include proper form, use as an offense tool, and use as defense. The proper form includes keeping both hands held high, stepping with the jab on the ball of the foot, keeping the shoulder level and the chin tucked in and down, and turning the fist to the 4 o’clock position at the last moment. The effective use of the jab for offense controls the opponent, sets up the opponent for power punches and combos, and measures the distance of the opponent for accurate distance and power. The boxer’s effective use of the jab as a defensive tool keeps the opponent off balance, disrupts his timing, and keeps him at a distance if he becomes hurt.

The key to delivering the most effective jab is proper form. A boxer must keep his hands high and ready to throw a jab rather than deliver the jab from his waist which takes more time and loses the snap. The boxer steps with the lead foot, landing on the ball of the foot so that the step is smoother and faster – in line with the punch. The chin should be tucked under the lead shoulder to protect from the counter punch over the jab. The last split second, however, is the key, when the jab turns inward to the 4 o’clock position. That last split second, if done correctly, gives the jab the majority of its power and snap. Boxing commentators, trainers, and fans constantly gripe about the lack of boxers with great jabs. A return to basics will help with that.

The jab is the boxer’s most effective offensive tool. Using a strong consistent jab puts the boxer in control of the opponent by putting the opponent where the boxer wants him. Nothing is as frustrating as being constantly hit by a jab and being unable to hit back. That fact has caused many boxers, even great ones, to quit . (see Roberto Duran v. Leonard II) The boxer then sets up the opponent for power punches and combos by placing the boxer where he wants him. At the same time, the boxer is measuring the distance of the opponent with the jab so that the power punches and combos land with the best leverage and power.

Using the jab for defense is almost forgotten. The boxer’s jab keeps the opponent off balance by snapping the opponent’s head back and having to constantly change footing and position. The jab should be constantly thrown and is most effective when the opponent steps. Once off balance, the opponent then loses his ability to time the boxer and finds it more difficult, if not impossible, to land a clean strong punch. (see Winky Wright schooling Felix Trinidad with the jab) If hurt, boxer reverts either to going toe-to-toe, running around the ring, or taking a knee, when using a double jab and feints would have been more effective. So practice, focus, and repeat the perfect jab until you get it right. Doing so will always pay off.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Yoga For Boxers?

Boxers and Trainers,

There is more to yoga than stretch pants, unusual poses, and overpriced yoga mats. Doing yoga is a must for a boxer that wants to become a complete and fully-functioning athlete. Take away the mysticism, spirituality,andincense and what you have is a complete and demanding regimen of stretching exercises that should be a part of your training schedule.

A boxer becomes a complete athlete with the help of yoga exercises. The stretches, especially for someone new to yoga, shocks under-used muscles, tendons, and nerves to life. It creates flexibility and the ability to move in a new, more fluid way. And don't let the slow movement and breathing fool you--even the softer forms of yoga are difficult and strenuous on the whole body. And regardless of how experienced one becomes at yoga, there are always new positions to learn and use.

Waking up those nerves, tendons, and muscles makes the boxer stronger by putting the whole body fully into play. Only when you awaken those body parts are you able to use them 100% for more power, speed, strength and flexibility. Recovery time from injury and damage to the body is also shortened because more of the body is being used to help itself recover. Yoga should be done daily so that you will be able to train harder and longer. Yoga should be done when you wake up, before workout, and after the workout with other cool-down exercises.

Yoga also has the added benefit of helping digestion and weight management. Forget about sitting in a sauna to sweat out those extra couple of pounds before a fight -- there are few things that can make you run to the bathroom faster than the reverse triangle position! The twisting and stretching motions of yoga help blood flow and help you work up a sweat. Just ditch the yoga pants. You never know who's watching.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Opinion of the Week

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is strong, has very good power, very good balance, and proved that he can handle a slick southpaw like Austin Trout. What he lacks, however, is a consistent jab, body shots, and the ability to cut off the ring. If Canelo can gain those skills soon, he will be a long-term champion. If not, he will go the way of other hard-punchers who lacked basic skills, such as Nigel Benn, Razor Ruddock, and Omar Sheika.

The Fear Of Losing

The fear of losing is the worst opponent a fighter can ever meet.  It's the only opponent a fighter should ever avoid. I’m not talking about nervousness, anxiety, or weak knees when taking on a tough opponent at a big event. No, that’s normal and in some ways will always be with the fighter. The fear of losing, however, can take away a fighter's will, potential, and promise and, more often than not, he'll never get it back.

A really good boxer I trained with, let’s call him Perry Greene, had a ton of potential but let the fear of losing get the best of him.  In the gym, in the amateurs, and in his early pro fights, he was the one to watch. As he progressed through the pro ranks, however, he started to hold back his talent. You couldn’t really put your finger on it—he was throwing a lot of jabs, power punches, good movement, but there was something missing. Something was wrong. As soon as he got more attention from the press and fans, whatever it was that was missing, was gone for good. Fighters that he should beat easily, he would struggle with. Fighters that he would hurt badly, he would let survive. What was going on? Why wouldn’t he finish off and beat easier competition? Was he afraid that with showing his true potential people would expect more? In fact, people did expect more from him in each fight.

His father may have been the main issue. His father was a perfectionist who expected nothing but excellence from his son. Being very good wasn’t enough. Perry had to be perfect. After a particular disappointing win at the Great Western Forum, Perry’s father was giving him a verbal beat-down for not knocking his opponent out in the four-round fight. I even saw his father actually smack his son outside of the gym once or twice for not dominating a sparring partner. The father’s arguments with Perry's trainer were a common occurrence.

Now I’m no psychiatrist, but seemed to me that Perry was afraid – terrified even, of disappointing his father. Little by little that fear started overtaking him, and instead of motivating him, started to take away his will, talent, and potential. It’s been said that a little fear is a good thing—it keeps you sharp, focused, and ready. But if a fighter is afraid of losing, he has already lost. Fighting like that is like playing poker with scared money. It’s just a matter of time before you lose all your chips.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Brandon Rios vs. Alvarado: Where Are the Skills?

Was That Boxing?
What a disappointing boxing match between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado. Actually glorified street fight would be a better term for what I saw. Disappointing because of the lack of basic skills the two fighters, especially Rios, displayed. Not only are fights like that bad for the boxers but also bad for the sport of boxing.

Lack of Basic Skills
Boxing is not boxing until the fighters exhibit basic skills; otherwise it’s just a good street fight. Except for the occasional waving of his hands in front of his face, Rios does not know how to block or parry a punch, much less throw a counter. Alvarado is barely any better. And although Rios shows he can actually throw a decent jab, he rarely let it go. Round 9, for example, showed Rios throwing only 15 jabs (that’s 5 a minute), when he needed the jab to get inside Alvarado’s reach and close the distance. Rios' power punches would have landed more often after measuring Alvarado with the jab, keeping him unsteady and off balance. The best power punchers have always used their jab. Look at how Tyson used to get inside the reach of much taller opponents, or how Julian Jackson would measure his victims with jabs before knocking them out cold, and how Hearns would flick about his skinny left arm, covering his opponents’ eyes until that right hand put them to sleep .  

The punch stats also showed that Rios and Alvarado averaged only 5 body punches a round. The commentators were praising their toughness but what they fail to realize is that if either of the fighters worked the body early on, the fight would not have gone past 8 rounds. Rios never even bothered to cut off the ring to be  in a position to work Alvarado's body. Chavez Sr. (the real champion) worked the body of his opponents for the first three rounds, allowing him to stop 87 opponents, most notably when he knocked out Meldrick Taylor with only 2 seconds left. (Taylor lost nearly a pint of blood and was never the same again.)  Alvarado is given credit for using his legs and jab more often than in the first fight. That’s like giving credit to a basketball player that actually makes more free throws than he misses.

No Help To The Sport
Both fighters, but especially Brandon Rios, is doing nothing to improve the sport of boxing. Sure the fight can be called exciting, but so was the fight between SpongeBob and two ladies.
Boxing like that doesn’t show any real skills and gives the impression that boxing is just a matter of being tough. When that happens people tune out to see other tough sports, such as cage fighting, beach volleyball, and roller derby. Not only is fighting without basic skills bad for boxing, but also bad for the fighters’ health. As tough as Rios is, he will not be able to take those kinds of punches for too long. His matches along with the sparring which I assume is equally as defense-less, will take away any kind of career longevity and most probably cause health issues starting in his thirties. Weird thing is that Rios was a very accomplished amateur and was even an alternate on the Olympic team. No reason why he should be a head-first fighter. You can be exciting and have basic boxing skills. Just ask Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Julian Jackson, James Toney, JM Marquez, Sergio Martinez, and Nonito Donaire. Just don't ask Spongebob.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ten Least Threatening Boxing Nicknames

Your weekly top-ten list to discuss at work, church, and at the bar; though not necessarily in that order. I'm not sure if any of the nicknames are trademarked, but do the boxing world a favor by not taking on any of these nicknames and quite possibly ruining them.

1. "Baby" Joe Messi. WBC USNBC Heavyweight Champ. KO'd 29 of 36 opponents.
2. Jerry "Wimpy" Halstead. WBB Heavyweight Champ. 74% of wins by KO.
3. Ronald 'Winky" Wright. Light Middleweight Champ. Schooled Trinidad and Mosley.
4. Pernell 'Sweet Pea" Whitaker. Greatest Lightweight Ever.
5. "School Boy" Darrin van Horn. World Light Middleweight Champ. KO'd by Iran Barkley.
6. "Sugar" Ray Robinson. Greatest Welterweight. KO'd 177 in amateur & pro career.
7. "Gentleman Jim" Corbett. World Heavyweight Champ. Had only 24 fights. 
8. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. WBC Light Middleweight Champ. Name means cinnamon.
9. Eric "Butterbean" Esch. King of the Four-Rounders. Owns Mr Bean BBQ restaurant.
10. "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather. Welterweight Champ. Only two have used this nickname. One took on all challengers, the other is Mayweather.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

One Tough Challenge

Boxers and Trainers,

One of the biggest challenges you'll face as a boxer is keeping your weight under control. The biggest factor in that challenge are white carbohydrates. White carbohydrates, the so-called bad carbs, are refined and/or heavily processed foods such as white bread, white rice, pasta and potatoes that break down quickly in the digestive system into glucose (sugar) and flood the bloodstream causing blood sugar and insulin to spike. The physiological effects include fast weight gain, blood sugar spikes, and difficulty in maintaining weight regardless of the amount of exercise. The long-term effects take their toll on the liver, causes overall wear and tear on the body, and makes the boxer and trainer focus on weight management instead of boxing skills. The white carb challenge does have an answer by eating certain foods, making small changes over time, and focusing on small snacks throughout the day.

Boxing is hard enough without having to deal with the effects of white carbs. White carbs will cause you to add more weight than other seemingly unhealthy foods, such as a big juicy steak, carnitas tacos, and steak fajitas. That's right, an innocent-looking plate of spaghetti (that has little to no nutritional value) will cause you more weight gain than a good-sized steak dinner. The resulting flood of glucose causes a blood-sugar spike resulting in tiredness, sleepiness, and even blurry vision. Not exactly the best way to enter a boxing match. The innocent-looking white carbs make it all but impossible to deal with weight in a controllable manner, as if you are driving with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake.

The effects of white carbs are damaging in the long term. The liver is probably what suffers most as insulin levels are constantly trying to keep up with the glucose spikes. Day after day, month after month, and year after year, the liver is working essentially overtime for you. No doubt that losing and gaining weight again and again also takes its toll on the overall health of the body, especially the heart and digestive system. Also, rather than focusing on gaining skill and quality of training, the boxing team instead, especially in the beginning of training camp, focuses on losing weight and increasing quantity of training at the expense of quality.

If there was one answer it would be to cut out white carbs completely. Within a couple of weeks you will notice more energy and see that pounds disappear easily without even focusing on weight loss. But completely cutting out white carbs is neither practical nor would it last. White carbs are everywhere and such a big part of our eating habits. Here are, however, three steps to help you decrease white carbs from your eating habits:

1. Substitute white carbs for good carbs, such as beans, green vegetables, quinoa, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and sweet potatoes.
2. Make small changes, such as avoiding white carbs only after 2pm in the day. That way, if you eat them, you'll have time to burn them off throughout the day.
3. Eating small snacks (mainly nuts and green vegetables) throughout the day will keep those cravings from getting out of control.

What white carbs do you crave the most?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

10 Meanest Boxing Nicknames

Your weekly top-ten list to discuss at work, church, and at the bar; though not necessarily in that order. I'm not sure if any of the nicknames are trademarked, but do the boxing world a favor by not taking on any of these nicknames and quite possibly ruining them by not living up to their magic.

1. Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis. Welterweight champion.
2. "The Dark Destroyer" Nigel Benn. Middle/Super Middleweight champion.
3. Rafael "Bazooka" Limon. Super Featherweight champion.
4. Mike "The Body Snatcher" McCallum. Light Middleweight/Middleweight champion.
5. "Homicide Hank" Henry Armstrong. Welterweight champion.
6. "The Manassa Mauler" Jack Dempsey. Heavyweight champion.
7. Nikolay "The Beast From the East" Valuev. Heavyweight champion.
8. Iran "The Blade" Barkley. Middle/Super Middleweight champion.
9. "The Easton Assassin" Larry Holmes. Heavyweight champion.
10. Thomas "The Hitman" Hearns. Welter/Light Middle/Middle/Light Heavy champ.

Which is your favorite? 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Boost Your Boxing With Interval Training

As a boxer or trainer you may have heard of interval training. It’s a type of training, typically used for sprinters, long-distance runners, rowers, cyclists and others that need extended or explosive lung and cardiovascular power.  Interval training alternates between high intensity and low intensity use of the same exercise during a workout.  Interval training increases cardiovascular strength, speeds up fat and calorie loss, and can be used in nearly any type of exercise a boxer does. It’s basically training in a more efficient and especially more effective way. Used by top athletes in a wide variety of sports, it’s time that boxing started using this method more consistently.

The most important benefit of interval training is the added lung and cardiovascular capacity it provides. Boxing is a sport in which, like the other sports which use interval training, has varying intensity throughout the event. As the rounds progress, and depending on how the opponent is reacting, a boxer either picks up the pace, slows activity down, or sets into a medium pace. Interval training provides that boxer who is boxing at a comfortable pace to pick up the pace instantly, for longer periods of time if need be, and not get winded or, at least, get less winded. In training, the boxer will be able to train harder, longer, and recover easier and sooner.  The lower intensity part of the exercise (called the rest period, though the boxer is not resting, just going slower) is the key to interval training. It’s this part of the exercise that prepares the body to most efficiently process the lactic acid build-up that is responsible for muscle and cardiovascular fatigue. The inability of the body to process lactic acid more efficiently is why boxers, especially beginners, feel like there wearing sixteen pound gloves and not sixteen ounces after a couple of rounds of boxing.

Interval training is also the best type of training to burn fat and calories. A boxer should always be in shape and close to fighting weight to begin with, but if not, interval training is the answer. Interval training burns more fat and more calories for the same reason that a car uses more gas and oil driving down a city street, as opposed to a freeway.  Unlike driving down a freeway, a car in the city has to constantly stop, go, speed up, and slow down. That’s why a car always gets more mpg on the freeway than city driving. That’s what interval training does. It makes the body speed up, slow down, cruise, speed up, and start all over again, in a very challenging, calorie burning, fat melting, lung and heart pounding kind of way.

For interval training, the boxer should use about a 1:4 ratio and the high-intensity part should last between 10 and 15 seconds, while the low intensity part should be about one minute. It should be done after the regular workout, and about every other day.  

Some interval training exercises to apply in the gym:
1.   Heavy Bag:  Punching the heavy bag non-stop at 50% capacity for one minute, then immediately 100%  capacity (full speed and power) non-stop for 15 seconds. Repeat 5X.
2.   Jumping Rope: 1 minute at basic speed, then immediately 15 seconds at 100% speed. Repeat process for 15 minutes.
3.   Jogging/Sprinting: 1 minute jog, followed by a 15-second sprint (should be a little more than 100 yards,or a quarter of a basic track).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Back From Sea

Boxing Friends,

After being held hostage by Somalian pirates for the past couple of years, I am back to writing the little I know about boxing. The little I know should inform you enough that you can then go to sleep knowing you just wasted two minutes of your life. Oh, and don't forget to add me to your RSS or other reader.