Boxing is a sport that is growing in popularity within the UK, particularly due to the dominance the nation has on the most popular weight division in the sport; the heavyweights. With Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury holding all of the senior world titles within the division, boxing is peaking the interest of the British public. Although this is the case, the participation in foundation level sport within the UK is currently illegal in correspondence with lockdown regulations. People are finding that they now have more free time than ever and are reveling in learning new skills, however due to the lockdown regulations are finding it almost impossible to learn about new sports. Boxing however is a skill that can be developed from your own home, and this blog is designed to help novice’s learn the basics before the world goes back to normal and your skills can be further enhanced by local trainers.
Although boxing is a sport that outsiders would believe to be predominantly reliant on the work of fast, powerful and accurate punches, its the feet rather than the hands which are the most fundamental tool. If your footwork is poor, so will be your balance, meaning that even the weakest of punches can drop you to the ground. Due to this it is key to develop a strong stance and ensure the feet are planted correctly, before even thinking about what you should do with your hands. The way to identify where your feet should be placed would be to follow a few simple steps:
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
- Take a half step forward with your lead leg (this should leave the leg on the side of your power hand as the back leg; this is usually the hand you write with)
- Turn both feet 45 degrees in the direction opposite to the led leg you used to take a half step with in the previous instruction (if your lead leg is your left one, both feet should turn 45 degrees to the right)
- Elevate the heel of your back foot around 2 inches off of the ground and slightly bend the knee of the front leg
- Hold up both arms slightly above chin height and tuck your elbows inwards so they are almost touching your rib cage
This basic stance will allow of a stronger base, with the slight rotation of the body and the combination of a front foot and back foot making it a lot more difficult to be knocked down by punches. The fists will be in place to protect the jaw and cheekbones and the forearms will be in position to protect the body. As things get more advanced you will start to move your body with the opponents punches in order to protect uncovered areas however defense will be learned as you develop.
The straight jab is the most important punch in boxing. It is used in order to help you find your range, to keep your opponent at distance and to score without taking a great risk. The backhand is the power hand, which usually comes after the jab in a combination. For example it is often important to throw a jab before a backhand in order to measure your range and ensure the power shot will land, and to also move the opponents guard to the direction of the jab and hopefully leave an area unprotected for the backhand to land. The three key steps to remember when throwing a straight shot are extension, rotation, and retraction. To throw out the punch, start to extend the fist from the guard position above the upper jaw, out towards the target, straitening the elbow so that the fist goes to meet the target at full extension. Whilst extending the fist, it should start to rotate so that when it meets the target the knuckles are facing upwards and the bottom of the clenched fist is facing towards the floor, meaning that the fist meets the target at full rotation. Once the target has been met by the fist, the arm should retract, rotating the fist back so that it is back into the guard position, almost reversing the process.
Hooks and uppercuts
The final step of the basics to learn at home before seeking coaching after lockdown would be bent arm shots. These are the shots used in order to try finish an opponent or to cleverly get around their guard and force them to switch stance and leave an opening. The key for these shots are to avoid cocking the arms back like a cannon, as this will reveal your next move to the opponent. Practice throwing a hook by standing in guard and hooking the arm out from the body with the elbow bent at 90 degrees, out around should height so that your fist should meet the target on the side of the head, with the knuckles facing up and bottom of the clenched fist facing down. The body should turn with the shot in the direction of the moment of the punch to add power. This is the shot which leads to the majority of knockouts in boxing. In order to throw an uppercut, first bend the knees and bring your body upwards again to create an upwards momentum, hook the arm upwards so that the fist connects with the underneath of the opponents chin. When the fist meets the target with an uppercut, the back of the hand should be facing the opponent and the front facing your body, with the elbow facing the ground.
All of these techniques can be practiced at home shadow boxing (using an imaginary opponent), without equipment. This means that learning the fundamentals is cost effective due to there being no need for equipment, and lockdown appropriate as there’s no need for an opponent. There really is no excuse not to!