Podcast Episode 006: Complex issues

Welcome to already episode 006 of the podcast! In this one I give a few updates and Q&A as usual, with the main topic focusing on complex issues and an intellectual exercise to explain a few things I feel are important.

Show notes:

1. Updates

2. Complex issues

3. Q&A

 

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Boxer hospitalized after confronting burglars

I just read a story about professional boxer Anthony Crolla. How he got into a fight outside of the ring and it ended badly. All the details aren’t out just yet, so take everything with a grain of salt until more details are released.

What seems to have happened is this:

  • Anthony Crolla noticed burglars climbing over the neighbor’s fence into his yard.
  • He chased them and managed to get a hold of one of them.
  • The other one grabbed a brick (or slab of concrete) and hit him over the head with it.
  • Crolla suffered a broken ankle and fractured skull and was taken to a hospital.

That’s pretty much all we know so far.

I’d like to make two specific points here. Neither one is related to Crolla as an individual. Before I do, take a look at this highlight and keep in mind that Crolla was scheduled for a world-title fight next month.

You can argue many things, but you can’t argue that Crolla is a poorly skilled boxer. He’s a professional, young and in awesome shape, especially given his upcoming title bout. Yet all that wasn’t enough to avoid getting his head bashed in and as a result, he might never fight again. At the very least, that title bout is gone and he’s in for a long recovery.

The first point I want to make is this:

If a professional, world class-level boxer can’t make boxing work in such a situation, why would you think you can pull it off?

You can again argue many things against this statement, that he is a lightweight and maybe the burglars were heavier. That it’s two against one, or some other issue you might want to bring up. If you do, you precisely make my second point: [Read more…]

How to keep your guard up in a fight

It’s been a while since I wrote a “how-to” guide so here is another one: how to keep your guard up in a fight.

First, a quick explanation: The focus of this guide is combat sports like MMA, muay Thai and boxing. That said, to a degree, you can use the same information for self-defense and traditional martial arts as well. In those, you sometimes have to keep your hands in a specific place, for instance on center-line, chambered at the hip, etc.  Some of the ideas I write here will apply there as well, but not all of them. As always, use whatever you can and ignore the rest.

Second, why is it important? Why is there even a need to keep your guard up in a fight? We’ve all seen fighters with low or sloppy guards beat their opponents, right?

True enough, it happens. The most popular example of this is Muhammad Ali, who routinely dropped his hands or just kept them all the way down and still beat his opponents. Here he is in action. Watch the low guard…

Here’s the thing: just because some other fighter can get away with it, doesn’t mean you can.

You’re not Muhammad Ali. Do you have his level of skill? His footwork? His speed? His elusiveness? His experience?

Probably not.

But all these elements are a part of why he didn’t get punished all the time when he didn’t keep his guard up in a fight. However, when he got older and slower, the low guard didn’t work anymore and he started taking beatings in the ring. So no matter how good you are, there comes a time when a sloppy guard will come back to haunt you. The reason why a high guard is important is simple: you get hit more often if you drop your guard, especially if you don’t know you’re dropping it.

As a final point, there are two parts to learning how to keep your guard up in a fight: [Read more…]

Boxing for self-defense, is it effective?

Here’s a question I get asked a lot: how effective is boxing for self-defense?

The easy answer: it’s very effective.

It’s just as effective as any combat sport that teaches full power striking, defending against such attacks and then sparring hard to see what it’s like. In a nutshell, those are the three main components that make boxing such an effective tool for self-defense:

  • You learn to generate knock out power in both hands with a variety of techniques from different ranges.
  • You learn to block, slip, parry, dodge and evade those attacks.
  • You practice both of the above in a live fire situation against an opponent who does his best to hurt you.

Those are the critical aspects if you want to use boxing for self-defense. If these three are consistently present in your training, then I believe you have the start of something worthwhile. However, that doesn’t mean you should go out and try to fight in the street exactly like you would in the ring. As I wrote here, here and here, (if you browse through my blog you’ll find many more entries on this topic) you should always consider the context of the art or sport you practice and compare that to the new context in which you want to use it. I’ve written at length about just that so I won’t link to it here. If you want to read all those articles, you might enjoy getting the paper or digital version of my latest book. It has all that and more.

Back on track.

boxing for self-defense

 

How effective is boxing for self-defense

I’ve said this in the past and I’ll repeat it now: you could do a whole lot worse than to begin your training for self-defense with Western boxing. I’ll even add to this the following: you haven’t been punched until you’ve been hit by a boxer. Nor do you know punching until you’ve learned to box. 

Here’s a story from my sordid youth:

After I came back from competing in my last world championships (I’d decided to retire beforehand), I trained with another member from the national team at his boxing gym. He was a boxer at heart before he started with Chinese martial arts and he’d invited me there. It was the kind of gritty, low-rent gym you find in such a bad part of town and I was the only blue-eyed pale-face there. Putting it differently: everybody was highly motivated to spar with me…

To make a long story short: I got my ass handed to me. They landed punches at will and I had a very hard time scoring anything on them. I left that gym tired and sore all over.

I learned a key lesson though: I had been depending on kicking techniques too much and discovered just how much more work I needed to do on my hand techniques. As a result, I spent a lot more time studying boxing techniques and gradually got better. I’ll never be a true boxer (nor do I aim to be one) but at least I can hold my own now.

That one session in a boxing gym taught me the value and strength of Western boxing and I’ve only seen this confirmed ever since. Many people have the bias that Eastern martial arts are more effective than their Western counterparts but I believe this is not entirely accurate. Western boxing is a prime example of that. Just to put this into perspective: the Chinese Army incorporated it into it’s curriculum, at the expense of locally developed training methods.

Given as there were plenty of Chinese martial arts styles available, this is testimony to the effectiveness of Western boxing. Especially if you know just how nationalistic the Chinese can be at times, but I digress again…

I already explained the three main reasons why boxing works so well in the street, but there is more. To illustrate this, here are some videos of actual fights so you get a better idea of what I mean.

Here goes: [Read more…]