Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Introduction to the Different Styles in Boxing

No person is the same. And the adage can be said in the sport of boxing. All boxers understand that the rule of the game is simple - punch your opponent until you knock him out, gives up, or the final bell sounded. But then, the way a boxer fights is what makes him different among the rest.

There are different types of boxers, depending on their strengths, their skill levels, and other correlated attributes. A boxer plays the game the way he does because of the fusion of all these features.

Different Boxing Styles

Brawler / Slugger

Brawlers are those who punch and punch with utter disregard for technique, relying heavily on their punching power to win. Most of them are slow and has poor footwork skills. They also tend to get hit a lot and most of the time, they catch a lot of shots on the way in.

While this can be a bad idea for a sound boxer, brawlers who can take tons of punches and deliver tons of damage in return sometimes win bouts. One powerful punch is all they need to win a fight.

George Foreman was a pure brawler and his durability along with his relentless style makes him one of the most feared brawlers when he was still active.

Classic boxer / Distance Fighter

The classic boxer, also known as the distance fighter, optimizes the distance between him and his opponent. A distance fighter prefers to pepper their opponents with long distance punches, most notably the jab, in an effort to keep them at bay and tire them throughout the fight. Another trait of the classic / distance fighter is that they also have better footwork than most of their opponents.

The jab and other long range punches do not carry huge amounts of power, which explains why most distance fighters win by points. However, a distance fighter can knock out their opponents if they are able to tire them down the stretch.

Most notable proponent of this style is Muhammad Ali, whose quick feet and sharp jabs helped him become one of the legends of the sport. It is also important to note that Ali is no power puncher.


Perhaps the type of boxer that requires a lot of skills in their armory, the boxer-puncher tend to wears their opponents down with powerful combinations and go for the knockout using a series of punches or even with just one shot. With deft footwork and blazing hand speed, they can slide in and do some damage and slip out before the other boxer can retaliate. Most traits of a boxer-puncher include speed, good chin, and extreme mobility.

Manny Pacquiao is a fine example of a boxer-puncher. He is naturally fast and agile and he also packs power in both hands.

Swarmer / Pressure Fighter

As the name suggests, pressure fighters prefer to stay up close and in front of their opponents and throw a lot of powerful combinations to frustrate them, take them off their game, and wear them down for the big finish. While their style may be the same as the brawler / slugger, a pressure fighter is more defensively sound and a lot skillful than their brawling counterparts.

Pressure fighters can bob and weave, slip to the sides, and prefer to duck punches than block them. They also have to have a strong chin because they also tend to get hit a lot, although not as much as a brawler.

One remarkable pressure fighter is Mike Tyson. He always closes the distance between him and the other man and unleash flurries of power punches to keep the bout short and sweet.

Perhaps the most defensive-minded of all types of boxers, counterpunchers have tons of defensive skills at their disposal. A counterpuncher is almost always not the aggressor, but their offense is always initiated with good defense.

A counterpuncher throws a shot after slipping or deflecting the other boxer's punches. To be an effective counterpuncher means you need to have some decent amount of power as well as above-average hand speed.

Perhaps the most known counterpunchers today include Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Matching up the styles

Each type of boxer can dominate and be dominated. A brawler can easily beat a pressure fighter but struggles against a distance fighter. A distance fighter on the other hand, tends to have a hard time against pressure fighters.

But there are some instances where a boxer changes his style while in the fight to gain the upper hand. Bernard Hopkins can switch from a distance boxer to a pressure fighter if the situation calls for it. Manny Pacquiao, a boxer-puncher, can easily revert to his brawling self if he feels his opponent will go down with sheer punching power.

Each style has its potential to make any bout exciting and fulfilling, despite its flaws and shortcomings. As they say in boxing, styles make fights.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Boxing Essentials: The Stance

One of the most important foundations a boxer should include in his learning process is the stance. The stance is the boxer’s form from which he can initiate an offensive or execute defensive maneuvers.

The importance of a good and sound stance is stressed by many boxing coaches. A good stance allows a boxer to properly position himself for an attack and generate power for his punches. A good stance also creates opportunities for a boxer to defend himself from any offensive his opponent might conjure.

How a boxer chooses his stance depends on whether he is an orthodox fighter (right-handed) or a southpaw (left-handed).

In the basic orthodox stance, the left foot is in front of the right foot and the lead arm, which is the left, is held vertically approximately six inches in front of the face at eye level, while the right hand is placed beside the chin and the elbow positioned against the ribcage to protect the body.

The southpaw stance is basically the mirror-image of the orthodox stance. A southpaw fighter leads with his right fist and right foot compared to an orthodox fighter.

There are fighters who can fight well in both stances. Erik Morales during his prime can switch from orthodox to southpaw and vice versa without compromising his effectiveness in the ring. However, such ability requires dexterity and skill to be able to box in orthodox or southpaw stance.

Renowned boxing coach Russ Anber demonstrates the importance of the stance here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Boxing Fundamentals: The Jab

When you plan to learn how to box, you must understand the importance of the jab.

The jab is the most important weapon in any boxer’s arsenal of punches. It serves a lot of purposes and it really gives the boxer great advantages if properly mastered. If a boxer does not learn how to jab effectively, he severely restricts his ability to box and in the general, win the bout.

Simply put, the jab is an important foundation in building a person's boxing fundamentals and basics.

The jab is executed when a fighter snaps his leading arm and hand straight to the opponent’s head, usually to the chin or the temple. No looping motions or winding up. It just goes straight, with the lead arm fully extended and the fist rotating to 90 degrees with the thumb parallel to the floor upon impact.

After hitting the target, the boxer then snaps his lead arm and hand back to the guard position. That means your lead hand and arm covers your chin for protection.

If you are a right-handed fighter (orthodox), your lead hand is the left and vice versa for lefties (southpaw). It may seem awkward at first since a boxer will be using his non-dominant hand to throw the jab, but with time and proper training, a boxer’s jab will greatly improve to become one of the most potent shots at his disposal.

For starters, the jab is very crucial especially for those with long arms, significant hand speed, and less punching power. It can be used to create space between fighters, initiate a combination, or wear the opponents down for the big finish.

Ideally, the jab is used to keep the opponent at bay. Boxers like Muhammad Ali exemplified on how to use the jab to prevent the other boxer from coming in. With his long arms and naturally fast hands, Ali would thwart any attack from his opponents from the distance with his lightning jabs.

For boxers who do not have punching power, the jab is their ultimate weapon. Former light welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi sports an impressive record of 23-3, but the thing is, only five of those 23 wins were won by way of knockout. Maliganggi is not a hard puncher and relies heavily on his quickness to outbox his opponents. He uses his jab a lot to keep his enemies off balance and launch combinations when he sees an opening.

One thing a boxer must remember though, the jab is not a power punch. It is used to set up the power punches such as hooks and crosses. That said, the jab can inflict damage in the long haul and eventually wear down any boxer who is not keen on avoiding it. Ali is known to tire his opponents out with his quick and stiff jabs.

The jab, although not a power punch, remains to be the most vital weapon in a ring fighter’s armory and as such, should not be overlooked. If you don't learn how to throw an effective jab, you might as well throw the towel because your chances of winning are close to none.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Boxing Fundamentals: Crosses and Straights

I very much believe you are going to like this lesson, simply because you are going to be the most comfortable throwing a cross or a straight punch. It is the one punch everyone has probably used throughout their life, whether it was in fights, playing with your brothers/sisters, or teasing your boyfriend/girlfriend.

Remember back in a previous article about boxing fundamentals and basics, when we were setting up your stance and I told you that you were an orthodox fighter if you were right handed and a southpaw if you were left handed?

That of course, made your lead hand your weaker punch and thus saved your rear hand for this punch - a power punch.

Power punches are characterized by a transfer in weight. For orthodox fighters, this punch is called a straight right or right cross. For southpaws, it is a straight left or left cross. In both instances, weight is transferred from the rear foot to the front foot allowing you to throw a lot of power into this punch.

The punch you naturally throw is probably more like an overhand right or left, so resist the urge to wind up and throw a looping right hand and call it a straight right or left. These punches are called straight, because they shoot straight out from your guard position and then come straight back in.

Most often, they are used in a combination with the jab leading. The 1-2 combination that you will learn about in the succeeding lesson is a prime example of this. The jab sets up the straight right.

If you can picture an opponent, picture what happens when you land a jab. You defeat his guard and knock his head up and back exposing his chin. If you time the straight right or left after that, good chance you can clock him/her straight on the chin and send him crashing to the floor.

The temple and the chin are two excellent targets that will induce knockouts. Improving your crosses and your straights may take a while, but if you badly want to win every fight, knowing how and when to throw a cross or a straight can be the difference between losing and winning.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Boxing Fundamentals: Throwing Boxing Combinations

As I mentioned in a previous article in this boxing fundamentals and basics series, boxing trainers will typically number their punches to facilitate training. It is much easier to yell out 1-2 than it is to yell out Jab-Straight Right.

When you learn how to box and throw combination, you will probably be trained using a numbering system that is probably identical to what a number of trainers use. Jab is 1, Straight Right/Left is 2, Left Hook - 3, Right Hook - 4, Left Uppercut - 5, Right Uppercut - 6. If it is a body shot, a B is added to the number - so Jab to the body is represented as 1B.

It's not rocket science and it works.

I've also taken this numbering one step further to classify combinations according to a series. In this lesson you are going to learn both 1 series and 2 series combinations. In total, there are 6 series combinations plus a few addons.

A series of combinations is defined by the number of different punches that make up the combination. So, combinations that consist only of jabs are 1 series combinations. That is, there is only 1 unique punch in the combination no matter how many times it is thrown in sequence.

A 2 series combination consists of two different punches. This means it could be a 1-2, a 2-3, a 3-4, 4-5, and so on. As you can see, the number of possible combinations increases significantly with every additional series.

In reality, you will likely never learn every possible punching combination. You will find the ones you like and that work for you and work them into your own boxing style.

As well, not every combination is ideal while others complement each other very nicely. For instance, the way weight is transferred in a1-2-3 (Jab, Straight Right, Left Hook) is very natural. The Jab pushes the head back to make it a target for the right which transfers weight to the front leg, while the left hook transfers the weight
back to the natural stance position.

Other combinations like say a 2-6 (straight right, right uppercut) are near impractical. After the straight right your weight is forward and you need to "recock" in order to throw a decent right uppercut.

If that is confusing, don't read too much into it right now, just know that some combinations "flow" better than others. So while there are thousands of possible combinations, you're only going to employ the best of them.

Why are combinations effective?

Your opponent can have the best defense in the world and he may be able to stop/block 1, 2, 3, or even 4 punches in a row, but eventually he will make a mistake and if that mistake happens before you are finished your combination, you will connect.

That is the theory behind combinations. In theory, because of the "flow" and weight transfers associated with a good combination, you could throw 100 punch combinations or more (if you had the stamina) and never be off balance.

Of course, practical application never matches the theory. So lace up those boxing gloves, warm up, and learn how to box and throw some killer punch combos!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Boxing Fundamentals: On Proper Boxing Defense

While boxing is almost all about aggression and offense, playing the aggressor is not always what it seems to be. Defense is also a key element among other boxing fundamentals and basics. That said, I need to explain to you the difference between offense, defense, and any mixtures of the two.

Way back in the previous articles, I explained to you how to throw a few boxing punches - jab, straight right, combinations. If you think in terms of combat or war - these are your weapons and they are used
in your offensive game.

You cannot win if you do not have an offense. It is impossible. You have to hit the other person if you want to win in boxing. Even in terms of fitness for those of you who want to learn how to box with no intention of fighting, without an offense, your workouts are going to be useless. You will burn very few calories. Of all the aspects of boxing, your offense is the most important.

So if offense is so important, why do I have to learn defense?

In a minute I'll get to that, but first you have to understand two concepts:

1. Momentum. In a literal sense, momentum is movement. Something has momentum if it is moving. A car has momentum if it is driving. A running person has momentum. It is simply movement.

In boxing, to have momentum is to be doing something and that something is generally working in your favor.

2. Initiative. Initiative is what controls the fight. If you have the initiative you are not reacting to what your opponent is doing, you are dictating to your opponent how the fight is going to go.

At all times you want to have both the initiative and momentum. This concept ties into additional lessons you will encounter as you learn how to box.
Now, on to why you need a defense.

The ultimate goal in boxing as I've said before is to hit without getting hit. If you've lost the initiative or momentum, then you are forced to adopt a defensive posture.

Here's the important thing to learn about boxing defense - it has to be a temporary state. You adopt a defensive posture in order to find an opportunity to regain the initiative. The longer you stay in a defensive mode, the more chance you have of losing the fight.

While in a defensive mode, you should be taking every opportunity to find an opening to launch a counterattack or preempt an attack. Only when you understand that you use defense to open opportunities for offense will you be successful.

Learning how to box is not purely based on offense, it is about opening and looking for opportunities where you can strike back and regain momentum and initiative.

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