Develop the Skills with Boxing Drills
The recent article that I posted titled Boxing Drills – Tips for Success was very popular. In it I discussed the importance of boxing drills and offered some tips on getting the right level of success from completing boxing drills. Now I want to put some visual context around drills, and where better to find this context than the wondrous world of Cuban amateur boxing and more specifically a top coach; Professor Carlos Miranda.
I don’t speak Spanish, even though I wish I did. However, that doesn’t matter. Thankfully my lifetime in boxing allows me to roughly translate some of the key messages being put out by the brilliant coach who’s working with this crop of aspiring Cuban fighters. The universal language of boxing I suppose.
The video of this run through of excellent boxing drills is about 9 minutes in length. There is some repetition from about the 7th minute, so be prepared for that. However, you can watch it all the way through then check out my observations below the video. As usual I’ve put a time mark to make reference to the video easy.
The first thing to notice here is that we have a group of boxers who are all at different levels of experience. Some of the fighters are clearly more experienced and capable than others, but this doesn’t matter. Boxing drills can suit top-flight international fighters just as easy as they can suit absolute novices.
Boxing Footwork – The Root of all Greatness
We can get straight in at 0:17. This first boxing drill is about maintaining control during aggressive, attacking boxing. You can learn individual boxing skills. But, success will only be achieved when you can combine these individual boxing skills in various ways. It’s fair to say that the most basic and most important boxing skills to combine are punching and movement. Being mobile and lethal with your fists will certainly help you along the way to boxing super-stardom. This first boxing drill is about exactly that, punching and moving in a continuous stream of speed and ferocity.
Note the very controlled stance and look particularly at the distance between the legs. No matter at what point in the boxing drill the boxer is, the distance between the legs should remain constant. I cover this exact point in the video Boxing Footwork – Moving In and Out. In fact, if you want a basic boxing drill to work on then check out that video. It’s simple but very effective. Notice also that there is lots of slipping and rolling going on, both before and after punching. Lots of extra leverage for the punches and at the same time making you a very hard target to hit.
Boxing Drills Maximizing Attacking Effectiveness
At 0:37 our expert boxing coach goes to work. And one thing, I use the word ‘expert’ in it’s correct context here. This is a man who has spent his whole life immersed in the sport of boxing and has imparted a staggering amount of knowledge to his students. I think that the word ‘expert’ is used far too casually. Everyone’s an expert, especially on the internet! This man is a true boxing expert, of that you can be assured.
Varying the angle and trajectory that your punches take to the target is a great way to build a high punch success rate. In simple terms this is because if you say get smashed in the ribs with a right hook to the body, then naturally in that instant your defensive attention is going to switch to that area. But, and this is the key, you may leave openings elsewhere that a good boxer will exploit. This exploitation is built upon boxing drills.
In this particular boxing drill, the coach is encouraging the boxers to consider the benefits of combining left hooks and right hooks with left uppercuts and right uppercuts. The uppercuts can land anywhere from the solar plexus upwards and the attack the vertical central axis of the opponent (the same central axis that is used during the rotation of the body when throwing the straight back hand/right cross). The hooks attack the flanks; each side of the opponent’s jaw. Think about it, if you land an uppercut under the opponent’s chin, it will lift their head. This is when the hooks take their toll. All of this achieved during a steady, controlled advance.
Turning Defence into Attack
At 1:10 we have an example of combining defence and attack. If you can develop that capability, to seamlessly switch from attack to defence and back again, then you pretty much have it made. The boxing coach here is using a variation of the defensive inside fighting blocks. The defensive blocks are merely a platform to fire in the simple jab and right cross. Effective defence is key in modern amateur boxing, with blocks being used often to stop clean punches landing. A judge can only score a ‘clean’ punch, any doubt and they can’t press the button. Blocks are great for creating that doubt. Check out the the recent article Dealing with Counter Punching for more on this.
Boxing drills allow you to create these sequences in glorious isolation. Drills allow you to nurture all types of boxing skills, developing that all-consuming need to make the skills work against a live opponent. You’ve got to love boxing drills and all they stand for.
Common Faults – Heel and Toe
At 1:35 we see the classic demonstration of a common fault when moving forward. Obviously this coach is as particular about making sure that his boxers don’t ‘heel and toe’ as they move as I am. This is covered in detail in the video post Boxing Footwork -Moving In and Out (at around 3:20), but I’ll cover the reason why it’s such a problem here. If you move forward and you land the heel on your front foot, then you are neither in a position to throw effective punches or even worse to defend yourself by slipping, rolling etc. A long time saying of referees in boxing is “Defend yourself at all times”, so make sure you are in a position to. Being on your heel on the front foot is not the place to be.
Coach Miranda is eager to highlight this fault to his boxers, and he uses boxing drills to do this. Boxers stay on the balls of their feet, it is what we do. Boxing drills reinforce this principle. Every second that you are facing a live opponent,make sure you are in a position to defend and attack…it’s the law!
Variety is the Spice of Life
My favourite part of the whole video happens at 3:50. It’s just sublime. Coach Miranda demonstrates 5 basic boxing defences to an incoming jab (and he does so brilliantly I might add). The boxing defences are:
- The block
- The lead hand parry inside
- The back hand parry inside
- The outside slip
- The push away (basically moving out).
After the defences have been demonstrated, the boxers are set to a session of what we call ‘Technical Sparring.’ Technical sparring is the method of taking boxing drills to the next step. It is not full, open sparring. It is sparring with some controls. In this tech sparring, one boxer throws the jab, the other uses any of the defences demonstrated.
If you watch closely, you should be able to spot some of the defences being used. I say ‘used’, some of the boxers are using the defences, some of the less experienced boxers are making enthusiastic attempts at the defences. But that’s the beauty of it, learning in action, you just can’t beat it. In fact, I could write a post on virtually every one of the pairs in the technical sparring session. There really is lots going on.
I think I will leave it there. A great Cuban boxing coach plying his trade by putting in place the boxing drills and technical advice that helps to develop the next generation of Cuban amateur boxers, quite simply the best in the world.
As always, questions and comments will be gratefully received below.