Growth in the Sweet Science
Over the course of pugilistic history there have been identified five basic styles of fighters each with ranges and points where one counters the other. These stylistic approaches are more “temperaments” than anything else and can best be defined by the following: Boxer, brawler, counter puncher or inside/outside fighter.
To this end, there are near as many varying guards and or defensive postures. From the traditional high or Mexican style guard, the Philly defense popularized as of late by Floyd Mayweather (let’s not forget that its genius was demonstrated decades prior by James Toney), Mike Tyson’s Peek-a-boo, and the traditional cross armed posture sometimes deemed the crab shell by powerhouses like Joe Frazier, and George Foreman, Archie Moore and Ken Norton. Each position has a place and time where one can effectively employ a counter to the other yet, often times coaches rob their younger charges of the benefits of continued learning for one of two reasons:
- Boxing, being nothing short of an institution is largely taught following in the manner it was received and methods of passing on the information are relegated to the lineage of who’s teaching it. In context, many of the older generation really did not venture outside of their schools of thought which resulted in a great proficiency of their style but very little outside influence.
- Fear of not knowing or being proficient in the applications of other technologies in the sport often leads coaches to throw every other method by the wayside and insist his way is the only way.
Both are rooted in ego, meaning that as coaches we should always humble ourselves enough to seek out new and emerging methods in which our athletes can benefit. In short, we should be as excited to learn and expand our knowledge of the science as we expect of our fighters!
The Internet: Gift and Curse
The growing popularity of the internet now allows young exponents to seek out training drills and ideas from around the world and while a wonderful resource in which to expand one’s knowledge, it is often hampered by misinformation or one-sided dialogue with no explanation for minutia. I have seen many a first day student walk in and try to emulate things they see on the internet. As a coach I urge my fellow colleagues to venture outside of their comfort zone and simply enjoy being a student again.
The MMA world has recently experienced a resurgence of old techniques within the realms of striking and ideas such as the “Ketchel and Fitzimmons” shift are now resurfacing to the delight of old school boxing purists. While boxing has seen the successful implementation of these movements for years (“Triple G” uses many shifting variations) striking coaches across the globe are seeking new and intuitive ways to level their playing fields or gain an advantage. It is my opinion that this is due largely to the “open minded” mentality of the martial arts world and MMA in particular in which continued learning is encouraged.
The addition of the cage has added new dimensions of utility as well as a springboard for punches knees and kicks (Anthony Pettis) one of my favorite fights to date was the epic back and forth battle between Cub Swanson and Mackens Sermezier in WEC, which showcased a brilliant collection of philly shell, shifting, “neo-striking” and even a smattering of unorthodox 52 hand block techniques.
My coaching brethren, go outside the confines of what you know and further your knowledge. You don’t have to abandon your roots and your future fighters will thank you.
Oh, how I love being a student.