Christmas boxing

Lessons in the Ring: Footwork

Recently I had the privilege of working one-on-one with a favorite trainer of mine; his name is Mike and he has the moves of a ninja assassin (I know tons of those guys) and the heart of a teacher. He mostly teaches MMA, and I frequently find myself thinking, “If I could box like he fights…” So with that in mind I arranged for a little bit of training time with him.

It’s amazing how much you can learn in one short hour. Mike had me shadowbox for a few minutes or so, and gave me some pointers that will take me months to integrate.

1. So much hinges on balance.
I didn’t realize I’d been keeping most of my weight either on my front foot or (more frequently) my rear foot. This means I’m slow to move and if I add leaning back (which I tend to do) I could easily end up on my butt on the canvas.

We have an old tire out on the loading dock behind our gym. I’ve spent time standing on it in my boxing stance, shifting my weight forward and back in the classic boxer shuffle, trying to get the hang of keeping my balance so precisely carried between my front and back foot that I can move quickly in any direction.

Sound easy? I wish.

2. Use the ball of your rear foot.
I had been letting my toe pivot when I threw a straight right or a right hook, but I wasn’t keeping the ball of my back foot in solid contact with the ground and using it to push my punch out. This means I’m letting my arms do all the work when I could use my legs too.

3. Duck under with a crescent step to the side, right hook.
I really wasn’t working any angles, just boxing straight on. Mike drilled me on this simple “crescent” step — where you slide your right foot up and out to the side — before throwing a right hook. The ducking and sliding is in combination with a wind-up for that hook, which can go to the head or body. But all of it depends on getting the footwork right.

4. Keep toes on front foot pointed straight at your opponent.
I had been pointing mine to the right slightly, as if I were trying to get a head start in moving to the right (customary, when two orthodox fighters are working together). But this leaves me just slightly off balance and prevents me from moving quickly to the left.

Just four more lessons on the way. Shout out to Mike Velotta: thanks so much!

Image by danielmorris (kinda Christmassy, dontcha think?)

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