Tag Archives: bag work

Training in the Malaysian heat

I can see why some people prefer to do their training (and their living) somewhere warm!  You’d be forgiven for thinking I’ve been physically inactive for the last four weeks but I’ve been training everyday in the Malaysian heat.   Before I left home, I downloaded a whole bunch of YouTube clips of Vasyl Lomachenko practicing his shadowboxing and some of his movements on the heavy bag so I’ve spent the last four weeks putting my study into practice.  I’ve really enjoyed it and there isn’t a day where I’m thankful that I’ve found something I really enjoy that takes my mind and my body away from here.

I’ve lost some more weight but it’s not hard when you’re training in this kind of 26 to 30 degree Celcius heat (79 – 86F).  I’ll have to weigh myself when the boat is moored alongside later this week but the last time I checked I was hovering around 71 kg with my body dehydrated.  I had a moment where I was thinking where all this training is going…  Maybe there shouldn’t be a point.   Maybe I should just enjoy it for however long my body can keep up.   I’m moving a lot better though and I’ve put a lot of time into the training since April.  That’s what life offshore is like.  You can set yourself up so you don’t do anything except work and train everyday and I have.

I managed to get hold of the Pacquiao – Vargas fight.  It was great to see a 37-year old Pacquiao out-score and out-box a man ten years his junior and win back his title.  I’m not saying I’m anything like Pacquiao but if you look after yourself and train hard, you can still accomplish things.

Mind you, I think a younger Pacquiao wouldn’t have let the fight go to twelve rounds but he looked happy in that ring.  He’s always got a smile on his face when he walks on and why wouldn’t he?  Pacquiao was homeless on the streets of Manilla and eventually got paid handsomely doing something he clearly loves and does so well.

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This is one of places I train on this boat.  It’s outdoors but I’m thankful there’s shelter from the sun.  It can get really warm!  I normally shadowbox on the helideck in the sun for 25 minutes before I spend another half an hour on this heavy bag.  There’s not enough space to move 360-degrees around but I can still pivot 180 degrees  in the way I’ve seen Lomachenko practice that move so many times.  One day I might even be able to execute that against someone rather than practice it on the bag.  I’ll do other things additionally like do interval training and run on the treadmill a few times a week so my body’s still getting a good balance.

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This is my cabin.  Small!  I’ve actually made it pretty cosy.  That’s a rug I bought when I was in Indonesia a couple of years ago and I just keep it on the boat.  I think I’ll bring a poster, or two, back with me since I’ll be working over Christmas this year.  It’d be good to have something nice on those bare walls.  I like how my cabin’s become a sanctuary for me.  I can just close that door and I feel relaxed.  I think it’s the rug that ties the room together!  You can see my yellow boxing shoes on that transport box next to an older Mark I PS3.  What have I been playing on that?  Fight Night 4 of course! lol.  I am going to buy Fight Night Champion when I go home.  Give me something to do when I come back for Christmas (Besides more training!).  Right now I’m just looking forward to going home.

 

Adidas Hybrid 300 Boxing Gloves Review (16oz)

I love my Winning lace ups but sometimes it isn’t practical because I’m either training at home or sometimes there are situations when there’s no one around to help you lace up your gloves.  I work offshore for half the year as well so it isn’t practical for me to go looking for someone to help me lace up.    There are also times where you’d like to take your gloves off and on (for instance to reset the interval timer on your phone or iPod) and then it may be annoying if you have to go and find someone to re-lace your gloves for the second or third time.

 

These are hybrid gloves and although I’m not exactly sure what that means, I think it’s a mechanism that offers somewhere between the security and support of traditional lace-ups with the practicality of the velcro system.  These Adidas 300 have a clever elastic strap on the inner sleeve that tightens as you pull the velcro over.  It offers really good wrist support.  I’ve been using them every day since I’ve been offshore, training twice a day (just over an hour each session), every day and I’ve used them for sparring out here too and the support holds up great.  The outer skin has a few perforated airholes and the lining inside is a satin-like material that’s really cool, breathable and comfortable and my hand feels really good inside.  I’ve worn these with training wrap but also with bandage and gauze methods of wrapping your hands.  The latter method obviously makes your hand more bulky but my (Euro) size 8 – 9 hands still fit nicely inside the glove.  I don’t have particularly big hands for a guy though but for me, they’re comfy – more comfy than my RDX ones which were my first ever glove.

The Adidas Hybrid 300 gloves retail around 80 – 90 GBP so they’re at the higher end of the spectrum.  You’re paying that extra money for the extra wrist support (which admittedly is very good) and the quality of the materials and the linining which again are good.

My one gripe, is that I’ve noticed around the inner thumb area, the “skin” of the glove has already started to rub away.  I’m not even sure how that’s happened (or is happening).  These gloves are training gloves so I think they can be used for sparring and bagwork but I think there’s a trade off right there because sparring gloves are designed to be softer (obviously for facial impact) and bag gloves are padded extra and more hard wearing as you’re going to be striking leather and synthetic bags lots of times over.  With a training glove you’ll never get the full durability of separate bag gloves and sparring gloves, though.  If you love your gear and you have more money to throw at your gear, you can afford to buy two sets of really good gloves but this isn’t a bad in-between.

There’s a definite “band” when buying gloves.  You’ve got the sub 20 – 50 GBP range then a 50 – 100 GBP range and then you enter the Holy Grail 100+ GBP range.  When I compare these Adidas to my Winning pair there’s obviously no comparison for comfort and balance but actually the balance isn’t too bad – they feel a little bulkier.  What do I mean by that? Well my Winning are 16oz but they’re so well balanced they feel ridiculous like 12 or 14oz – these Adidas 300 are 16oz but they definitely feel like 16oz!

The Hybrid 300s  are at the middle to higher end of the glove spectrum and it’s not a bad effort from Adidas.

One important point is that unlike my RDX, the quality of material is good enough that with one hand gloved, I can grasp the velcro strap with my gloved hand and actually pull it on normally.  With the RDX ones I couldn’t move my fingers enough and ended up using my teeth to pull the velcro strap and secure down the remaining glove.  The problem I found with my old RDX (which were around 30 – 50 GBP) is that if I didn’t grip the bar inside properly there were times when my thumb would ache while hitting the bag.  Maybe the shape of the RDX was a little unforgiving and I didn’t form a proper fist inside at times, due to ergonomics.  This hasn’t happened once with the Hybrid 300s.

I love boxing gloves (and boxing boots!) – Something about the shiny colours, those classic shapes – the way that no two gloves made by two manufacturers seem to feel identical.

These Adidas are worth a try for sure.  Most shopping is done online nowadays and if you’re like me, then I hate returning stuff via post.  With gloves it’s not a bad idea to go to a boxing club and try some different ones if you can do that and find what’s right for you.  You’re going to be doing a lot of hitting hard and soft and at different speeds and different types of bag – it’s important to find a glove that doesn’t hurt your hand (through poor design in ergonomics or material).

Always look after your hands.

 

Personal Training – Week 2

“Wrapping the hands is every boxer’s daily ritual. It’s the ten minutes where every athlete/student/office worker transforms into a boxer.” – Johnny N, ExpertBoxing.com

One of my favourite pieces of training scripture!

It’s now the 19th June and on the 31st, I’ll be back offshore, at work, so I’m keen to learn as much as I can in my last 2 sessions of personal training and get as much feedback from Gary as I can because after the 31st, I’ll be on my own training for the next 5 weeks.

Not the greatest weather in Glasgow today, but I was waiting outside Lusby’s still eager.  Time to get down to business…

Warm up…

I’d been walking the 2 dogs, Poppy and Bailey up the hill, in the rain and dropping Bailey back with our nieces and dropping off some parcels at the post office.  My mind was full of distractions so I needed to warm up and try and get my focus back to boxing…

Jumping rope for about 5 minutes continuously.  I can jump rope like I was born with rope in my hands.  If you practice something for long enough and watch closely on something like YouTube, you can learn anything.  You just need time and patience.  There’s hope for me and everyone like me, yet.

3 – 5 minutes of shadowboxing.  I was more relaxed this week.  Gary pointed out when I roll up my elbows continuously to shadowbox a series of uppercuts… I’m sticking my chin up.  I probably look a little stupid.  I’d better tuck my head in.

Double-end bag…

4 continuous jabs for 3 minutes then 3 continuous jabs followed by a right uppercut.  Again this was to get my rhythm and timing and relaxing my shoulders.  Double end bag work is tricky stuff for me.  I still felt a little stiff with my jabs and I was missing a few uppercuts.  I was shown a quick video replay on the cell phone and my hips looked a little stiff as well for the uppercut and my feet weren’t  grounded properly.  When my wife goes on holiday next week with her sisters and I’m alone, I’ll visit Lusby’s more for an open session.  This bag has a lot more recoil than my bag.  I’d like to try and nail down my rhythm before I go away offshore end of June.  I can’t do that on the double end bag in my garage.  The tensions on the ropes are set different and there’s a height difference in the 2 ropes in my garage so my bag doesn’t move in the same way as the bag in this gym.  It’s a different animal altogether.  A lot of work needed with this piece of apparatus.

Pad work (Focus mitts)…

A mish mash of 1-2s (jab, cross) but with some real emphasis on my right hook (Bare in mind I’m southpawed so that’s off my jabbing arm).  It would go: Double-jab, right hook, right hook to the body and back up top for another right hook to the face.  More emphasis on the technique of my hook to the body.  Stepping into it and angling my fist up as if to punch the rib upwards.  I also needed to think about quickly stepping back out after that combination.  So… In… Bang… bang.  Back out.

Also did jab-cross x 4, slip and then back in for a hook to the body. I really like this combination.  A bit of head movement.  Feels great to slip.  I also like the drills where the pads are used to hit the top of your head and the sides of your arm to get used to contact (and to keep your guard up).  None of that today though.  Not yet.

Another useful thing was the low jab to the body.  Gary suggested I look at his collar bone as that gives me a decent peripheral view of the body to try and “read” my opponents body language.  I also don’t want to stare at what I’m aiming to hit.  That would be telegraphing my intentions to my opponent.

Lastly some more focus on jabbing while moving backwards at the same time.  All great stuff.

Heavy bag work…

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Taking what I did with the pads and bringing it onto the heavy bag.  So it was double-jab, right-hook, right hook to the body, right hook to the face all as one combination.  Not so much power, just technique.  Pop, pop, pop.  But like I said, I’m not sure what it is about throwing  hooks and uppercuts that makes you want to hit hard.  Have to get out of that habit.  The bag wasn’t being held so if it swung too much I had to hold my gloves up to brace it swinging back at me.  I wasn’t doing much, or enough of the bracing though.

I didn’t think I ever hit it hard enough for it to swing back so much that I needed to brace it with my gloves.  Probably my sparrow arms not having enough strength to punch it with enough force.

Next was making the bag sing a little.  What does that mean?… It starts with just popping light shots at the heavy bag.  Any combination but just continuously hitting.  No real pausing.  Then the intensity goes up after a little over a minute, firing harder shots until the final 30 seconds you’re just going for it.  Really going for it.  It’s tiring.  You need shoulder and arm endurance.  Gary calls it “making the bag sing” and asked me to “paint a  picture of violence on the bag”.  It wasn’t exactly a Mona Lisa… more like a cave man painting but I’ll get better through time.

Ring sense…

Back inside the ring again with Gary holding those two foam poles. Same idea as last week.  I throw combinations aiming at the end of one pole and Gary taps me on the head and body with the other pole if he sees an opening.  Here I’m using everything I’ve learned for the last 2 weeks, in this drill.  So different combinations, using my eyes more, movement around the ring.  Trying to remember as much as I can and using it all.

Verdict

Great session again.  I can go and hit a bag all day long but without feedback, I wouldn’t know where to improve or what my punches look like, or if my body mechanics are wrong.  Trust me, you may think you’re fluid and compact but a camera phone doesn’t lie.  That’s also where having someone like Gary is priceless.  It was great to have him letting me know what I needed to improve and being able to see clips of myself.

At this early stage, I’m a bit stiff around the hips so Gary suggested I start to jump rope but in addition, moving side to side; backwards and forwards.  Hopefully that’ll help my footwork around the ring. I’m moving better this week though so that’s something.

That was an hour and you wouldn’t believe how quick that goes but it was time well spent. Thanks again Gary.

 

Personal Training – Week 1

First and foremost, I’m incredibly lucky to have Gary as a PT. He’s a really approachable guy and he’s got a way about him that makes it easy to receive criticism.  After spending a whole trip offshore, doing mostly boxing training in my off time, I was really eager to see all the areas  I needed to improve.

Warm up…

Just some light skipping followed by some shadow boxing. I was a little nervous as I was being watched closely but I tried to relax and concentrate on what I was doing.  I could have been looser.

Bag work…

I take a Southpaw stance which means my left arm is my strongest arm.  If you fight orthodox (ie you’re right-handed) you would stand in the opposite direction to the pictures of me below.

Double jab and double jab, cross

Started with double jabs to the heavy bag. Not power; just popping shots off the bag…pop, pop.  Just trying to concentrate on technique, no power.  This is where I had some really useful feedback and the advantages of someone giving me one-to-one training.  My elbows and my balance:

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My left elbow is coming out too much.

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Leaning too much on the back foot. Should be more centred.

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Better. My stance isn’t too bad and my arms are better guarded

After throwing continuous double jabs, your shoulders start to burn so if I can keep my stance and return to a good guard despite tiring then I’m not bad.  That was the biggest thing I took away.  My form.

Double end bag work

The crazy ball as it’s sometimes called!  (The bag that’s attached to the ceiling and the floor).  So I spent maybe around 6 minutes on this thing.  The double end bag at the gym moves a lot more than the one in my garage so it was getting used to the movement and also letting my combinations flow more loosely.  I had been guilty of punching too much from my arms in one open session.  I needed to be more loose and use my whole body more.  Rotate my hips a little, relax my shoulders.  This was tricky coupled with the bag’s recoiling motion.

Right uppercut, right hook

Trying to concentrate on technique rather than power but for some reason, pulling off an uppercut seems to make you want to go for it.  Gary had been holding the bag for me for the first round of 3 minutes but in the second and third he wasn’t.  My aim here was to lift my arms up to brace myself against the bag swinging back at me… like mimicking guarding against a returning punch.  Once I braced the bag to deaden the return swing I would fire off my right uppercut, right hook combination.  This felt a little strange at first. For me it was getting used to pausing and waiting for the bag’s return swing as it would affect my timing.

Continuous punching

This was another drill whereby I was throwing combinations of  hard shots mixed with lighter  shots.  Once 3 minutes elapsed I would spend the next minute throwing continuously and quickly, as many light popping punches as I could.

Ring Sense

This was one of the last things we went through.  So I got inside the ring and Gary had 2 foam poles. One pole in each hand.  The aim was that I move around the ring trying light combinations (aiming to strike the end of one of the foam poles) – and Gary, with the foam pole in his other hand would tap me with it whenever he saw an opening in my stance or guard.  This was really enjoyable.  I was practicing my movement and I got to pivot as well.  One thing I was guilty of which I realized towards the final minute was that I was concentrating too much on looking at the end of the foam pole I was aiming to hit.  I should have been looking at Gary’s face and whole body.  If I stare too much at what I’m hitting at, then I’m “telegraphing” to the other guy which part of him I’m going to hit.

Warm down…

I finished off the session with some skipping, some press-ups and some shadow boxing.

Verdict

I really enjoyed this from start to finish!  The amount of feedback from Gary was brilliant.  It was useful when he used the photos from his cell phone to highlight problems with my guard and my stance and it was priceless being able to ask and get guidance.  My first one-to-one training session really affirmed how much I’m enjoying boxing.  By the time I finished I had plenty to take home with me, to practice and think about.  I loved it.  With my second week looming.  I’m really looking forward to the next session.