Tag Archives: boxing

The Jab vs. The Straight Lead of JKD

By Al Alvir

Having just read The Straight Lead by Teri Tom, I was compelled to write about “The Boxing Jab.”  The straight lead works as a more powerful jab than the boxing jab, and it indeed has more reach than the classic boxing jab.  The problem is that the straight lead serves no additional function from a ‘regular jab’ than to make up for its lack of power in the wrist (as the straight lead’s form is to not turn the wrist) with explosive hip rotation.  JKD people tend to overstate the effectiveness of hip rotation in the jab, simultaneously underestimating the effectiveness of shifting weight and the dynamics of not rotating the hip with the jab.

The boxing jab serves as a tool for measuring distance and for setting-up an opponent.  The boxing jab, too, has numerous contact spots (aka pop spots, meaning the point of snap (this is discussed in other articles on Shootafairone.com), as a fighter has the luxury to jab shooting his hip with various torques.  This is a bad habit, however, for an educated fighter, because he is giving away positioning and taking his 2 farther from his opponent.  Also, when a fighter shoots his hip for a jab, it’s wasted energy, as it complicates such a simple weapon.  If a fighter can be successful throwing a straight lead, I promise that it will only be situational and will not happen against a person with better attributes.  I, myself, used to train the straight lead and was effective with it when it was effective (I meant to state it that way), but I found that I was way out of position for intelligent onslaught after missing.  But as I always say, “test it.”

It’s just a jab, either way.  It’s likely not going to knock-out anyone worthy of fighting.  The reason jabs are so important and effective is that jabs can be thrown rapidly and at repetition without unwise commitment.

The biggest problem of JKD’s straight lead teachings is that the teachers often aren’t schooled, or simply don’t teach, the progression of functionality; in other words, they skip the education on all the functions of that lead hand.  One example is keeping that lead hand up as insurance for 2’s coming from the same stance (same lead).  Simply put, JKD men often complicate the functions of the lead hand.  This complication, or over-complication, coupled with trapping and kicking and groundwork, makes it a ridiculous testament to its absurdity.  I mean, a damn book on a single punch was written for an amalgam of students the world over who are at opposing ends of JKD practice, and from which the majority of the pool is no good.  My friend, Bryan Lamont, is a JKD coach – one of the few good ones – who criticizes the poor JKD concept guys as well as acknowledges that most traditional JKD guys as sloppy and “all over the place.”  He remains loyal to JKD, yet I see him stray as I think any good JKD man should.

The straight lead mumbo jumbo and the detailed stance to the deferential treatment of Bruce Lee’s “writings” are all akin to hero-worship and go against what I believe were Bruce Lee’s teachings which were to keep things simple and direct.  The Straight Lead, as every single JKD book I’ve ever come across, is all about teaching style cookie-cut to a whole flock.  When Tom “scientifically” talks about stance, she undermines the effectiveness of infinite stances.  Boxing coaching – like baseball batting coaching or any proven sport – is broken down into the most fundamentally simple functions, allowing for the individual to evolve from that foundation in a very personal way.  Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson to Roy Jones Jr. to Floyd Mayweather Jr. got their styles from that foundation.  In JKD, Bruce Lee made a horrible mistake, as he himself prophesized, by setting specific “rules” or a “way” on style by detailing “his style.”  (*Aside:  Teaching such a linear stance will handicap some people from evolving and finding their own styles, as it is a more difficult way to learn how to shoot hips, weaving, slipping, offense, and moving in angles. This may be better explained in a different article, but I digress…)

Now, I am not against the straight lead, as it is called here.  Great boxers do it all the time.  Floyd Mayweather Jr. does it, but many boxing men call it an “up-jab.”  It’s a sneaky way to fit the punch between a opponent’s guard, and to find him from a greater distance.  Many boxers practice it as a sort of uppercut with the palm up and the punch rising under the chin from jab distance.  I always dismiss that stuff as signature stuff not to be taught on a greater scale.  Furthermore, it is important to know the most basic way of jabbing effectively before progressing into jabbing from different body angles, shooting the hips, and throwing the jab away from the face (aka “Lead hand no man’s land”).  Turning the fist and not the hips will provide for the best distance finder and the most practical use of energy.

Even if a well-schooled fighter throws a straight lead, he will not throw the straight lead from a high guard.  And well-schooled fighters sometimes have to have a high guard.  He may have to jab down and without turning his fist, he cannot produce the snap behind the shoulder; the vertical fist would have to be thrown with all the triceps muscle.  On a smaller note, a jab covers a little less area with the vertical fist and doesn’t cut someone as easily – this common boxer contention, however, is not the major reason turning the fist is better.  Additionally, a Floyd Mayweather Jr. shell stance is the best proven stance to throw the straight lead, but it’s important for fighters to get that chin behind that shoulder.  Mike Tyson did his version of the straight lead, but his speed advantage and his size made it necessary at times to turn his hip so explosively.  Punching up also naturally protects a fighter on that side, as the shoulder blocks the chin.

JKD practitioners such as Teri Tom discuss science behind punching, as I have in some earlier articles, and she and I are on par with the science.  Bruce Lee said “several inches and snap,” and I say “2-4 inches and snap,” but the difference is arbitrary.  But Tom discusses the Impulse-Theorem and retraction, to which I contend the reason turning the fist is better (again, see my other articles on the science of punching).  Take the hip out of the equation, and anyone will see a little more pop with the turning of the fist.

The Straight Lead is a great conversation starter, but it’s filled with misleading information and points that are amiss.  If Tom knows what she is talking about, the semantics can be challenged.  The cookie-cutter science may seem to simplify, but that’s a fallacy.  There is nothing simpler than custom skills and honest, uber-personal evolution while maintaining what this book complicates:  basics.

After all, it is just a jab.

I can hear it already… Straight Lead zombies swearing that it is much more elaborate than that.

Fit But Not To Fight – Commentary on the State of Training and Over-training

by Al Alvir

“The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”  “It’s not how strong you are, it’s leverage.”    “Skills pay the bills.”  These are some oft spoken training maxims, but pure fitness has always been a center piece of martial arts, romanticized and necessary in its core.  Now, with the boom of crossfit training, the popular implementation of strongman routines, and the everyday mma poseur who thinks he’s showed talent in some bravado bar brawl, how much muscle under one’s bench means so much more.

There may be a false pretense because being in shape is starting to mean more than being in fighting shape to many people trying to be fighters. 

MMA guys are spending so much time in the gym body sculpting (whether they call it that or not) that they inadvertently sacrifice fighting technique.  Tire flipping for hours, then benching, then sledge-hammering tires, then throwing medicine balls in every angle for another couple of hours is becoming the norm for mma practitioners.  Macebells.  Chains.  Kettlebells.  Ropes.  Sandbags.  War hammers.  Indian clubs.  Clean and press….  It’s usually followed by 20-30 minutes of hyper mitt work, a small chunk of which may be technical mitt work.  Fight studying is left to the few professionals who solicit it.  Even their skill drills consist of contrived ways to achieve fitness without actually doing the boring thing they’re training to do.  E.g. Sprawling on medicine balls.  But consider that relying on attrition and drilling over strategy is one way to be unprepared.  And some fight camps only have sparring twice a week.

Martial arts training has always dangerously revolved around cute trends.  “What’s cool at the moment” has always meant more than good ol’ boring work.  On a lesser scale than other martial arts, boxers have found ways to escape the monotony of training since the adherence of the Marquess of Queensberry rules.  Bouncing handballs to train hand-eye coordination and training to jazz music are examples.  Speedbags, heavybags, shadow-boxing are accepted today as good drill work, but they have been around for as long as we can track back in time.  New training routines and training apparatus are regularly being introduced to martial arts.  Until the 1970’s and 1980’s, old-time boxing trainers were wholeheartedly against any weight training, as they believed it ruined flexibility and took snap out of punches.  Today, everything the everyday martial artist does revolves around weight training.

In Rocky IV, the “cool” trend that Rocky contrasted in the series’ obligatory training montage was the costly machines and expensive regimens.  His character basically favored the strongman/circuit training that is coincidentally the fad of today.  The displacement and unpredictability of the weight indeed lends to a more well-rounded work-out (you have to stabilize the weight and use your core), but how many drills does a fighter have to do?  Is the idea that strength and size replaces skill?  The arguably dumbest line in the history of combat movies may be Rocky’s response to Paulie when he was asked where he’s going to spar.  “”I don’t think I need it anymore, Paulie.” dismissed Rocky on his arrival to fight camp.  Perhaps this is a sentiment of today’s martial artist, specifically the mixed martial artist who seems to put technical-training on the backburner of fitness.

The cliché of the fight game, “styles make fights,” seems to have missed the mark in mma.  It’s not how a fighter wears his tattoos or designs his board shorts that style refers to.  It’s not whether a fighter is sprinting on a road or on a track.  Style is fighting style – habits, strengths, weaknesses, moves, and how each relates to the other fighter’s style.  (I was going to edit out the condescension, but it may really have been needed to be said).  The ultimate fact is that training should consist of as much simulation as possible to improve style; attrition will come with the intensity of work and the several complimentary drills.  But a fighter doesn’t need to do every damn drill in lieu of the real thing. Perhaps it is because trainers are trying to make it fun for their students that they try to implement new regimens and new training devices. 

But fight training is not supposed to be fun.  It’s supposed to be hell.

Overtraining muscles over skills is a problem, and the proof is in the quality of fights that are put out.  Guys have great physiques.  Some of them are fast.  So many of them are powerful.  But no one seems to have timing anymore.  And for such fit people, they don’t last the marathon of professional fights well.  This can be attributed to the lack of experience and savvy of being in the situation.  They suck air while punching like bums.  They lack technical proficiency.  They lay on the ground to rest, or they paw and push punches while struggling to get to the bell.  I can spot 7 out of 10 televised mma fighters who are simply mediocre.  And the numbers of top ranked boxers who are showing less than expected technical skill are also alarming, perhaps 3 out of 10.

Simply, there are too many work-outs to build specific techniques’ muscle memory and strength, so fighters must narrow down their work-out programs in order to focus more on ring or cage hours.  Any technique building exercise is more valuable than too much strength work.  And if the technique work supplements strength work (padwork w/ weighted vest), it’s even better.  But an honest assessment of training needs to be made.  If technique is suffering – a ubiquitous problem in mma – refocus needs to be made for its improvement.  And more weight training is not the solution.

A fighter is not a weightlifter or runner or strongman contestant.  He is certainly not a swimmer.  So, a professional fighter, especially, usually cannot be a professional of any of those pursuits simultaneously.  Imagine a fighter training to do the butterfly, backstroke, and breaststroke, and aiming to increase swim speed over an 8 week training camp. Then, that fighter practices throwing barrels, lugging sleds, and doing farmer’s walks?  Each workout takes some serious technique and practice in order to perform well and, more importantly, decrease the chance of causing injury. The fighter’s focus, therefore, is removed from fighting in every one of the grueling workouts.  Doing a few things to enhance a specific fighting need where there is a deficiency is certainly encouraged.  I, for one, think strongman training is actually the best fitness training in the world.  But fighting is a game of skill and needs as much practice as possible in itself, as any other pursuit does.

How can a fighter improve his routine after falling for all the trends?

The individual fighter simply has to know what matters.  The drill sergeant coaching needs to be put into extinction for any fighter in the world.  The fighter has to not be a follower.  The fight game is a self-motivating discipline in which coaches are there to spot weaknesses and remind fighters to focus, not baby them into mindless onslaughts of hard work.  It’s not the military in which a kid may just be trying to get through his service tour and have his college tuition paid for.  The fight game is “exclusively” for people who love fighting and are compelled to do the work that goes into fighting.  It’s not for people who need to be psyched-up like power-lifters and football players.  They need to drop the ego that goes with all the “cool” and “hardcore” routines.  Because there’s nothing more hardcore than fighting.  The fight game is for composed warriors, warriors composed in all trials.  The discipline of fighting is like no other because it should be boring.  The discipline is in the routine, the monotony.  Bob Jackson, an old trainer of mine, once told me, “There’s no music in a fight.”  The “fun” in training and preparation was supposed to be in the “hunger” to be the best.  The question is: What is the goal, really?  Surely, not just image.

I forget which famous fighter once said this: “You wanna know how you practice fighting for an upcoming fight? Fighting.”  And no martial artist can ever disagree.  And so it goes for sprawling, too.

The Inherent Cowardice of Ground-fighting

 

(This is a follow-up to Garrett Morris’s “What Makes MMA Gay?”  I preface this commentary by making it known that I am a full supporter of mma and want the sport to grow.  I want people to see that mma can be so much better so that fighters from all disciplines may follow mma in the future.)

Grappling (Greco-Roman wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, etc.) is just not satisfying for many fighters, no matter how effective it is in MMA competition.  Aesthetically, it isn’t pleasing to the worldly viewer or to many a fighter.  Even in real life situations, as in avenging a wrongdoing, wouldn’t it behoove one to do damage to one’s enemy by taking that person’s dignity through beating him on equal ground? – equal ground meaning “equal leverage.”  By equal leverage I refer to a free standing position in which there is no intrinsic safe ground, as in clinching positioning or grappling.  Isn’t this why we fight instead of shoot guns?

Consider this:  Two uniformed lawmen get into an argument about their schedule.  One guy smacks the other in the face.  The other reacts by tackling him.  They wrestle until one officer manages to gain dominant positioning, and he puts handcuffs on the other cop.  Then, he lies on top of him and starts beating the downed officer.  And maybe he puts the helpless guy into a knee-bar.  What is so cavalier of any of that? What does it prove on the playing field of fighting? What fighting need does it satisfy?

This is subjective, and it could vary from opinion to opinion, but the above situation would probably warrant a rematch by the logic of fighting principles.  The guy who was handcuffed would probably think it was unfair (perhaps he would never use his handcuffs in a supposed fair fight with a fellow officer), and he’d want to fight again.  Fighting, beyond the visceral anger and self-defense notions, is about satisfying a curiosity, “who would win on fair ground?”  It is about damaging an opponent while an opponent can damage you (not after gaining unfair positioning), and it’s about making the statement that you are worthy.  Borrowing from Rocky Balboa, fighting is about saying, “I am.”  Even when someone’s intent is to humiliate another person, he chooses to do so through fighting because it satisfies his personal duty to earn it.  There is honor in fighting.  And if it were only about self-defense, one should walk in droves, carry a gun, or just be a sissy.  That old cop-out of “self-defense” is virtual nonsense.  Fighting is almost always a choice.

Many grapplers choose to tumble and toss on the ground, perhaps, to satisfy some desire; they like to fight that way.  This is precisely the root to why people talk about mma sport with the tongue-in-cheek reference of it being “gay,” or homoerotic.  They want to be close, in tactile quarters.  Of course most fighters probably have no homosexual thoughts when they are wrestling.  The same goes for any sport with head-to-toe bodily contact, like football; “it’s only gay if they make it gay,” as the saying goes.  The question so many people pose against mma is: “Do they make it gay?”  Surely, there must be more gay people drawn to grappling arts than stand-up arts because of the nature of grappling.  Its latent and suggestive intimacy is almost distinct.  Why do guys wrestle their girlfriends and their children?  There is a closeness stimulated by the fun and varied positions of dominance in wrestling, even without the sexual innuendo.  On top of that, it’s safer; you can practice wrestling without getting hurt.  Wrestling is akin to play-fighting, so why would anyone choose to turn real fighting’s intense emotions (although it’s better to be calm) into a wrestling fight?  If two friends were wrestling as a joke and it became serious, they wouldn’t continue to wrestle-fight.  They would probably stand-up and square-off.  This is the notion of eroticism that wrestling toils with: when a couple wrestles, rubbing bodies, it may get hot and heavy.  So, two men wrestling just seems inappropriate.  Whatever the case, many guys like to roll around twisting and contorting with other men because it’s more accentuated to those guys’ senses – gay or not.  Is that why so many kids seek contact sports?  But they should remember, however, that more surface area bodily contact does not connote more impact.

Stand-up fighting has never been about jockeying for such positioning in which one fighter gains unfair advantage then proceeds to hit his opponent.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is awesome in that respect—it is all about leverage—but this is exactly what also makes it a yellowbelly game.  Boxing and kick-boxing have always been about the use of fine idiosyncratic skills encompassed in a moment, or on the opposite of the spectrum, the ever exciting “free-for-all” – standing in front of a foe and brawling, shot for shot.  But stand up arts have always maintained a grave element of danger that is less prominent in grappling arts.  For the majority of the public, wrestling seems more strategic than boxing because it holds true for people who don’t know anything about fighting.  If you get two guys who never boxed or wrestled, they are going to be more strategic in wrestling each other.  They wouldn’t know the angles, defense, set-ups and traps that are part of standing up, but they could probably improvise with some holding maneuvers however technically incorrect they may be. And every guy thinks he can wrestle – even if the last time he wrestled was in elementary school.  Not too many guys think they can box unless they proved it to themselves with some correlating experience – stand-up is simply much scarier of a pursuit.  There are many smaller guys who may rather wrestle Brock Lesnar than stand up with him because he’s so intimidating, and Brock Lesnar was an All-American wrestler.

A guy can roll at the gym for hours without damaging himself.  Imagine light sparring for an hour.  It would surely be much more afflictive.  Millions of people with my sentiments of boxing and kickboxing don’t understand the appeal of men rolling on the ground together.  Rolling by itself, the part of training important for fighting in mma, may be more frolicsome (gay) than any and all aspects of martial arts.  I, personally, have no understanding what joy guys get out of it.  I’m not homophobic, but the close wrestling is not for me.  When I did BJJ, I was uncomfortable to the point when I wondered if the guys I was rolling with were ‘getting off’ on the grappling – they fancied the heavy contact, but I did it just because it was an aspect I wanted to know in case someone took me down.  I understand that everyone has different boundaries of discomfort.  And that is exactly it – it is what it is on its surface – discomfort.

Grappling is unsatisfying and sort of tasteless to viewers who want to see competition, not dominance (or worse, tumbling that appears to be more consonance than competition).  It lacks the bravado and valiant aspect of stand-up fighting.  One fighter said, “There’s much more skimble-skamble in MMA.  If you can’t stand you can get on the floor.  There is an anticipation of so many possibilities.”  Those possibilities tend to overshadow the bore of it all and it is a lie to many new viewers of mma who see fighters either stand up and box poorly or get on the floor.  They don’t see a true assortment of mixed martial arts.  The grapplers grapple and the stand up guys stand.  The freestylers flail until they fall.  And when they each clash it turns into a stupid stalemate until the usual grappling match or the skill-less stand-up.  In boxing, it can be argued that there is more talent needed and more discipline – a chess match of offense and defense, skill versus skill.  In mma, one could figure out how to gain advantage by not matching his skill to the other fighter’s skill, and rather by “playing a different game.”  Grappling itself is about maneuvering positioning to a safe and unequal ground.  Wrestlers are, perhaps, drawn to mma because of this dynamic.  If your hands are really good, the other guy can try managing to wrestle with you, or vice versa.  In boxing, you can’t get away from danger by taking someone to play Scrabble instead of chess if your chess game is weak.  Corollary to this, any big guy could be thrown into mma and he could roll around or punch and possibly survive for a long time.  This is much less likely to be done in boxing without the guy getting mauled and humiliated.  And in mma, it’s easier to give up; you can tap before any damage has incurred or you can lay in a fetal position covering any significant blows from landing while the referee hurries to halt the fight.  No one will notice your “no mas” in mma.

Grappling is a tedious game of maneuvering that usually takes much too long to produce excitement, if any.  Many grapplers even express that it is more gratifying to win on their feet by KO.  Conversely, it is often a greater blow to fighters’ dignity when they’ve been KO’d.  One mma spectator said that getting on the ground always seemed like hitting or being hit in the balls – “a B.S. fight, a cheat,” if you will.  “Whether someone wins or loses on the ground, it always seems to be a jip.”  Even after a hundred mma events, the ground and pound and even the submission have lacked the valiant factor—how much blood and guts and determination did it take.  One bit of pressure on a joint and you tap.  And once you’re in a dominant position, it’s academic.  “If that’s what a good fight comes down to,” a friend suggested, “may as well get a gun instead of fight like these guys and forget these corny martial arts.”

What is it about choking someone out that appeals to some people?  I somewhat see the value in clutching someone into a helpless position and feeling his body go limp.  It is an exhibition of domination.  But this tells me that the person who would rather choke-out someone hasn’t learned how to hit, hasn’t ever cracked someone hard, or can’t hit that hard. One Muay-Thai boxer who converted to mma said to me, “When you’ve felt the exhilaration of hitting someone in the face for real, you will never want to tackle or take-down another man again – unless that’s your thing (sarcasm).” The thing about grappling is that any man can choke-out someone in the right position.  Knocking-out someone is so much more difficult—it’s arguably a truer display of skill and power than outwrestling someone with weight or muscle.  I’m not saying that knocking-out a 16 year old boy is more impressive than choking-out a Gracie, but knocking-out a Gracie could cause so much more damage to a Gracie than choking him out.  It may even be more demeaning.  Knocking-out someone is just so much more electrifying and to the point.  It’s sudden and quick.  And for those who say, “In the street, working submissions, if you choke someone out you kill him, or you can break his arm,” how often is that going to happen?  Really, what bar brawl or real self-defense situation is anyone going to be granted such an opportunity without being pulled-off the opponent, stomped-out, or imprisoned?  How practical is it even in its most primal, non-cowardly application away from any organized competition?  And don’t responsible martial arts practitioners always preach for people to just give up their valuables in any real situation such as robbery?

Fighting on almost every level is about pride and bravado.  Skill versus skill.  Man to man.  Except for the rare self-defense, life or death situation, there are unwritten rules to fighting.  There are actually morals.  Whether in a neighborhood beef or stepping outside a bar, a fight is almost always about respect, not survival.  One can walk away in tact, unharmed and with all his possessions in most encounters even if he may end up looking like a “sucker.”  So fighting is not just to exist; if you fight, it’s out of dignity.  And nothing gets respect like standing up and “fighting like a man.”  Consider that if someone bites (unless he is crazed and out of his mind), grabs testicles, or lays and waits for someone to break it up, he is arguably the coward of a fair fight.

Then is it so ridiculous to have an unexpressed agreement on how to fight a streetfight?  If not, then you can incorporate weapons or cheating.  Fighting, anyway, is not the fighting we imagine without an absolute isolation of weapons, whichever those weapons may be (no use of garment or inanimate objects, no spitting, no fish-hooking, no clawing, no biting, no jumping-in, no ear-tearing, etc.).  Because when you allow some weapons in certain positions and prohibit those weapons in other positions, only then, do you have an utter farce.  When speaking of three types of fighting (mma, street, and self-defense), mma grappling and street-fight grappling each exude this contradiction.  I once watched a barfight in which one guy laid in some amateur side control-like position and began vomiting uncontrollably on his foe’s face, much of which went into the supine guy’s mouth, seemingly accidentally.  It was the most hysterical and appalling sight, especially as the man seemed to use his throw-up to blind his opponent while he viciously beat him bloody.  My friends and I walked away shocked, but we also realized there was a moral to the story, aside from any jokes:  The outcome of the fight was inequitable, empty; it was just plain “unfair” or it was a fluky way to good self-defense.  At that moment, I knew that any grappling could only be completely rule-less in order to be an appraisable martial art.  No one could know its value unless it was used in no-holds barred, life-or-death situations (like JKD, this would be almost impossible to test).  In other words, grappling should only be used for complete self-defense, as even grappling in mma does not incorporate the most effective possibilities (“cheats” as I call it) that could be so useful in any life-or-death setting:  biting, heat-butting, eye-gouging, crotch striking, ear-tearing, etc.  And, I guess, vomiting.  It is arguable that the new mma is just a diluted sport with displaced skills, displaced strategy, and the restriction of bodily weapons.  Basically, grappling in mma, or in a civil street-fight, is just a bad representation of fair-fighting.  Stand-up fighting is simply not close-range enough to exude any of the contradictions I speak of.

There is cowardice inherent in grappling, even with the use of extreme self-defense tactics (“cheats”).  Because one would have to “cheat” to make it efficient and without the “cheating” the danger is limited.  Furthermore, people who don’t like the idea of being hit in the face and standing on fair ground would rather be in positions they think they can squirm out of.  They want to smother the danger that they conceive and jockey for position, jockey for a mismatch.  Even if two skilled wrestlers battled, it would come down to one of them finding some convenient advantage—but they often fight a boring match made up of defense, no openings, and no risks.  Wrestling combatants use the ground as a weapon, and even if they both have the weapon at their disposal, they are only sort of “trying to use the weapon first.”  It’s almost like they are not purely matching skills; one guy gets a hold, by chance more often than one may think, and then the other guy is left at a disadvantage until some other slip-up.  In wrestling, strength and size accounts for too much to be considered a supreme skill-set.  For people in a fight who are pinned and pounded, what then?  It may not even prove anything but dominant size.  If a stand-up fighter is choked-out, he may even say, “What could I do?  He beat me, but he didn’t want to match his skills against mine.”  This is the culturally opposing outlooks on the two styles of fighting; of course a wrestler is going to want to take a stand-up guy to the ground, but to stand-up guys it just seems like the sissy way to fight.  It’s like a “bitch-fight” in which two girls are trying to control the other person in order to beat-up the other one – the only difference is that girls pull hair.  In stand-up fighting, fighters don’t care about controlling, manipulating, or dominating the other person.  The sentiment of stand-up guys seems to be “do whatever the hell you want, you ain’t worth my time but to knock your ass out without having to lay-down with you.”  Most people tend to grapple because they know that anyone, to some extent, has the possibility to wrestle to a stalemate in a given situation, avoiding jeopardy (even if only for a minute).  Many guys have been known to hold-on for the duration in mma contests.  People who don’t know anything about fighting will wrestle if they fight.  And the stronger, bigger guy is almost always the one who wants to grapple.  If that’s not a big red flag indicator of cowardice, you must have missed the object of what fighting is about: fairness and honor.

And so, when applied to mma, while I do recognize the greatness and importance of ground fighting in self-defense and overall martial arts, I personally second the old notion and applaud it: “I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.”

* …It is common opinion in the fight game that there is nothing sweeter than knocking out someone who is trying to knock you out.  Such is the reason why “the Manly Art” has been better known as “the Sweet Science.”

BREAKING NEWS: Pacman-Mayweather – Imagine If the Roles Were Reversed

Editorial by Al Alvir

The storyline changes once again.  Common sense tells us that Manny Pacquiao does not want to fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr.  Pacquiao refused to recognize Mayweather as a viable opponent for a couple of years; in interviews, he has been recorded saying that Mayweather wasn’t on his radar.  When Pacquiao signed for his last fight, contrary to popular belief, he did it when it was impossible for Mayweather to guarantee a fight with him.  The media tends to get this confused.

Pacquiao swore that “skills pay the bills” and that his “size or strength doesn’t matter,” but why does he not want to just fight?  He is now turning the tables on Floyd Mayweather, pressuring him to submit to drug tests that fit his routine – something that is unprecedented in the history of boxing.  Is the agreed-to 3 blood tests – one at the initial press conference, one 30 days before the fight, and one immediately after the fight – not enough?  Pacquiao is pressing back at Floyd at every agreement, and now he wants more.

It is an empirical fact that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has the strictest boxing commission in the world, but what is Pacquiao expecting to be protected from?  If Pacquiao were ever asked for any outlandish prefight requirement in the past, he would move on.  After all, he is believing the press clippings that proclaim him as the best fighter in the world, pound for pound.  It’s funny how Floyd has to prove himself more than any other dominant fighter in the history of boxing, and other fighters were clearly more dominant – nobody asked Roy Jones, Jr. or Mike Tyson to prove anything but their skills in the ring.  It is as if the testing is questioning his stature as a fighter.  What, Mayweather can’t be that good?

Now Pacquiao wants to send his own company, a team of hired hands, to run tests on Mayweather.  Mayweather knows the tricks of this trade.  He had previous experiences with blood tampering, so Mayweather has reason to be skeptical.  There is even a video of Mayweather discussing his angst.  And Pacquiao is slyly selling racist propaganda when he accuses Mayweather of improprieties.  Pacquiao accused Mayweather of having more access to drugs because where he is from.  Imagine if Pacquiao outright said, “It’s easy for blacks from the ghetto to be cheaters, so he must be up to something.”  Also, Pacquiao’s father had said that even if Mayweather did anything illegal, Pacquiao would be an easier fight than his son’s last fight.  So, why doesn’t Pacquiao just take to the terms of the fight?  Mayweather has beaten prime opponents to establish that he has at least an equal say to the fight terms.  And just because Pacquiao is undefeated in world championship fights, the wins cannot supersede principle; the wins mean nothing when two of the best have the opportunity to fight for their legacies. 

Bob arum has been in the game for many years and he has experience with telling when a fighter doesn’t want to take a fight, and he had done everything in his powerful hands to make the fight happen, although to no avail.  Other old-timers like Larry Merchant believe it whole-heartedly:  If one fighter is willing to follow the established rules and the other doesn’t, the latter simply doesn’t want to fight. 

So I’d say to Pacquiao, “You can’t create your own rules just because you’re afraid of losing what you have.”

The fight is on and off, both are called number one pound for pound, the rumors abound, and the names may be flip-flopped, but whichever way one looks at the facts there is only one coward here.  It was already decided when he protected his record from Miguel Cotto rather than defending it.   

Turducken

editorial by Garrett “The MMA Purist” Morris

Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

“DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no MMA.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there an MMA?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.”

Editor’s Response:

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe anything except what they see. Once things used to be so simple when WWE seemed almost real and sports celebrities were only good at sports, and maybe that’s how things should have stayed. They feel lost like so many of us in a landscape dominated by the Dana White’s of the world where marketing and backstabbing antics took the place of legitimacy ranking. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is an MMA (mixed martial arts). It exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist. It lies in the heart of everyman woman and child, that singular spark of violence you focus as competitors in your games at school to the spelling bee’s you study so heard to pass. You do this for yourself and not for others. It is the same drive that the police must take with him as he protects your corner. Or the far off and away soldier who stands in world you could not imagine, but does so knowing he does so to protect what he holds dear, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no MMA. Then that would mean no more older siblings protecting you from the neighborhood bully, No friends to comfort you or to help when a challenge needs to be surpassed. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believing in MMA! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen in the world. What is MMA? MMA is not an intense and evolving combat sport different from what any martial artists who trained in two arts has done. MMA is a competition between adversaries in interdisciplinary forms of fighting. It does not conclude on jiu-jitsu, judo, wrestling, or whatever.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virgina, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No MMA? Thank God! It lives, and it lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, it will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. in a world where fighting is defined only by the contestants with no adherence to a false commission – approved gloves, time limits and rounds in which falling on your own back is considered a takedown, where an acceptable defense against an opponent requires you lay your self open to homoerotic devices.  No head-butting or kicking to the downed opponent. No knees to the head of a downed opponent. No downward point of the elbow strikes. No strikes to the spine or the back of the head. No groin or throat strikes. All of that is pure hokum. ‘Better to arm-wrestle with kicks and call it what you may. You and your friends must be brave. Shout ,“No!” Virginia, mma is real! It is what is practiced in barroom brawls. At soccer games. After the Source awards. Don’t let anyone ever define it or you. Violence is universal and fighting is in your heart. Embrace it so when your time comes and you are tested, you will shout, “I am here and I am ready!

*A turducken is a dish consisting of a partially de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken. The word turducken is a portmanteau of turkey, duck, and chicken or hen. The thoracic cavity of the chicken/game hen and the rest of the gaps are stuffed, sometimes with a highly seasoned breadcrumb mixture or sausage meat, although some versions have a different stuffing for each bird.

Little Known Boxing Wisdom – 12 Things Maybe Only Cus D’Amato Knew

I consider Cus D’Amato to be the greatest boxing mind to have ever lived.  He was the closest thing to a boxing clairvoyant, a man who had an uncanny ability to read people and tell what their future would likely be.  He could point out the minutia of fights, what to focus on, and what would make the difference in the outcome.  D’Amato had the inexplicable ability to gauge fighters just by an exchange of words, even a demeanor or a handshake.  D’Amato had his defined philosophy on boxing, but he adapted to his fighters in his approach to coaching them.  He took in fighters who he deemed to fit in his stable of fighters.  Bob Jackson, renowned boxing trainer who worked under D’Amato, once told me that it was “that thing, [Cus] could see it if you got it.”  It might be something about being around for so long; Bob started to see it, too.  Cus D’Amato saw “that thing” when these fighters were just boys: Rocky Graziano, Floyd Patterson, and Mike Tyson.  (D’Amato also trained Jose Torres a few years before turning pro, but he wasn’t as young).  Great trainers all over the world have worked corners of dozens of hall-of-fame champions, but D’Amato may be the only one who had ever forecasted multiple children to become greats on their own rights (meaning, someone else wasn’t touting them as prodigies before D’Amato did).  Bob Jackson believed his magnum opus was a young Rohnique Posey who Jackson took off the streets of Far Rockaway, NY.  Posey, 30, has not become a champion, but is a grown man and perhaps a magnum opus in his own right.

 

Too many boxing trainers are hacks and boxing quacks – they know surface fundamentals, figure they can come up with some strategy for a slugger and a boxer, and improvise with the appearance of nuance.  A lot of them had personal success in the ring, often by no means of strategic genius or extensive boxing IQ, but they purport to have more understanding of the sweet science than others.  Many of them learned boxing in a common martial arts academy where real boxing is hardly anything more than boxing terms taught by good communicators, so they know their terms well.  Some are just boxing fans who know what they know from watching boxing, but they can communicate it to beginning fighters.  The regretful thing is that you don’t have to communicate the right stuff to be a good communicator.  There is only a small percentage of trainers, from my observations and education, who come from the school of thought about studying the idiosyncrasies of fighting from every aspect: reading, watching, training, and doing.  I have a great respect for old school gym guys, such as Cus D’Amato and Bob Jackson, who inundate[d] themselves in the art.  D’Amato was a boxing fanatic, not like some sports analyst who fancied sport to fill a void in his life, but one who relished in boxing’s kinship to the nature of people and simply loved the art.  Boxing is widely considered a microcosm of life, and D’Amato, the philosopher he was, saw it as such.  D’Amato used fighters’ fears as tools for fighters to build their mentality.  D’Amato is the most widely recognized trainer known for creating his own distinct style and system of fighting.  The implementation of original training devices such as the Willie Bag (Teddy Atlas cashed in on this with Everlast) and slip bag could arguably be credited to Cus D’Amato.

 

I’ve seen world-class trainers showing people nonsense in top gyms.  It is common to see trainers speeding up the necessary process of learning fundamentals just so they can make it “fun” for fighters.  Yuppies and coddled upper-middle class people across the world are learning boxing… the wrong way.  Some trainers just don’t care to give some of the minor things any thought.  Others believe that the real effort should only be put in real fighters who want to go “somewhere,” like turning professional.  So many trainers rely on tradition and ignore other possibilities – e.g. if a trainer is not from the school of pressure fighters, meaning he doesn’t choose to teach it, he might omit the use of certain tactics that would make the fighter more productive moving forward and get him to start countering and stepping back.  Boxing is steeped in a culture of inheritance, the passing down of techniques, training regimens, and lore.  And boxing, as proven of an art as it is, is not part of a gym culture that examines beyond the realm of what has been passed down to its trainers.  This is the crux of boxing’s integrity; it always works so well and dumps the uselessness and ignores the fads, but it hardly evolves in the ways other sports do.  When other athletes drop miles off road work because scientific proof says that anything over x amount of miles of running a day can be counter-productive, boxers run more.  When other athletes find that lifting weights enhances their speed and strength, boxers continue doing push-ups only.  When other athletes swear that sex doesn’t affect their game-play, boxers swear-off their wives and reduce to masturbation (trainers I’ve known have always sworn-off ejaculation of any sort).  When other athletes drink protein shakes that help them get their nutrients, boxers continue downing their urine.  Some of these are old boxing myths, and certainly not jokes, but their prevalence in boxing culture continues.  Of course, some top pros skip the old superstitions and hire specialists for their training camps in order to harness optimal preparedness.  But for the overwhelming majority of boxing gyms, fighters continue doing what they’ve done for years – what they believe has worked for years from the trainers they know. 

 

If you were to adopt a regimen for training, first comparing the detailed routine of 10 top pro-fighters, the work-outs would vary in an alarming way.  They do so many different kinds of work-outs, but it’s not really known whether it’s the routines that work best for particular fighters or just their choice work-outs.  The fundamentals of boxing are exact enough, but the philosophies of trainers, too, vary to the point that fighters would have to wonder, “What will work for me in this sea of contradiction?”  If one core-workout is the best, why don’t all fighters do it?  So, one would have to question what works best in all of boxing.  I’ve been in gyms for many years and follow boxing like an anal retentive grump.  I can explain and debate for days with anyone in the world about the fundamentals that I believe work better or worse, the training styles that can be enhanced, the strategies that certain fighters should use against their opponents, and I will never prescribe to ad hominem.  Trainers of all sorts will always have something to disagree about, as boxing can be very subjectively complicated, but I’ve met only a handful of trainers who have the forethought and stamina to examine their convictions on a daily basis and possibly evolve.  If I were ever proven wrong, I would want to accept it and test it, and test it some more.  I urge everyone, including trainers and cutmen, to strive at being craftsmen at what they do, not just go through the motions to get it done.  As a trainer, if you feel you have the luxury to be lazy or to make an arbitrary choice, you are not doing your fighters any justice.  Here is a list of some classic passed-down common knowledge, obsessive compulsive pet peeves, personal decrees, and some tips maybe only Cus D’Amato knew (but don’t think I wouldn’t fight him tooth and nail on it, as well, if he disagreed.  He may be Cus, but ad hominem… you know):

  1. Putting out the cigarette.  It does not mean you are properly shifting your weight or turning your hips just because you a pivoting on the ball of your foot.  There is more to shifting weight and turning your hips than that.  When someone pivots like he’s putting out a cigarette, it often means he has too much weight on that leg.  Power comes from the hips AND shifting your weight.
  2. Turning hooks.  Trainers say to turn over the hook so that your palm faces down, but guys tend to turn it too early.  The turn adds snap and force and it should be on contact.  See Mike Tyson vs. Trevor Berbick.
  3. Step and slide.  You do not slide the second step, you hover.  The point is to be as close to the floor as possible, but you don’t want to drag your feet.  Dragging, or sliding, your feet slows you down and could tire your leg.
  4. Enswell pressure.  When a cutman rubs swelling with the enswell, pushing the blood away, it is a temporary job, and it lends to the swelling increasing faster.  A cutman should only, if ever, rub out swelling if it’s the last chance for his fighter or the fight is going to be stopped.
  5. Mayweather-like Patty-cake-work.  Here’s another example of ad hominem.  I’ve said for years that the Mayweather pad-work was pointless.  But because Mayweather is/was on top, gym fighters insisted it worked.  Anybody can do it; it’s partially choreographed and it doesn’t help simulate a real fight or real moves.  It’s just a display of fluidity and speed at its best.  But it’s not great pad-work feeding or a display of great skills.  Fighters of all sorts are doing it now, and it’s plain bad and obviously not too difficult.  If you have a routine and can look away, you are obviously not doing what its intended use is—to focus.  Patty-cake Baker’s man, it’s all show.
  6. Speedbag.  It’s good at first, but any fighter gets used to a bag and a platform after seconds and can do it with his eyes closed, so it takes away from the training.  Switch bags and change up the way you hit the bag to get the most out of it.  Pin the bag.  Play around. It’s for hand-eye coordination, so if you can look away, trust that it’s not doing much more than keeping your arms moving.
  7. Snap.  Contrary to what boxers may feel like they’re doing when they punch, they are not punching through the target.  They are actually punching at the target and transferring the greatest force by snapping at the target and changing the trajectory of the punch.  It’s a complicated explanation in physics, but very simple and natural for boxers to perform.  Twisting the fist uses more, larger muscles and increases kinetic energy.  Even if a fighter punches with a follow through, there is a point when he snaps/pops his punch and changes the trajectory even slightly.  Force has to transfer to the target and not dissipate with it. 
  8. Uppercuts.  You should rotate your fist and you should throw it from angles.  People tend to throw the uppercut with the weakest fulcrum – as though their arm is in a cast and sling as they swing their arm up.  That is the weakest angle for your punch because you’re using the weakest muscles.  Your palm should rotate as though you are flexing your bicep, so you get more leverage.  And uppercuts, when possible, should use your chest muscles as much as possible – like a vertical hook.  And try not to throw uppercuts right in front of your opponent.
  9. Where to look.  Generally, stare at the center of the chest, but let your eyes roam.  You want to peak at your opponent’s eyes, he may be cut or having a seizure.  You want to be aware of his hand (only from far away), he may have a ripped glove that could cut you up.  Also, your opponent might have a give with his eyes.  You might have a guy staring into your eyes, and you can trick him by looking up or down. The point is, your eyes are a tool to maximize your awareness.  Also, when you hit the bags, train your peripheral vision.  When hitting the double-end bag or slip-bag, look past the bag at times.  You can’t treat the thing you’re slipping the same way you do the thing you’re punching; you don’t stare at a fist when you’re bobbing and weaving, do you?
  10. Breathing through teeth.  Leave the grunting to tennis players.  Boxers breathe through a bitten-down mouthpiece and make a “sst” sound, not a “shh” sound.  A “sst” sound through the teeth and mouthpiece comes from deep down.  A “shh,” as though you’re telling someone to shush, is basically a superficial exhale.  And biting down will keep you from getting your jaw broken.  Only Manny Pacquiao hasn’t had his jaw wired for this girlish quirk.
  11. Cross vs. Straight vs. Overhand.  Know your 2’s.  It’s important to know the differences between all your 2’s because of the different functions.  I’ve seen it dozens of times when a guy is trying to break through someone’s defense and could do so with a different approach with his 2 punch.  These three shots each function as different punches depending on the angles you get and the angles you make in a fight.
  12. Stepping and punching.  Stepping is ONLY about moving location.  You never have to step with a punch if you are not moving location.  Trainers sometimes insist that fighters step with the jab regardless of positioning.  It’s not going to add power without true forward movement and it can be another give/tip-off. 

How To Take a Punch – The Interpretation of Taking Blows

Soft Chins, Hard Temples: The Interpretation of Taking Blows

by Al Alvir

Absorbing shots to the face and body is often a matter of interpretation.  I call it “interpreting force.”  Some shots, of course, have the impact beyond the realm of interpreting; fighters just get layed-out.  But the great majority of hits in a fight are not going to be KO worthy.  And everyone gets hit.  So what does one do when he gets hit one of those times hard?  Does it depend on how sturdy his chin is?  Can his chin get sturdier?

Interpreting force is not some spiritual idea.  One doesn’t have to reach an inner Chi to start taking good shots.  It’s not a psyched-up state of mind, necessarily, either.  Interpreting force is a matter of experience.  One will only know how to interpret the force of blows depending on two simple things: 1) Having seen it coming and felt it in the past, and 2) Not having seen it coming and felt it (being blind-sided) in the past.  The two criteria must be met in order to really know one’s capabilities to further one’s fight education.  And it’s very important that all interpretations in a fight should be positive.  That way, a fighter can just tell himself, “I’ve been hit like that a million times before, and it does nothing.”  If a fighter interprets a good shot saying, “Uh-oh, I’ve been rocked with shots like that before, if I get hit again, I might get knocked-out,” it means his fighting spirit might need a re-evaluation before his chin does.  At the threshold, however, some point in one’s experience of taking the most damaging shots, a fighter will know what his body can and can’t take.  Even body blows and other kinds of force can be prepared for to a shorter extent.  Fighters often wilt and stay down from a great shot to the body because it’s debilitating – if it happens, it may only happen once in a fighter’s career.  But other fighters have been known for getting up only for the reason that they’ve felt the pain at least once before.  It is arguable that Oscar De La Hoya may have gotten up if he had already felt the same exact pain of Bernard Hopkins’s knockout punch to the liver.  Knowing the threshold of pain is why experienced fighters sometimes know when their opponents simply cannot knock them out after feeling the other fighter’s power.  And experienced fighters are only “tried and true” when they have been down and have had to feel how it was at that threshold of trying to survive.  This is why trainers often dwell on a fighter “never being down before” or “never going deep in a fight.”  Fighting has enough overwhelming pressure by just being alone in combat that one needs experience, as much as civilly possible, to be productive.

Generally, chins and temples are a genetic grace, but once a fighter has the experience of knowing what it feels like to be hit, he can start “interpreting” the force (again, as long it’s not knocking him out).  What does it mean that it hurt so much?  How much abuse can be sustained?  So much of a fighter’s ability to interpret force depends on him seeing it.  The saying goes, “It’s the one you don’t see that knocks you out.” Seeing shots coming is so important because it provides a fighter with another source of information – he saw it and felt it, then he processes it.  When a fighter sees a shot coming, he can prepare if he has experienced it before.  He knows he can take it and he eats it, or absorbs it.  “Eating” a shot is like having a “prepared relaxation,” no tensing up, per se, and no allowing the shot to topple the fighter over.  Some trainers wrongly encourage fighters to roll their heads with shots like Shannon Briggs does, but that can only get a fighter knocked-out with another punch he doesn’t see, and it looks to judges like punches are really snapping the head.  Plus, if a fighter keeps his eyes on his opponent and the punches, maybe next time he can defend it or counter it.  Taking blows and “doing something with it” is part of the chess game of boxing. 

But how does a fighter interpret getting hit with a hard shot when he doesn’t see it coming?  He has to use it as a wake up call and treat it like it can’t hurt him, he’s felt it before.  And then he needs to know what he did to be put in that position, because it shouldn’t happen too often in a fight.  If he can’t adjust, he might have to be woken up off the canvas.  And the problem is that knock-outs blows are never a force that can be interpreted.