Tag Archives: mittwork

Mittology – A Review

by Coach Al

I’ve borrowed some of Roger Mayweather’s mittwork for the live, conventional mittwork that I do. But by no means can I ever condone it solely to be proper mittwork. A New Jersey based trainer, Coach Rick, or his corny pseudonym, “The Mittologist,” sells this stuff on youtube and even has some $199 con for becoming certified in Mittology. Floyd Mayweather wannabes across the globe are following suit.

Say goodbye to the old-time art of live mittwork.

Mittwork nowadays across the US consists of guys throwing fast combinations of quarter punches with their hands held really low and little hip being used. The Mittologist is not the only one selling this. Coaches get into the set patterns and find that it’s the easiest way to take people’s money (I’ve heard that from a few coaches themselves). Because this Mittology, above all benefits (if any), is fun for most people – especially beginners. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be just a money maker and flashy, but after the set patterns are learned, this stuff is disgustingly easy – especially for the coaches.

First of all, the coaches don’t have to go through the grueling hard work of coaching distance, angles, and strategy when doing this Mittology stuff. There is no randomness, bumps, clinches, spins, getting hit, punching at the same time as blocking, and there are no options (you must move in the set patterns). Second, it is still exciting and fun, yet it has the incomparable variable of being safe. It’s like the TaeBo of mittwork – the people, even actual boxers, think they’re really getting authentic boxing mittwork, but they’re getting more of a workout as opposed to real moves and real education.

After having one vapid boxer of mine – one who came to me already brainwashed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. – actually purchase the Mittologist’s videos, I watched a few of them with an open mind (just on November 19, 2012). No doubt, I think the Mittologist guy probably knows better and is just making a business move on the sport, making videos that are virtual knockoffs of Roger Mayweather’s set patterns. This whoring is what I have a problem with. I can’t say that technical and detailed work isn’t done with fighters away from his mitts, but I am saying that this mittwork is brainwashing viewers into thinking that it’s “the secret to better boxing and coaching.” I’ve heard no mention that sparring and alternative work is essential. Not once did I hear mention that conventional mittwork is good to work into his routines. And it really gets on my nerves that there is a stupid certification that seems like anyone can buy. What governing body gave him the right to certify anyone? Can any coach make up some stupid gimmick and certify it? I have a number system that I created for communicating angles and head locations and punches; should I certify people who pay me? Where is the profession and years of understanding boxing inside and out that goes into the coaching? He calls it technical mittwork, but it is almost absolute in being the opposite of that. This is my issue with many youtube coaches. There are probably only 3 known ones that I can cosign. There are innumerable hacks on youtube, but at least some, even the non-boxers, don’t make up catchy names and rename boxing moves like this guy.  My point is that much of the sale of these videos gambles on people’s perceptions and their false correlations: they think Floyd Mayweather Jr. was successful doing this stuff, so they think this stuff must work the best. It is the classic idiot’s trap. It’s akin to an ad hominem argument – an argument made against an opponent, as opposed to an argument against the opponent’s argument. If I said Roger Mayweather sucks on the mitts, someone might retort that I don’t have the best fighter in the world, so I must be wrong. Such illogic are important factors to understand when deciding for or against this type of stuff. Many coaches I speak to agree with me, yet some of them are doing this mittwork because white-collar recreational boxers buy into this stuff.

The Mittologist claims that this mittwork instills fluidity and reaction. I contend that live mittwork does that and more. Live mittwork, on the other hand, doesn’t have the shortcomings of fake blocks and shoulder touches and quarter punches. When I do mittwork, I really punch at the fighters, and I really review the techniques and strategies. I have mittwork for opposite stances and for same stances. I mimic different fighting styles and throw punches in different ways. I often wear a body-shield so fighters can go to my body at will. I catch punches with the mitts on my head, too. My mittwork is comprehensive, not just aerobic. Fighters get to feel almost like they’re in a fight. I treat every boxer differently, and I feed the mitts differently to each of them. They, in turn, learn fluidity and reaction without the hoax. How is Mittology any better than this convention? How is Mittology any good, period? Is it like Karate’s Katas versus sparring. Do boxers even shadowbox the way they do this mittwork? Do they fight that way, too? The answer is an expletive and “no.”

I am knocking this stuff because I think its widespread appeal is based on gimmick and exploiting the ignorance of people who don’t know boxing. Perhaps the guys who do this know more than what the rote mittwork exhibits, but I am only going off on the mittwork itself. Check out the mittwork on the internet. The boxers often don’t protect their heads, they don’t turn their hips, and they don’t turn over their punches. They don’t even really roll or block punches. They aren’t even actually punching too much of the time. This doesn’t make all these mittwork routines necessarily wrong, but the fake stuff is a major part of the selling of this crap. The appeal is that it’s fast and non-stop; it looks cool to people who don’t know how easy it is. Manny Masson does a similar routine with Yuriorkis Gamboa, but the techniques are almost fully completed, thus the punches and movements are more realistic; this is much more difficult, although Masson also just touches Gamboa’s shoulders. And I question how random any of their stuff is, as well. When you watch live mittwork, you will see mistakes every round (e.g. missed counters, late moves, hesitations, and people getting touched with punches). Live mittwork is not based on set patterns and solely verbal queues. It’s live, physical, and cerebral, and you benefit from getting as close to sparring as you can while practicing detailed strategy and technique. Even the set patterns have their randomness as it’s mixed in with all the other work. Mittology seems to be just another workout drill, like bad double-end work in which guys don’t really throw complete punches and don’t move realistically.

When I argued with my ignorant boxer on how stupid I thought the patty-cake Mittology mittwork is, the young boxer even said to me, “If this mittwork is so bad, why is the Mittologist’s wife a golden gloves champ?” I told him to look up Logical Fallacies and then, only then, work on an informed opinion.

No matter what, I will never give him a behind the back mitt feed. I’d rather lose him to the grift.

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.

Is Mayweather Mittwork All Show?

By Al Alvir

There is a new phenomenon in the boxing world.  Like Muhammad Ali followers who fluttered like butterflies and Mike Tyson wanna-be’s who imitated his substance like aluminum for iron, it seems that everywhere there’s a new garage opening for a gym, one of its trainers believes he could duplicate the success of Roger Mayweather with some flashy  mittwork.  Some believe so without a semblance of understanding of his fighter or for mittwork in itself.  

Focus mitts were incorporated into boxing many decades ago and more – so there are different theories on its origination.  Boxing trainers use focus mitt work (aka padwork or mittwork), to give dynamic practice for fighters to work on the things that happen while fighting.  It gives a live body to train in front of.  It continues to be used today for warming-up a fighter, working on movement, and fine-tuning skills.  The problem is the focus of the mittwork; what is a trainer trying to achieve? Boxing trainers are increasingly adopting a cookie-cutter approach to teaching skills.  Today, padwork is more for warming up guys or showing-off than for fine-tuning skill-sets.  People love the way the Mayweathers do padwork perhaps because it looks so intricate.  Other trainers stick to fads like towel slipping and tube punching – useful in some ways and some much less than others – but should not replace good ol’fashioned mittwork – the kind that is almost like sparring.  And we don’t replace sparring, right?

The repetitive and fast action of the Mayweather style of mittwork indeed helps reflexes, short punches, and making things second nature, but bad habits may develop from it, too.  There are plenty of young non-Mayweathers who don’t have the pedigree or time to become good in spite of paddy-cake padwork.  They aren’t sitting on punches, turning their hips, or learning how to improvise within the fundamentals.  There is no doubt that Roger, Jeff, Floyd Sr., and Floyd Jr. were each tremendous talents who exhibited those skills, but I think the chipmunk quick mittwork we see for two seconds clips on tv had less to do with it than the amalgam of everything else.  Evidence suggests that they spent years touching up on the how’s and why’s before they became known for what many experienced eyes would, and do, call nonsense.  But far too many boxing trainers are selling it to kids without the substance.

The biggest benefit of Mayweather mittwork is that it teaches fighters the way to react in a fight and that “touching” (not trying to throw punches too hard) is essential to good boxing.  It’s arguable that the rhythm of punching is more important than sitting on punches because “touching” happens the majority of the time.  But if trainers can agree that a fighter must learn the fundamentals first – where to stand, angles, all the defenses, how to adjust – they could agree that many fighters are wasting time reacting and being fast over learning the essentials.  Also, trainers may agree that they need to learn their fighters and the fighters need to learn themselves.  Form and technique are paramount.  Trainers know this intuitively, but many of them allow their fighters to tap the mitts dropping their hands, not turning over punches, not extending their jabs, and fouling up distance and being naively vulnerable.

Mayweather mittwork, as some people would call “paddy-cake-paddy-work,” is almost completely choreographed.  And good feeds (the holding of the pads) should mimic the head, body, and real shots coming back.  The feeder should clearly differentiate what is the target and what is a punch, because in a fight the head doesn’t regularly come to your fists.  With Mayweather mittwork, the trainer does almost as much work as the puncher does.  Of course, trainers are supposed to meet the punch with the mitts to provide feel, distance, and resistance to the puncher, but the Mayweathers and their copycats do it too much.  Also, like the speedbag, mittwork can be too routine, the combinations and the feed has to be random that fighters have to go “freestyle”.  It should always be challenging.  So the fighter shouldn’t always know what to expect and shouldn’t always do the same things off of his defense.  And for many fighters, especially beginners, speed becomes rushing, and that kind of speed sacrifices form just as much as punching too hard.
Evidence suggests that the sales-pitch of mittwork has been lucrative, but can cost in the skills department.   One white-collar boxer showed me a tape in which he was hitting the pads, and he did it like a prodigy.  He said he tried boxing ONLY because his coach (who remained anonymous) held pads like Mayweather and he was sold.  He told me, however, that he couldn’t transfer any of that choreography into the ring because he never learned real defense, “how it feels to take a knockout heavy punch on the gloves.” 

I don’t condemn this philosophy completely, as I do believe that the Mayweather “speed-pads,” as some people call it, is the best cookie cutter mold for approaching offense and defense.  The basics of Mayweather mittwork come down to a few basics (for those of you who have no clue to the mystical sleight of hand they see before them):

  • Catch a left hook, come back with a left hook
  • Weave a right hook
  • Shoulder roll a right hand, come back with a right hand
  • Roll (pull back) or catch a jab, come back with a right hand
  • Catch a left to body, come back with a right uppercut
  • Catch a right to the body, come back with a left uppercut
  • Pivots to stay in front of feeder

There are variations on these basics (e.g. you can weave a left hook, too) and various combinations that come off of it, but the trainer calls out the defense and lets you know what’s coming after the combinations are each rehearsed.  All trainers do this to some extent, but some of the best feeders I’ve seen have done it with as little rehearsing as possible.  Once a fighter has done Mayweather mittwork a bunch of times, he may be able to do it with his eyes closed like Floyd Mayweather Jr.  That is my contention to it.  But it is also evidence supporting that it builds muscle memory.

One big suggestion is the use of the body shield, so fighters can sit on shots and get hit at the same time they’re going downstairs.  The body shield helps you find angles instead of being right in front of the feeder who is supposed to act as the opponent rather than a partner.  This mimicking of a real fighting helps, too.  Any ad hoc hypothesis that my idea makes doing other non-fight work-outs pointless ignores the issue:  train target areas, but make it as close to real fighting as possible without sacrificing the intention.  Fighters benefit greatly when a trainer throws punches back with some realistic intent and randomness.  Fighters benefit from trying different moves. 

Ultimately, the Mayweather mittwork can be effective when it supplements the myriad of conventional boxing training, but don’t sell it long.

PS. If a fighter isn’t training to throw kidney shots, is there absolutely any reason for the behind the back mitt feed?