BOXING IS NOT COOL UNLESS YOU DO IT RIGHT
Boxing may not be popular as a sport these days, but as fitness training, it has become trendy among working men and women. On social media, videos of people doing mitt drills are a common sight. To the untrained, they may look cool. But often when I watch these clips, I see myself pretending to do ballet moves. I wince.
As someone who spent almost six years of his youth training and competing in student-level boxing tournaments, including a year serving as the head of a university’s boxing club, I think I know a few things about the basics of the sport. In this article, I dare not discuss anything too advanced.
Anyway, every time I see students throwing lousy punches at the pads with encouragement from the instructors who turn a blind eye to their obvious lack of basic skill, I can’t help but wonder why they don’t pay as much attention to training as to their own clothes and fashion accessories.
I remember that when I started boxing — I was 16 — it took days just to learn the footwork and stance. Only after I had a firm foundation was I taught how to punch. And that is logical because the power of every punch begins with the movement of the feet.
However, on my social-media newsfeed I see videos of people doing “uppercuts” while standing with straight legs and a straight body, moving only their arms. Of course, the contact of the gloves with the pads creates impressive sounds, but there’s no power in such poorly executed hits.
I also see people stick their chins out when working on the mitts and dropping their guard after every single punch. This is a dangerous habit since it invites devastating counter-attacks. In any kind of martial arts, you don’t just practise offence; you must also master defence.
These are merely some of the many terrible training mistakes I have seen on social media. Even when watching on the screen, I always feel the strong urge to tell them how to do it the right way. How could the trainer, who is holding the mitts, not have the same urge?
I couldn’t think of a swimming coach who feels complacent about his or her students doing their strokes incorrectly. Similarly, I have never heard of tennis or taekwondo trainers, golf instructors or ballet teachers, who allow their students to continue with advance moves without getting the basics right first.
However, in fitness-style boxing gyms (which usually teach muay Thai as well as international-style boxing), it’s not rare to see newbies told to perform spinning elbows on the pads on their first day of training.
I once asked a boxing trainer why he let his students do fancy stuff when they don’t even have the footwork right. His answer was: “I need to. Otherwise, the students will get bored.”
At least I know I’m not the only one who notices that something is not right. Unlike that trainer, however, I don’t have to pretend I like it.
Only after I had a firm foundation was I taught how to punch