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Outboxing a Southpaw: Miguel Cotto's Footwork Clinic
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Fighting ArtBy Andre Linnell
Learn alternative boxing, fighting, training, methods with Andre...
STANCE:South, Orthadox or both
Stance is everything it's your foundation. Basics must be accomplished otherwise you will be building up other strengths onto a weakness: So start as you feel you will go on.
Neutral Stance: Facing forward, feet under shoulders (Slightly wider not too much) for perfect balance. (Your arms or fists can punch the same distance out in front of you.) This stance is wide open for frontal attack but is of great use when you are at someone's side because then you have two fists against one. To get into a front stance of orthodox or south all you have to do from here is turn your shoulders and waist around and adjust your feet slightly to comfort. Now if you turn to the right, Your right fist will be out in front and left fist back in defence. If you turn shoulders to the left then you are in the south stance. Think about all of the above because the positions outlined have strengths and weaknesses depending on where your opponent is and at which stance he is adapting at that moment in time. These are the basics in kung fu, fencing and should be in boxing also. The simplicity of shifting your centerline away from attack yet boosting the power of your counter punches can be derived through the above movements, It's called economy of movement and must be thought about in depth before proceeding to steps and flowing movement. Many fighting arts do not know this secret initial key to foundation footwork. It is what fighters like Kostya do when they pivot on the spot and cut off the ring except they only do it on one side because they are fixed into one stance. Boxers from all around the globe are starting to switch stance and are discovering the pros and cons to it. Once it is fully understood and the fear removed by knowledge, Then the future shape of boxing will evolve into an even more dramatic art form.
EXERCISE: to gain appreciation of basic stance and economy of movement:
Stand on a tiled floor or create a cross on your training floor. + Imagine the top as north and the left as west etc. (then we are talking the same language).
Stand with your feet on the east west line look ahead to north. Now turn your feet slightly at 45% point them at north west yet stay on the line in the same place, you have just slipped a straight punch that came at you from the north. A left straight punch from your opponent could be simultaneously slipped, blocked and attacked using the same movement. As you turn to N>W put out a straight jab with your right. SEE you have sent a right jab over the top of a left jab and you have moved your centerline out of the line of fire simultaneously cocking your right hip and your body weight into your right straight jab. : Total economy. The next move would be to head up the outside of his guard and attack him from his left side, that way you are avoiding his fists because you are on the outside of his left arm. If you launch all your attacks over his elbow then you have control of his balance point as well. Try it with your sparring partner.
BIG NOTE: All of the above should be practiced the opposite way around then you are going to become a switch stance fighter who understands the outcomes, not just a showman. Use the cross and visualize your opponent coming in from all angles. If he launches an extended lunging attack move your leading leg back behind your rear leg and change your leading hands around from natural to south and voila you have moved to his outside again and have your 2 fists against his none. This all works in many different combinations and visualization and practice is the only answer to becoming proficient.
NEUTRAL STANCE WEAKNESS:Never would one be caught in a neutral stance in front of an on coming opponent: I t is from a neutral stance that you begin to form an understanding of things and unless at someone's side it is of little use other than being non committed to one action. From neutral stance you can slip one leg back to put yourself into front stance or the other leg back to gain front stance in the other front stance. Whichever leg retreats so does the rear hand. No fighting art has a left foot back with a left fist out in front guard or the opposite with right foot right fist:" try it out and you will feel open all over".
STEPS: All vary from skips to shuffles with every combination in-between including flying at someone. It's which stance you land in that counts.
PRACTICE: Stepping through with your jabs hooks and crosses. And twisting into the blow flexing every muscle from your toes right up through your legs body shoulder arm and turn wrist into target on impact for finishing shots. Practice a straight jab with your fist in a near vertical position (bottom of fist slightly turned in) and aim at your target as if you are smashing a pole through it, (using from your elbow through to your wrist like a pole (turning your same foot inwards slightly on impact can shift ½ of your body weight into the shot; its fast and devastating as it is fired from in front of you and the fastest point in between to points is a straight line.
PRACTICE: Standing in front of the heavy bag with your fist 1 or 2 inches away put your fist vertical as above cock your wrist down, relax your stance in a neutral setting cock your arm slightly. Start off by placing fist onto bag and thrust bottom 3 knuckles down and into it without any other movement. Now do the same except lift the heel of the same foot that you are punching with and you notice that the bag swung 3 inches to start and 6 inches second. Next tense each muscle in leg and toes, then put your hip into it, back muscles, shoulder, cock arm and snap the wrist into a rigid fixed state just on impact. By putting all this together (which takes a couple of weeks to get down) you have a weapon that can explode at short range and can put your heavy bag floating up near the roof. This 1 inch punch will not cut someone but in a nose-to-nose situation can send your opponent plummeting backwards up to 6 feet away and that is the point you aim for when striking (6 feet away). Or at a Ref J .
NATURAL ABILITY: Remember the first time anyone ever threw something at you and your arms went up automatically. Your elbow went up above your head with your other hand backing up the elbow protecting your face and your chest. In kung fu this is called Bon sao it means wing arm. I have increasingly noticed the use of it in boxing. When someone has another against the ropes and its on nose to nose with the odd step back and hook you notice because of the shortened range, that men start to naturally block with their elbow and when its held up like a wing with the fist down in front of the chest it becomes a runway for the blow to go up and over your head. If you turn and face the shot it becomes a hard full stop and damages the wrist of the incoming blow, to go one step ahead: is to actually attack the incoming hook with your elbow! One step further to this is to walk through it at the same time, opening up your opponent's guard.
PRACTICE: All of the above with your sparring partner pinning you against the ropes and hooking into you. Get comfortable with what comes naturally. Your aim is to get out of his firing line, which in real terms is out to his side so that he has to turn into you and that's where you run or catch him as he turns. With the right elbow block you can duck, straighten the arm and slip out under his heavy left hook pushing his elbow across his center line as you go, first with the right glove then exchanging contact to the left glove as you are out to his side now. As he turns into you, you could hit him with two fists at the one time, one high and one low directing force at two 45% angles up and down through his body! (Nothing in the rules to state you cannot do this). If you do a double strike one over the outside of someone's guard and the other below using vertical fists and stepping into them with your body weight as they are turning into you? That's an instant KO.
NOTE: Some of these techniques only work in certain situations, but in real terms, unless you think it first it's never going to happen. Situations and timing are everything in battle. Same as in life, If one day you walked down the street dressed as an ice cream you'd probably get licked J . Next day people could be throwing money at you! The limits are the limits of your mind set. Champions dare to go beyond the normal acceptable boundaries in their chosen sport. It will happen in boxing soon too. Lateral thought, stretch the rulebook, do the unexpected. If I was starting over again in training I would train my weakest side first (for about a year) one handed pushups fighting in south only until it felt natural, so that when I fought, my mind would be balanced, hands at equal strength, equal speed, footwork balanced. Foundations are everything.
I've seen Iron Mike block some with his forehead! How game and fantastic is that to actually bow your head and refuse to move so that you can set up and view that uppercut!
Muhammad Ali knocked out some one while going backwards under fire! He momentarily stopped for a split second, raised his back heel off the ground while turning his hip into a short right!
When someone does the wind up and is standing in front of you whirling their fist around turn your back on them and walk off!(out the same side as the act) Make them look stupid! Or catch them when that fist is in the air, walk out to the side underneath it and uppercut, as a backup defence from the other arm "nothing to lose at this stage you're in trouble if he's playing with you"!
If you feel a fist in your face follow it back to its source with that arm on the same side its not a threat when its expended or extended just step away from the other one because you can bet its close behind!
What would happen if you lent back on the ropes and bought your knee up to block body shots while your gloves maintained the upper guard? When the attacker had expended his energy you could use the power of your weight coming down to blast him away. Just a thought. And that is where all things start, in your head, so visualize all things and all things are possible. Practice all things and then there are no surprises.
Trust in your natural ability; especially you're natural instinct and train' onto it' not away from it. Hone your skill first before learning to wield another.
Don't think one two one two. Think 12345 more.
Combinations Mindset Winning
COMBINATIONS: 1 Look for the holes and spaces created by your opponent's actions. Formulate (as your fighting or sparring) the first gap. If he is tight then create the gap by either parrying him into an over reaction, or create one gap in your own defense so that you are inviting him in and then you look for the obvious space. (Its OK to muck up if you're in control of the muck up) EG If you were to block a left hook with your right glove turning to face the point of contact. Now this is the worst possible scenario for a fighter because you have left open' totally' your strong side and have blocked your own defense arm by crossing your other in front. BUT if you're in control and are really searching for openings or trying to disrupt the opponent then you are in control. You know you've left the opening, that punch is going to come instantly and by keeping your right up and turning back into his left shot you have a KO chance with your left as you pivot completely turning into his left. This is mastering the inside. Takes practice and timing also guts.
FLOWING WITH THE ATTACK: creates openings because you're not meeting force with force. To block a punch doesn't mean you have to stop it dead, 90% of blocked punches are simply disrupted and the energy is dispersed. At this point is where you can help the hook sail past you even further by a shove from the outside or after slipping a jab bring it past you by a push to the elbow. You are allowed to punch their guard out of the way and there is not much difference between a punch and a push. When they feel you push their guard hand out their reaction is to bring it back in, (slip it there). If you push it up then attack up because the defense is coming down (reaction to the original push up). Good combinations are made from finding unexpected openings and over reactions by your opponent and its up to you to create them. Obvious holes can work but are usually realized and checked fast. Flow around the attacker arms and shoot up the spaces that are left.
PRACTICE: Triple combinations imagining that your first strike even if it is a miss will cause a reaction in your opponent that causes the next gap and so on. A persons defense will always go to where they feel pain or where you have proved that they are vulnerable, so visualize, imagine and practice.
EG: Imagine that he has his gloves up, back to the ropes, (he wants you to come in). Side step to the outside slightly and bolo or overhand swing to the top of head or temple area, his glove will come up and you have an opening for a devestationial left straight to the solar plexus as you step in, (this whole move from start to finish could be completed in under one second). The body shot will bring the guard down again, guess where you go. And so it goes on.
OPENINGS Are the starting point to all combinations, watch the opponents timing ,count in your mind 1 and 2 and 1 and 2 if he's bouncing then his weight is coming down on the counts ,if he's throwing blows , the spaces are on the and's. Its like great music you can play all the right notes but if you don't know the spaces to leave in between then its all noise. Your corner needs to look for the other guys timing and relay this to you as well. There is only a few ways to disrupt some ones timing; slow the action down, speed it up, hurt him, or confuse him: This includes running then mixing it hard. Playing hurt and let him think he has got you while you sit back and take it all in, then punish him. You could even drop to one knee and take a 7 count shaking your head or holding your stomach tight, He will come at you with everything after that guaranteed and with everything comes bigger openings! Create openings with knowledge; watch Sugar Shane Mosley he checks some ones blow with one glove and simultaneously attacks the high or low opening with the other, (not to KO or even to score hard just to set up the next flurry.) If someone punches high there is an opening low and visa versa; it's obvious but still requires practice to get it into your system without forethought. Fighters get into trouble when they are caught in forethought or when they are caught pissing around. Training and repetition makes things instinct.
With Your Sparring Partner: practice; setting up openings, he punches high you go low, when he feels you strike his reaction will bring his arm down and you go high. By maintaining contact with his leading arm you can feel where it's going. If someone hooks your lead jab out of the way, flow with it and go around it and strike. (Whenever you circle an opponents arm always circle down and out as he misses the hook or swing and check his elbow once your on the outside because you can feel his every intention from here. (Your glove rolls around his elbow point which gets you on the outside of his guard your other hand can smash up the inside as you go.
PRACTICE: Leaving an opening in your own defense to purposefully draw the opponent into one side (Roy Jones leaves his top left quarter open frequently and its no mistake) because he knows where the shot is going to come from.
Don't be bluffed your self! If some one is doing the Ali shuffle slide a foot in between his shuffle while leaning back with guard gloves up; he still cant reach you, but its ' his next move 'and look for the opening because it's a move he has not prepared for. If he sticks his head out and does circles with the hands down routine don't try to straight punch or jab him as everyone else seems to do, follow the path of the target, swings are the answer and the target will soon straighten up and back out, then look for the opening. Have the guts to turn into a swing and walk through it while sticking a straight jab in his face, this opens him up from the inside out; feel the opening (your in it).
Rule 1 is getting the opponents timing down, and when you're watching for the timing watch their elbows (they move at half the pace that the gloves move! I know that it is taught to always look into the opponents eyes and it is true that this works but no rule is hard fixed in fighting and if your opponent is relying on looking into your eyes to know what your relaying to him; Then what is going to happen to his training if your not looking into his eyes? How can he bluff you? You see it all works both ways and the knee moves at half the pace of the foot and the elbow at half the rate of the hand so think about it. That's all I'm going to say because it's a preference thing and in any case Peripheral or overall vision plays a huge part in both plays which ever is your final choice. It is all in your training.
PRACTICE: Positive visualization, see in your mind what is coming to you. (Even see the belts hanging off of you and your hand being held aloft). Imagination is at play here and once you have gone through it all in your mind covering all bases and then felt the emotion of it … consider it done; your training will take care of the physical aspect just as you have taken care of the mental and spiritual sides. There will be no surprises in store for you and total faith in your abilities both natural and trained. Make your good luck.
By Andre Linnell
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