“Boxing Equipment – Hindrance or Help”
by Tommy Thompson and Rocky Sondhi
Many gyms and martial arts clubs have a vast array of equipment
covering many different elements. Everyday a new company produces
a new piece of equipment, which is purchased by our state
of the art gyms and clubs. Too much time training with a particular
piece of equipment can actually hinder a boxer and martial
artists’ progress, rather than help. Each piece of equipment
should have its purpose and not be used for unclear reasons
and objectives. Lets just take a look at the most common examples
we can find in our gyms and do jobs.
Typically, we will walk in to the gym and find our training
buddies firstly warming up. Usually, the skipping rope and
shadow boxing is used, with our colleagues thinking they look
like a new Muhammed Ali, full of movement and with sweat pouring
down their faces.
This will be followed with a couple of rounds on the heavy
bag, with all the mates watching in disbelief at the awesome
power being generated. After recovering from the hard work,
your buddies feel its time for a bit of one to one, so they
call on another buddy to hold the pads, not thinking that
he may have little or no experience.
To complete the workout, its time for the piece de resistance
– the war! Who is up for the ultimate adrenalin rush!
The man versus man challenge!
Lets consider the potential weaknesses of the pieces of equipment
that are being used in this scenario.
Generally, the skipping is done at one pace with an on-going
conversation. This provides virtually little or no benefit
to user. However, if the athlete introduces footwork variations
and tempo changes, then there are huge potential benefits
to the boxer.
A classic case is demonstrated by the use of shadow boxing.
Many, if not all, martial artists and boxers spend countless
rounds hitting fresh air with little focus and clarity on
purpose and reason. However, great benefit is gained by shadow
boxing once visualization and a mirror are introduced into
Too much time spent hitting the heavy bag will possibly slow
down the boxer’s speed movement, and accuracy, though
power may be increased. More movement in terms of feet, hand
speed and head overcomes these issues.
In recent years the traditional karate method of learning
i.e. moving up and down in straight lines has been replaced
by instructors investing in focus pads, which is commendable
from a boxing point of view. Problems arise when instructors
hold the pads in a static manner representing unrealistic
targets, thus stunting the growth of the athlete. Inexperienced
trainers hold the pads in an unrealistic manner and the response
provided by the boxer lacks variety in tempo and pace, and
the return is unrealistic and does not represent the response
that would be expected from an opponent.
“One to one” Sparring
These have been witnessed in countless gyms where you have
two people just hitting themselves in an all out fight. A
theme for the session and conditions for each of the boxers
needs to be introduced to assist the skill learning process
and minimize injury.
Each of the pieces of equipment that are available can be
very beneficial providing the coach demonstrates creativity
in its application. Unfortunately, there are too many instructors
who fail to recognize this.