Global Training Report Archives 1997-2016

 

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Global Training Report

Presents

You Can Learn to Box

With Kenny Weldon  

Reviewed by Roberto Pedreira

If you want to learn to box, should you learn from someone who has learned how to box, or from someone who has successfully taught other people to box? As Kenny Weldon says, gthe best teachers have never boxed, theyfre just good communicatorsh. As a teacher, Kenny has worked with Mike McCallum and Evander Holyfield among many others. But if having also boxed gives the teacher a broader perspective, Kenny has it. He was 216-11 as an amateur and 57-1 as a pro. In short, Kenny Weldon is the real deal, and it doesnft hurt that he talks and looks like a working boxing trainer, rather than someone trying to transition into a second career as a TV personality.   

As Humbert Humbert says, gevery game has its rulesh. Boxing works best in boxing matches. Striking in a vale tudo context is a different game, but there is obviously overlap. If you want to strike, or at least want the option, youfd might as well do it correctly. Learn from the specialists. For punching, boxers are the pros. If you canft get yourself to a real boxing gym (run donft walk from taekwondo/karate teachers claiming to teach gboxingh) and learn from a boxing trainer (like Vitor Belfort did), you couldnft do much better than Kenny Weldonfs four tape set (tapes 1-3 under review here).

It has to be added that even learning from the most qualified trainer doesn't guarantee good results. Vitor and Wallid learned from the same boxing teachers. Some fighters are more coachable than others, and some simply have more innate boxing intelligence.  In many cases, it may be better not to box than to box badly. But it is always better to have options than not to.

Tape 1

The first thing youfll notice is that everything is demonstrated in a boxing gym, in a ring for ringwork, and on the floor for floorwork. The exception is when Kenny discusses roadwork, in which case he and his assistant, Mike Phelps (a genuine boxer) go outdoors. That makes sense, doesnft it? You wouldnft expect a boxing video to be taped in a martial arts studio or someonefs living room. If do see one, you should wonder why.

Kenny starts at the beginning. You walk into his gym with your chin down and you walk out with your chin down and during the time between your chin is down. Kenny believes itfs important for a boxer to keep his chin down, mainly because it helps to avoid getting knocked out, which is a good thing. (the Gracie gchin uph fighting stance is of course designed specifically to bait an opponent into taking a huge swing, making the takedown all that much easier). So chin down is the first part. Next is foot position. To optimize both stability and mobility a boxer puts his feet shoulder width, with his weight in the center (so do wrestlers for that matter--you won't see either in Horse, Cat, or Crane  stances). Kenny doesnft mention whether you should be on the balls of your feet or not, though Mike is. This is somewhat a matter of preference, depending on how much stability you are willing to give up to get more mobility. Punchers, obviously, tend to fight more flat-footed than gboxersh. But even boxers have to plant their weight to hit with maximum power. Look for an opponent who is on the balls of his feet to be moving a lot.

Keep your hands up and open, Kenny says, your right hand on the right side of your face (assuming you are right handed, otherwise reverse everything), your right elbow tight against your ribs. Your left hand should be at eye level and your arm more or less vertical. Kenny doesnft say how far out your left hand should, or can, be, but (in my opinion at least) if you are boxing a boxer, it should be in contact with your face or pretty close to it, whereas if you are in a vale tudo and you think your opponent wants to clinch and / or tackle you, it might be better to have it extended somewhat, to more efficiently redirect him when he comes in.

Your knees should be slightly bent and you should be looking forward, always facing your opponent (Bruce Lee read enough books about boxing to advise gnever take your eyes off your opponenth). Kenny pays close attention to the details, because the details are what make boxing work, but there are details that he doesnft mention. He seems to be assuming that his students wonft have a lot of kung fu / taekwondo / karate habits to overcome (like deep horse stances and hands limply dangling, vigilantly defending the hips (as Paul Vunak sarcastically commented on his own pretty good boxing video, before he got his hair styled and took acting lessons). Probably Kenny also assumes a lot of the details of stance and technique execution will depend on the fighterfs body type and personality (like, is he aggressive or cautious?) and will get sorted out during the ensuing months of actual training. In the gym, there are coaches whose job is to help you get it right. You canft learn it all in a day and certainly not merely by watching a video (not even a good one).

Hitting hard without being hit is what boxers do best and this is what Kenny addresses next. Once you have gotten into your basic fighting grhythmh, which Kenny shows you how to do, you put the basic punches together and if things go well and your opponent isnft better than you, you win the fight. The most important punch in boxing, Kenny says—and every boxing trainer agrees--is the jab. Every combination should begin and end with a jab, he says. It isnft only boxers who need effective jabs. Jabs are the punches that make everything else possible (Mike Tyson started having problems as soon as he stopped jabbing and started looking for quick KOs), and they are essential for defense as well. The jab is not a simple as it looks however. There is a real science to it, and when you understand it, you can generalize it to include any lead hand or leg technique. This is a tactical shot and accordingly, it requires intelligence to use it effectively. Kenny shows you how to jab correctly. (He says somewhat cryptically that gthere are many variations that are correct, but there is only one correct wayh. ‚h think what he means is that if your jab does what it is intended to do and you donft get hit, itfs gcorrecth. He doesn't distinguish between flicker, speed, and power jabs. I think Kenny would think a power jab (a George Foreman jab) would be a contradiction in a boxing context, though not necessarily a self-defense / street fight context If you want your jab to set things up, the last thing you want is for your opponent to be knocked back out of range. In a street fight, you might possibly knock an off balance opponent flat onto his back or head, thereby taking a lot of the fight out of him, if not ending it).

Next comes the Right Cross. Literally, because crosses follow jabs, so often so that a cross without a jab sometimes works due to surprise. Itfs relatively easy to see and avoid a cross originating from way back there (if a jab is in your face, itfs less easy to see the cross coming). Crosses are the easiest to learn, because they are basically what anyone naturally throwing something, like a ball or a punch, would do. Obviously, a good cross is more involved, and Kenny shows you how to punch hard without getting hit (the twin desiderata of pugilism, as Cus Dfamato said), and also how to apply it when your opponent is trying to avoid it and counter-punch. He also explains that a cross is called a gcrossh not because it crosses your center-line, but rather because it crosses, at least ideally, the opponentfs jab. Think about that. If you mistakenly think a cross is supposed to gcrossh your center-line, you are going to end up crossing your feet instead, sacrificing both balance and mobility.

The left hook is the hardest punch to teach and learn. (If you are unfortunate enough to have bought Sean OfGradyfs tapes, youfll appreciate the truth of this statement). Itfs worth the time learning however, even if the hookfs usefulness in a vale tudo is limited (if you are close enough to use a hook, you are close enough to be taken down—elbows would be the weapons of choice in other than a boxing match. On the other hand, if your opponent isnft a grappler, and is taller than you, hooks have a definite appeal). Hooks are hard to learn because the body position is the opposite of what a novice feels it should be—you will almost be moving away from rather than into your target, your body will be rather, but your hand will be moving into the target. Itfs also hard to learn because if you donft do it right youfll expose yourself big time.. The set up is everything. You can throw a cross without a set up (though it wonft work very well): if you throw a hook without a set-up, not only wonft it work, but youfll get tattoed for your trouble, which together make it, as Paul Vunak would say, gnot a technique to doh. Obviously, the hook is a great punch. You can generate enormous leverage with a hook, and the targets (chin and temple) are extremely sensitive. You just have to know how to do it right. Kenny shows you.

To hook correctly, and to get over your opponentfs guard, you have to keep your elbow parallel with your fist, maybe even a skosh higher. (Donft assume his hands will be down even though late in the fight they may be). Coincidentally, this is just about the same body mechanics needed to throw a good Thai elbow. You can smoothly transition from one to the other, or combo them up, if the context permits.

Kenny teaches the two other basic punches, the body hook and the uppercut. The left body hook is used to hurt your opponent if course, but also to stop his lateral movement long enough for you to fire off a salvo of shots to the head. He calls punches thus used gcut-off punchesh. Right body hooks can be similarly used. These he terms glag punchesh because, uniquely among punches, your head is already well out of harmfs way to the side by the time your punch lands. Use this one after you weave under a cross. Body hooks thrown the way Kenny teaches them combine the hip rotation of a normal hook with the hip lifting movement of an uppercut. A long time ago, Jack Dempsey called them gshovel hooksh. They are very strong punches, although easy to defend—unless you throw them when your opponentfs arms are extended. To throw a body hook this way, your palm has to be more or less turned up. As Kenny explains, the position of your thumb determines how far out the punch can reach, and vice-versa. For tight hooks, your palm should be facing down. The farther out the hook goes, the more upward your thumb should be turned. This applies to standard head level hooks too.

Uppercuts are easy to do, Kenny says, but hard to know when to do them. That comes from experience. Basically, use your uppercuts when your opponent is eye-level or lower—in other words, shorter than you are, or bending over—and not pulling away.  Precisely as with hooks, the power comes from the hips and legs. Your arm is more or less rigidly attached to your body, simply to transmit the energy to your opponentfs jaw.

Tape 1 concludes with Kenny showing how to wrap a fighterfs hands. This provides food for thought. Anyone who plans to use boxing for self-defense should keep in mind that if you throw a punch correctly and hit a solid, angled target, the chances of damaging your hand are extremely high. One bad wrap job can end a career, Kenny says. He teaches a method of wrapping that will prolong a fighterfs career. He calls it ga safety wrap, because thatfs what it ish. This method takes a long time and consumes a lot of tape. The fighterfs hand and wrist are totally encased and padded, and thatfs even before he has put on his gloves. But itfs necessary. You will be able to hit real hard if you learn what Kenny teaches. The question is, do you really want to hit that hard with unwrapped, ungloved hands?

 At the end of the tape there is a valuable advertising segment featuring Tommy Morrison representing Ringside Boxing Equipment. Ring truly does offer excellent and affordable training equipment. I recommend everyone have a look at their catalog. Ifve been using their heavy bag gloves for eight years and Ifve never seen or used better gloves at any price. You get to see Tommy flattening David Jaco and several other professional opponents with left hooks too. 

     

T ape 2 

      Tape 2 emphasizes floorwork. Kenny shows a variety of exercises that he says trainers put prospects through to see what kind of elements they present to mold (Kenny served as Evander Holyfieldfs balance coach, so he knows what hefs doing). Boxers in his gym, the Galena Park Boxing Facility, do these every day, and Kenny promises theyfll work wonders for your balance and coordination too.

Kenny next moves over to the heavy bag. How many times have you seen guys standing in front of a motionless heavy bag, flailing at it, he asks with disgust. Never, he says, never hit a stationary heavy bag. It should hang from a long enough chain that it swings widely, at least eight feet. You need to approach the bag as though it were an opponent who is trying to avoid your attack. You have to make the bag go where you want it to go, not follow it around. The fighter who controls the range and the tempo is the one who more often than not will win the fight. You donft just throw random punches at it either. When the bag is moving side to side, you work your hooks to make it go where you want and stop it from going where you donft want it to go. When the bag is moving toward or away from you is when you work your straight punches and uppercuts. By all means punch hard but remember that boards donft hit back and hard punches donft knock opponents out. You have to hit them to do that.

Kenny teaches you how to jump rope. Kidfs stuff you say. Every boxer since the dawn of man has jumped endless rounds of rope. That doesnft automatically make it good (Kenny has some heretical thoughts on the subject of roadwork). Like running, you can do it forever once you get into a rhythm. Thatfs good for burning calories, good for developing endurance in the calves, deltoids, and forearms, if nothing else. For serious aerobic benefits, you need to vary the way you do it. Kenny shows you how and promises that youfll be jumping rope like a boxer in about a week.

The double-end bag is a tremendously misused piece of equipment. In most gyms, Kenny complains, the rope is so tight that the bag doesnft move. Ignorant boxers like this because it makes the bag easy to hit, but the whole point of the double-end bag is to be hard to hit. It is supposed to simulate an opponent slipping punches. Therefore, you should use it to work straight punches, not hooks and uppercuts (there is other equipment for that). If you are facing the bag wherever it goes, stepping forward while moving laterally, you are always going to hit it. And needless to say you should be throwing combinations, just as you would in the fight. Seeing Mike Phelps throwing non-stop punches at the crazily jumping bag and never missing impressed me. His punching is extremely accurate and if, as Kenny says, itfs because of using the double-end bad properly, then Ifm going to loosen up the ropes on mine.

Kenny and Mike move out into the "beautiful Texas weather" to do some roadwork. Kenny is a non-traditionalist in the roadwork department. You should bring the gym to the road with you rather than leaving your fight on the road, by over-training.   Roadwork is not supposed to be a track meet or a marathon. You gainft trying to run no racesh Kenny says. You should run like your fight is going to be, so about 30 minutes total, divided between sprints, interval running, and gentle jogging and such else is about right, maybe a little more or a little less, depending on what kind of fight youfre preparing for. Total training time for the day should be about 2 1/2 hours, of which 30 minutes can be running. gRest is super importanth. A coach who has his fighter running 27 miles a day to show how tough he is, is just showing how stupid he is, not how tough his fighter is (Kenny starts to get carried away in this section; he has strong feelings about pointless and counterproductive training methods). Thatfs a fighter who isnft getting enough rest and is going to have a short career.  This makes excellent sense. If you need to burn calories or develop greater aerobic capacity, combine it with skills work.

Kenny next does a great job of explaining range. Boxers step in when they punch, which increases the energy transmitted to the target. It keeps their own targets out of reach in the meantime (if their opponent has a much longer reach, they will probably attempt to stay very close which is relatively safe, since the punch has its greatest impact at the end). To maximize leverage, Kenny says to bend the legs and punch up. Itfs not a disadvantage to be short. Stay eye level or lower and never look down. In a vale tudo context, your leg will be available to be kicked when you step in (which is why Thai boxers donft step when they punch), so it would be wise to time your punches to follow kicks. As Dan Inosanto says, gYou have to know what game youfre playingh.

Kenny turns to infighting. There is an art to this, but it is a neglected art. Many of these techniques, with minor modifications, will be applicable to the vale tudo arena and to the street too. The first set of moves are designed to redirect your opponent in such a way that you are safe but still within range, hence can attack him. The key is controlling his elbow. The principles will be familiar to anyone who has studied Kali, Tai Chi, Silat, probably many other Asian arts, and certainly every form of grappling. They are so common-sense and based on human anatomy that they would have been discovered many times in many places. Kenny shows a couple of easy ways to tie your opponent up if you just want him to stop hitting you and you donft have to worry about him head butting you (or biting your ear!).

Tape 3

The best way to warm up is shadow boxing, Kenny says. He has Mike run through a sequence of conditioning exercises, very basic stuff, push ups, sit ups, knee bends, trunk twisters. A few of them are now known to be inefficient and even dangerous. You can fast forward through this.

Kenny then teaches the defenses against the punches he taught on tape 1. Being out of range is always a good defense and always being clinched tight is another good one, but then you wouldnft be playing the boxing game. Within the boxing concept, the essential defenses, those you need to learn first, are these: against a jab, either parry it slightly inside, or even better, catch it. Against a tight cross, also parry it inside, but from the other side (i.e., parry a right with your left, and vice- versa). Against a wide gloopingh cross, cover (this is basic, but a better defense is to bob and weave, because it hurts less and gives you the chance to counter while he is still wide open). The same defense works against head level hooks. Against uppercuts, catch the punch under your chin with your gloves which should already be there (emphasis on should). Against body hooks, crunch. Thatfs one of the reasons your elbows are there. There are other and better defenses (most involve avoiding rather than obstructing the incoming ordnance).

Counter punching is pretty good, Kenny says, but reaction punching is better, because gif you throw punches at a guy who is fundamentally sound [at reaction punching] youfre gonna get hit. And if you donft get hit, itfs because the other guy doesnft know what hefs doingh. The concept is simplicity itself. Think of your glove, if itfs where it should be, as a trigger. When you feel his glove on your glove, you know his head is exposed at some point. Depending on where his glove meets yours, you know where his head is open. The greactionh is a preplanned combination that makes him pay for every punch he throws. It works well because it bypasses conscious thought. In Kennyfs gym this is called gtaking it awayh. Your opponent is going to start thinking a lot about whether or not he really wants to throw that hook. While hefs busy thinking, youfre getting busy. Thatfs the theory. Kenny doesnft say what would happen if both fighters are reaction punching. I imagine it would be a very gtechnicalh fight. The audience would need a laxative to stay awake, as Mike Tyson puts it.

To corner your opponent, to maneuver him into a bad position, you have to be able to move laterally both left and right. This is called cutting off the ring. If you canft do that and your opponent can you are in trouble. He can make you go where he wants you to. Never cross your legs when moving laterally. Being able to move both ways without crossing your feet is unnatural, but important. If you cross your feet, you can neither attack nor defend and are in danger of falling. If you do this against a grappler, youfll be on your back. In fact, itfs about the worst thing you can do, if your opponent is anywhere nearby, no matter what style he practices. Standing in one spot, being unable to move, and letting your opponent know that, is never a good idea in a fight.

The final segment is on Pendulum blocking, which is a method for parrying outside, or gscoopingh as itfs called by some, combined with counter punching using the same hand.

Kenny covers a lot more that I havenft mentioned. There are no slow motion replays of anything and no irritating music at any point. Joe Jennings obviously had nothing to do with this tape set. At $29.99 per tape, they are reasonably priced (if you order from Ringside they are only $24.99). It covers what it says it will and does it well. There can be no doubts about Kenny Weldonfs qualifications. There is a fourth tape in the set, covering topics like how and when to turn pro, and influencing officials. I havenft seen this one, but Ifd be willing to bet itfs pretty good.           

   

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Kenny has another set, which I haven't reviewed but I have watched carefully. It covers ways to fight boxers with specific styles-sluggers, runners, southpaws, and boxer-punchers. It is very good, if this is what you need.

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© 2000 by R. A. Pedreira. All rights reserved.    

Revised October 31, 2009.

Revised, February 16, 2013.

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Also about BOXING on GTR:

Rev. of Sean O'Grady VHS tapes

Rev. of Ned Beaumont book.

Piston Horiguchi Boxing Gym, Chigasaki, Japan

Interview with Sugar Ray Leonard and Antonio Inoki.

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GTR Publications

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Choque 1, 3rd Edition (June 1, 2016)

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Choque 3, 1961-1999

(Updated June 1, 2016)

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Choque 2, 1950-1960 

@(Updated June 16, 2016)

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Jiu-Jitsu in the South Zone, 1997-2008 

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Digital Editions are also available

GTR Archives 1997-2016

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