When we are learning martial arts, most of us want the fancy, funky moves like in the movies. We all want to be like Jason Bourne/ James Bond type characters or like Bruce Lee in his films.
Yet real artistry, as in most things, is in doing the simple stuff really well and also realising that it’s not simple stuff. It is in concept but under pressure most people's form falls apart.
That’s why I’m posting these clips.
Here you see true masters of the art of boxing doing the simple stuff really well.
These clips are from the golden age of middleweights. Fighters then used to fight often because for many there wasn’t television coverage like there is now. They had to fight live every month or two to pay the bills. Therefore the emphasis in the top gyms then was all about technique and not getting hit.
These clips are gold dust for any serious student.
You could watch them for footwork as we’re doing in this case or inside work or strategy and tactics.
There’s too much there and it’s real and done with someone, in this case Marvin Hagler trying to take their heads off.
For now, just look at the way they use stance. How they stand squarer to unload and trade. How punches go both in the middle and around the sides. Thus paralleling the ancient advice from Chinese strategist Sun Tsu’s. Strong in the middle, weak at the edge. Strong at the edge, weak in the middle.
Above all though look how Hearns, in particular, uses the narrow stance with a stiff back leg to hide behind his jab as he retreats and he makes sure it’s a stiff jab too.
Leonard does it extensively too in other clips from this fight. That way the stiff jab inhibits or stops forwards movement.
They’ve got to slow Hagler down. Make him pay for every inch. Think of this stiff leg jab as similar to a Pike, the medieval weapon like that used in films like Braveheart where they spike the attacking horses on the ends of sharpened poles.
Once you’ve stopped forwards movement you can go in and use firepower.
In medieval times it would be dagger men or strong men with battle-axes but here in the boxing arena you see them stand squarer and unload and move then go back and hide behind the jab. Much like a platoon retreating under the cover of a long gun e.g. a .50 calibre sniper rifle. It stops the enemy closing as you retreat.
Watch how Hearns keeps a good stable stance in particular when retreating and hiding behind the jab. Do the same.
Here - notice how Leonard keeps a thin stance when jabbing and then steps squarer to unload alternate punches and hooks. Note the stability of his footwork under pressure. There’s lots to work on here. Also notice the body twist to get the most power and the looseness in the shoulders so the punches whip.
We’ve been working this in the classes - just working the basics - so you cut down the time between the move and the hit. Remember you don’t have any time. Time you lose you give to them. Also it’s about keeping your footwork composed no matter what.
We try to really nail down the footwork so there’s no timing gaps. It’s all about feet. Enjoy watching the masters. We’re just trying to follow their lead. Masterful stuff but rooted in the everyday. Train hard – train smart.