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The art of punching: Boxing do's and don'ts

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Boxing gloves

There’s been a recent resurgence in the sweet science better known as boxing. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao caught the attention of the world, and the film “Southpaw” starring Jake Gyllenhaal did well at the box office, profiting 16.5 million dollars in its opening weekend. This has lead to many beginners strapping on a pair of gloves and hitting the bags, which is great for the sport. However; some individuals may be doing it improperly. Boxing is more than hurling fists and listening to the “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat; there’s techniques and basics that if ignored could lead to lifelong injuries. Here’s a comprehensive list of what to do and what to avoid.

Do: Wrist Wraps

Wrap your wrists, for their sake. The act of punching creates an intense pressure on your wrists and without the support of a tight wrap, you can easily sprain them. A pair of solid wraps will only run you $10-$15 and a quick search online will show you how to wrap them correctly. Be sure to purchase 180’’ wrist wraps over 108’’ as the extra length provides better protection.

Don’t: Ignore Form

If not careful, throwing improper punches can snap your wrists. A misplaced jab, a straight (without proper rotation) or a wide hook can lead to a variety of injuries. The orientation of your wrist, thumb positioning and where the punch lands matters. Learning proper form by seeking an instructor or practicing slowing while watching yourself through a mirror can save your wrists and fingers from meeting demise.

Do: Train with 16oz. Gloves

Lighter gloves in the 12 to 8 oz. range are great because they let you throw faster and hit harder, but they offer less protection, which is key for beginners. Another perk to training with 16oz. gloves is that the increased weight gives your shoulders a workout and increases your punching stamina. Sixteen ounce gloves also give your knuckles extra padding, which is great if you don’t want to want to constantly have blood-red knuckles.

Don’t: Hit Yourself in the Face

As crazy as this sounds, it happens. Some beginners believe that hitting themselves in the face will allow them to adapt to the force of an actual punch. It’s impossible to prepare yourself for the pain that is getting punched by someone. Most of the time you don’t see it coming and that’s where a lot of the pain comes from. Secondly, getting hit in the head isn’t great for the wellbeing of your brain. By doing so your brain gets rattle around in your skull and the fatty sheathing on its nerve cells start to suffer. Just don’t do it.

Do: Go to a Class

Go to one of the boxing classes the University of Hawaiʻi’s Warrior Rec Center has to offer. If you’re an early riser, the White Collar Boxing with Harry is a great place to get your fundamentals down. Westernized Boxing instructed by Dave is also a great choice, as the classes are small and you get one-on-one time with the instructor. Working out in a class environment is another perk as you’ll be less likely to give up mid-set in fear of looking like the weak link. The difference between an instructor and an online tutorial is that your instructor can give you feedback on the spot which is vitally important in avoiding bad form.

Don’t: Go Full Throttle

The easiest way to ignore form and start throwing wild punches is by focusing too much on power. Throwing bombs is a lot of fun, but try throwing lighter, faster punches with proper form instead. It’s also a good idea to practice light combo’s as they help you to understand how to chain punches together while reinforcing proper form. After you’ve got your muscle memory down and can throw a proper punch in your sleep, then feel free to start putting weight behind your punches.

Do: Shadowbox

Shadowboxing is a staple in boxing conditioning and involves fighters taking on imaginary opponents. Punching at air may make you seem like you have some issues but it’s a method to focus on form. Go slow and if it helps, use a mirror, making sure it isn’t different to what you’ve learned in class or through a trainer. It also happens to be a wonderful workout. If you want to do some cardio and work your upper body, pick up one or two pound dumbbells while fighting your imaginary opponent. This means slipping, countering and moving constantly through a nonexistent ring.

Hopefully this information can help you to become a better boxer and enjoy the sport further. Boxing might seem like a simple sport but it's got layers for you to figure out. It’s not an easy road but with hardwork and determination you can expect to find yourself in great shape while having an understanding on how to defend yourself.