Footwork and combination punching aren’t exclusive of each other. In fact, the most effective fighting style brings the two techniques together.
You want to be constantly moving in boxing, to give your opponent an elusive target that is hard to hit. At the same time, you have to be a threat at every juncture, ready to strike at every opportunity. If your opponent isn’t threatened by your punching, he will just walk right through you.
The truth of the matter is, boxing consists of both offense and defense. Ukrainian superstar Vasiliy Lomachenko was forced by his father into dance lessons as a child, putting his boxing training on hold until he learned how to move his feet and glide with ease. That’s how important footwork is.
In order to achieve the perfect balance between boxing and footwork, you have to integrate your movement with combination punching. This means learning how to throw punches while moving around your opponent, dynamically shifting range and distance, transitioning between stances, creating angles, and knowing how to counter off the back foot.
Take your game to the next level by adding movement to your repertoire. Today, Evolve University shares how you can combine your footwork with your punches.
1) Transitioning combinations with footwork
The most basic application of this concept involves learning how to move your feet while punching. As beginners, we are taught to remain stationary when throwing our combinations. This is how we train while on the mitts, on the heavy bag, or even when shadowboxing.
Of course, this is so we could focus on learning the basics of how to punch. But to take your game to the next level, learning how to move while punching is key.
You first want to practice your combinations while walking forward, using your lead foot to direct your motion. At the same time, you want to practice punching while moving backward, placing your weight slightly on the back foot while throwing counters. Next, you want to focus on lateral movement, learning how to go from left to right and vice versa, while using your left and right punches.
Lastly, you will want to practice how to circle and pivot around your opponent.
Train movement while shadowboxing, or use the heavy bag. The heavy bag is an essential tool that will help you practice moving while punching.
2) Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
It’s one of legendary trainer Angelo Dundee’s key catchphrases, famous for having told the late great Muhammad Ali to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” It basically means to stick and move. Go into punching range, unload, and get out of the way.
This is different from the punching while moving philosophy, and focuses more on sitting down on your punches to generate more power, and then moving out of harm’s way when you’re done.
To be successful with this method, fluid footwork is essential. You have to possess the ability to get to any spot in the ring with ease, quickly and efficiently. This means being able to use your feet to get within range to throw your most powerful shots.
Once you’re within optimal distance of your opponent, you then unload a powerful combination to force him on the defensive. And then just as you finish punching, look to exit at an angle to avoid getting countered.
Footwork techniques like one-step exits and pivots are crucial, as well as head movement techniques like ducking and rolling.
3) In and out movement
The next one is a Manny Pacquiao trade specialty. In this sequence, you will use explosive in and out movement to quickly jump into range, throw your combination, and then quickly exit right back out. It’s different because you’ll need to be on your toes, ready to pounce at every opportunity to attack, and be fast enough to escape retaliation.
Pacquiao loves to come barreling forward behind a double jab and left straight, stunning his opponent who would then be on the defensive. Once the opponent is frozen, a fast and powerful combination commences, forcing him even further back. An explosive step outward at an angle is all that’s left to complete the attack.
This is done constantly, which forces an opponent who is unwilling to meet at the center of the ring into a defensive shell. Be careful with counter punchers, however, as they love fighters who charge in recklessly. Be calculated and methodical in your approach, but rely heavily on your speed and power to get the job done.
4) Practice in the gym
The last piece of advice is, of course, to practice. Use all the available tools in the gym to level up your movement and your combinations. This means working on your technique through dynamic shadowboxing, variable sparring, and even utilizing equipment such as the heavy bag, the double-ended bag, and the speed bag.
Combining movement with combination punching naturally takes a lot of work, and most fighters who opt for this style place heavy importance on physical conditioning. You have to be in peak physical condition to be able to sustain a steady attack.
Practice in training until it becomes natural to you and is baked into your muscle memory. When you’re attacking while moving without having to pause and think, that’s the ideal outcome.
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