It is quite a rare attribute to be able to write about something I love. That thing is striking, or more specifically Boxing, Muay Thai, Roman Greco and Brazilian Jujitsu. In this article I am going to break down each of these forms of striking and grappling. I will also explain how they can be used as a form of simple exercise as well as self defense. All of these are martial arts, which is essentially what they are, although they are not seen as “traditional” due to westerners being a little bit devoid of culture these days unless someone reminds them on their Facebook feed. But alas without starting to sound negative let’s get on with it and I will try to explain some of the history as well as the application of these activities.
Boxing’s roots are engraved in History; it is thought to have begun being accepted during the Ancient Greek Olympics in BCE 688. Prize fighting began in around 16-18th century, mostly in what is now known as the UK. In the mid 19th century it once again became popular in the UK and largely in the USA. The official sport of 12 rounds is not something I would like to address in this article it is more aimed at people looking to get into shape and learn without having to feel pressure to get into the ring or spar.
My main problem with the sport of boxing when compared to the sport of MMA for instance is that pugilistic dementia and brain trauma is so prevalent because of the use of 16oz gloves. This padding causes fighters to take way to many unnecessary shots to achieve a similar result as we are able to see with a lot of boxers today who are having major problems. As an activity boxing and training in general can be invigorating. There is no stress ball or calms tablet that can match the feeling of hitting the pads for a couple of hours. If you are a beginner I would go with some simple 14oz gloves as well a heavy bag, either the free standing or hung variations which can be found locally and on the web for next to nothing. If you have a friend or partner then I would also invest in some target pads, they will improve accuracy and allow you to develop the synapse’s, signals from your brain to your hand, to fire and move in a smooth and quick manner. Feet should be placed around shoulder width apart with knee’s slightly bent, weaker arm forward. This is your jab. Twisting your hips and shoulders with your stronger hand, this is what I call (I think it’s a European thing) our straight cross. Combine these together and you have your 1-2 aka 2! I think possibly if people like this article I will expand on these in the future, although “cough” Youtube “cough” has plenty of instructional.
As the name implies, the history of this sport comes from the Greek ancient civilization that surrounded the Mediterranean Sea many, many moons ago. As a Brit, we never really embraced this Greco as a sport or an activity which we now have to play catch up in MMA. Wrestlers in MMA are notoriously tough, they are experience in extremely tough physical and a mental situation as well as the strenuous and sometimes dangerous dieting that go’s on in this world. As I am still learning both forms of grappling I will keep this section brief but I cannot emphasis enough that this is a great sport for almost everyone due to the fact that you can spar 100% power without being in a dangerous physical situation like sparring, the only other activity where you can do this is Jujitsu, which I am going to mention later on.
The main body I focus on when wrestling or sparring with friends is strength and conditioning. In terms of technique wrist control is an excellent form of effective practice. As well as this you will need to understand the basics of under hooks, over hooks, single legs, double legs, trips and throws. Just by sparring you can get a feel for what is effective if you practice these and it will let you understand how people move and where they apply force when in a physical situation. Once you understand this and have some experience you can begin using and going for wrist control and under hooks to negate your opponents striking and get him or her to the ground using these techniques. People I would look to learn these techniques are George St Pierre, the recently retired MMA champ who is able to cover distance and use perfect technique in a split second. But to be honest anyone who has trained for years would be an excellent person to look to learn new techniques and polish old ones, there are so many to list it would be an article in itself.
Overall, in my opinion, this is one of the most effective martial arts in the world. If you look at MMA, wrestlers almost always prevail, if a world class striker such as James Tony hype a fight for months, then get into the cage and not be able to throw a single punch and then tap within the first round, there is no denying its effectiveness.
My favorite form of striking is Muay thai. When I began learning how to kick I actually watched Bas Rutten’s instructional, which is more of a Dutch style (Very popular and effective). The art of 8 limbs utilities hands, elbows, knees and kicks. The extreme turning over of the hips when moving and setting up leg, body or head kicks generates an extreme amount of power that is almost unmatched by any other effective form of striking. Southpaw’s facing orthodox opponents are able to utilize the liver kick. One of the most brutal places to take a full power strike that paralyses the opponent in pain when performed correctly. Ronda Rousey recently finished Silver medal Olympic wrestler Sarah Mcmann with a barrage of knee strike’s to the liver in the first round of their championship fight. Which brings me to another aspect of Thai fighting, the clinch. Often called the “Plum” both hands are placed around the back of the neck of the opponent, then the head is pulled down into knee strike aimed at the head and body. Anderson Silva used these in a championship fight against Rich Franklin, throwing him off balance and delivering brutal knee’s to win the title. Overall you will need to be looking to get some Thai pads if you want to kick with a friend as normal pads won’t be able to take the impact. I would recommend getting a heavy bag and some shin pads, just to save your ankles when learning.
BJJ was a part Judo in Japan and brought into Brazil by Mitsuyo Maeda, who taught the then Japanese martial art to the famous Gracie family. Maeda was well known throughout his day and performed in over 2000 fights in his career. BJJ is most well known for being a martial art where strength and size can be neutralized by a good BJJ student. This is possibly by using two extremely important points that are used throughout BJJ, Leverage and good technique. Armed with these and a positive attitude, BJJ focuses on teaching youth’s especially the traditional attitude that is associated with martial arts such as respect and living by strong morals. Once of the most famous BJJ black belt is Royce Gracie, One of the slighter members of his huge family of potential killers. He attended earlier UFC event against much larger, stronger opponents (A juiced up Ken Shamrock, a freestyle Wrestler at the time) comes to mind. He was able to overcome, tied up and finish his opponents, becoming the first champion in a tournament where some of his opponents where literally 2-3 times larger than him in a competition that at that time, has very little rules.
As with wrestling, you are able to spar 100% unlike striking sports, which in my opinion is very effective as you will become better faster and be more prepared if you ever need to use your skills. Bruce Lee once said that “Punch bags don’t hit back” which is definitely something to keep in mind, but to be honest it all depends on your application. This article was meant to be an overview to let people understand some effective forms of exercise and combat in 2014. This is also not a be all and end all list of what is effective, Judo and Karate is showing its effectiveness more and more. I am sure within a couple of years we will see a change and someone will adapt and evolve their style to make it effective against the others. That is why I love MMA. It is constantly changing, improving all the time. The true champions of these arts maintain what I think is one of the most effective special move you will learn, Respect to others and being a positive outgoing person. This is emphasized over and over by the true champions, this attitude is prevalent at the peaks as well as the valley’s where skills are not used because we practice being human in this ever increasing world of anti social behavior.
I hope you have enjoyed this article, Again it was just a brief overview and I am by no means an expert in these areas, although I do train in them. It was more to just introduce new people into a world of sport and exercise that I love and will follow for years to come.