Thursday, January 15, 2009

Speeding Up By Slowing Down

Last week's training started slow due to craziness at work, but I was able to finish strong with great workouts on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I cut back some rounds on my bag circuits to focus a little more on my legs and really try to start generating some more speed and power from my lower half. As I continue to work on my footwork, balance and pivots, I want to make sure that I have the physical tools to support my technique. I've always liked the metaphor that "you can't shoot a cannon out of a canoe," but I'm starting to apply something more along the lines of "you can only shoot as quickly as you can reload."

Similar to the sayings above, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that has another (cheesy) quote that I like a little too much: "Speed kills, strength punishes."

There's nothing prolific about this quote other than the fact that it fits my new gameplan perfectly. Since seeing it, I can't help but call upon it when I need a second wind in my workouts or devise my training schedule for the day. It’s not quite a mantra, but it's definitely a theme as I train for my next bout on February 21.

Pound-for-pound, I've been one of the strongest fighters at every gym I've ever trained at. At the same time, I've been far from the most successful fighter at all these places.

As I think back to some of the best fights and fighters of 2008, I realize that none of them simply overpowered their opponents like I try to do all too often. While I walk through punches, bully my foes and eagerly stand (flat-footed, grinning like a serial killer – I’ve seen the pictures) in the middle of the ring and exchange power punches, world-class pros are entering the pound-for-pound top ten list with a combination of being stronger, quicker and hungrier than their opponents.

I’m not a sloppy or unsuccessful boxer. I’ve just realized that I’m entirely too eager to turn every bout into a war, and my training shows it. Which one trait exclusively will win you a fight more times than not: power, hustle or speed? And by speed I mean being quicker and consistently able to beat your opponent to the punch. Which, obviously, can win you a fight on it's own. I've been good at the first two and neglecting this far more important third option - speed, speed, speed - far too much.

And ironically, I’ve been increasing my raw in-ring speed by slowing everything down. I’ve been shadowboxing slower and watching my feet, knees, hips and chin in the mirror. I’ve been thinking my movements through as I work the heavy bag, evaluating the “success” of each combination and my end position and balance before unloading again. I’ll spend a few rounds tapping the double-end bag before I’ll start flurrying.

I’ve been treating boxing like a fencing match – I’ll score on you while you can’t penetrate my defense – rather than Sherman’s March to the Sea.

I had my best workout of the New Year tonight and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I started it with (after skipping rope and stretching) nine “slow” rounds shadowboxing and working the bags. Working the mitts with one of the trainers later, I was told that my punches felt solid and my technique was tight and sound. My angles were sharp and effective and my feet were keeping up with my hands - and the few times they didn’t, I fixed it in takes two and three. And then did it (correctly) again over and over, with more and more power as I felt comfortable and got the nod of approval from my trainer.

I was boxing instead of brawling my way through the workout.

So here’s to five more “slow” weeks and the speed advantage I’ll have in the ring on the 21st. Because it's going to let me use my God-given power to KO some poor schmuck.

No comments: