Global Training Report
Can Learn to Box
Reviewed by Roberto Pedreira
you want to learn to box, should you learn from someone who has learned how to
box, or from someone who has successfully taught other people to box? As Kenny
Weldon says, gthe best teachers have never boxed, theyfre just good
communicatorsh. As a teacher, Kenny has worked with Mike McCallum and Evander
Holyfield among many others. But if having also boxed gives the teacher a
broader perspective, Kenny has it. He was 216-11 as an amateur and 57-1 as a
pro. In short, Kenny Weldon is the real deal, and it doesnft hurt that he
talks and looks like a working boxing trainer, rather than someone trying to
transition into a second career as a TV personality.
Humbert Humbert says, gevery game has its rulesh. Boxing works best in
boxing matches. Striking in a vale tudo context is a different game, but there
is obviously overlap. If you want to strike, or at least want the option,
youfd might as well do it correctly. Learn from the specialists. For punching,
boxers are the pros. If you canft get yourself to a real boxing gym (run
donft walk from taekwondo/karate teachers claiming to teach gboxingh) and
learn from a boxing trainer (like Vitor Belfort did), you couldnft do much
better than Kenny Weldonfs four tape set (tapes 1-3 under review here).
has to be added that even learning from the most qualified trainer doesn't
guarantee good results. Vitor and Wallid learned from the same boxing
teachers. Some fighters are more coachable than others, and some simply have
more innate boxing intelligence.
In many cases, it may be better not to box than to box badly. But it is always
better to have options than not to.
first thing youfll notice is that everything is demonstrated in a boxing gym,
in a ring for ringwork, and on the floor for floorwork. The exception is when
Kenny discusses roadwork, in which case he and his assistant, Mike Phelps (a
genuine boxer) go outdoors. That makes sense, doesnft it? You wouldnft
expect a boxing video to be taped in a martial arts studio or someonefs living
room. If do see one, you should wonder why.
starts at the beginning. You walk into his gym with your chin down and you walk
out with your chin down and during the time between your chin is down. Kenny
believes itfs important for a boxer to keep his chin down, mainly because it
helps to avoid getting knocked out, which is a good thing. (the Gracie gchin
uph fighting stance is of course designed specifically to bait an opponent
into taking a huge swing, making the takedown all that much easier). So chin
down is the first part.
Next is foot position. To optimize both stability and
mobility a boxer puts his feet shoulder width, with his weight in the center (so
do wrestlers for that matter--you won't see either in Horse, Cat, or Crane
stances). Kenny doesnft mention whether you should be on the balls of your
feet or not, though Mike is. This is somewhat a matter of preference, depending
on how much stability you are willing to give up to get more mobility. Punchers,
obviously, tend to fight more flat-footed than gboxersh. But even boxers
have to plant their weight to hit with maximum power. Look for an opponent who
is on the balls of his feet to be moving a lot.
your hands up and open, Kenny says, your right hand on the right side of your
face (assuming you are right handed, otherwise reverse everything), your right
elbow tight against your ribs. Your left hand should be at eye level and your
arm more or less vertical. Kenny doesnft say how far out your left hand
should, or can, be, but (in my opinion at least) if you are boxing a boxer, it
should be in contact with your face or pretty close to it, whereas if you are in
a vale tudo and you think your opponent wants to clinch and / or tackle you, it
might be better to have it extended somewhat, to more efficiently redirect him
when he comes in.
knees should be slightly bent and you should be looking forward, always facing
your opponent (Bruce Lee read enough books about boxing to advise gnever take
your eyes off your opponenth). Kenny pays close attention to the details,
because the details are what make boxing work, but there are details that he
doesnft mention. He seems to be assuming that his students wonft have a lot
of kung fu / taekwondo / karate habits to overcome (like deep horse stances and
hands limply dangling, vigilantly defending the hips (as Paul Vunak
sarcastically commented on his own pretty good boxing video, before he got his
hair styled and took acting lessons). Probably Kenny also assumes a lot of the
details of stance and technique execution will depend on the fighterfs body
type and personality (like, is he aggressive or cautious?) and will get sorted
out during the ensuing months of actual training. In the gym, there are coaches
whose job is to help you get it right. You canft learn it all in a day and
certainly not merely by watching a video (not even a good one).
hard without being hit is what boxers do best and this is what Kenny addresses
next. Once you have gotten into your basic fighting grhythmh, which Kenny
shows you how to do, you put the basic punches together and if things go well
and your opponent isnft better than you, you win the fight. The most important
punch in boxing, Kenny says—and every boxing trainer agrees--is the jab.
Every combination should begin and end with a jab, he says. It isnft only
boxers who need effective jabs. Jabs are the punches that make everything else
possible (Mike Tyson started having problems as soon as he stopped jabbing and
started looking for quick KOs), and they are essential for defense as well. The
jab is not a simple as it looks however. There is a real science to it, and when
you understand it, you can generalize it to include any lead hand or leg
technique. This is a tactical shot and accordingly, it requires intelligence to
use it effectively. Kenny shows you how to jab correctly. (He says somewhat
cryptically that gthere are many variations that are correct, but there is
only one correct wayh. I
think what he means is that if your jab does what
it is intended to do and you donft get hit, itfs gcorrecth. He doesn't
distinguish between flicker, speed, and power jabs. I think Kenny would think a
power jab (a George Foreman jab) would be a contradiction in a boxing context,
though not necessarily a self-defense / street fight context.
If you want your
jab to set things up, the last thing you want is for your opponent to be knocked
back out of range. In a street fight, you might possibly knock an off balance
opponent flat onto his back or head, thereby taking a lot of the fight out of
him, if not ending it.
comes the Right Cross. Literally, because crosses follow jabs, so often so that
a cross without a jab sometimes works due to surprise. Itfs relatively easy to
see and avoid a cross originating from way back there (if a jab is in your face,
itfs less easy to see the cross coming). Crosses are the easiest to learn,
because they are basically what anyone naturally throwing something, like a ball
or a punch, would do. Obviously, a good cross is more involved, and Kenny shows
you how to punch hard without getting hit (the twin desiderata of pugilism, as
Cus Dfamato said), and also how to apply it when your opponent is trying to
avoid it and counter-punch. He also explains that a cross is called a
gcrossh not because it crosses your center-line, but rather because it
crosses, at least ideally, the opponentfs jab. Think about that. If you
mistakenly think a cross is supposed to gcrossh your center-line, you are
going to end up crossing your feet instead, sacrificing both balance and
left hook is the hardest punch to teach and learn. (If you are unfortunate
enough to have bought Sean OfGradyfs tapes, youfll appreciate the truth of
this statement). Itfs worth the time learning however, even if the hookfs
usefulness in a vale tudo is limited (if you are close enough to use a hook, you
are close enough to be taken down—elbows would be the weapons of choice in
other than a boxing match. On the other hand, if your opponent isnft a
grappler, and is taller than you, hooks have a definite appeal). Hooks are hard
to learn because the body position is the opposite of what a novice feels it
should be—you will almost be moving away from rather than into your
target, but your hand will be moving into the target.
Itfs also hard to learn because if you donft do it right youfll expose
yourself big time. The set-up is everything. You can throw a cross without a
set-up (though it wonft work very well): if you throw a hook without a set-up,
not only wonft it work, but youfll get tattooed for your trouble, which
together make it, as Paul Vunak would say, gnot a technique to doh.
Obviously, the hook is a great punch. You can generate enormous leverage with a
hook, and the targets (chin and temple) are extremely sensitive. You just have
to know how to do it right. Kenny shows you.
hook correctly, and to get over your opponentfs guard, you have to keep your
elbow parallel with your fist, maybe even a skosh higher. (Donft assume his
hands will be down even though late in the fight they may be). Coincidentally,
this is just about the same body mechanics needed to throw a good Thai elbow.
You can smoothly transition from one to the other, or combo them up, if the
teaches the two other basic punches, the body hook and the uppercut. The left
body hook is used to hurt your opponent of course, but also to stop his lateral
movement long enough for you to fire off a salvo of shots to the head. He calls
punches thus used gcut-off punchesh. Right body hooks can be similarly used.
These he terms glag punchesh because, uniquely among punches, your head is
already well out of harmfs way to the side by the time your punch lands. Use
this one after you weave under a cross. Body hooks thrown the way Kenny teaches
them combine the hip rotation of a normal hook with the hip lifting movement of
an uppercut. A long time ago, Jack Dempsey called them gshovel hooksh. They
are very strong punches, although easy to defend—unless you throw them
when your opponentfs arms are extended. To throw a body hook this way, your
palm has to be more or less turned up. As Kenny explains, the position of your
thumb determines how far out the punch can reach, and vice-versa. For tight
hooks, your palm should be facing down. The farther out the hook goes, the more
upward your thumb should be turned. This applies to standard head level hooks
are easy to do, Kenny says, but hard to know when to do them. That comes
from experience. Basically, use your uppercuts when your opponent is eye-level
or lower—in other words, shorter than you are, or bending over—and
not pulling away. Precisely as with
hooks, the power comes from the hips and legs. Your arm is more or less rigidly
attached to your body, simply to transmit the energy to your opponentfs jaw.
1 concludes with Kenny showing how to wrap a fighterfs hands. This provides
food for thought. Anyone who plans to use boxing for self-defense should keep in
mind that if you throw a punch correctly and hit a solid, angled target, the
chances of damaging your hand are extremely high. One bad wrap job can end a
career, Kenny says. He teaches a method of wrapping that will prolong a
fighterfs career. He calls it ga safety wrap, because thatfs what it
ish. This method takes a long time and consumes a lot of tape. The fighterfs
hand and wrist are totally encased and padded, and thatfs even before he has
put on his gloves. But itfs necessary. You will be able to hit real hard if
you learn what Kenny teaches. The question is, do you really want to hit that
hard with unwrapped, ungloved hands?
the end of the tape there is a valuable advertising segment featuring Tommy
Morrison representing Ringside Boxing Equipment. Ring truly does offer excellent
and affordable training equipment. I recommend everyone have a look at their
catalog. Ifve been using their heavy bag gloves for eight years and Ifve
never seen or used better gloves at any price. You get to see Tommy flattening
David Jaco and several other professional opponents with left hooks too.
Tape 2 emphasizes floorwork. Kenny shows a variety of exercises that he
says trainers put prospects through to see what kind of elements they present to
mold (Kenny served as Evander Holyfieldfs balance coach, so he knows what
hefs doing). Boxers in his gym, the Galena Park Boxing Facility, do these
every day, and Kenny promises theyfll work wonders for your balance and
next moves over to the heavy bag. How many times have you seen guys standing in
front of a motionless heavy bag, flailing at it, he asks with disgust. Never, he
says, never hit a stationary heavy bag. It should hang from a long enough chain
that it swings widely, at least eight feet. You need to approach the bag as
though it were an opponent who is trying to avoid your attack. You have to make
the bag go where you want it to go, not follow it around. The fighter who
controls the range and the tempo is the one who more often than not will win the
fight. You donft just throw random punches at it either. When the bag is
moving side to side, you work your hooks to make it go where you want and stop
it from going where you donft want it to go. When the bag is moving toward or
away from you is when you work your straight punches and uppercuts. By all means
punch hard but remember that boards donft hit back and hard punches donft
knock opponents out. You have to hit them to do that.
teaches you how to jump rope. Kidfs stuff you say. Every boxer since the dawn
of man has jumped endless rounds of rope. That doesnft automatically make it
good (Kenny has some heretical thoughts on the subject of roadwork). Like
running, you can do it forever once you get into a rhythm. Thatfs good for
burning calories, good for developing endurance in the calves, deltoids, and
forearms, if nothing else. For serious aerobic benefits, you need to vary the
way you do it. Kenny shows you how and promises that youfll be jumping rope
like a boxer in about a week.
double-end bag is a tremendously misused piece of equipment. In most gyms, Kenny
complains, the rope is so tight that the bag doesnft move. Ignorant boxers
like this because it makes the bag easy to hit, but the whole point of the
double-end bag is to be hard to hit. It is supposed to simulate an opponent
slipping punches. Therefore, you should use it to work straight punches, not
hooks and uppercuts (there is other equipment for that). If you are facing the
bag wherever it goes, stepping forward while moving laterally, you are always
going to hit it. And needless to say you should be throwing combinations, just
as you would in the fight. Seeing Mike Phelps throwing non-stop punches at the
crazily jumping bag and never missing impressed me. His punching is extremely
accurate and if, as Kenny says, itfs because of using the double-end bad
properly, then Ifm going to loosen up the ropes on mine.
and Mike move out into the "beautiful Texas weather" to do some
roadwork. Kenny is a non-traditionalist in the roadwork department. You should
bring the gym to the road with you rather than leaving your fight on the road,
by over-training. Roadwork is
not supposed to be a track meet or a marathon. You gainft trying to run no
racesh Kenny says. You should run like your fight is going to be, so about 30
minutes total, divided between sprints, interval running, and gentle jogging and
such else is about right, maybe a little more or a little less, depending on
what kind of fight youfre preparing for. Total training time for the day
should be about 2 1/2 hours, of which 30 minutes can be running. gRest is
super importanth. A coach who has his fighter running 27 miles a day to show
how tough he is, is just showing how stupid he is, not how tough his fighter is
(Kenny starts to get carried away in this section; he has strong feelings about
pointless and counterproductive training methods). Thatfs a fighter who
isnft getting enough rest and is going to have a short career.
This makes excellent sense. If you need to burn calories or develop
greater aerobic capacity, combine it with skills work.
next does a great job of explaining range. Boxers step in when they punch, which
increases the energy transmitted to the target. It keeps their own targets out
of reach in the meantime (if their opponent has a much longer reach, they will
probably attempt to stay very close which is relatively safe, since the punch
has its greatest impact at the end). To maximize leverage, Kenny says to bend
the legs and punch up. Itfs not a disadvantage to be short. Stay eye level or
lower and never look down. In a vale tudo context, your leg will be available to
be kicked when you step in (which is why Thai boxers donft step when they
punch), so it would be wise to time your punches to follow kicks. As Dan
Inosanto says, gYou have to know what game youfre playingh.
turns to infighting. There is an art to this, but it is a neglected art. Many of
these techniques, with minor modifications, will be applicable to the vale tudo
arena and to the street too. The first set of moves are designed to redirect
your opponent in such a way that you are safe but still within range, hence can
attack him. The key is controlling his elbow. The principles will be familiar to
anyone who has studied Kali, Tai Chi, Silat, probably many other Asian arts, and
certainly every form of grappling. They are so common-sense and based on human
anatomy that they would have been discovered many times in many places. Kenny
shows a couple of easy ways to tie your opponent up if you just want him to stop
hitting you and you donft have to worry about him head butting you (or biting
best way to warm up is shadow boxing, Kenny says. He has Mike run through a
sequence of conditioning exercises, very basic stuff, push ups, sit ups, knee
bends, trunk twisters. A few of them are now known to be inefficient and even
dangerous. You can fast forward through this.
then teaches the defenses against the punches he taught on tape 1. Being out of
range is always a good defense and always being clinched tight is another good
one, but then you wouldnft be playing the boxing game. Within the boxing
concept, the essential defenses, those you need to learn first, are these:
against a jab, either parry it slightly inside, or even better, catch it.
Against a tight cross, also parry it inside, but from the other side (i.e.,
parry a right with your left, and vice- versa). Against a wide gloopingh
cross, cover (this is basic, but a better defense is to bob and weave, because
it hurts less and gives you the chance to counter while he is still wide open).
The same defense works against head level hooks. Against uppercuts, catch the
punch under your chin with your gloves which should already be there (emphasis
on should). Against body hooks, crunch. Thatfs one of the reasons your
elbows are there. There are other and better defenses (most involve avoiding
rather than obstructing the incoming ordnance).
punching is pretty good, Kenny says, but reaction punching is better, because
gif you throw punches at a guy who is fundamentally sound [at reaction
punching] youfre gonna get hit. And if you donft get hit, itfs because the
other guy doesnft know what hefs doingh. The concept is simplicity itself.
Think of your glove, if itfs where it should be, as a trigger. When you feel
his glove on your glove, you know his head is exposed at some point. Depending
on where his glove meets yours, you know where his head is open. The
greactionh is a preplanned combination that makes him pay for every punch he
throws. It works well because it bypasses conscious thought. In Kennyfs gym
this is called gtaking it awayh. Your opponent is going to start thinking a
lot about whether or not he really wants to throw that hook. While hefs busy
thinking, youfre getting busy. Thatfs the theory. Kenny doesnft say what
would happen if both fighters are reaction punching. I imagine it would be a
very gtechnicalh fight. The audience would need a laxative to stay awake, as
Mike Tyson puts it.
corner your opponent, to maneuver him into a bad position, you have to be able
to move laterally both left and right. This is called cutting off the ring. If
you canft do that and your opponent can you are in trouble. He can make you go
where he wants you to. Never cross your legs when moving laterally. Being able
to move both ways without crossing your feet is unnatural, but important. If you
cross your feet, you can neither attack nor defend and are in danger of falling.
If you do this against a grappler, youfll be on your back. In fact, itfs
about the worst thing you can do, if your opponent is anywhere nearby, no matter
what style he practices. Standing in one spot, being unable to move, and letting
your opponent know that, is never a good idea in a fight.
final segment is on Pendulum blocking, which is a method for parrying outside,
or gscoopingh as itfs called by some, combined with counter punching using
the same hand.
covers a lot more that I havenft mentioned. There are no slow motion replays
of anything and no irritating music at any point. Joe Jennings obviously had
nothing to do with this tape set. At $29.99 per tape, they are reasonably priced
(if you order from Ringside they are only $24.99). It covers what it says it
will and does it well. There can be no doubts about Kenny Weldonfs
qualifications. There is a fourth tape in the set, covering topics like how and
when to turn pro, and influencing officials. I havenft seen this one, but
Ifd be willing to bet itfs pretty good.
another set, which I haven't reviewed but I have watched carefully. It covers
ways to fight boxers with specific styles-sluggers, runners, southpaws, and
boxer-punchers. It is very good, if this is what you need.
by R. A. Pedreira. All rights reserved.
October 31, 2009.
February 16, 2013.
May 20, 2018 (minor typos corrected).
about BOXING on GTR:
of Sean O'Grady VHS tapes
of Ned Beaumont book.
Horiguchi Boxing Gym, Chigasaki, Japan
with Sugar Ray Leonard and Antonio Inoki.
and Practice of the Jab