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In Praise of the Majestic Left Hook

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The Professor:
I, too, have been a student of the martial arts since 1976.  I've studies many different styles in the past 40+ years including two hard Japanese Karate disciplines, Judo, TaeKwonDo, BJJ, Hakko-Ryu Jujitsu, Aiki-Jutsu and FMA.  Boxers scare the crap out of me, especially experienced ones.

In the real world (i.e., not in the ring) a fight with a boxer has to be fast and dirty.  They know how to take a punch, how to move and how to strategically strike.  The oft-mumbled advice of "kick a puncher/punch a kicker" doesn't necessarily apply to boxers, unless you're going to kick below the belt.

And that is about the only way to quickly disable a boxer. . . groin shot, knee shot or solid kick to the outside of the thigh to demobilize them (the latter is the least destructive, but you do really have to know how and where to kick to be effective).

Even good BJJ fighters don't worry me as much as boxers. With my BJJ, Judo and JuJitsu skills, I can generally drag  out a ground fight until the guy gasses out.  The trick is to fight to a stalemate, make them work it.  This usually works on younger, less experienced guys.

But a good boxer?  Take away his mobility, preferably grounding him and strike him in places he's not used to getting hit.

And PRAY HARD that he doesn't get into your OODA Loop and make you react to his set-ups.

Another way is to try to attack his hands, but that often does not work as well as it does on others (by "attacking his hands," I mean strike at the two weaker fingers of his fist.  This is taught as a sub-style in some Chinese arts.  I picked it up from a practitioner in Germany many years ago and it has gotten me out of many protracted fights as a young man.  You do need the eye and reactions of experience to recognize the precursors to strikes and catch the fist/hand as it extends, but breaking the ring and pinky fingers often snuffs the blazing flame of a drunken aggressor's "bright idea").

Not fun facing even a mediocre, well-trained boxer.  Not fun at all.

The Professor

David in MN:
I appreciate it Professor. Along with the wrestlers we're the red-headed stepchildren of the martial arts community. I've had a wrestler put me on my butt, been choked by BJJ people, and dad does Judo he learned in Vietnam while serving with a Korean brigade. Something about a martial art that uses gravity as its weapon... My nephews do Tae Kwon Do and I have seen the knockouts at state tourneys. I respect all fighting styles.

I grew up in the 80s where mysticism made us think the Karate Kid would wipe the floor with Mike Tyson. Then you get in a ring and learn how tough these guys are. You're right to point out the OODA loop. You watch a Tommy Morrison or Joe Frazier and it's all set-ups to the crushing hook. Cotto too. My trainer made me go to the body. If you have a good left hook and can slip or roll a punch breaking ribs or doing liver damage is the preferred shot. It's a hurting game.

I don't understand why more martial arts haven't adopted this. The left hook is pure boxing and the guys who do it well tend to be tough opponents. When I briefly did Muay Thai it was clearly my best weapon. (Though I must admit going from leg kick to hook always felt awkward.) Also the best counter to a lazy fighter throwing a looping right. The second I see that shoulder drop I'm slipping left and loading the spring.

It will forever be a mystery to me. One punch that breaks jaws, ribs, and livers and it hasn't been widely adopted.

Have watched a lot of footage of spontaneous fights, muggings, etc. in the real world.

#1 takeaway is that almost no one has any clue what they are doing and makes tons of mistakes.

Having a couple well-trained strikes, low leg/knee side kick (which is unlikely to be caught or throw you off balance and is so wicked that people have debated banning it from the UFC), and MAYBE a few other fundamental moves that you have trained repetitively will have you leaps and bounds ahead of most if you find yourself in a bad situation. Even if you have common sense and avoid bad areas/times/people there is still a fairly solid chance you will want to have something like that at your disposal at least once over the course of your life.

Only concern I have with the left hook is the risk of breaking the bones in your hand when punching in a no-gloves fight.

To be honest, as much as I love the feeling of landing a left hook, you don't need it for most real world situations. If you get good at proper stance, having your hands up to guard your face, elbows not flared-out to block your stomach, and get good at throwing a 1-2, you're miles ahead of anyone that would try to attack you. Trained fighters don't want to start fights 99% of the time.
But for anyone that hasn't learned the fundamentals of a punch, even just a few months of boxing training will help immensely. Learn the form, and STOP ARM PUNCHING. Everyone seems to use arm and chest strength, and not use their hips and lower body to initiate a punch. Once you learn that, even your light, quick punches have big pop in them.
Stick to the basics.


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