Most fighters don’t know (or can’t admit) that they’re wasting energy. They make silly excuses like, “Oh I just need to relax more.” or “I need to work on my cardio.” No, man…you’re getting tired because your technique sucks. You’re losing fights not because of your cardio but because of the way you fight.
Are you tired of getting tired?!
…if so, then STOP DOING THIS ONE THING…
Pushing is bad technique.
Yes, STOP @%$&#* PUSHING! It limits your ability to fight effectively and efficiently. Pushing is bad technique. It’s slow, it telegraphs your movement, limits your control, and wastes energy. Sure, you might feel powerful when you push but you’ll lose to boxers that relax to move, not PUSH to move.
Want to know something else? Pushing wrecks your balance. By always trying to push something and invade someone else’s space, you sacrifice your own axis to generate force. The force created by a falling axis is exactly just that…FALLING. It’s weak and doesn’t give you much control. And you can’t generate any more force until the axis is upright again, which requires more energy. Don’t think of yourself moving into your opponent with every punch. Instead imagine yourself as a bomb and that your opponent is simply in range when you explode down INTO the ground, not off the ground.
Force is not generated by colliding/exploding
into your opponent. (pushing)
Force is generated by transferring
the momentum of your body dropping downwards, into a forward punch. (relaxing)
A pusher is a boxer that’s ALWAYS pushing himself around the ring. The pusher moves by pushing his body weight and attacks by pushing his punches. The pusher is known for expending energy even when they’re doing nothing.
To “push” means to exert force on something. But what is that something?
Unless your opponent is literally touching you, the only “thing” you’re exerting force on is YOURSELF! Let me explain further. In order to push something, you must first have a WEIGHT. To create this weight, you first have to “load” a weight and therefore CREATE UNNECESSARY TENSION that wasn’t there in the first place. This weight that you created for yourself, now has to be unloaded by spending even more energy. It sounds so silly, right? You first use energy to LOAD a weight, and then you use energy to PUSH it off you. Doesn’t it sound illogical?
Let’s go over the 2 obvious problems with boxers that “push”.
The pusher moves himself by PUSHING his weight around the ring. When he wants to move forward, he pushes with the back leg. When he wants to move backwards, he pushes with the front leg. If he wants to move faster, he pushes harder. If he wants to move further, he pushes harder. Changing directions requires him to explode back and forth with both legs. He’s wasting energy because his legs are constantly firing into each other to prevent him from going off balance.
Now guess what happens when he gets tired? He moves slower and he gets off balance because his legs don’t have energy to PUSH him back upright. And because he’s off-balance, he’s going to spend even more energy to move!
The push-punchers load their punches by pulling back their arm or stiffening up their arm to make it feel heavy and powerful. Then they use tremendous force to shove the weight (they created) into their opponent. The whole fight is them loading and unloading their punches. First pushing tension onto their muscles, then pushing the tension off their muscles.
The pushers load their punches because they don’t know how to (properly) generate power. They have poor technique and don’t feel any power in their punches. So they find new ways (poor technique) to increase the FEELING OF POWER in their punch. Fortunately for them, bad technique can actually help you hit harder. The problem is that they’re still not throwing with maximum power. If only they knew how to use their body weight, they need to create a weight to load their punch. Doing that allows you to punch harder while using less energy.
The other problem with loading your punches is that it telegraphs your punch. Your opponent can always feel when you’re going to punch because he senses you becoming heavy all of the sudden. Watch a pro boxer IN PERSON and see how he moves. He’s always 100% relaxed and punches from a completely relaxed state. You can never tell when he’s going to strike BECAUSE HE’S NOT LOADING! So for all the folks out there reading guides on how to conceal their punches, you don’t need to learn this.
Relaxed boxers don’t need to conceal their punches
because they’re not loading anything!
Why Do Boxers Push?
Most boxers push because it feels incredible! You’re like, “OH YES! I’M SO STRONG! LOOK AT ME EXPLODE ALL OVER THE PLACE! WHOOOOOPIEEEE!!!!”
Unfortunately, that’s the attitude of many fighters. Working hard makes them feel like a man. Makes them feel like they’re being more productive.
Loading the weight takes time because you have to load before you can unload. Some boxers cleverly (but improperly) remedy this problem by staying ALWAYS LOADED. I see this all the time; ask a boxer to put up his boxing stance and already his arms look flexed. His fists and legs look like they’re about to explode! No wonder the pushers get tired so fast…they’re always carrying an invisible weight (tension) even when they’re not doing anything.
Now what happens when the pushers get tired? Their punches slow down, their footwork gets sloppy, their movement falls apart. But of course, they don’t see this as a sign to improve their technique. They blame poor conditioning, or not trying hard enough. The next thing they do is train even harder to have more energy to WASTE! The reality is that conditioning will never compensate for poor technique, it only prolongs the inevitable. Ultimately, you will get tired because of the way you move.
Conditioning doesn’t prevent fatigue,
Conditioning delays fatigue.
It’s about technique, not conditioning. Even though I haven’t been running at all, I can still crank out 5 miles or more if I wanted. I can do it without being in running shape because of the way I run. If anything, I would only need conditioning so that I can run faster, but the conditioning itself doesn’t prevent me from getting tired.
Final thoughts on pushing:
- Pushing means loading.
- Loading means creating unnecessary tension & adding time.
- Unnecessary tension & added time means wasted energy and slower response.
So then the next question is:
“Johnny, how am I supposed to generate force
without (PUSHING) exerting force?!”
To relax is to release tension. A boxer that relaxes doesn’t need to push himself around the ring. He doesn’t need to waste energy to create tension and waste more energy to counter-act that tension. He recognizes the tension that ALREADY EXISTS between his body and the ground. Not only is he relaxed, he only uses energy to further relax himself aiding the RELEASE of a force onto his opponent.
A good boxer doesn’t need to push his weight to move. Trust me, you don’t either. Your body already wants to move. Your two legs are already preventing gravity from pulling your body in one direction. So if you think about it: you can move just by RELEASING one leg! And watch your gravity take you body in the direction of the leg that released!
Try it right now and see for yourself. Instead of pushing yourself forward with your back leg, try releasing your front leg forward (allowing your body to relax towards your front leg). See how gravity naturally shifts you forward? Now you just have to release back leg allowing it to relax forward. This right here pretty much incorporates the same principles from Jack Dempsey’s “falling step” technique. (Using gravity to generate power.)
In order to move back and forth, you relax to one leg and then the other. You have less need to push from the back leg when your front leg releases your body to start its momentum going forward. You use less energy and have more control of how far you go! Now trying this relaxing method of movement as you go forwards and backwards. Do it slowly and see how much easier it is to just relax your legs back and forth than it is to push. (If you feel slower in one direction, this means your body is off-balance!) This relaxing type of movement keeps my body closer to the ground, resulting in more balance, control, and ability to change directions!
Moving by relaxing keeps your center of gravity grounded,resulting in more efficiency, balance and control!
Right about now is where most beginners would ask me, “How the hell am I supposed to punch hard without creating a force?” Good question. Most people don’t realize that JUST BY STANDING, you are already “loaded”. Your “punching weight” is your body weight. There ALREADY EXISTS a tension that is “loading your weight”, which is called GRAVITY! The only thing keep gravity from propelling your weight is your legs.
So to release this weight onto your opponents, you only have to release the weight from your legs to punch powerfully into your opponent. But of course, you can’t just release your legs and let the weight drop to the floor, you have to ROTATE your hips as you relax your legs. Therefore, rotating the drop of your body weight into your opponent.
That’s why I relax into my punches, because I’m releasing my weight into my opponent. I don’t need to create a new weight (through unnecessary muscle tension) to swing into my opponent. I can exercise my legs and push as hard as I want. The “weight” I create through muscle contraction will NEVER equal the weight of my body. More importantly, the imaginary weight that I create uses my own energy to create and can’t be sustained throughout the entire fight. Any fighter that hits with less power as the fight goes on is probably relying on his own “created weight”. I’m actually the opposite, I hit harder when I get tired. (But I have less control, and less speed.)
The relax-puncher punches
WITH the force of gravity, not against it.
Relaxing VS Pushing
Relax your body to move.
Relax your body to punch.
The pushers are wasting their energy. Everything they do is a push. Load, push, load, push. They just can’t seem to push hard enough, right?
I’m a relaxed fighter, so I never have to push. My body is ALWAYS LOADED WITH MAXIMUM POWER. Because my weight is my entire body. This weight never changes, I will always weigh 145lbs throughout the whole fight. Knowing how to use my gravity-loaded bodyweight allows me to move with maximum power and more speed. I save energy because I don’t have to create a load.
If anything I LIMIT my punch and LIMIT my movement. If I had no control, my body would punch 100% and move 100% all the time but I don’t allow this. I set things up with smaller steps and smaller punches. I hold myself back for strategic reasons and then when the time is right, I just RELEASE my power.
It’s really that simple. The whole fight, I’m relaxing my punches and relaxing my movements. I can punch just as fast and just as hard in the 20th round as I do in the 1st round. The only energy I use is to further relax myself…working WITH the tension that gravity already places on my body, not against it.
Great boxers generate force
through relaxation, not exertion.
How do you relax?
To relax means to release tension, not to release control.
So many people misunderstand the meaning of “relax”. They think “to relax” means to sit down and watch TV with a beer and be lazy all afternoon. Relax does not mean taking it easy and saving energy for later! To relax doesn’t mean going slower or doing less. In boxing, it means to generate force while you RELEASE tension (as opposed to generating force by creating tension).
You can HIT HARDER and THROW MORE PUNCHES
It’s not really that difficult of a concept. People simply have to unlearn old technique before they can learn new technique. I don’t want to go into technique right now because this is just a theoretical guide to get your head in the right mindset. Here are some final boxing tips to think about…
This should have been the name of this whole guide. Stop pushing and stop trying to create force. Know that you already have force in your body and find a way to translate it into boxing movement. Instead of trying to create force, focus instead of directing the force your already have. See if you can direct the force of gravity into your punch. Just following this step alone is the first step to put you in the right direction.
The first thing you should do is find your balance from stance. If you move while off-balanced, it means that all your movements in one direction is a “fall” (no control), and all your movements in the other direction is a “push” (less range & energy efficiency). Both result in waste of energy and less power. Being perfectly balanced allows you to move (and exert force) in any direction and change directions as often as you need. If you’re not balanced, you’re probably using energy to stay upright.
Any movement that you make, BEFORE YOU MOVE, the first thing you should do is relax somewhere. Release something first. Do not load! If you’re going to move, you relax one leg first! If you’re going to punch, you relax the arm first! Before you even THINK of pushing anything, see if you can relax somewhere to help the push. To keep this article short (ha!), I won’t go over technique but at least you can start thinking about this.
I don’t relax to save energy.
I relax so I can hit harder and move better.
- Ok, so I lied. This article isn’t about saving energy, it’s about fighting better. Relaxing is about being about being able to do more, not about avoiding fatigue. This is boxing, remember?
- Later on I’ll explore deeper into how to relax and how to REALLY use your body. For now, PLEEEEEASE STOP PUSHING! Stop it now or else you’ll never improve as a fighter.
Very interesting article Johnny, it certainly got me thinking.
One point though, perhaps I’m thinking of this wrong,
If I’m to ‘relax’ my legs when punching, does this not mean I now have a ‘weaker’ foundation if Im to be caught with a punch while throwing my own?
Good question, CQ. Here’s my question to you…is your punch harder when you exhale (release tension)? And then, does your stance become more firm when you exhale (release tension)? 😉
John is there any way you can do a video on the relaxing movement for the legs. I never realized until reading this article, why my legs always tend to start burning out so quickly. I never have my shoulders, arms, or abs get tired. It is always my legs, especially my rear quad, glute, and calf. I’m working on the relaxed movement, and attempting to let gravity move me back and forth, yet I feel really awkward. Any visual help would be awesome…
You’ll have to get used to standing straighter. Much straighter than you think. And then bend the knees only slightly. Many fighters (especially in their first year) loves bending the joints a lot so they can load muscle behind every movement but what ends up happening is that you return the legs back to “almost straight” position and so the same muscles applying force as the ones holding you up and then of course, you get tired. Having a stronger taller straighter spine allows your upper body to hold itself up so your legs don’t have to work double to hold your body up.
I was wondering if you have any articles for mittwork training? I would love to know if i was doing anything wrong! And is it true that you’re only as good as your trainer in mittwork?
Hi Tuan, I don’t have any articles for mittwork training yet. And it is not true that you’re only as good as your trainer. Some fighters have a higher level of awareness and handle much more than what their trainers give them. But if you’re worried about your skills being limited, go out and have different people hold the mitts for you. You will be amazed at how many people turn out to be natural mitt holders.
Cool! I’ll try that! Hopefully that video comes out soon! I recommend this website to everyone who stops to ask me how to box and where did i learn all of these basic skills! 😉
Spread the word, man! Coach everybody you know! hahaha.
Aren’t the principles you talk about in moving backwards and forwards essentially just skipping? I was taught just to skip lightly to and from my opponent in the ring…
The principles I talk about are about relaxing to move. And ultimately there are many if not endless ways to move by relaxing; skipping is just one of them. But I’m glad you were taught right!
A little off-topic, but Olympic weightlifters (like the one you pictured) are actually very explosive. The clean and jerk and snatch require sudden explosiveness as opposed to the slow, pushing strength of other lifts that normal weight trainers do.
Heheheh…I just love that picture! Technically it may not be correct but I thought it captured the emotion well. But don’t some of the olympic lifts have a slow push at the end? Like when they’re trying to come up.
For the Olympic lifts the slow push is the First Pull (from the floor to just below the knee). From there the lifter “violently and explosively” shrugs the bar for the Second Pull. I think you’re referring to the lock out portion where they have to stand square to demonstrate to the judges that they are controlling the lift. the slow push there is just a result of the extreme weight they are working with, I guarantee that you could skip that part if the weight is light enough.
Hi there Johnny,
Who are your top 5 the most efficient boxer?
End of story. This guy doesn’t even train. He shows up, spars, goes home. Doesn’t hit the bags or anything. He comes into fights fat and out-of-shape but still gives them a boxing lesson. Hands down, James Toney….there is nobody like him in our era that comes to mind. Damn, I’m so fired up I think I have to add this to the post!
Can I set James Toney as my rolemodel???
I mean is his style so efficient ??
Do you have any other boxers as suggestion?
James Toney is my role model! It’s also nice to know that he’s really cool. My friend sees him a lot. All pro boxers are potentially good role models. Once you know someone in person, it’s hard not to like them.
James Toney is my role model! WHAT?????
There’s a difference between strength and power in sport science. Strength does not take into consideration of speed. Think bench press, squat, deadlift, etc. Power requires speed, which Olympic lifting trains.Olympic weightlifting consists of the clean and jerk and the snatch. The full clean requires an explosive (power) yanking of the weight up to your shoulders. You go down with it and have to stand back up. The standing part would be slow, strength push up. After standing up, you do the jerk, which is an explosive movement to bring the weight up. There used to be the clean and press. The press would be a slow, strength movement as well. The movement you have pictured is the snatch. It requires one explosive movement to bring the weight above your head. You drop underneath the barbell as you bring it above your head, then stand back up. Olympic lifts are different from other lifts. They all train full body movements and are explosive. You can’t do them slowly. The clean is especially used by many athletes in various sports to build explosive movement.
Great explanation of the difference between strength vs power!
Jkdwarrior3 aka "fightrguy"
I am simply amazed at your level of boxing knowledge Johnny. I always thought I had a pretty comprehensive knowledge of boxing and strategy but your knowledge, while not new to me, probes deeper than I thought it could go. And i’m not tooting my own horn here, I have always had more knowledge than most of my trainers but you surpass me and show me that there are always things to learn. I’ve only been bested in a spar by a few boxers ( Max Alexander for one), so while I am low level I do love combative strategy. but you sir are my favorite online boxing strategist.
JKD, I won’t take that compliment lightly. THANK YOU. It means a lot to be respected by other fight strategists. There’s so much out there to learn. And all of it so confusing and conflicting. I looked up Max Alexander, btw. If you’re sparring pro’s, I wouldn’t call you “low-level”.
Jkdwarrior3 aka "fightrguy"
Well as far as I know he’s the only pro I’ve sparred, he’s developed his automatic skill game far past mine and has no telegraph to his straight. Very hard to see coming. I believe I only caught him flush once or twice with a right wing block/ right hook counter. but it was easy to see he was taking it easy. my main background is Muay Thai and MMa but i love boxing to death and feel most mma’s hands are shit. I trained at Jorge Gurgels MMa school in ohio. But I haven’t fought in years. But i’ve been on a lot of boxing websites, and yours by far is the best. better than saddoboxing.com and rossboxing.com, you go far deeper in thought than these. kudos to you sir, i have your website bookmarked and check it every time i get online for something new you can teach me. Also you need a James Toney breakdown video.
I’ve been dying to make that James Toney video….one day when I have 40 hours of time. I really appreciate the feedback. Stay tuned for more awesome boxing stuff.
Great information. I would love to see a video on you describing the difference between a push-move and a natural relaxed-move. Similarly a push-punch and a relaxed punch. It would be so great for me training and coaching others. Thanks.
I will be making that video to show the technique and you will see it explained then!
Thanks Johnny, appreciate it man! Would help a lot of boxers here. You are already helping our small boxing community with unseen information and tactics.
Ey Jonhy, congratulations! Excelent site. One question… how do you think about this study?:
“There have been some very interesting soviet studies on what makes a technically sound punch. The soviets looked at 120 boxers ranging from amateurs to experienced professionals. This study found that among the highest level boxers, the highest percent of their power (38.46%) came from the push-off of their back leg, whereas the arm extension and trunk rotation accounted for 24.12% and 37.42% respectively. Even more interesting was that the high level boxers were more ‘well rounded’ with their power development compared to the less experienced boxers (arm extension 37.99%, trunk rotation 45.50% and leg extension 16.51%).”
Power of punches depends how much accelerated weigth you throw at your opponent… for this it is necessary “pushing”…isn´t?
Note: Sorry for my bad English!
Hi Spaniard guy. Power can be generated and used in many ways. It isn’t fair to look at percentages of power contributed by each muscle because boxing is not about power. It’s about connecting punches to your opponent, so your body has to move in a way that is efficient for boxing (offense/defense/movement)…not just for generating power.
Power is determined by body weight, acceleration, speed, angle, everything. The trick is to do it efficiently and for that I explain why you should not push. This article is about how not to waste energy, it’s not about how to create maximum power. And if you want to be efficient, then you do not “push”.
Love the tips they a actually do work have u ever tought about punching the punch and then punching over the punch
Great article as usual. I was always taught to press down on the ground to generate the force needed for punches. You mention twisting and dropping, are you pressing down at any point? And is what you described ‘sitting down’ on your punches?
You are correct, Brett. Press DOWN on the ground to generate force. Twisting and dropping will definitely help you press down on the ground. “Sitting down” on the punches is usually meant for fighters to plant their feet and drop their weight a little more when they punch. There are many fighters that stay up on their toes all the time for the purpose of moving. This scores points (great for amateur boxing) but takes away from their punching power.
Interesting article definetly got me thinking…..on a thought about this tho..isn’t your first boxing class your taught to always push with the opposite leg when you move. Thanks
The first boxing movement people learn is STEP-DRAG. First you step, then you drag. Most people end up doing STEP-PUSH or even just PUSH. Don’t worry too much about it, I’ll have a focused article later on breaking down the basic boxing step into tiny tiny details.
Bloody hell. That was an excellent article. Its funny how the more fatigued you get the more energy you expend trying to keep your energy levels up. And very astute observation into the machismo that drives most boxers (me included!)
I did a bit of tai chi once. about as far removed from boxing as is possible, it may seem, but their understanding of movement is something I would recommend anyone to study. in fact, in most martial arts i’ve studied they stress that the generation of power is the ‘change’ between relaxation and explosion. its this differential that creates force, so the more relaxed you start form the greater the differences between the two states and therefore the harder you hit.
anyway, i better get back to work. unfortunately, being relaxed at work doesn’t have the same advantages!
Thanks, Rod! I have to say…the mechanics of efficient body movement have been known and used by the best athletes for years (all sports, not just fighting). I am simply sharing this information with other fighters that did not get the opportunity to learn this type of education. Have fun at work.
great article johnny i would like to comment on spaniards point about where the power percentages come from.its irrelevant only acceleration and weight determin power/force wether a strong leg back or arm moved that weight doesnt change scientific equation for power. speed and weight.even though the universe started with a big bang ever since the stars the planets and even us have been falling through space.bravo to you for harnising that astonishing and totaly unlimited force
Thank you, andrewp!
Unbeliveable writing when I’ve been training these last months I’ve been wondering why my feet have been killing me…i thought it must be because my legs are weak or I’m not pushing off my toes the way my trainers have told me to…can’t wait to get 2 the gym 2nite & start relaxing lol but this definitely was useful 2 think of how tired my legs get after an hr of bag work/warm ups & light sparring.
Alex, relaxing the feet is definitely a very important drill. Try to relax the feet as you relax your hips. Practice standing on one leg and balancing while you try and keep your feet and hips relaxed. One tip: relaxed doesn’t mean lazy and uncontrolled. It just means “relaxed”….as in letting your feet breathe as you let your lungs breathe. I hope that makes sense.
Another great article Johnny, I hope I can be as solid a coach as you are (and this is just through articles online but you know how to hit it on the button, mainly I think because you’ve done it for years yourself).
The “bomb” reference near the beginning is excellent, I think that’s a great way to look at it, I already see how that’s going to help me, now onto actually training it.
Very good article, i was taught on a recent ABA training course that if you drop the knee slightly when throwing the right hand from an orthodox stance the body weight comes into the shot, it works wonders,as for relaxing this is one of the main things i nag and nag my boxers about, it is so important for movement, fast hands and less fatigue.
Paul H – YES…bend knees…or relax into the knees slightly. Makes such a big difference.
Very good article. When I was reading it I was thinking Andre Berto was a perfect example. He got with Victor Conte in his last fight and he seemed to have more stamina, but he still looked like he was going to gas out soon
Thanks for this I know realise some of the mistakes ive made, my mate even said that my punches are harder now that im relaxing (i dnt randomly punch him btw we spar at our gym)
Great article tho
is this a advanced version of how to fight tired? And if so do you think this would improve my stamina past 8 rounds? Hope to here from you soon.
As a beginner, this article is priceless for me. Thanks Johnny.
Something I don’t get : to move, you have to generate some forces. To move even quicker this force has to be greater. By extension, to move quickly (your arm for instance), muscles have to be tensed more than if you just wanted to bring your glass beer to your mouth 😀
Suppose you have a weight.
To move the weight faster, you have to exert more force, right?
…but suppose we used the same amount of force, but made the weight lighter!
Relaxing your body makes that weight lighter… making it easier to move using the same force. 😉
Ohh god, I tried to keep relaxed tonight and tried not to push anymore. AND IT WORKED ! No stamina problem at all (hem…ok, almost), less hits from my opponents, many more counter opportunities, more energy available for footwork ! Many thanks Johnny !
But I still got 2 problems
1. I managed to get relaxed but for one thing : my straight. I still got much tension in my arm when I spar whereas I can feel it is smooth when I shadow.
2. Plus I feel my straight doesn’t touch my opponent. I feel he’s always out of range. What to do ? Is it because of the first problem ?
The straight feels far because of the way you stand.
Nice article!!! Do you have any tips on how to strengthen the inner thighs? I like to move around the ring, side stepping, and changing angles. But i noticed my inner thighs are the first one to give up…. I loose movement and power in my punches with the spaghetti legs. My calves are fine and i can still bounce from foot to foot. 2-3 rounds of sparring and my legs(inner thighs) are gone.Its frustrating when i want to spar a few more rounds to learn
Im looking for an exercise that wouldnt look like im doing yoga or pilates in the gym :D………
Thanks and more power!
Rnd, YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK! You are way ahead of the game if those muscles are getting tired. Don’t worry about looking sissy, work those muscles.
Right now I am training for speed that could match or surpass bruce lee’s. Do you have any tips or routines that focus mostly on speed? and also does the biceps size hinder the performance punch speed?
Work on throwing relaxed punches. A punch is a release, there’s almost no time to push. If all your speed exercises are pushing exercises, at best you only develop arm conditioning. Shadowboxing helps. I don’t see how biceps slow you down.
man oh man, after reading this i feel like im a push fighter.. the thing is that i feel like im throwing “push punches” when im trying to throw “power punches”.. I need to learn to throw power punches without pushing, but when I try that i feel like im practicing speed/form.
The part about letting your feet go to move instead of pushing with the other foot is something i realized myself when playing basketball. Especially on defense, you need lateral movement. Pushing your feet out to the side is very weak. But then i adopted a new position where i keep my feet out wide, but my knees in close, and just lift one foot to move in the lifted foot’s direction. My body is already “loaded” with energy for movement because of the position i am in before i even move. It only works if i am completely relaxed in that position. It feels like lifting a foot to move is like pressing a button, my body shoots in that direction, but i feel like i didn’t even do anything. I just never knew how to explain this, and what you wrote is a pretty good description. Im glad to have my observation reaffirmed. Now i just need to learn how to do this with punching
The article is very accurate but its not possible for most people to throw relaxed punches. This is because they already have a foundation based upon fighting off balance and fighting not relaxed. You have to position your body and hands in certain positions to fight like this. And even then great relaxed fighters still need to be able to run something like 7-10 miles a day in under 8-10 minutes per mile to keep that pace. You will not throw as hard a punched relaxed as tensed up, its just fact. Its why guys who fought Muhammad Ali later on would get tired after 5-6 rounds. Ali had a very relaxed style, he got tired from dancing but never from punching. To me he is the best example of a relaxed fighter. I learned how to throw relaxed punches just from watching him. Watch Jack Johnson if you want to see a relaxed footwork in a fighter. I think Joe Louis waste almost no energy when he moved, the way how he would inch forward. No reason for him to get tired. If you look in any old training manual they will tell you to relax but also use your hips and shoulders into the punch.
However there are plenty of great fighters who would tense up like tyson, liston, shavers, pretty much every big banger. Tense punches simply are harder. Don’t believe me, then hit the bag and see where it goes farther with. I already know, the tense punch. But if you work the bag for 6 rounds your arms will burn like hell if you throw tense punches but if your relaxed it will be a light workout
Being relaxed and tensed are not 2 kinds of technique….it’s 2 different LEVELS of technique. Relaxed is not about doing less, it’s about doing MORE using less effort. Which means a relaxed fighter will always be able to move faster and punch harder than a tensed fighter. (Keep in mind that I define “relaxed” as not having unnecessary tension, it doesn’t mean doing mean being lazy or making less effort.)
It doesn’t mean the relaxed fighter uses NO tension. It means that he is far more efficient in the tension he uses. The tensed fighter is using tension all the time, and the relaxed fighter is using tension only when it counts. And because the relaxed fighter is saving all that tension (muscle strength) for the right moment, he will hit that much harder.
In regards to boxers and aggressive fighters, that is more of a strategic comparison than a technical one. Even an aggressive guy like Tyson had to learn how to be RELAXED before he could be effectively aggressive. WIthout knowing when to use your tension, you will waste it and get very little done. But once you know when to use it, you can use as much of it as you want. (It’s kind of like swimming: without the efficiency relaxation technique, you end using a lot of force and not getting very far.)
Either way you look at it. You need relaxation for efficiency. And efficiency improves efffectiveness.
Thanks JN,I love this article, being relaxed has served me on a few plains at least at my little level. I get more whip in my punches because I try to relax and rotate,I see more, i punch faster and my knuckles squeeze hard right before they connect creating that explosion. All of this costs me less energy not to mention feeling less pain by being able to move and ride anything coming the other way. One thing i noticed when sparring an experienced coach was that he was like a sponge, he was so relaxed that my punches got absorbed and i was left wondering how it was possible to hurt him. It is also unerving for your opponent to see you so relaxed (NOT slow!) as he’s trying his best to leather you! My reflexes work so much better when muscles are ‘relaxed’ I never thought that combat could be like this, Id confused it for many years because of too much adrenaline and convinced myself into thinking that was total fear that I couldnt harness – therefore I’d freeze. But now everything that I do that gives me my mini successes within my level is based around being relaxed. I just wish I’d known this from very young!
Awesome story, Dom. But nonetheless, it’s the path of many beginners. It takes time for us to realize it’s a waste of energy to force out our aggression rather than to let it come out. Being relaxed makes us so much more more powerful, calculated, and DEADLY!
I’m a newbie kickboxer and I found your site when I checked how to wrap my hands. Although it’s a different sport I find your tips great. This website is really helpful.
It’s an honor to be read by non-boxers. Good luck to you, ehok!
Love the article as usual… do you have any good videos showing the two different styles (pushing vs relaxing). I found your the YouTube video on amateur vs pro boxing to be very helpful.
Well…I wouldn’t really call them different styles. Just one is the right way and the other is not. Pushing is basically all untrained, unskilled beginners. And relaxing is what all the skilled guys do.
Hey Johnny love your site man I learn more from you than my own coach. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions. So I go to this boxing gym which is the only one in town so I have no choice but to go to it because I love the sport of boxing. When I joined I weighed about 185 so I bought some 18oz gloves but i didn’t spar for a few months. By the time it came to spar I dropped down to 161 and I got tired real fast. I don’t have any fights and I would spar a guy that has 10 fights and I would get tired and quit by the end of the 2nd round. Reading your articles about breathing, relaxing and snap punching I was able to last all 3 rounds next sparring session. My coach said that its time to spar someone different and he put me in with a 122 pounder that was 5’5 piece of cake right? He hit so hard and pressured me so much I quit in the second round. It turns out he has over 200 fights and will turn pro next month. The next person I spar will not have as much amateur fights but will also be turning pro next month and he weighs close to 190….I am terrified to spar him, if I got my ass beat horribly by a 120 pounder it is almost guaranteed I will get knocked out by this guy because everybody always goes all out around here during sparring. This is the type of gym you talked about in your other article where the coach just throws you in and it’s sink or swim. I can’t really spar anybody my level because they mostly all have 100 plus fights at this gym. The coach won’t listen to any suggestions of controlled sparring because he wants us to have “huevos” or “balls”. I can’t switch gyms because it’s the only one and i really like boxing. I want to know what you think I should do? Also again I weigh 160 and use 18oz gloves when sparring while everybody else uses 14oz or below, so I was wondering if my big gloves are the cause of my arms getting so tired or does that not really matter at all? My coach says to run 3 miles 6 times a week which I do but I still get really tired and barely survive the third round so how long will it take for me to last 4 rounds and up like everybody else?
I say you shouldn’t go to that gym anymore or refuse to do hard sparring or move to be closer to another gym. The glove size does matter, especially if you’re a beginner. It will take you some time to get comfortable before you can last that many rounds. The problem is that you’re not relaxed and comfortable and it’s very hard to do this if you’re in against guys with more experience and will take every bit of advantage out on you.
Great article, makes sense but I have a couple questions. Let’s use the right cross as an example.
Can you still shift weight when you do this? Does the right heel lift because of the weight drop, the knees bending? If you’re dropping your weight down then how does the power come from the legs? Does this mean that the punch is just weight dropping + rotational force?
Hello Johnny, yesterday I had the oportunity to test some tips of this articles, man, it’s incredible the energy that you can save with simple changes, the tip of releasing one leg to move is wonderful, I just tested on my trainning and it’s easier than push and I don’t get tired moving, very very good! I’m trying others tips as relaxing on punches, but it’s a little more dificult to a begginer (as I am), but I’ll keep trying until it becomes natural. I’m learning a lot with your articles, thanks a lot Johnny.
Hey Fabio. Thanks so much for the comment. And also for your partnership. 😉
I gotta tell you man, this has been the single most helpful arcticle on boxing technique ive read in years..
now, i firmly belive in my skill, and punching power, but i kept fatguing with no good explanation..finally you explained it..
great info man.
Really happy for you! I know how much of a difference it makes. I suffered a lot, too until I figured all this out.
Fantastic article! You find the perfect perspective/s in explaining things so that people on all levels can understand and implement themselves. Plenty of your advice can be used inside and outside of the ring which can help people grow in all aspects of life.
I have always been a “Pusher” throughout life, so this article has truly struck a cord with me.
At 35 years of age, I have my first white collar boxing match coming up on the 20th of March. I have had one muay thai fight, but as a “Pusher”. Your site has made me more keen than ever and looking forward to applying the knowledge & skills learned through your site.
This message is simply a massive THANK YOU from Cape Town, South Africa for all your knowledge you have thrown out there for people such as myself.
Repeat after me “STOP @%$&#* PUSHING!”, “STOP @%$&#* PUSHING!”, but repeat in a relaxed manner:-)
You’re very welcome, Nick! 🙂
Mate, you’ve go some great articles but this has been the most helpful to me. I also just finished day 2 of your dancers footwork for fighters program and my legs are killing me haha already moving around a lot better than before.
Cheers heaps for that!
I followed your instructions and it instantly clicked, I do feel that I have to put a greater amount of technique to get the form right boxing your way, which seems counter intuitive on your body since you are more relaxed! Wish more coaches were more knowledgeable about the nuances in the sport
Thanks a lot Johnny! This has been tremendously helpful as it has always been a problem to me.
Help!! This is exactly what I am doing wrong. I am always tense, load punches and feel exhausted after a few rounds, no matter how hard I train or work on my fitness. I can’t seem to get “relaxing” down. Are there any videos I can watch comparing a tense boxer to a relaxed one or some drills to teach myself how to not push in my movements?
Where is the next article? “Later on I’ll explore deeper into how to relax and how to REALLY use your body. For now, PLEEEEEASE STOP PUSHING!”
Iv already read the “how to stop wasting energy”
Is there a follow up article to this one?