How do you make progress in your training?
One way is to discard that which does not contribute to your progress.
Let’s take a simple example – Teacher A tells you to punch with your elbow up and using a horizontal fist. Teacher B tells you to use a vertical fist instead and keep your elbow down.
You find that Teacher A’s method a bit shaky and doesn’t quite inspire confidence. Teacher B’s method works fine for you. The thing is that when you attend Teacher A’s class you are told that Teacher B’s method is not the proper one.
What should you do?
In Rome do as Romans do so naturally when you are in Teacher A’s class you make sure you use his method whether it is really good for you or not.
However, does this really help you to progress? Or hold back your progress?
Quite a dilemma eh?
For me I err on the side that allows me to progress. So if I am taught a method that holds me back then I have to ask why I am sticking to it. This is because a day that I am not progressing is a day lost and time cannot be gotten back.
Sometimes you are torn between Teacher A and Teacher B? What should you do?
I would research and research. Then ponder, test and check before making a decision.
So for punching I am lucky that a champion like Jack Dempsey has written a book on boxing. If you don’t know who Jack Dempsey is then take a look at the clip below :-
Dempsey’s book on boxing is chock-ful of good advice and more important good common sense; stuff you can try out quickly to see if its effective.
Look at Dempsey’s advice on power. You only have to try it out to check if the elbow down or elbow up position is better. However, don’t think that Dempsey is asking you to punch with a vertical fist only – read his book and you will see that his advice on fist position is very practical.
Below is Dempsey on how to aim. I use the same method but I didn’t get it from Dempsey. Instead, I got it from a Hong Kong master and my students who have felt this method before knows how painful and penetrating a light tap can be.
The funny thing is that the style that this method came from typically does not advocate aiming this way. In fact, 99% of the practitioners and masters in this style do not do it this way. However, once I understood the logic and more important, felt for myself its effectiveness its hello new method, goodbye old method style and lineage be damned.
Look at the picture below from Dempsey’s book. Notice the punching fist position. Someone I knew tried to throw a punch like this in a self defence class and was told that it was wrong, and that punching this way is a Wing Chun method. I cannot believe how shallow the instructor’s knowledge of boxing is. Lucky for me Dempsey’s book is there to show that this is not true.
And to balance out the argument read what Dempsey wrote about punching with a horizontal punch below :-
And of course, Dempsey also brought up a shortcoming of this punching method :-
Pretty good advice huh? You can’t go wrong with it, at least from my experience in researching different arts.
Of course, I should also tell you that the punching method I use is different and is rooted in Tai Chi principles but that’s a story for another day. End of the day now. Time to prepare to go for early dinner.