Training Sessions At Your Gym

It is my pleasure to offer you a seminar / training session in practical boxing. We will train as in a normal session but with a little more explanation. A visiting session like this will be 99% technical training and 1% hard work.

I am happy to drive to your gym anywhere in the southeast part of England (anywhere south of Birmingham, east of Taunton) at no charge and run a session on practical boxing for you. You just pay my petrol.

Any further distance and you'll have to cover a train fare return and overnight accommodation. You'll need plenty of training gear since, in this case, I can't bring any in the car.

What I do

I'm an old-school boxing teacher: I teach how to use boxing for street survival in multi-opponent scenarios, without breaking your hands; and how to use a street boxing method across codes: fighting under different rules. The system uses the practical elements of bareknuckle fighting and its integral strikes, throws and wrestling; together with what we have learned from modern technical boxing and Thai boxing, plus relevant materials from military CQB. And it is a system, not a cobbled-together self-defence or ring method: it was developed over a period of 30 years and in a lot of fights both in and out of the ring.

Harder punching
I can also train almost anyone to punch harder. Nigel Benn types: no, they are already hitting at max power - but most other people.

Using wrestling within boxing
I show how bareknuckle boxers used wrestling and throws, as this was all legal until all the rules began to come in. Many of these throws are also used in Thai boxing. Throws in boxing are simple and effective: we train 4 of them frequently so they become easy to execute: fast, fluent and hard; there are many variants of each, plus more to learn. Boxing in the old days was a complete combat system, with punching, striking, wrestling, throws, and a variety of weapons (sword and shield, short staff, quarterstaff).

The boxing masters Figg and Broughton, for example, would fight demo matches of 3 rounds, with one round sword and shield, one round long staff, and one round boxing (which was a mix of striking and throwing).

How this system came into being

While investigating aspects of bareknuckle fighting for use by my gym members in Croydon, south London, during a period in the late 1970s to the mid-80s, due to the local pressures and a need for street survival without broken hands, it became apparent that no one had looked at how the fist positions and tactics for minimal hand damage in the old bareknuckle style could be combined with the maximum power shots of the hardest punchers of the modern era.

There are many ways of punching employed by the multiple schools of boxing, and each technique has its pros and cons. What we did was to try some new ways of combining optimal punching for the different existing goals and see if we could both punch harder and reduce the risk of hand damage in bareknuckle fights. It sounds incompatible, but we got it to work. Simply put: learn the basics of the bareknuckle art then add modern power shots when a clear target presents.

This approach worked from the get-go. With some further development it worked even better.

When we did this, it was a revelation and led to the hardest-hitting punching system I have seen to date. We won a lot of fights, in and out of the ring, and never had a fighter stopped by KO in nearly 30 years of assorted fights, from street to door security work to assorted boxing codes to Thai boxing - and this zero KO defeat record is probably the best achievement overall. We had most fights in Thai boxing as it suits our no-rules approach to boxing, and during the time my gym was active we had the highest ratio of KO wins to fights in UK Thai boxing.

Unfortunately I became ill and had to shut the gym. Semi-recovered now, I walk with a stick some of the time and am no longer physically able. Fortunately this is not really relevant in boxing coaching.

What I don't do

I'm not a negative or critical person: I'm positive and prefer to find solutions. So - I will not put your current system down or denigrate it in any way. What I want to do is find a way you can use some elements of practical boxing in your training. We will work together to find ways to utilise whatever you find of interest.

Somewhere in the bareknuckle technique, power upgrades, standing wrestling for boxing, throws, street strategy, or gym training for high-pressure mob fights, I'm sure you will find something of value. As a famous name pro boxer in south London said to me, "You're a great trainer, man", after a session with us.

What I need at your gym or hall

Trainees need to bring standard boxing gear so we can train properly. I mostly do technical work but there needs to be some robust application now and then so that people can see what works and what doesn't.

  • They will need bag gloves and handwraps, gym gloves/contest gloves (whichever you prefer), gumshield, groin guard, shorts (or whatever) and a T-shirt.
  • If they have a headguard and elbow pads it is also useful, as we can then work certain partner drills which are otherwise not possible to do correctly due to injury risk.
  • Some gyms train barefoot, some in shoes - that aspect is up to you - we will follow your gym protocol.
  • A punchbag or two.
  • Standard coaching pads of various kinds.
  • Some form of timing mechanism for interval training will be handy although we can use a stopwatch.
  • If you have a hard wallpad of some kind for punching - a makiwara type - this will be useful for demonstrating fist development. As an alternative, 4 car/van tyres about the same size we can stack on a table to reach chest/shoulder height; or a small sandbag, ditto. (Some kind of hard pad is needed, it will need to be against a wall or it does not do the job.)
  • We will need a boxing training ring, cage or similar, or a floor area that can be cordoned off securely to act as a ring. Because the Bundle is a popular and much-requested training exercise in these sessions, it seems a shame to miss it out - but it requires a secure area for this all-onto-all sparring. It doesn't work in an open hall area as there is insufficient pressure on the combatants.

Why do I do it?

My gym is shut now and I am not physically able to open a new one. Also, I have other demands on my time, unfortunately.

However I don't see many people doing what I do - and none at all in the case of some of the specifics - and it seems a shame to let it die out. In the past, nobody was interested in practical fighting methods - everybody wanted to do the southeast Asian martial arts, which in many cases are not efficient for fighting in the modern forms they have become; and are in some ways better suited to the local peoples where they originate. Today, that has changed somewhat and there is a new realism: people want what they train in to actually work.

There is nothing wrong with the European combat methods for real fighting - they are highly efficient as they have always been kept grounded by realistic fights; and these methods often suit Westerners better anyway. Some adaptation is required for going between the street methods and the contest methods, but capable fighters have been doing exactly this for at least 600 years in Europe. Contest fighting builds good fighters, and street methods allow a slightly more practical usage mode when needed. Capable fighters move between the two fluently, and are able to fight across different codes.

Striking vs grappling

Fundamentally, there is a choice between a striking or grappling-based approach. Both work well; it is generally argued that for various reasons a grappling method is very successful with one opponent especially if they have some fight experience, and a striking method with multiple opponents. Whatever your preference, it is hard to argue against mixing the two to a degree and trying to get the best of both worlds.

Most people doing practical combat now appear to be doing pure self-defence systems with no option for competing in order to develop as a fighter; or they are wrestling-based not striking-based. All these approaches are valid: street defence systems have good moves, but no way to build experienced fighters; grappler/fighters can use contests to build fighting ability.

As an old-school boxing teacher my preference is for a striking-based approach to multi-opponent fighting on concrete: a combination of old boxing, new boxing, Thai boxing, wrestling and some military CQB techniques biased toward strike and move tactics: specifically, punch & throw plus other moves as required.

The power aspect
When trying to improve on my old amateur boxing style, and work with the Mejiro Gym boxing system I learned in Amsterdam around 1980, it became important to me to find ways of improving punching power. By examining film and TV footage of boxing KOs (difficult in the late 70s / early 80s with no internet), I came across better ways of punching harder for the KO: it seemed as if the most impressive KOs of all came from a specific type of punch that was not in the list of basics in any gym; so we worked hard on developing this. It turned out that this fitted hand-in-glove with certain bareknuckle techniques - and so we found we had a boxing system with synergy: a better result than the plain sum of the parts. It was fast, hit very hard, and had less risk for hand breakage than modern boxing when used in the street.

The trouble with Croydon

My gym was in Croydon, south London. What they don't tell you in Wikipedia is that it is the acknowledged centre of mob fights in the UK, where running battles in the street are commonplace; inter-school knife fights can be seen in the town centre; and fights on the street outside the take-aways and cab offices are beyond number. This had an effect on my coaching since our experience taught us very clearly that the strategy here has to take acount of that:

  • Any gym member could be dragged into a fight especially during the evening/night-time in the town.
  • Any fight has a very good chance of developing into a multi-opponent battle even if it doesn't start that way - multiple people involved is the norm, even mob battles are seen.
  • They have a local tactic here where one person starts a fight, then all their friends pile in - this is almost standard.
  • All opponents are assumed to have a short, concealed knife - as many do, here.
That's just the way it is around here and of course it affects the street defence strategy and tactics - it has to.

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