IS CARDIO BOXING USELESS?
Sometimes I get asked my opinion on Cardio Boxing so I figured I'd just write about it. Short answer is NO. I don't think it's useless. I'll admit that there was a time when I thought it was, but that was at a time when I was more immature and I failed to ask one of the most important questions in fitness? WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS? I mean not everyone is willing to get punched and kicked for real? It hurts and isn't the most pleasant experience. Believe me, I've been punched and kicked countless times. That being said, it does train you to deal with discomfort which can help you tremendously with the stresses of life. But still it obviously isn't for everybody. And regardless of what purists will tell you, no one's goals are any more or less valid than someone else's. At the end of the day it's all about the individual and that's more important than any system.
Having fun and getting a different type of workout is really what it's all about. For many people working out consists of walking on a treadmill, riding a bike, or going for a jog. After that maybe hopping on a few weight machines and then some token sets of core and ab work. I'm not saying that won't do anything. It's infinitely better than sitting on your butt doing nothing and drinking beer. But after a while it can get a little boring particularly if you don't have the knowledge to vary your exercises. I've trained people before who had been doing essentially the exact same workout for years. But with Boxing, you've got so many different elements and combos there's no way you could possibly get bored. And because of the footwork along with the rotation and movement of the body, you're getting a full body workout. Every punch you throw is like giving your body an internal massage.
One of the reasons I used to say Cardio Boxing is useless is that proper technique is generally not enforced. That may be true, but you're still getting a great workout regardless. Pulling your hand back and telegraphing might make a Boxing coach or traditional martial arts teacher cringe, but people in a Cardio Boxing class are not training for real fighting. Their heart rates are up, theyre getting a full body workout, and they're having fun. So whats the problem? And regardless, a seed is being planted and who's to say they won't advance to more serious training later?
But in the meantime, if you're going to do Cardio Boxing, at least focus on a few key tips to help you get the most out of it. That way if you do choose to advance later to actual Boxing, you won't have a ton of bad habits to break.
STAY BALANCED AND CENTERED - Imagine you have no forearms and you can only use your feet and body to punch. By doing this you will naturally avoid leaning forward putting all your weight on your lead foot. You want to stay centered but in order to do so, you really want to have more weight on your back leg.
HANDS UP, CHIN DOWN - Don't stick your chin out. When I was first learning my coach made me hold a tennis ball under my chin. That way it stayed down. Also keep those hands up. They don't have to be glued to your face but they need to be up. This is what I call built in defense. And after you punch, that hand comes right back. Don't let it drop.
ONE PART MOVES, ALL PARTS MOVE - This is an expression used in Chinese internal martial arts, but it applies to Boxing as well. Actually Boxing is also an internal martial art. I won't go into that now but it's true. You never move just your arm. Everything from your foot all the way to your hand moves. That's how you generate power and you also get a much better workout due to all that core twisting and hip rotation.
THREE HARMONIES OF INTERNAL MARTIAL ARTS- This is connected to the previous one. This refers to the connection of hand to foot, elbow to knee, and shoulder to hip. They work together. When throwing a left hook for example, all of these parts must move together to get full body power into it.
MOVE YOUR FEET - In a lot of Cardio Boxing classes people are generally stationary, but get used to moving your feet. Your feet initiate all the movements. If you think with your hands first you'll tend to lean forward. But if you think with your feet first you'll get more drive in those punches and you'll stay better balanced.
MOVE YOUR HEAD - Get in the habit of moving your head both during your punches and immediately after. A moving target is harder to hit than a stationary one. Your head is kind of like your steering wheel and your body is the car. The rule of thumb here is when you're not hitting you're moving!
CONTROL YOUR BREATH - Learn to breathe with the diaphragm as opposed to the chest. And when punching just short quick exhales either through the nose or pursed lips. Never inhale with the mouth.
OK. There are quite a few tips there. Maybe more than you thought you need to know for Cardio Boxing. Don't try to do them all at once. Have fun but try to work these in. You'll see a big difference in your workouts. And who knows. One day you may decide to cross over to my side and do it "for real". But until then, have fun and don't worry about it. Boxing is a fantastic martial art to learn and don't worry about the stuck up purists. But in the meantime you might as well get the most benefit you can from it without getting punched in the face!