Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense

Relaying and Exploding

Dempsey Jack
Глава 9. Relaying and Exploding
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You have learned how to set your body-weight into motion for a long-range jolt. And you have located the power line and its exit. Now you are ready to learn the "relay and explosion." You can do that best by throwing a jolt. First, we must get something to punch-something you can hit solidly

Relaying and Exploding

You have learned how to set your body-weight into motion for a long-range jolt. And you have located the power line and its exit. Now you are ready to learn the "relay and explosion." You can do that best by throwing a jolt.

First, we must get something to punch-something you can hit solidly without injuring your fists.

If you can go into a gymnasium, swell; for in a gym you'll find an inflated, pear-shaped, light, leather striking bag (Figure 9), and a large, heavy, cylindrical canvas or leather "dummy bag"-sometimes known as the "heavy bag" (Figure 10). The latter is packed with cotton waste, and it is solid enough for you to accustom your fists, wrists and arms to withstanding considerable punching shock.

One can practice both body and head blows on the heavy bag. On the fast, light bag-which is about the height of an opponent's head-one can sharpen his speed and timing for "head-hunting"; and one also can practice the important back-hand, warding-off stroke until it becomes automatic.

If no gymnasium is available, and if you are unable to buy bags from an athletic-goods store, you'll have to carry on without a light bag and make your own heavy bag. To make the dummy bag, get two empty gunny sacks. Put one sack inside the other to give your bag double strength.

Then fill the inside sack with old rags, excelsior, old furniture-filling, or the like. Sawdust mixed with the above makes an excellent filler, MAKE CERTAIN THERE ARE NO SOLID OBJECTS IN THE STUFFING OF YOUR BAG. Leave enough space at the top so that you can wrap the necks of both bags securely with a rope. Suspend the bag on the rope from a strong girder in your basement, barn or woodshed -or even from the limb of a tree. Do not attempt to use the heavy bag in your living quarters; the pounding vibrations will loosen the plaster in walls and ceiling.

Whether you practice punching in a gymnasium or at home, you must use striking gloves (not boxing gloves) to protect the skin on your knuckles (Figure 11). If you can't buy the small, mittenlike leather striking gloves, make a pair of your own by snipping the fingers off a pair of leather work gloves, midway down each finger. Cutting them off in this fashion, will permit you to clench your fists freely. Even with the protection of striking gloves, you'll probably skin your knuckles during the first three weeks of punching practice. However, the knuckles will become calloused gradually.

Now that you have some sort of heavy bag and some sort of striking gloves, you are ready to begin throwing punches. You're ready to step, relay and explode. Do it as follows:

Put on your striking gloves. Take your falling-step position before the bag. The toe of your left foot should be pointing straight at the bag, and the toe-tip should be about three feet out from the bag. Practice the falling step three or four times, with your arms at your sides.

Now, again take your position for the falling step. As you teeter up and down, raise your relaxed arms into guarding position (Figure 12). As you raise them, also raise your left shoulder slightly and shove the left shoulder forward a trifle, so that your chin-snuggling beside it- would be protected from a blow coming at any angle from your own left. Keep your elbows in, toward your body. Your relaxed hands are half-opened, with thumbs resting easily upon the index fingers. The upper knuckle of your left thumb should be about ten inches forward from your lips. The upper knuckle of your right thumb should be about four inches forward from your lips.

Teeter in that position until you feel balanced and comfortable. Be relaxed everywhere as you teeter. If you feel cramped by holding your elbows in, let them out slightly, but only slightly.

Now-when you feel comfortable and relaxed-suddenly do the falling step toward the bag (Figure 13A), and as you step, make the following moves:

1. Shoot your loose, half-opened left hand straight along the power line at a chin-high spot on the bag.

2. But, as the relaxed left hand speeds toward the bag, suddenly close the hand with a convulsive, grabbing snap. Close it with such a terrific grab that when the second knuckle of the upright fist smashes into the bag, the fist and the arm and the shoulder will be "frozen" steel-hard by the terrific grabbing tension.

That convulsive, freezing grab is the explosion.

Try that long left jolt three or four times. Make certain each time that (1) you are completely relaxed before you step; (2) that your relaxed LEFT hand, in normal guarding position, is only half-closed; (3) that you make no preliminary movement with either your feet or your left hand. Do not draw back-or "cock"-the relaxed left hand in a preparatory movement that you hope will give the punch more zing. Don't do that! You'll not only telegraph the blow, but you'll slow up and weaken the punch.

Now that you've got the feel of the stepping jolt, let's examine it in slow motion to see exactly what you did.

First, the Falling Step launched your body-weight straight at the target at which your left toe was pointing.

Secondly, your relaxed left hand shot out to relay that moving body-weight along the power line to the target before that moving weight could be relayed to the floor by your descending left foot.

Thirdly, the convulsive, desperate grab in your explosion accomplished the following: (a) caused the powerful muscles of your back to give your left shoulder a slight surging whirl toward your own right, (b) psychologically "pulled" the moving body-weight into your arm with P. sudden lurch, (c) gave a lightning boost to the speed of your fist, (d) froze your fist, wrist, arm and shoulder along the power line at the instant your fist smashed into the target, and (e) caused terrific "follow-through" after the explosion.

When the long, straight jolt crashes into a fellow's chin, the fist doesn't bounce off harmlessly, as it might in a light, medium-range left jab. No sir! The frozen solidity behind the jolt causes the explosion to shoot forward as the solid breech of a rifle forces a cartridge explosion to shoot the bullet forward. The bullet in a punch is your fist, with the combined power from your fast-moving weight and your convulsing muscles behind it-solidly. Your fist, exploded forward by the solid power behind it, has such terrific "follow-through" that it can snap back an opponent's head like that of a shot duck. It can smash his nose, knock out his teeth, break his jaw, stun him, floor him, knock him out.


Your right hand should have been in a position of alertness to protect you from a countering blow or to follow with another punch to your opponent's chin.

As your left hand sped toward its target, your right hand, rising slightly from its original guarding position, should have opened-with all fingers, including the thumb, pressing tightly against each other to form a "knife blade" -and should have turned its palm slightly toward the bag, as if you were about to chop an opponent's left shoulder with the outer edge of your right hand. However, you do no chopping; instead, your right hand merely remains tensely alert until the left fist lands.

Try a few more left jolts. Make certain each time that your right hand becomes an alert "knife" (see Figure 13A).

Perhaps you wondered why I started you punching with the left hand instead of with the right inasmuch as we are seeking speedy development of a knockout blow. I started you with the left for several reasons.

Contrary though it may seem, the left fist is more important for a right-handed fighter (not a southpaw) than is the right fist. That is true because, in normal punching position, the left hand is closer than the right to an opponent's head or body. Since it is closer, the left is harder for any opponent to avoid than the more distant right. If you can land solidly with a straight left or with a left hook, you'll generally knock your opponent off balance, at least, and "set him up" for a pot-shot with your right.

It's not only easier to hit an opponent with your left, but it's also safer. When you shoot the left, your chin is protected partially by your left shoulder and partially by your guarding right hand. Because it is easier and safer to use the left, you usually lead with that fist. When two fighters are warily watching each other, waiting for an opening at any time during an encounter, the first punch thrown (by either) is a lead. It's so dangerous to lead with the right against an experienced opponent that the right lead is called a sucker punch. However, there are times when the right lead can be used with deadly effectiveness, as Schmeling demonstrated in his first fight with Louis.

In addition, use of the falling step practically guarantees your developing a solid left jolt. You have no such assurance, if you try to develop a good straight left from the medium-range shoulder whirl-the method by which most current fighters put their body-weight into motion for all straight punches.

I'll explain later why straight punches that are powered only by shoulder whirl cannot have effective follow-through. Right now let me merely point out that when a fellow stands in normal punching position, with weight forward and with his left shoulder slightly forward to protect his chin, he can get very little shoulder whirl into a left jolt-unless he draws back his left shoulder. Such a move would be a cardinal sin.

I use the expression "left jolt" instead of "left jab" because I don't want you to confuse the type of straight left you will throw, with the futile straight left or "jab" used by most current amateur and professional boxers. Most of them couldn't knock your hat off with their left jabs. With their lefts, they tap, they slap, they flick, they paw, they "paint." Their jabs are used more to confuse than to stun.

Their jabs are used as fluttering defensive flags to prevent their poorly instructed opponents from "getting set to punch." A good fighter doesn't have to "get set." He's always ready to punch. Some of them use their jabs merely to make openings for their rights. And that's dangerously silly, for the proper brand of feinting would accomplish the same purpose. With but few exceptions, they do not use the left jab as a smashing jolt that can be an explosive weapon by itself-that can knock you down or knock you out.

There are two reasons why the left jolt is a rarity in fighting today. First, nearly all current boxers launch their jabs with the non-step shoulder whirl. Secondly, nearly all have been fed the defensive hokum that it's less dangerous to try to tap an opponent with the left than to try to knock him down with the left.

Concerning that defensive hokum, let me say this: Any time you extend your left fist either for a tap or for an all-out punch, you're taking a gamble on being nailed with a counter-punch. And the sap who uses "light stuff'-rapping, flicking, etc.-has his left hand extended much more often than the explosive left-jolter, who doesn't waste punches-doesn't shoot until he has feinted or forced his opponent into an opening. It's true that you can "recover" your balance more quickly after missing a tap than after missing a hard punch. But it's also true that an opponent who is defending only against taps and slaps will be much more alert to counter than will an opponent who is being bombed.

My advice to all beginners is this: Use a light left jab only in one instance-in the so-called one-two punch- when your left fist strikes the opponent's forehead to tip his head back, so that your immediately following straight right can nail him on the chin.

Speaking of straight rights, I'll let you throw one now.

THE STRAIGHT RIGHT JOLT IS THROWN FROM THE SAME POSITION AS THE STRAIGHT LEFT. Stand in your normal punching position. Your relaxed right hand is half-opened, and the upper knuckle of the thumb is about four inches in front of your lips.

Without any preliminary movement of the right hand, shoot it at the chin-high spot on the bag as you do the falling step. Neither pull back nor cock the right before throwing it.

As you step in to explode the second knuckle of your upright fist against the bag, your chin should be partially protected by your left shoulder, left arm and left hand. Remember that your left hand opens to make a "knife blade," with the palm turned slightly toward your opponent. While the right fist is being thrown, the left hand and arm should stiffen for an instant in order to present a rigid barrier before the face in case an opponent attempts to strike with a countering right. The index knuckle of your opened left hand should remain about ten inches in front of your left eye as you step in. But the instant your right fist lands, your left hand should relax into its normal half-opened condition so that it will be ready to punch immediately, if necessary (Figure 13B).

Straight punches for the body, with either hand, are begun and executed in the same manner as head punches. (Any change in position before the start would be a telltale.) When in motion, however, your fist turns so that the palm is down when the second knuckle explodes against the bag. Also, as you begin the body punch, you bend forward to slide under guarding arms and to make your own chin a less open target.

As you practice those punches, keep your eyes wide open. Don't close your eyes as you step in. Focus your eyes on your target, YOU MUST KEEP YOUR EYES WIDE OPEN AT ALL TIMES WHEN YOU ARE FIGHTING OR BOXING.

Keep your eyes open; but keep your ears closed to the kibitzers and wise guys who may scoff at your early awkwardness in using the trigger step. They may tell you that you're charging like a war horse. They may tell you that you're merely poking as you would with a stick. They may tell you that EVERY STRAIGHT PUNCH TO THE HEAD SHOULD LAND WITH THE FIST IN A PALM-DOWN POSITION.

They may tell you that you are completely off balance and that you must have a slow recovery if you miss with a stepping punch.

You are not charging; you are being shot forward. You are not poking; you are exploding. A stepping straight punch to the head should land with the fist in an upright position to keep the punch straight. The instant you turn your fist to land palm-down in a head punch, you will begin to loop the punch. You'll learn all about looping later, when you study straight punches that are delivered from the shoulder whirl, without the step. Don't concern yourself now with balance and recovery. You are punching from the proper stance. As your feet, legs, and arms accustom themselves to the falling, power-line explosions, they will take care of your balance and recovery. They'll make certain that you still are in normal punching stance, whether you land on your target or whether you miss.

Don't let anyone induce you to shorten your step before you have mastered this type of punching. You must become an expert in using the comparatively long step for two reasons: (1) in no other way can you become an explosive long-range sharpshooter, particularly with your left hand; and (2) in no other way can you so accustom your body to the lightning forward lurch that the movement becomes instinctive.

Later, when the trigger step has become a habit, your body will bolt forward-whether you step two feet or two inches.

To make your early practice sessions with the basic, long-range blows more interesting, I'll tell you now about stance, and then teach you the fundamentals of footwork.


There are three principal types of stance (Figures 14A,B,C):

1. THE UPRIGHT STANCE. In that position, used by many British boxers, the body is practically straight up and down, with the weight either evenly distributed on both feet or resting largely upon the right foot. It is an excellent defensive stance because it permits freedom of the feet for fast footwork, and because it provides freedom for blocking and parrying. It has at least one defensive weakness, however. The user can be knocked off balance or floored much more easily than if the weight is forward. Offensively, the position does not stimulate explosive punching, since the weight is not forward.

2. THE SEMI-CROUCH. That's the stance you've been using for throwing straight explosive punches. I'll explain shortly why it's the perfect stance for fist-fighting.

3. THE FULL CROUCH, or low crouch. That stance is used at close quarters by practically all "bobbers and weavers" -chaps who come in bobbing low and weaving from side to side. It is used by those who specialize in hooking attacks rather than in straight punching. The bobber-weaver prefers to fight at close quarters, for all hooks and upper-cuts are most explosive at short range. It is an excellent defensive stance after the user has mastered the art of bobbing and weaving. That takes considerable time. Your bobbing-weaving head is an elusive target. Moreover, you are bent forward so far that your opponent has great difficulty getting at your body. It was my favorite stance. I found it invaluable in fighting bigger men. It has these disadvantages: Your weight is too far forward to permit proper "fall" in straight stepping jolts. And your weight is too far forward to permit fast retreating footwork-if you want to retreat.

If a fellow is a southpaw-left-handed-he can use any of the three stances; but his right foot and right hand will be forward and the left foot and left hand to the rear. It is much easier for a left-handed chap to fight in southpaw style. However, most trainers prefer to convert southpaws -to turn them around-and have them take a right-handed stance.

The semi-crouch, which you have been using, is the best stance for fist-fighting for the following reasons: (a) Your weight is forward just enough to stimulate explosive straight punching; (b) it is forward enough to prevent your being knocked off balance or floored easily; (c) nevertheless, the weight is not forward so far as to interfere with your footwork-and footwork is important in keeping you at long range in a fist-fight; (d) you are at all times in a comfortably balanced position from which you can attack, counter, or defend-without preliminary movement.

Take your punching stance, about 10 feet from the bag. Teeter for balance and relaxation. Now, take a short shuffling step forward with your left foot-a step of about 8 inches (Figure 15A, upper panel). Let your right foot follow automatically and assume its normal position, your weight resting lightly upon the ball of the foot. Continue shuffling toward the bag in that fashion. Try to refrain from rocking back and forth like a hobbyhorse as you advance. Instead, make your progress a comparatively smooth glide, with your knees slightly bent and with your body always in punching position.

When you reach striking range of the bag, step in with a straight jolt with either fist-without preliminary movement. I mean: YOUR LAST SHUFFLING STEP TAKES YOU WITHIN RANGE, AND YOUR NEXT STEP IS THE PUNCHING STEP.

Under no circumstances take any little half-step or hippity-hop when you decide to punch. And don't draw back the punching hand. Practice the shuffling approach a few times, hitting with one fist and then the other.

Next, try the SHUFFLE BACKWARD (see Figure 15A, lower panel). Take your punching position within striking range of the bag. Instead of stepping into the bag with a punch, slide your right foot back about 8 inches from its original position. Let your left foot follow back automatically until it's in normal distance of your right. Remember that your weight has been kept well forward as you (1) slid your right foot back, and (2) let the left foot follow it. Continue shuffling backward away from the bag until you've taken 10 or 12 steps.

Make certain that your right foot moves first for each backward step and that the right foot at all times is behind the left. Never let that right foot get ahead of the left. The instant that happens, you'll be off balance-out of position to punch and in position to be knocked down. (The only exception to this is in the execution of the "double shift," which I'll explain later.)


The shuffle will seem awkward at first, but later it will become automatically easy. You'll be able to move in either direction with great speed. When the movements do become automatic, and you are forced to speed forward or backward by the trend of battle you'll rise slightly from the semi-crouch-onto the balls of both feet-with a rhythmic, dancing step.


You now know how to move forward and backward.

Next we'll consider the "sidestep" and the "circle." Both maneuvers can be used for attack or defense.

The SIDESTEP is easy. As you shuffle forward toward the bag, note when you reach a point that's almost within striking range. Then, instead of taking another forward step or instead of throwing a punch, step suddenly to your RIGHT with the right foot (Figure 15B, upper panel, and figure 16A and B). The right foot should go sideways about 20 inches and slightly forward of its former position. Then move your left foot to the right and slightly forward, so that your feet again are in normal punching position. Then step into the bag with a straight left to the chin. Try those moves again and step into the bag with a straight right to the chin.

Do a few more sidesteps and punches. On each sidestep to the right, make certain that your right foot is moving first.


Punch after your lightning sidestep has been completed. Your quick sidestep will force your opponent to break from his normal position just as he was "getting set" probably to punch at you or to defend. Your sidestep should prevent his immediate punching and, at the same time, cause him perhaps to leave an opening for your lead.

CIRCLE the bag to your right by making a series of sidesteps to the right, without pausing to punch. Make certain, however, that at the completion of each sidestep in the circle you are facing the bag in normal punching position. Make certain also that your left leg never crosses the right.

Next, circle-with three or four sidesteps-and then step into the bag with a left jolt. Then, circle and step in with a right.

Sidestepping and circling to the left are done in practically the same way as moving to the right, except that your left foot always takes the first step to the left (see Figure 15B, lower panel).

Be certain that your hands and arms are in their normal defensive positions as you circle, and particularly when you move to your own left, which is toward your opponent's right.

For purely defensive purposes, both the sidestep and the circle are extremely useful against an opponent who rushes you.

If you practice footwork and long-range punching at a bag, you'll soon be able to knock out the average chap of approximately your own weight in a fist-fight. You'll be able to do that, even if you never learn anything more about fighting, or even if you have no chance to practice your punches against a "live target"-another fellow. You'll have explosives in your hands, and it's a hundred-to-one bet that Mr. Average Chap will not.

But you should learn more-much more-to make you a well-rounded scrapper. You should learn the various types of punches from the whirl and from the surge, and the fundamentals of aggressive defense.


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    Dempsey Jack — Relaying and Exploding // Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense. - 1983.Глава 9. Relaying and Exploding. C. 20-29

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