Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bag Work

Originally uploaded by sponng

Yesterday, I was elated to learn that our host has purchased a variety of heavybags. Last I had heard, they were extremely reluctant to do so, as previous bags had been abused and even stolen. You'd think their staff could notice a dude walking out with a 100 pound back slung over his shoulder, but that's what happens when you get to into FaceBook. Maybe I should offer to teach an awareness class?

Anyhoo, upon hearing this news, I took the black belts on a field trip upstairs to check them out. the bags are high quality, soft leather, and a variety of sizes and weights. After a few words of encouragement, each Yu Dan Ja took a turn on a bag and gave a few hits. What happened next was very revealing:

Most of them just didn't know what to do. Many that thought they knew what to do were misinformed. I suppose its not completely surprising. Our club has been devoid of a heavy bag for well over 3 years (I broke the old one, oops) and I'm fairly certain I'm the only one who even owns a bag. It looks like I'll have to take some time to talk about what a bag is and isn't for.

Biggest problem: You see that bag hanging there, taunting you, and you feel the need to hit it as hard as you can! This is pretty much the best way to injure yourself. It makes sense on the surface, if you think of the bag as the equivalent of an opponent. You'd want to try and transfer as much power into that bag as you can. Right?

Well, let's step back a bit first.

A heavy bag is, first and foremost, a big league feedback tool. You might be hitting that foam hand target pretty hard, but its pretty forgiving. Hit the heavy bag with bad alignment or poor form, and at best you'll bounce off it in the opposite direction. At worse, you're going to be done for the week, clutching an ice pack. If you're young and tough - and I am neither -- you might push through it, but it will catch up to you as fatigue kicks in and your technique gets sloppier.

Use the bag for developing technique. Punch slowly at first, focusing on wrist alignment and hitting with the proper part of the fist. Generate force from the hip, not all shoulder. Push off that back leg. Over time, you'll build the muscles needed to keep your punch strong. Only then is it safe to start adding force. Skip this critical step, and you're in for pain.

The bag will teach you the difference between striking and pushing. It will tell you when you're hitting the side kick with the wrong part of the foot, and it will tell you when you're off balance. That is, if you listen to the bag. If you just want to clobber it (and I'll admit, that is very fun) then you won't get anything of benefit out of the session.

Once your technique is good, then you can start to rock the bag, like the fella pictured above.

Heavy Bag Training Injuries
Heavy Bag Fun
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