Friday, August 7, 2009

Hajime no Ippo- Part I

Hajime no Ippo is the boxing manga/anime.  It's been around for like 20 years and has a massive amount of training and fighting information imbedded in it.  Also, the series is hilarious and I urge everyone to either read the manga or watch the anime.  The story follows the rise of a bullied kid named Makunouchi Ippo, who inadvertently comes across a professional boxer and is introduced into the fast-paced, hard-hitting world of boxing.  

I will attempt to catalogue the training methods and fighting styles within Ippo and formulate workouts based on what is in the series.  Here's the First Step.

Catching the Leaves

After Takamura Mamoru saves Ippo from a group of bullies, he takes him back to the boxing gym, let's him hit the heavy bag (with astounding results), and lends him a video of Mike Tyson's fights.  Ippo then decides he wishes to be "reborn," like Tyson was and wants to be a pro boxer.  However, when he tells Takamura his intentions, he is met with irritation from the veteran, but is given a task to complete.

Takamura walks over and kicks and tree, causing a bunch of leaves to fall about him.  He punches rapidly, revealing two handfuls of leaves.  He tells Ippo that if he can catch ten leaves within a week, he will help him become a boxer.  With that, he leaves the 16-year old boy, believing he has left him with a task too daunting to complete.

It takes him the entire week, but he manages to catch ten leaves before the appointed time, much to the surprise of Takamura, who not only expected him to give up, but also only wanted him to catch ten leaves using both hands instead of just one.  He agrees to help Ippo and takes him back to the gym.  This trial taught Ippo the bread portion of the bread and butter of boxing (i.e.- the 1 for the 1-2 combination): the jab.

The Jab

The jab is the most basic punch in boxing.  The jab is performed with the lead hand, which is normally the non-dominant hand.  The extension of the jab is from the shoulder and it is a quick, snappy punch.  Proper execution requires the body and arm to be in a state of "relaxed tension," wherein the muscles are slightly tensed in order to create the speed necessary for the strike.  The hand moves first, followed by the rest of the arm, the shoulder, and (sometimes) the hips (to put more weight into the punch).  The jab is used primarily to gauge distance and as a set-up for other strikes.  It is also used to wear the opponent down over a longer period of time.

To mimic the type of training in "Catching the Leaves" you can, depending on the season, catch falling leaves, things flowing in the wind, snatch flies out of the air (that's a little gross). A partner can throw a series of small bean bags, tennis balls, or small rocks to assist in your training.  Jabbing is about speed and precision and that is what snatching leaves, rocks, tennis balls, bugs, flowers or whatever out of the air is to help develop.

An alternate training, if you don't constantly want to rob a poor tree of its leaves, is merely to practice jabbing in the air.  You can even imagine that you are catching leave.  Take 10-15 and just practice the jab.  You can even switch sides and try the jab with your dominant hand.

That's all for now.  There's a LOT of stuff to come from Hajime no Ippo, because it's been around for a long, long time.  Until next time, train hard!

Jab, jab, jab...
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