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Boxing day

Boxing squad – week one (of five)
In my head I'm a pretty tasty proposition: a lithe and tricksy outside fighter, with a lightning jab and a lethal straight right/left hook/goodnight finishing combination. In everyone else's eyes I'm a lanky goon with red cheeks and the clumsy footwork of a frightened child. Welcome to the first day of boxing squad.
Boxing squad is a six-week intensive course at The Third Space ( in Piccadilly, London. Taught by Ash Sharma, the specialist boxing coach, it's a twice-weekly, fast-track course involving padwork, bagwork, footwork, sparring, and – hopefully – the art of not getting your face stoved in. All useful skills in the ring, and some of them transferable to the street.
The call time is set deliberately early – 6.45am – which gives the thing the immediate feel of The Cruel Tutelage ofPai Mei. Fortunately, with the sun now rising at just after 5am, getting up at the break of day isn't too hard. Forcing food down at that time, however, is unpleasant – but with more than an hour's continuous training ahead, it's vital. Peanut butter on toast just about hits the mark. And it beatsraw eggs.
I'm meetingMHPicture Editor Stuart Davis, who's a boxing novice, but keen to find a sport that feeds his latent aggression (something to do with being born in Croydon, apparently – and works off his love of refined-sugar products. Having someone else to share the pain with is definitely going to be crucial to staying motivated.
The sessions start with a lot of dynamic stretching – making sure that our legs are loose and we've got good rotation through our waists, which is what you need to put real sharpness and power into your punches.
Then we build combinations around the four basic punches: left jab, straight right, left hook and uppercut. Sharma is sharp from the off about the necessity of making the punches short and accurate, and bringing our gloves back straightaway to a tight guard position by our cheekbones. By the middle of our second session, when Stuart and I are throwing rapid punches at each other, and ducking, weaving and blocking our way out of trouble, it's clear why.
Each session ends with rounds of skipping, which is a brilliant way to up the quick-firing muscle fibres in your calves ( Or rather, it ends with both Davis and I puce-faced and panting like abused dogs. There are five more weeks of this, and next week we'll start punching each other in the heads. Follow it all here...
Beginner's tip:
Good balance is essential. Your feet need to be in the right position – at about "twenty past twelve" with your left foot pointing towards your target if you're right handed – and throw your jab straight. (Joe Calzaghe's a southpaw, but watch how stable a base he works from towards the end ofthisclip.)
Intermediate tip:
Defence: to make sure your defence is tight, make sure you've got a firm grip inside your gloves, and your hands at your cheekbones. It's important to keep your elbows tucked in to protect your ribs and abdomen (watch Jose Luis Castillo get this all wrong at 2mins 56shere).
Expert tip:  
Make sure you incorporate your core into all your punches. If you've got a stable base from your footwork, then your punches should come from your hips. Rotation through your core muscles transfers into power – you can't get it from your arms alone.

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Date: 07.12.2018, 20:29 / Views: 84554