When is a boy old enough to learn to box?
Recently I had occasion to ask Alex if there was anything he wanted. I was thinking of something small and lightweight, easily hand carried.
'Boxing gloves,' he answered.
'Do you know what boxing gloves are, Son?'
'Yes Daddy. I want boxing gloves.'
'Are you sure, Son? Wouldn't you rather have a radio controlled car or a colouring set?'
'If you don't want to buy me boxing gloves then don't.'
How the hell did a five year old learn to pack so much into a simple sentence? He was simultaneously calling into question the reason for me even bothering to ask what he really wanted if I was then going to argue his choice, and demonstrating his complete indifference to a negative response. There was no doubt about it, his little heart was set on boxing gloves.
That evening I told Marcia that Alex had asked for boxing gloves.
'Nem pensar!' she said, shocked, 'he is far too young and besides, he has too much energy as it is.'
I would have thought her last point was a damn good reason to get him the gloves. He'd soon get knackered swinging six ounce gloves around.
So I ignored Marcia and got him the gloves. I not only got him the gloves, I got him a proper punch bag as well.
The bag is made of a very heavy canvas and is designed to be filled with sand. That would make it weigh a ton, Alex might as well be punching a wall and that would be both painful and not very realistic. If he punched someone his own size, that person is going to give a little (or, hopefully, give a lot and fall down) but if he punched an immovable object, Newton's third law says it'll damn well hurt. Alex weighs in at half a Bantam weight and ideally the bag should weigh his body weight plus around 30% to give him something to punch against without breaking his arm. I decided to fill the bag with wood shavings mixed with sand. First, though, I needed to work out where to hang it. The veranda seemed the best place but there were no conveniently exposed beams so I had to put one in. Naturally this attracted Marcia's interest, she still didn't know I had the gloves and bag.
'Hanging baskets,' I told her, 'they'd look nice here.'
Beam up and tested (if it'll hold up to me swinging on it, it would do as an engine hoist) I waited 'til the next morning with Alex in school and Marcia in town before going into the garden and filling the bag. I think I overdid it a bit because my legs felt pretty wobbly as I climbed the stairs up to the veranda and there was no way I could hold it up at the right height for Alex with one arm and get the wire over the beam and through the shackle suspending the bag with the other. I had to prop it up on a chair and wire it up that way. Out of curiosity, I fetched my fish scales and weighed the bag, 35 kilos (77lbs). Lighter than it felt, I must be getting old.
Alex returned home from school, saw the bag and immediately started punching it. Marcia rolled her eyes heavenwards and tight-lipped stalked into the house.
'Hang on a sec, Son, you need these,' I said producing the gloves.
'Boxing gloves! Thank you Daddy!' he said giving me the biggest hug ever. Any doubts I had about the wisdom of this evaporated. The gloves were real nice, as pro as junior gloves could be; good wrist support and a stitched thumb to avoid injury.
'OK matey, give it a go,' I told him and he let loose. Most kids of his age would tend to slap, not punch, and then they would only throw one, pause and then throw another. Not Alex. He not only punched, he threw blisteringly fast triple combinations and had the bag flying about all over the place. OK, he lacks any form of technique, obviously, but these are things that can easily be taught. What impressed me was the instinctive way he put his weight behind the punch, the force of his punch and his footwork.
I hope it will burn up some excess energy, which he has in abundance, as well as building up his confidence.
I set my camera to shoot several frames in sequence and asked Alex to thump the bag for me. Bear in mind, the bag weighs 77lbs and was static when he hit it with a single punch. Take a look at these:
|And he never took his eyes off it. |
Looking at this, I need to raise the bag a bit.
I'll get the boy to lift it while I make the adjustment.
So to answer my original question, when is a boy old enough to learn to box? I would say, when he wants to.
"lacks any form of technique" I wouldn't say that. That stance looks very good to me! Did you teach him that or is it natural? I'm thinking you'll have to add some weight to the bag sooner than you think.ReplyDelete
That, my dear Sludgy Vale is all natural.Delete
With Alex having given the bag a good hammering, you can see that the sawdust/sand mix has settled and the top of the bag appears empty so tomorrow I'll adjust the height and top it up with straight sand.
I was sitting on the sofa watching TV when he came in after a bit of a thump around. He punched me in the ribs just under my left arm. Had it been in the ring, I would have taken a standing count.
He wants me to make him some dumbbells now!
wow. school must be tougher then he thought. That boxing will come in handy one day...ReplyDelete
And yes; he has really good focus. Plus determination. Excellent combo...
Let's hope he displays the same qualities when it comes to his academic studies...Delete
I love the lip biting in the last photo. My son used to do that when he swung a bat at that age.ReplyDelete
You can see him sizing up his next punch!Delete
It must be in the genes. I boxed at about his age, at my prep school; quite enjoyed its usefulness in getting rid of frustration. Never done it since, so maybe I'm content?ReplyDelete
you might be onto something: theres a whole educational philosophy based on teaching kids when they show interest :)ReplyDelete
i love the pics
A desire to learn definitely presents an opportunity to be exploited but sometimes kids need pushing in the right direction.Delete
I never 'learned' to box, but did a bit anyway at prep school (like Columnist above). I was pretty good at it, and, I'm proud to say, I never lost a fight. Raise that bag!ReplyDelete
Off to scrounge a length of rope from a local fisherman and will then set it at the right height. I've read about your exploits spilling both kinds of port on your blog.Delete
Alex is a tough looking little fellow. I wouldn't fancy my chances with him. But you also need to nurture his feminine side. Next time - why not buy him a Barbie doll with two or three different outfits so that he can mix and match?ReplyDelete
Is that how they raise boys in Yorkshire?Delete
No sir, it is how they are raised in Lancashire and London. In Yorkshire we think that boxing is just for cissies.Delete
It won't be long before he'll be able to give you a good old right hook if you don't do what he asks of you ;)ReplyDelete
From him it would be a triple combination...Delete
you might have a future prize fighter on your hands there. alex looks so serious!ReplyDelete
Lets hope that serious look deters bullies and he won't have to fight!Delete
I'd like to know how a six year old who lives such an outdoorsy life even knows about boxing. It is not something that was ever on my son's radar. He was too busy kicking a football around, swimming and playing with cars. Is this an interest of your that you have passed on to him?ReplyDelete
It is surprising considering how far removed from civilisation we are. Perhaps he saw it on that new fangled wireless vision receiving device I had installed in the house, I certainly did not mention boxing to him before. But if he wants to box, then at least I can show him enough so he can avoid getting his head kicked in.Delete
I bet this boxing interest will spread and it won't be long before you have all the neighbourhood boys wanting a go. You'd better put in an order for lots of skipping ropes and some more gloves too. Perhaps a sparring ring out by the chickens ? I see big things in the future!Delete
I teach natural movement and study developmental movement and I would just like to say I LOVE HIS FEET! His toes are wonderful. (No shoes is the best!)ReplyDelete
Also, look at his belly - even in full arm extension with contact he is not contracting his abs. You CAN generate force without shortening and tightening the abdominal viscera.
The only thing you might consider to round out his "training" is a hanging apparatus. Let him hang his full body weight from a bar so that his feet are slightly above ground. This maintains the strength to weight ratio. The arms and lats keep their ability to support the rest of the body. He can do pull ups if he has to, but it's not necessary. This has the added benefit of modelling the acromion so that shoulder impingement never becomes an issue (a concern when you are constantly driving the humerus into the socket with a punch).
I have never had a comment from someone with a foot fetish who recommends hanging a five year old because it is good for them although I agree, hanging works best if the victim's feet cannot touch the ground.Delete
I shall ask the carpenter to knock me up a junior sized gallows in the morning if you think it will help him but personally, I have found my legs sufficient to support my body; this is probably why I do not have a modelled acromion. I'm not actually sure what an acromion is but I am certain I have never had one, I am sure I would have noticed.
I can't help wondering about the need to teach natural movement, surely movement comes naturally? I am very good at developmental movement. Every morning when I wake up I think about moving for ages before I actually do.
I am sure Carol's sense of humour is beyond the developmental stage and she can recognise a tongue in cheek response,Delete
Alex now has his 'hanging' bar with which he is delighted and also made me sit on the veranda so he could prove to me he can do press ups. The boy is keen!
I can see an Angolan junior version of "Rocky" coming. Just a bit disappointed you didn't manage to weave ice cream into the story.ReplyDelete
Afterwards I did take him to the petrol station with me where I bought him a cake and a chocolate milk shake in the coffee shop and then, to slurp on as I drove us home in the truck, an ice cream.Delete
All the neighbour kids will be around for a go.ReplyDelete
put in some low, waist and shoulder height kicks and you will have a cage fighter. Don't tell Marcia I said that. My friend took the advise of a teacher to get her boy to martial art lessons, so he could learn respect and discipline before he was kick out of school. He was 7, he is now a lovely 15 year old, (who takes no carp from anyone)
I think Alex has seen the neighbour's kids off with his boxing gloves. He seems to prefer punching them rather than the bag!Delete
I am just wondering how far I will get across your yard the next time i visit with a beer in one hand and Alex giving me A Right, Left followed by an upper cut to the jaw, i will be really upset if I spill the beer. But i supposed he may do better than your dogs at keeping the unwanted out !!ReplyDelete
Now I am confused as to your identity Mr. Nonsense. Clearly, like all my visitors, you are familiar with my yard, know the dogs, drink beer and walk in fear of Alex but, for the life of me, I cannot recall a single friend of mine here meeting those criteria who can talk proper English, let alone write it.Delete
Alex is quite short so the uppercut will not be to the jaw. I would recommend a cricket box but even with that sensible precaution, if he connects you'll likely still spill your beer.