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RAW 149

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ESP RAW 149
Boxing + Part V: Boxing the Legs
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Description

When we hear the phrase below the belt there is a knee-jerk reaction to assume a blow has strayed low, or as Joe Rogan might say in one of his excitable commentary moments "On the button; let's look at that again on the big screen." The phrase "below the belt" originally comes to us from boxing where once the rules were codified from the Marquis of Queensberry any straying, well, below the belt was a bit less than kosher. Whereas in MMA, Muay Thai, Savate, and a few other striking systems there are plenty of strikes well below the belt, but these, more often than not, are acceptable kicks and knees to the legs.
 
Boxing-Pugilism has a murky history with hiding a few low shots to the groin as we have already covered extensively in our titles Illegal Boxing and The Complete Pugilist. Today I want to talk about an emerging trend of allowing the hands to stray low for legal blows. Initially we saw the first glimmers of this strategy as sort of gadfly "make you think" shots from Anderson Silva in his speedy prime or Jon Jones at his loosest, but now we are seeing truly hard shots delivered to the legs as viable additions to a striking vocabulary. Think Yoel Romero vs. Tim Kennedy in UFC 178 before the questionable corner work that began round 3. We saw Romero deliver some astonishingly assured punches to Kennedy's thighs with some stink on them. I highly recommend you view this fight.
 
Admittedly "boxing the legs" will never be as powerful an offense as kicking the legs but I think we will find with drilling there is more to this tactic than a mere speedy "bother me" move. Let's take a quick look at some pros and cons of this boxing the legs strategy.


Pros
•    Potential to be speedier than a leg kick due to having to move far less mass for delivery.
•    Quicker negative-recovery, i.e., getting back to a covered position is far easier with a punch than with a kick.
•    Confusing tactic, especially if used in a High-Low/Low-High combination manner to camouflage intent.
•    Ideal for wrestlers who can use the tactic to cover leg shot intent. Boxing the legs from the get-go will "train uncertainty" into your opponent, that is, once we have established that we will box the legs and shoot the legs, it becomes harder to "read" what each quick lunge to the low-line means.
•    Surprisingly adaptable to unusual fist angles making the strikes often hard to read. In other words hammers and choppers work wonderfully here.
•    Zero-potential for leg-checking injuries.


Cons
•    Less powerful than a kicking offense, but as we will see with experimentation, still far more wallop and damage inducing than one would at first expect. (Again, I urge you to dial up Romero's performance and ask yourself if you'd like to take that cross to the meat of the thigh.)
•    You do take your head low to box the legs, but we face the same chances when we shoot low as well. Proper mechanics and drilling can reduce this concern.

Overall, I think there may be more to gain training the boxing the legs strategy than in avoiding it. To that end we have devoted an entire RAW (#149) title to using a 24-Step Drill Cycle to Build Boxing the Legs facility. This cycle takes the above concerns into consideration and aims to build good head-coverage, hi-lo integration, mixes a standard boxing arsenal with the "Illegal Boxing" arsenal that will best serve this strategy (including a few surprising elbow shots), and (most importantly to my way of thinking), educates these drills on the move so we are not using a stock-still-punch tactic that would make us vulnerable.
If you are not already incorporating this tactic, I highly suggest it as it is far more surprising and powerful than it might appear at first blush.
 
This volume (as with all volumes of RAW) comes with a printed syllabus for inclusion in your training notebook.