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Bag Mitts and Kickboxing?
Matt Cues the Crackpot on Old School Striking: 5/11/2023
© 2023 James LaFond
JAN/1/24
Hello Sir,
Two quick questions, both have to do with striking.
1 - Saw Rollerball, with James Caan and his characters mentor in the movie working the heavy bag with some really minimalist gloves, that looked like the ones in the link below. What's your take on these gloves? Are they outdated and pointless, or a good investment? (Side question - since you're old enough to remember, was James Caan seen as a relatively tough guy as far as actors go, or does he just seem that way to me since I have guys like Hemsworth to compare him to?)
2 - I'm moving to a new city soon, and there's really only one boxing gym that seems like a good idea. A lot of cardio kickboxing and a lot of "coach spent 2 summers in Thailand" Muay Thai spots, as well, but also an ex-middleweight kickboxing champ from the PKA days. He's apparently built some PanAm and National kickboxing champs, and generally sounds like a solid guy. You've forgotten more about old striking federations than I'll ever know, so are those credentials good to your ears, or should I steer clear? In general, how do you feel about adding kickboxing for a guy who doesn't plan on competing?
Take er easy,
M C
Initial Response:
Full article will post in December
Old school bag gloves are perfect for lighter bags and mitts, not for sand bags or Muay Thai bags.
I sparred with a PKA fighter in 1982. That was a solid outfit. 
Muay Thai is built around mitt work.
For boxing light bag drills and light sparring are far better. You don't want to hit batted mitts.
Thai kickboxing makes you better in the clinch and ups stamina.
Avoid cardio kick boxing classes.  You want bag time and be made to force yourself to move through discipline, not following a cheerleader.
My thoughts in James Caan are contained in Cube, which I am sending you. 
I am not supposed to be doing emails anymore. But, this fellow bought one of my books so I felt obligated.
James Caan played in a pseudo martial arts movie Killer Elite in the 1970s, and in a biopic called Brian's Song. He was one of the few actors of the day that could pull off an athlete. I liked him the most in Rollerball and Thief. He was one of the brothers in The Godfather, the hot head, a normal range muscular man. He would have much less success then the twerpish Pacino or the short Deniro who had bigger rolls in that movie and bigger careers.
Part of it was his back hair, which was actually discussed in the 1970s, on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show as grossly masculine, with an actress being asked if she could stomach doing a love scene with such a beastman. I have no idea if Caan was actually a tough guy, even as actors go. I liked an athletic actor as a youth compared to the likes of soft Boghart and bloated Wayne, elvish Pacino and Hobbit Hoffman.
For self defense, direct tactical applications of kick boxing are rare. However, kicking increases stamina and helps you adapt to weapon combat more easily as the range finding is done at more distance. Boxers have almost twice as many KOs in the ring. But in street and bar altercations, I have found that kickboxers score more KOs, usually from “sucker kicks,” as the aggressor.
From Muay Thai your most important self defense kicks is not the main round kick, but the foot jab. May Thai and San Shu are the only kicking arts with a real understanding and even integration of clinching.
My favorite PKA kickboxer was light heavyweight champ Thunder Thurman. I sparred with Ed Jones, a PKA pro, who had served in the 82nd Airborne, and met a Thurman KO victim at a karate meet. In those days, pro kick boxers also did point sparring meets and went to boxing gyms to cross train. As a boxing coach, I have seen, on two occasions, where Muay Thai clubs have shown up and dominated the card due to their high level of conditioning. Do that for your cardio—not cardio kick boxing, which is BS for girls.
The legs you develop in Muay Thai will help you stay on your feet when you get sucker punched or bum rushed.
Seek as much bag work as possible and coaching time on the bags. The selling point for one-on-one boxing and kickboxing training is mitt work, as it is fight like. However, this messes up your time and measure and messes up your coach's elbows. You cannot bring this up in the gym and threaten mystique based doctrine. So use the excuse that you want to learn as much in sparring and on the bag as possible, because you have a mechanical learning disability. [Most of us do] And also because you have a bag at home or sometimes go to a fitness o weight gym when traveling where there is a bag but no coach.
Note that I speak here of focus mitt training for boxing, not the pad training of Muay Thai, which is great for learning shielding and countering and does not damage the coach's elbows like boxing mitts.
Really, hitting mitts that are moved towards you by the coach is the worst training you can do. He moves those mitts in to save his elbows and make you feel like you can hit, by magnifying the sound and impact of your punches. It was developed to teach boxing to martial artists who are afraid to spar and have limited access to punching bags training in strip mall store fronts and school gymnasiums.
Old school bag gloves transfer less stress to the wrist but do not protect the knuckles from harder heavy bags. Use them on:
-speed bag
-double ended bag
-upper cut bag
-mitts
-water bags
-softer free standing bags
-punching rope targets like the snake
Heavy hanging bags are best hit with medium weight bag gloves that are pre-curved, with hands wrapped underneath, with 3 passes over the knuckles and most of the support on the wrist.
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