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A Fresh Old School Approach to Training
Profile of Online Boxing Coach Jason Van Veldhuysen
© 2013 James LaFond
Yesterday I was tooling around—okay, stumbling all over the place—on youtube looking for fights. I watched everything from Romanian MMA to fat drunk Americans pounding on tiny Thai boxers in tourist bars. Seeing these little guys without medical throwing exhibitions to big sadistic Americans made me sick. Then I found a team fight between a Korean TaeKwonDo squad and a Russian karate squad. All of the Koreans were thin and hopped around kicking. All of the Russians were thick, and plodded in punching. Every fight ended with a Korean ribcage either bruised or cracked. Go figure.
Okay, so after going from one form of insanity to another. I was ready for some good old fashioned boxing and selected a video of a thirty-something Canadian talking to his camera with his hands, in some public space. I was intrigued right away and listened. I was soon thrilled to hear, in the age of the MMA-assisted boxing suicide, some really old school advice from a young coach. His name is Jason and he is a just-retired amateur fighter who is relating the nuances of his art online in a series of videos—86 videos as of March 2013.
Some of Jason’s videos are instructional in the normal biomechanical way. He also has professionally produced instructional videos for sale and takes text questions from viewers. It may not seem like a big deal to the pedestrians wondering what Jason is doing talking to his camera in the park, but this is huge news if you are interested in the preservation of boxing as an art. You can find a thousand guys to show you their jab, and even explain it. But Jason does what boxing coaches of old have always specialized in; what no karate team from Russia or Korea does; he practices applied psychology. Boxing has never been about programming robots to do battle, but helping fighters develop themselves into the kind of human with the right combination of self-knowledge, conditioning, and skill to impose their will on tough, dangerous opponents.
When you go to a boxing gym you will most likely not be taught technique, at least not all of it, by the coach, but by other fighters and assistant trainers. Take Loch Raven Boxing Team for example. Mister Frank is in his eighties. He is fit enough to demonstrate slow motion technique, but you will have to drill and do full speed monkey-see monkey-do instruction with someone else. His best amateurs show you your basics and then he gripes at you when you foul it up. Alex, his senior amateur, runs you through your conditioning and coaches bag work and sparring. Tony, his best pro, gets in there and works sparring drills and scenarios with the better guys, who work them with the intermediates, etc. Frank’s main job is making sure he knows his fighter’s mind and body, and using that knowledge to form a plan for helping the fighter express himself as a boxer in the most effective fashion.
Loch Raven is a competition team in a municipal recreation facility, which is unusual. Usually you have a gym [the owner of which must pay rent], where only the best prospects get much attention, and the average guy is left to his own devices. In bad gyms the neglected boxer might be used as a punching bag as well. In our new era there are also the MMA schools and white collar boxing programs to consider, where boxing is often just taught as a skill set.
By way of contrast the boxing coach’s main purpose is to advise and motivate a boxer as he journeys within to find the killer coiled up in his guts. This self-knowledge must be attained when the boxer is still young so it may be used to impose his will in the ring. This is a far different meditative concept than the Asian ideal of a life-long journey of self-discovery. If you want to be knocking people out at 25 you can’t wait until you’re 40 to face your fears and get your head on straight. Today boxing is often taught in the manner of karate or TaeKwonDo, as nothing but a kinetic skill set. This makes the mental aspect of Jason Van Veldhuysen’s work doubly important.
I have watched only a fraction of Jason’s videos [5, for about an hour]. More than liking, agreeing with, or approving of his work, I am pleasantly surprised that he is out their coaching boxing at its psychological level for people all around the world, and plan on watching the rest of his stuff as soon as I post this. There are other instructional videos up there on youtube. But nothing like this guy. Writers might describe techniques and nuances in print, but that is not a suitable medium for many of the action-oriented people who pursue boxing. I would have to write a novel about a boxer to get across many of the points that Jason makes. Likewise, many sound instructional sources for the biomechanics of boxing are available on video.
What make’s Jason’s work stand out is the fact that he is preserving the old-time oral boxing tradition. This persuasive form of mentoring, spiced with anecdotes, has as often been used by coaches to talk fighters out of distracting relationships and ruinous career decisions as it has been to teach a technique. This young coach is the right age and has the right personality to push this tradition forward for the next generation of boxers.
I recommend any aspiring boxer, or martial artist who intends to do some boxing sparring, view Jason’s 18+ minute video on sparring first. A link to his youtube channel is on our network page. From there you can access his blog and other media.
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Nathan Bower     Mar 21, 2013

Very True! Jason is the most articulate boxing coach Ive ever met! Its take a lot of talent and love of the sport to be able to speak and deliver in depth information of the sweet science the way he does. I always told him he would be the boxing internet sensation...The rest is history!
Chris Smith     Apr 11, 2016

I sensed that aspect of his videos after watching his boxing footwork video last week, April 2016. I was just starting a local boxing class and felt awkward on my feet despite years of martial arts. His coaching videos are great and should be around for a long time.
    Apr 12, 2016

Jason is a great coach and good man. You should follow his work on YouTube.
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