Punching On The Move With Trevor Wittman
Unlearning Basic Mechanics
Trevor Wittman has some bad news for you: every step you’ve ever taken in your regular life has been reinforcement of incorrect boxing footwork. Too often, we learn proper punching techniques with our upper body and then target footwork on other days, as if it were a separate skill. In fact, learning to use our feet, hips, and hands in concert is “one of the hardest things” that a coach has to overcome when training his or her athletes.
To understand why this process is so hard for many, it is helpful to break down the mechanics of how we walk in our daily lives. When we step with our left foot, our right arm balances us. Wittman demonstrates the difficulty in the video below, which is that we’ve all drilled hundreds of thousands of reps using our opposite hand to counterbalance our strides. This means that we are preconditioned to use our left hand in concert with our right foot, and vice versa. Unlearning this habit in the context of boxing is critical.
Making Your Body Work As A Unit
In order to rewrite this automatic footwork habit developed from years of casually walking down sidewalks and through malls, we need to get our whole body working together. Because our hands and our feet are seemingly disconnected, the key is engaging your core to keep everything working together.
As he points out in the video, Wittman has noticed that more experienced athletes, especially from other sports, can have a very hard time adjusting to this movement, which should be a “robotic” connection between our feet, our hips, and our hands. With these things working together, we’re ready to try out this movement and footwork drill.
See Trevor Wittman’s explanation in the video below:
Breaking Down the Drill
As discussed above, the biggest key here is to get your left side moving in unison, followed by your right side moving in unison as well. This is most easily accomplished through the tight connection between your upper body, lower body, and core. Below is a breakdown of the drill for you to try at home:
- Find some space to walk in a straight line and put your back to the wall
- Step forward to throw a jab as you step forward with the same-side lead foot
- Step forward to throw a straight punch as you step forward with your same-side rear foot
- With each punch, conserve the tight, robotic connection between feet, hips, and hands
- Repeat the jab/straight combination in rhythm until you reach the end of your space
- Repeat frequently until it becomes natural to walk with your punches
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Final Tip: Monitor Your Stance
Wittman points out that people tend to stand up tall while first learning this, which can help them reduce the amount of things they’re focusing on as they process the connection between hips, hands, and feet. In order to perfect your movement, you’ll want to understand the advantages and drawbacks of an overly wide or overly narrow stance.
Overly Wide Stance
- Advantage: allows for more power as you dig into the ground for extra torque
- Disadvantage: movement is limited; throwing straight punches will off-balance you easily
Overly Narrow Stance
- Advantage: allows for easier in-and-out movement
- Disadvantage: any incoming strike will move you easily because you have no base
The Ideal Stance
Wittman says that the best stance for mixed martial arts is a combination of the two that affords access to the best attributes of both.
- Knees bent slightly
- Legs roughly shoulder width apart
- Weight distributed evenly between both legs
Keep in mind the key idea from this video: keep a connection between your feet, your hips, and your hands. With these tips on the correct stance in mind, you’re ready to begin drilling!
Who Is Trevor Wittman
Trevor Wittman is a widely respected coach in the world of mixed martial arts who has worked with countless championship fighters for the last two decades. Wittman took up coaching after an injury limited his competition options, opening his own boxing gym in 1998. He built his reputation in the early days of the UFC by training legends, and eventual champions, Shane Carwin and Rashad Evans. His impact on the sport continues and is still visible today through his work with champions Kamaru Usman and Rose Namajunas.
To learn even more about making your body work in unison to create powerful efficiency, check out Trevor Wittman’s awesome instructional videos on DynamicStriking.com. He and Justin Gaethje’s The Footwork Blueprint is an excellent breakdown of how proper footwork leads directly to improved mechanics and punching power. It also demonstrates the many ways in which improved movement leads to better defense. Take a peek to see what you can pick up from one of the most successful coaches in mixed martial arts.