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Staying Calm In The Fire With Teddy Atlas

Staying Calm In The Fire With Teddy Atlas

Walking Into The Fire

When people think of boxing, or striking in general, they often think of the knockouts. There’s a visceral appeal to the flashy, high momentum, maximum extension moves that can send one combatant reeling back to the canvas. If you look up boxing highlights, you’re likely to see these high velocity moves more often than not. What’s not clear at first glance is that when someone gets caught on the end of an extended strike, it’s often because they got caught unaware at the wrong distance.

Fortunately for fighters, most moments of a fight do not take place at prime striking distance because the potential for damage at that range is so high. The inside range is a place where many fighters panic, but learning to live at close range is one of the most crucial skills to develop. Teddy Atlas has some instructional videos that cover these subjects. Here are some tips to get started on the inside.

Three Keys To Inside Fighting

Keep Your Arms Tight

In order to be effective on the inside at close range, you’ll need to remember to keep your arms down tightly to your sides. This is something that Atlas calls “tucking up” or “staying tight”, and it’s the first key to standing inside. Like many techniques, it has both offensive and defensive value: you’re protecting your body and chin while also putting your hands in a ready position to throw short punches.

Shorten Your Punches

If your arms are close to your body and your hands are tight to your chin, you should be in the ideal position to throw short, effective return strikes when given the opportunity. You’ll want to make sure that you avoid loading up on any punches, particularly from this inside range. Instead, think about keeping only snappy, forward momentum in each of your shots. With hands high and arms tight, you’re physically ready to box from a close position.

Calm Your Mind

The last aspect of fighting inside is the most unappreciated, according to Teddy Atlas. Anyone can stand in the pocket and swing or defend, but remaining calm and tactical is essential to success. Atlas points out that most people get freaked out once the fight gets too close and naturally back up into dangerous distances that can get them knocked out. To avoid this, he says, it’s absolutely imperative to calm your mind and get comfortable at close range.

Check Out Teddy Atlas's Catalog Of Instructionals!



Fire in the Hole

With the basics of inside fighting covered and a focus on mindset, Atlas offers the following This drill, which is built on your opponent making a mistake with the first two rules above. As atlas points out in the clip, most people still telegraph their punches from inside, especially when fatigued. Learning to be calm enough inside to identify and exploit these openings is the purpose of this exercise. 


The Drill

  • Both fighters “tuck up” and stand at inside range
  • The “bad guy” gives a slight opening with outward motion of a telegraphed punch
  • Capitalize on the opening by throwing a short punch inside
  • Punch should connect to the head while stopping the opponent’s punch

Remember that this drill is largely a mental one. You’re conditioning your brain to see small openings as opportunities, and to capitalize on them. Atlas is quick to point out that the hole is almost always there but that most people are not calm enough at that range to find it. The next time you find yourself panicking at inside range, remember: stay tight, stay short, stay calm.

Who is Teddy Atlas?

Now one of the most respected coaches in professional boxing, Teddy Atlas was a successful Golden Gloves Champion in his day. Although his career was sidelined by injury at a young age, Atlas has been around the boxing community for his entire lifetime. He’s worked as a trainer at the amateur, professional, and olympic levels, brushing shoulders with greats like Cus D’Amato and Mike Tyson. Some of Atlas’ greatest accomplishments come from working with both Timothy Bradley and Alexander Povetkin in recent years. In addition to training fighters and commentating events for the broadcasting team at ESPN, Teddy Atlas creates instructional videos for DynamicStriking.com where he shares his insights and philosophies on the sport of boxing.

Trench Warfare by Teddy Atlas

If you’re looking to get more comfortable fighting on the inside, definitely take a look at Atlas’ instructional “Trench Warfare”, which is all about learning to live in the uncomfortable places. To add more weapons to your inside arsenal, also check out his instructional, World of Body Punching, that covers 8 different ways to slow down your opponent with shots to the body.