Internal training in western boxing?

Discussion in 'Boxing' started by Madao13, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. Madao13

    Madao13 Valued Member

    I read the other day this article about a training method with light weights (5 pounds max), a famous strongman from the old days, Eugene Sandow, had created for increasing physical power .

    According to the article, some famous boxers and trainers of the past like Jack Johnson and Charley Goldman were using this method for boxing training, in order to substitude heavyweight training because of the detrimental effects they thought it had, on a boxer's performance.

    This method and the way it trains the muscles bears, according to the author, a strong resemblance to internal martial arts training.
    Here are pages of Sandow's manual that show these lightweight exercices he developed
    As you will see in the link, Sandow suggested a special type of dumbbells that train the grip while executing the weighted exercises.

    What are your thoughts about this method?
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  2. caveman

    caveman Threadkiller

    There was a thread about this recently on another MA forum. Everybody who practiced it for a few weeks was surprised at the results.
  3. Madao13

    Madao13 Valued Member

    Yeah, I also read that thread, but I am not familiar with the members there and I don't trust so much the opinion of people that I don't know.
    MAP has many experient people both in boxing and weight-lifting and I am interested to see their opinions.

    How about you caveman? I assume that you haven't tried these exersices.
    Have you got any experience in weight lifting? In which way it affects your perfomance in boxing?
  4. caveman

    caveman Threadkiller

    Haven't tried it but I was wondering if it's doable with a pair of 5lb plates, minus the spring thingies. Was also wondering about the tempo/speed. A vid would be good.
  5. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    sandow was far from muscle bound.

    most old strongmen of the day were very flexible and fast. george hackenschmidt was an old timer strong man and wrestler and had a crazy neck bridge pull-over.

    the only thing i see in those exercises is rotator cuff and other small group training.
  6. inthespirit

    inthespirit ignant

    I've got the book on this, its very good.... though, I haven’t really had the time to give the exercises a proper go yet, need to get fired first :)

    I'm gonna see if I can get the author on here to share his views and answer some questions.
  7. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    would be interesting to hear his POV
  8. inthespirit

    inthespirit ignant

    Yeah, he's cool dude, I just sent him a message.. lets see if he is willing.
  9. caveman

    caveman Threadkiller

    Like I said earlier, its hard to get any idea from the pics about training speed.
  10. tsurugi

    tsurugi New Member

    Hi everyone

    First time posting on here.

    I'm the Author of the book being discussed - someone at the other thread just sent me a message and told me about this one.

    Basically the book is about a method of training for strength and muscle development that was first popularised by Professor Louis Attila in the late 1800's and was taught to Eugen Sandow, Lionel Strongfort, Al Treloar, Bobby Pandour and loads of other old time strongmen, some of whom then sold it as their own method.

    It uses very light dumbbells and very exacting physical postures plus rhythmic self generated tension and relaxation, done at a particular cadence, to induce a very quick improvement in muscle size, definition, neurological control and strength in all the muscles of the body.

    The book's written mainly as an exercise/ fitness manual for people just looking to get in really good shape with very little hassle but, as the chapter sampled in the blog above says, the routine was used extensively by several old school Boxers.

    Professor Attila personally taught Gentleman Jim Corbett prior to his fight with Charlie Mitchell (after which he visibly put on a fair bit of muscle and KO'd Mitchell in the third - pretty good going as previously he'd not been a noted puncher and Mitchell had gone 39 rounds with John L Sullivan for a draw) Jim Jeffries and Jack Johnson also both used the method (the book has photo's of them both training with Sandow's dumbbells doing exercises from the routine)

    Contemporary thinking on weight/ strength training would suggest it's not possible to build muscle or appreciably increase strength by training daily with little handweights but the method works surprisingly well. I've included several detailed peer reviewed recent scientific studies to try and explain why this might be and as someone already noted the actual methodology is very similar to muscle conditioning and neurological re-patterning exercises found in Chinese martial arts such as the Yi Jin Jing (the muscle/tendon change classic).

    It's available on Kindle at the moment but it will also be up on LULU too - if you go to the link you can read the description and there's a decent sized preview of the first chapter and introduction.


    Zaad wrote -
    good call - a lot of the exercises work the small muscle groups and some are still used today as rotator cuff rehab exercises (my girlfriend is a Rugby physio/ sports rehaber and recognised them too) all the big muscles are covered too though - Attila's routine included more exercises than Sandow's and especially concentrated on the muscles and fascia of the back which he felt was the "seat of strength"

    Caveman wrote:

    Yeah - you can do it with any small weights - dumbbells would be better though as gripping and squeezing the handles helps, the Sandow spring dumbbells were really a remedial device he invented to help people who couldn't get the hang of it with normal dumbbells and they aren't really necessary. I have two antique pairs of them and they're really pretty easy to close - so not much good as grippers - they're really just to help you get the right amount of tension in the movements.

    Good spot about the tempo/ speed. That is the crucial element really - you need a steady, even and uninterrupted cyclical rhythm that Sandow described as "Waltz time" (if you are not a big waltzer a guy on the other forum recommended a track by Mr Scruff that is bang on! - can't remember the name of it just now but Ill post it later)

    I totally understand anyone who's dubious about a method like this working at all but it really does do everything Attila claimed for it - anyone who's interested and has any questions I'll do my best to answer them

    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  11. puma

    puma Valued Member

    What is internal training? I've asked many people and nobody has really said anything that suggests they know.
  12. inthespirit

    inthespirit ignant

    I don’t really believe there is a great divergence between "internal" and "external", I've seen people who do "external" arts show more what would be classed as "internal" than "external" and vice versa. IMO, the key between what makes someone average and great (regardless of "internal/external") is the individual’s capacity to become aware of movement on an increasingly deeper level.

    For example, any movement will have an ideal skeletal alignment, an ideal balance between antagonistic muscles, an ideal firing of each muscle group, an ideal way to work the breath etc etc…. all of which will make said movement more powerful, effortless and balanced. However, in order to enact said training methodology, one must be consciously, physically and lastly (not so important ) intellectually aware of these factors within oneself (i.e. aware of one’s skeletal alignment, tension in muscles, breath, etc etc). Furthermore, one must also be able to coordinate all these different conditions together and remove any habits which disrupt or impede the ideal functioning which one could say is a natural or even neutral state (debatable of course).

    Now, regardless of ”internal” or “external”, if one is able to gain understanding and awareness of the underlying conditions which make said movement “ideal”, then one will improve and keep improving as far as ones awareness of the self and the ideal conditions increases (with the added benefit that progress brings i.e. not getting bored). Likewise, one can spend years mindlessly repeating the same action and not improve, and likely even deteriorate from damage accumulated from inefficient body usage or plain old age. This is of course a very black and white example, but realistically there is a large amount of cross over between the two.

    If we apply, the above idea to the methodology of the book mentioned previously and say a boxer. I would assume that if a boxer was practicing an awareness gaining method (as per above mentioned book), as the boxer’s awareness of musculature improves, the boxer may realize that when he/she throws that right hook (or any given movement), that he/she does not need to raise the shoulder, tense the chest, etc etc, subsequently making the movement less demanding and more efficient, thereby improving one’s performance primarily by means of awareness.

    I don’t know if this really answers your question, but I thought I would throw this out there anyway.
  13. inthespirit

    inthespirit ignant

    I just wanted to add, if anyone is interested in this sort of way of thought in regards to awareness and training. I started reading this book yesterday:

    [ame=""]The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Maths, Art, Music, Sport, and Just About Everything Else: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Maths and Just About Everything Else: Daniel Coyle: Books[/ame]

    I'm only a few chapters in, but already I have come across a lot of useful info on how the brain learns and develops skill. The first few chapters alone are worth the low price of the book. Highly recommend it, very interesting and many ideas to take back to your own training.
  14. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

  15. puma

    puma Valued Member

  16. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    well maybe if you were good with a jian... :evil:
  17. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Some things you can see,such as a large movement of the torso initiating from the inguinal fold (hip kua)-a very slight initiation from the same area might be difficult to discern to the eye,but probably not to a film. Anyway,how well could an individual tell by looking which muscles initiate a boxer's hip twist?

    As to how to tell if someone is any good at these things-- That would be determined by skill level as defined by whatever martial system is being practiced. How's a layman to this type of training going to tell if someone is using these types of things?They're probably not going to.
  18. puma

    puma Valued Member

    I think you can see clearly a boxers technique. That is my point. You can see the techniques used by a karate-ka, boxer, Judo player, or whatever. With a little understanding you could understand most of what they were trying to do and the body mechanics behind it. But no one seems to be able to explain this "internal" stuff without using terms that don't actually mean anything.

    I don't understand how "internal" training can be taught. I know someone will say that it can't be put in to words, it is a feeling, because they always do. This to me is just a cop out. If you can't explain something, how can you teach it? If it can't be taught it will eventually be lost. I just don't get it.
  19. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Much terminology in many endeavors are meaningless until one is acquainted with them. A lot of terminology is used to refer in a word or two to something that is explained in many more words.Ever blood a hound?

    However,when addressing those unfamiliar with a subject such terminology must be kept as minimum as possible. I don't think I'm guilty of clouding things with vague or inside terminology in such instances. The thread Fish linked is practitioners using terms they all (kind of) agree on the meaning of and so is "shop talk" and not about addressing "outsider's" question's/impressions.

    So,speaking strictly of the mechanics-

    As far as mechanics are concerned I don't know of anything which can't be plainly explained,how do you think we learned/teach this stuff? If they can't be explained please tell me how it is that some of these methods with clear explanations have been published ?

    I assure you it's not "Wave your arms around and the magic happens." Tho' I do understand that pitch can be quite lucrative.

    The only "feeling" required is kinesthetic perception to enable control of whatever body parts/tissues are being utilized. These are physical practices.

    I think-- a)you could clearly see a Southern Mantis' explosive spinal technique powering a hand strike whether the individual is an advanced practitioner or a beginner, and-- b)you probably wouldn't know exactly how he does it if he's an advanced practitioner.

    You also might not always tell by looking when a boxer executes a straight rear if he's using the rear leg for stabilization only or also utilizing supplemental mechanic for power.

    Your statement "With a little understanding...." would apply here as well as in the examples you cite. It's just initially somewhat unfamiliar terrain in the MA landscape of physical activity. Serious veteran practitioners of dance of whatever form don't always easily pick up basic MA striking mechanics (esp just by watching)-it's a different terrain/method in the overall landscape of physical activity until they get familiar with it in spite of the fact that they certainly have cultivated a good command over their body movement.

    Since these methods encompass both things easily seen and those not so, what makes such a physical method "internal" ?

    Is obviously using the area of the inguinal fold to initiate a torso movement an internal movement? Why? Or is it not -because it's so obvious? Is shrinking the spine internal because it's less readily obvious? Could still be seen in some instances,so maybe it's not.

    How about if I expand the volume of my upper back? Internal? Would it depend on how I did it? If I did it like Charles Atlas would it would be totally contrary to the body methods of one of the systems I taught,but it might be somewhat valid in the "internal" practices of the other.So what does that make it?

    This is why the term "internal" in these matters are meaningless and why I only use such terms for convenience sake when on MAP,mostly as regards these mechanics.They're just various methods employed by various systems at various levels of development. Verily,verily,verily,verily,life is but dream.

    Or a bowl of fruit of some kind,I think.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  20. karl52

    karl52 openminded

    I see Internal techniques are techniques you have to feel to understand,you cant really learn them by watching,you might look like you punch the same,but its got a lot more power/effect from training the snap or bounce in the tendons and connective tissue this way of training can give a significant power improvement to any strike,much more than any amount of strength training

    I teach 3 different types of snap or impact for any striking art boxing,mma and self defence depending on the type of strike,a light snap,a deep snap,and a hooking or ripping snap heres Dennis jones disscussing them


    punching with light weights is one way to train them,but its not about lifting the weight its about training the bounce on the end,trained properly it feels almost like your hitting a bag,and once you understand it you can practice it without the weight
    heres an older clip of me which is a follow on from the above clip talking about it and punching with weights at 6.10


    theres also a part two

    just my 2p worth
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012

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