Back when I first started hitting a bag at the dojo before I learned to drive… to the Quonset hut in Vacaville, Ca in my 20’s, it was basic punching, boxing, kickboxing, with trainers.
I hung a bag under my apartment when I was in my early 20’s, and had one everywhere I lived since. I practiced open hand, hooks, straight rights, jabs, elbows, knees, and all manner of kicks. I’ve been through several bags, they usually rip or you can’t hook them up anymore.
I had quality training with some of the best in martial arts and I’m Thankful. I worked up to one and two hour sessions of endurance bagwork. I’ve held mitts and used them… they really sharpen your accuracy, timing.
While working on wing chun (previous article), I became familiar with the suspension bag for times when I didn’t have a partner. It’s a floor to ceiling rubber cord with the bag suspended at about neck height; you then lower your stance and its right at your face! You stand right to where it’s inches from your face and fire away; it will be coming back to your face fast! Once you’ve done some wing chun type practice you will be able to hit the bag and move or hit it before it hits you! You can even do this without seeing! This will further sharpen your close quarter skills.
The speed, rhythm, or timing bag hangs from a swivel plate at about face height for most. It is for the actions mentioned and although I could rat a tat it a bit, I never found I wanted to be good at it, I didn’t see how it translated into real self defense personally, but I’m sure it has its place. What I use it for is quick twitch punching skills. I take my left straight punch (not a jab), and shoot a quick ten before I begin my 4 punch combo I’m doing 10,000 reps of. By the way, as a four punch combo, that will be 40,000 total punches within the same combo, its already strong at about the halfway point.
This straight punch with my left has to be accurate and fast to hit the moving speed bag at the right time, this has worked well and I have a couple thousand reps. It is slightly different than the left in my 1-2 combo, it is fired solo and buys me time to fire a different combo, also, no bridging of the gap so it will close quarters. But it keeps my speed and accuracy very good.
I’ve used an uppercut bag… now these are usually heavy, like 90lbs and are set at about the chest level and hung sideways so you can really let loose underneath, more of a strength building workout.
In MMA type gyms you’ll find kicking bags that are like 8ft tall and floor to ceiling. These allow you to go all out with round kicks and even jumping spin kicks which can be devastating in the ring or in real life as a follow up technique. To me, the purpose of round kicks is to render usually the lead leg more useless by striking behind the knee or the thigh, higher kicks are certainly doable to the waist area but I keep mine low on the bag.
I’ve used these barehanded or barefoot many times but prefer to add bag gloves after several strikes; this keeps injuries to a minimum yet allows for some flesh contact which is good. Hand wraps can keep the small bones from being damaged during power strikes (my right hand has been broken during the arrest of a large combative man), also the wrists from overextending, I’ve used wraps off/on for all my years. It’s good to wear instep pads if you’re doing slamming round kicks, although I like 5 or 10 without first.
In summary, bag workouts don’t simulate combat and there won’t be any timing – distance experience gained and nothing is coming back at you. However, its super for endurance/aerobic workouts while applying a useful exercise. All fighters or self defense – martial artists use bags of all kinds to add power and endurance to their techniques. You won’t know how/when to apply these strikes without some sparring, even light sparring will help . Keep all your strikes handy; learn a few all the way using massive reps! Till next time, God Bless you on your journey,