“Secrets” of the Filipino Fighting Arts
Words from a Modern-Day Warrior

Bag Training Basics

You wouldn’t think martial artists needed instruction on how to use a heavy bag. After all, the only thing you need to know is to hit the bag with power and keep going until you’re out of gas, right?

Brother, you are soooo missing the boat. There are many advantages to training properly with a heavy bag, so let’s explore them, shall we?

  • First, I recommend training by the round or by the set. Training by the round can be short, like 30 second rounds, to long, like a 5-minute round. Training by the set can be either short sets, 10 – 20 reps, to long sets, 100 – 500.
  • If you train by the round, increase the intensity when using shorter rounds, and pace yourself with longer rounds. With a short, 10 – 30 second round, you want to use quick bursts of power and speed. With the longer rounds, you should incorporate footwork, move around and attack from different angles.
  • With the sets, I suggest always using footwork with each rep. “Footwork”, as in advancing/attacking footwork when you execute each rep.
  • Speaking of footwork, don’t just stand in one place throwing punches. There will almost never be an time when you will do this in fighting, and doing so in training is bad for your fighting skill. Move around and attack from a distance. One of the common mistakes people make in bag training is standing too close to the bag. Think about how far the opponent will stand to you in fighting, and keep yourself at the average distance.
  • Penetrate the bag. This is what develops speed and power simultaneously. Very often, fighters will push the bag with their punches and kicks. The idea is not to see how far you can make the bag swing, but how loud you can make the bag sing. Proper power will collapse the bag and fold it in half. Sink your fist, your foot, your elbow, your knee, your stick into the bag.
  • Train your combinations on the bag, and make sure to have good speed and power on every part of the combo. Often, people will run through the combination and have power only on the last movement.
  • Swing the bag back and forth, or side-to-side, and hit the bag at certain intervals. This is good for timing, accuracy, and power, as you must now pick the right moment to land, and still hit with power.
  • Practice what I call “break-away” skills. Stand close to the bag–close enough to kiss it–and then jump away, as if evading an attack. Launch your attacks at certain points of your “break away”:  as you move away, as soon as you land, or after a fraction of a second after landing. This develops good countering skills.

You can use your imagination to incorporate your style’s skills with how they can be utilized on the bag. This way, you have more than just a sitting target, but something similar to having a moving opponent/training partner. There is a world of techniques you can do, but this should get you started to better training. Hope this article was helpful!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

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2 Responses to “Bag Training Basics”

  1. “The idea is not to see how far you can make the bag swing, but how loud you can make the bag sing. Proper power will collapse the bag and fold it in half. Sink your fist, your foot, your elbow, your knee, your stick into the bag.” This is gold.

    I like the break away idea. I’ll have to start using it.

    I used to have a heavy bag and I was afraid a friend of mine had broken his wrist. Everybody wanted to hit it, and 98% of people don’t know how.


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