United States Naval Academy’s 2017 Brigade Boxing Championships

Boxing is hard.  It’s even harder when it’s against your best friend.

Why You Need Lateral Movement

Lateral movement is the key to achieving an advantageous position against your opponent!  Besides having an understanding of how to advance and retreat, you must also possess skills in quickly being able to move side to side with lateral movement.

Three Situations You’ll Use Lateral Movement

1.  In response to your opponent’s attack.

In this situation, your opponent is attacking and you want to move to either side so that you are outside of your opponent’s guard.  From this position, you are able to counter attack and your opponent is unable to continue attacking without adjusting his position.

2.  In between your attacks.

After unleashing a flurry, your opponent may cover up behind his guard.  You can take advantage of this moment by stepping to the side and attacking from a position where your opponent may not expect you and is unable to counterattack.

3.  Escaping the Ropes.

In most cases, you don’t want to have your back to the ropes.  Being able to move laterally can allow you to quickly rotate away from the ropes, even if your opponent is attacking.

How to Move Laterally

As usual, you don’t want your feet to cross.

This movement is similar to basketball, where your feet are shoulder width apart and you move by first widening your stance and then closing your stance.  Imagine as if you’re playing defense on a basketball court.

So, if you want to move right, you push off of your left foot.  Your right foot leaves the ground first, and then your left foot follows.  To move to the left, you simply do the opposite.

A Lateral Movement Drill

  1. Get into a ring.
  2. Stand with your back to the ropes and your shoulders squared up to the center of the ring.
  3. Start by circling right.
  4. Keep your guard up.
  5. Push off with your left foot and simultaneously reach to the right with your right foot.
  6. Your right foot should land and then your left foot should follow.
  7. When complete, you should be back in your original position.
  8. Now, make it a continuous movement by circling around the perimeter of the ring with your back to the ropes.
  9. Go around three times, and then change directions to the left.
  10. Do this for 3 two-minute rounds with 30 seconds of rest in between.


While retreating is not exactly the key to winning a fight…it DOES have it’s purposes.  Let’s talk about when retreating makes sense and how it’s done!

When to Retreat

Retreating is the opposite of advancing, and it is defined as moving away or withdrawing from your opponent.  You want to move away from your opponent when you want to open or maintain distance.

There may be times where opening distance makes sense.  You might want to reposition or give yourself a moment to re-think your strategy.  You might even be hurt or dazed and need a moment to recuperate.  In these situations, opening distance might make sense. 

In other situations, you may not necessarily want to open distance, but rather would want to maintain distance.  For instance, you may have established the optimal distance from your opponent where you are most comfortable.  If your opponent advances, you could simultaneously retreat to maintain that cushion.  Again, you might want to do this to give yourself more time.  Or perhaps you are baiting your opponent or creating a rhythm that you will eventually break with a counter-attack.  The point is that you are using a retreat maneuver as a combative technique.

Retreating is not to be confused with surrendering or running.  If you continue to “retreat” throughout the fight, you will eventually take on the perception to your opponent, the crowd, and the judges of surrendering or running.  This will not work favorably for you in regards to a decision.  Additionally, continuous retreating will eventually put you up against the ropes or cage.  Use it sparingly and eventually stand your ground and fight!

How to Retreat

Similar to advancing, you will maintain an “on guard” stance when you retreat.  This is for an optimal center of balance when moving backward.  (Moving backward gives your opponent an advantage.  If he/she lands a strike while you’re moving back, you are more likely to go down!)

From the “on guard” stance, you will push/spring off of your lead foot.  This means that your rear foot will move first, followed by your lead foot. 

Just like advancing, you need to move with a purpose.  Move quickly.  Widen your stance and then narrow your stance back to the “on guard” position.  You should never cross your feet.

A Retreat Drill

  1. Start in your on guard stance.
  2. Push off your lead foot.
  3. Your rear foot should move first.
  4. Your lead foot should move next.
  5. When you step, say aloud, “1, 2.”  “1,2.”  “1,2.”  Each step you take.  (Rear foot =1, Lead foot=2)
  6. Move backward in a straight line.  Retreat ~5 times.  Then pivot (We’ll cover this later.  Just turn around and face the other direction!).
  7. Retreat again in the opposite direction.
  8. Do this for 3 minutes.  Rest 1 minute.  Repeat for 3 rounds.


There are several basic movements in boxing/fighting: advancing, retreating, lateral movement, and pivoting. We’ll start off discussing advancing since it’s the most aggressive movement and we need to have an aggressive frame of mind!

When to Advance

Advancing is used to close the distance to your opponent. It can be used with or without a simultaneous strike. You want to advance when you want to take the offensive.  This allows you to strike or put yourself within striking distance.

When you advance, you are not walking or running to your opponent. You are advancing, which means you maintain your “on guard” stance, while moving in. Also, when you advance you must be prepared to attack and defend. You should be prepared to defend because when advancing, you are susceptible to a counter from your opponent.

How to Advance

Again, you will maintain an “on guard” stance when you advance. This will optimize your center of balance when moving forward and provide you with the best leverage to attack or defend.

From the “on guard” stance, you will push/spring off of your rear foot. This means that your lead foot will move first, followed by your rear foot. This is also why it is so important that your rear foot remain on its toes with a slight bend in the knee. You need to be able to spring forward like a coiled snake (Bruce Lee reference right there!).

When advancing, you need to maintain your guard by keeping your hands high and chin down. This alone will help you defend most counter attacks. In later posts, we’ll discuss alternative/more elusive ways to close the distance. For now, this is the most basic advance.

Move quickly and with a purpose. Your lead foot moves first, followed by your rear foot. You feet should widen, then close back to the traditional “on guard” stance. You should NOT step with your rear foot first or cross your feet. This will obviously place you off balance and increase the likelihood of getting knocked down.

An Advance Drill

1. Start in your “on guard” stance.
2. Push off your rear foot.
3. Your lead foot should move first.
4. Your rear foot should move next.
5. When you step, say aloud, “1, 2.” “1,2.” “1,2.” Each step you take. (Lead foot =1, Rear foot=2)
6. Move forward in a straight line. Advance ~5 times. Then pivot (We’ll cover this later. Just turn around and face the other direction!).
7. Advance again in the opposite direction.
Do this for 3 minutes. Rest 1 minute. Repeat for 3 rounds.

The Food Triad Formula

The last few posts have covered the essential elements of the food triad: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.  As a reminder, you want all three elements every time you eat.

How Often to Eat

You need to eat five times per day.  That’s three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and 2 snacks per day (one after lunch and one right before bed).

Also, don’t go more than five hours without eating.  This makes the snack before bed extremely important, assuming you are going to sleep eight hours (which you should!).

The Formula

If you haven’t noticed, the formula we are discussing is the Zone Diet, created by Dr. Barry Sears.  According to the Zone Diet, you must first calculate your how many “blocks” of protein, carbohydrates, and fats you need to eat per meal.

A block of protein is 7 grams, a block of carbohydrates is 9 grams, and  a block of fat is 1.5 grams.  Blocks are used as a simple way to size up the amount of food you need to eat.

In order to calculate how many blocks of each element are recommended for you, you’ll need your weight, body fat %, and activity level.  I recommend you use the calculator found in this link:  http://www.dbhonline.com/zoneful/p_calculator.htm

This calculator will tell you recommended blocks you need per day and per meal/snack.

Once you have your recommended blocks per meal, use the following link (under meal plans) to get an understanding of how much of each type of food is in one block.  http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/cfjissue21_May04.pdf

There are countless resources out there on the zone diet.  Simply google “Zone Diet blocks” or “Zone Diet meals” or “Zone Diet foods” to get more details on particular foods.

Your goal now is to eat your recommended amount of blocks of protein, carbs, and fats every meal.  Pretty easy.

Why Follow This Formula?

Ensuring you are eating the right kinds of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, in the right amounts, will help you achieve peak physical fitness and health.  It’s not just about working out.  Your diet is the other half of the equation.

Do you want to be as fit as possible?  Do you want an edge on your competition?  If so, then this is a fantastic way to help you get there.


The Food Triad: Fat

As mentioned in the previous Food Triad post, you have to eat fat to burn fat. It’s a fact.

If you think about food as being a drug, then you’ll realize that you need a balance of medication to stay healthy. Too much of anything will throw your hormones out of whack. This includes protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

The Benefits of Fat

The beauty of dietary fat is that it has no effect on insulin levels! As for carbohydrates; they are the primary trigger for releasing insulin. Even protein releases some insulin. Again, when you have more insulin in your system, you stop burning body fat for energy. You also act more sluggish, have slower reaction times, and you have a greater likelihood to develop unhealthy conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Additionally, fat acts as an off-switch for eating. It releases a hormone, cholecystokinin (CCK), which tells your brain that you’ve eaten enough.

Fat also slows down the rate that carbohydrates enter your system. The slower that carbs enter your system, the lower the insulin levels will be in your blood stream.

So, you need fat! Don’t avoid it! Oh, but there’s one important note on fats. Not all fats are created equal…

Saturated Fats

First, let’s talk about fats you should avoid: saturated fats. These are found in foods such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lard, butter, cheese, and other dairy products made from whole or 2% milk.

The more saturated fat you consume, the more rigid the membranes of your body become. But, the membranes of your body need to remain fluid in order to function properly and this includes your insulin receptors. When your insulin receptors function improperly, they release excess insulin.

So, be sure to minimize the amount of saturated fat that you eat.

Eicosanoids and Polyunsaturated Fat

Eicosanoids are hormones that your body produces as a function of your immune system. You need a balance of good eicosanoids and bad eicosanoids. These hormones can be thrown out of balance via an overproduction of insulin. So, once again, keep insulin levels balanced!

Excess insulin leads to arachidonic acid. Your body always needs a little bit of arachidonic acid, but too much can lead to some serious situations like cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Some places you can find arachidonic acid include red meat, egg yolks, and organ meats. Keep these sources to a minimum.

Additionally, you’ll want to keep a particular polyunsaturated fat, omega-6 essential fatty acid, to a minimum. These can be found in safflower, soybean, and sunflower.

In regards to polyunsaturated fat, your body really benefits from omega-3 fatty acids. The most important is EPA, which can be found in fish (especially salmon). Make sure you have fish in your diet!

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats are where you want to focus your diet in order to burn fat! These are hormonally neutral fats, and they have no negative effects on membrane fluidity or eicosanoids. Win.

Excellent sources of monounsaturated fats include olives, avocados, and certain nuts such as macadamia, cashew, almond, and pistachio.

You only need a small portion of monounsaturated fat with each meal, so including them with your dose of protein and carbohydrates is easy. In our next post, we’ll discuss how many meals you need per day and the proper amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and monounsaturated fat to consume per meal.

The Food Triad: Carbohydrates

As an athlete, you may have been traditionally taught to consume carbohydrates for energy.  And this is true. Carbohydrates provide energy.
Prior to athletic performance or competition, some conduct “carbo-loading”, which usually involves eating pasta (remember “pasta parties”?), grains, and starches in large amounts.  But what if this type of diet actually hindered your performance, instead of helped it?

Bad Carbohydrates

When most people think about carbohydrates, they think about breads, pastas, potatoes, and bagels.  And they would be right because these are carbohydrates.  The problem is that these are the wrong types of carbohydrates.
It takes thousands upon thousands of years (if not millions of years) for species to evolve.  Grains did not exist 10,000 years ago (the beginning of agriculture), which from an evolutionary standpoint, is basically yesterday.  So, humans have not genetically evolved to be able to properly digest grains.  Our bodies are still used to meat, fruit, vegetables, and nuts.

The Problem with Bad Carbohydrates

The problem with consuming bad carbohydrates is that they trigger your body to release a significant amount of insulin. Your body releases insulin because it is reacting to sugar in your bloodstream, and bad carbohydrates are converted to sugar (glucose) extremely fast. As a matter of fact, bad carbohydrates are converted to glucose faster than table sugar.
So, when you consume bad carbohydrates, your body releases a significant amount of insulin in response to all of that glucose. And a significant amount of insulin can negatively affect athletic performance. It makes you sluggish, giving you poor reaction time. It can also make you overweight, since insulin tells your body not to burn fat for energy and to store any dietary fat in your adipose tissue for future energy usage. That’s not exactly what we want. Additionally, excessive insulin levels can lead to all types of heart disease, diabetes, and other unfortunate conditions.
Plus, when you eat bad carbohydrates, you crave more soon after. Think about the last time you chowed down on some potato chips. After stuffing your face, you might feel satisfied for a little while. But, have you noticed how, minutes later, you end up back in front of the pantry to find another snack?

Good Carbohydrates

A lot of people may not realize that fruits and vegetables are also considered to be carbohydrates. And actually, fruits and vegetables are good carbohydrates. Your body is genetically designed to be able to properly digest fruits and vegetables, so this is where you need to focus your carbohydrate intake for energy.

Not only are fruits and vegetables considered to be good carbohydrates, but they also contain a favorable amount of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Bonus.

Glycemic Index

One important note on carbohydrates is the glycemic index. The higher the glycemic index, the faster sugar will enter your bloodstream. And the faster sugar enters your bloodstream, the more insulin will be released…which we don’t want.

Of course, grains, breads, and pastas will have a higher glycemic index than fruits and vegetables (As a matter of fact, rice cakes have one of the highest…). But, even among fruits and vegetables, some have a higher glycemic index than others. Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal, though they are much more preferable over grains, pastas, and starches. For instance, a banana has a higher glycemic index than an apple.

Also, by cooking fruits and vegetables, you increase their glycemic index. Cooking them breaks down their molecular structure, making it easier to convert them into glucose and enter your bloodstream. So, raw fruits and vegetables are preferred over cooked fruits and vegetables.

Goals for Carbohydrates

1. Eat fruits and vegetables for your main source of carbohydrates.
2. Minimize the amounts of breads, starches, and pastas that you eat.
3. Favor low glycemic index fruits and vegetables over high glycemic fruits and vegetables.
4. For every 7 grams of protein you eat, you should also eat 9 grams of good carbohydrates.

Examples of Good Carbohydrates

○ Apples
○ Blueberries
○ Grapes
○ Grapefruit
○ Nectarine
○ Orange
○ Peach
○ Pear
○ Plum
○ Strawberries
○ Tangerine

○ Cabbage
○ Celery
○ Cucumber
○ Green/Red Peppers
○ Lettuce
○ Onion
○ Radishes
○ Snow peas
○ Spinach
○ Tomato
Cooked Vegetables
○ Broccoli
○ Brussels sprout
○ Collard Greens
○ Eggplant
○ Spinach
○ Yellow squash
○ Zucchini

In our next post, we’ll discuss dietary fats because you need to eat fat to burn fat!