Going over the boxing stance

With Boxing instructor George Chen

George Chen, 26, is a boxing instructor and coach at Impact Boxing, and a personal trainer and boxing coach with his own brand called GC boxing.

A longtime boxer of 10 years, Chen fought as an amateur boxer for five years before taking on bigger responsibilities at Impact Boxing, which includes teaching classes and teaching beginners how to box.

“I really started to love that aspect of it, because I like when I can take someone who’s never set foot in a boxing gym before, and then I’m there every step of the way through their progression.”

Chen was invested in martial arts and combat sports when he was younger, but his parents weren’t keen on Chen trying boxing. An anime show called Hajime no Ippo got him to consider and push for boxing.

“I really resonated with the kid (Ippo), he used to get picked on in school and whatnot. And like, from then on he started boxing. He picked it up, and then it’s all about what it means to be strong, you know? And then I fell in love with it,” and adding, “that actually motivated me and inspired me to set foot into a boxing gym, and the rest is history.”

Chen’s philosophy on teaching boxing is to not only help new boxers learn how to box, but to make it as easy to understand as possible. And the most important step in learning to box is understanding the boxing stance, which Chen has demonstrated for League Magazine.

Feet should-width apart

Chen places his feet so that his right foot is back, while his left foot is in front. A traditional boxing stance ensures the boxer remains balanced. There are two stances, southpaw and orthodox, with southpaw meaning the left foot is behind, thus using your left hand for the power punches like the cross. “If you’re left-handed, you just take everything I say and reverse it,” says Chen.

Chen starts with his feet together, and separates them into his orthodox stance (left foot in front, right foot behind). A simple way to discover your stance is to have someone give you a slight push backwards; whichever foot you land on will determine what your stance is, whether orthodox (land on right foot) or southpaw (land on left foot). (Photo by Alejandro Melgar/SAIT)

Soft bend in our knees

Chen bends slightly lower then where he started. “I think a lot of boxers, beginners, they think we got to get real low. And boxing coaches will say that all the time, they’re like, ‘Get low, get low,’ but they don’t really explain what that means. And a lot of boxers are a lot of beginners, they bend the knees way too much into like a half squat. That’s too much. We just want a soft bend in our knees,” said Chen.

Chen lowers himself into his stance with a slight, slight bend of the knee. (Photo by Alejandro Melgar/SAIT)

“Basically, you want to think of it like you want your knees to be able to absorb any pressure you put into the ground. So in your boxing stance, you’re going to be bouncing a lot, right? If you’re trying to bounce, but if you squat, you’re not really going to be able to bounce, right? You’re very, very rigid. You want just get a nice soft bend. It’s so little, it’s like your knees are extended, and then you just kind of drop just a little bit.”

Chen shows the difference between a soft bend and bending the knees too much. (Photo by Alejandro Melgar/SAIT)

Hinge at the hip

This step, as Chen explained, is part of bringing ourselves lower to the ground.

“By hinging the hip what it means is to kind of stick your butt out a little bit, let your chest and your shoulders drop so you’re angled downward. And that’s naturally going to make it a lot easier to keep your hands high. If I stand straight up, even if my hands are up, they’re not covering my face. Well, I’m kind of sitting into this pocket. This position right here, it’s very relaxed.”

Chen sits back slightly while also bending his knees. The abdominal muscles are greatly utilized in this position, but a “pocket” is what is achieved in this position. Some boxers tend to lower themselves by rounding their back, but Chen emphasizes the need to move at the hip instead. (Photo by Alejandro Melgar/SAIT)

Weight at the balls of the feet

Not quite tippy-toeing, Chen is resting his feet in a position like he is ready to pounce, or move quickly. Moving from that position allows the boxer to always be ready to move around the ring. Keeping the heels down limits movement of the boxer. Chen naturally moves around the ring when he fights, and notes the importance of resting at the balls of the feet through his stance.

Chen bounces on his fight and stays on the balls of his feet. A boxer’s movement plays a role in defending themselves, you can’t hit what isn’t there, and Chen bounces forward and back with minimal effort. The bouncing is more like tiny hops, rather than big leaps and bounds. (Photo by Alejandro Melgar/SAIT)

Hands up

George Chen, a boxing instructor, gives instruction on the traditional boxing stance in the Sunnyside community in Calgary on March 30, 2021. Chen has been boxing for ten years, and he has been teaching boxing for four years. He enjoys working with beginners, and he believes that instruction should be easy for anyone to understand. (Photo by Alejandro Melgar/SAIT)

The most recognizable part of the boxing stance, Chen places his hands up with his lead hand in front of him, while his rear hand closer to his jaw and face. While movement is the key to defending yourself as a boxer, the guard with the hands is still important, so keeping hands up in preparation for a flurry of punches to be thrown while also being ready to protect the face and body is important.

Chen positions his arms to his sides, then places them in front. Chen is a very fluid boxer, and with his experience in the ring, uses his hands as tools for deception when boxing. A beginner should start with their hands in front, like Chen has exhibited here. (Photo by Alejandro Melgar/SAIT)

Chen works with fighters and corners them as well, but Chen isn’t all about helping fighters.

“I have plenty of clients that don’t ever plan on fighting, but I still want to teach them the same way I would teach my fighters,” said Chen.

George Chen, a boxing instructor, posing and giving instruction on a boxing stance in the Sunnyside community in Calgary on March 30, 2021. (Photo by Alejandro Melgar/SAIT)

“I’m here to give you the science of boxing. I want to break everything down. get you moving, because I think you’re gonna get the best workout when you’re doing it all properly to it’s true form, and injury free,” and finally adding, “I’m all about the gains without the pains.”

Feature photo: George Chen, a boxing instructor, poses after spending time talking about the boxing stance in the Sunnyside community in Calgary on March 30, 2021. Chen has been boxing for ten years, and he has been teaching boxing for four years. He enjoys working with beginners, and he believes that instruction should be easy for anyone to understand. (Photo by Alejandro Melgar/SAIT)