Difficult (bag) thoughts – Martial Journal

Author with his 150lb bag. (author’s photo)

Oh, that respectable heavy bag! Is there anything else that says “this is a real gym for fighters” more than the presence of a heavy bag hanging on a chain? It is such a basic item that its absence is immediately recorded. Thanks to its versatility, it deserves its special place in the world of martial arts equipment. It can be used for training punches, kicks, elbows, knees; just everything. Best of all, you don’t need anyone to help you. The heavy bag is ideal for solo training.

What to consider when choosing a heavy bag

Unfortunately, many people do not think much about choosing their heavy bag. However, several things need to be considered. One of the factors is the content. Less expensive bags often have a rag filling and settle and need to be repackaged from time to time. More expensive bags will use a combination of materials and density, so the bag is softer on the outside and less subject to settling.

The bag cover is another thing to consider. Vinyl covers tend to hold poorly. Over time, they crack and peel. The skin is expensive and requires special care. Fortunately, there are many good synthetic covers available. Some are a type of artificial leather that is quite durable and easy to clean. Others are canvas-type material, which is also quite durable. I prefer the latter because the texture helps strengthen the hands.

The most important factor

By far the most important factor to consider is the weight of the bag. Using a bag that is too heavy can limit your training and put undue strain on your joints. I saw heavy bags from 20lb bags for kids to 650lb of special monsters! By the way, if any of you actually own one of those 650lb monsters, let me know I want to try it!

So who’s the one? It largely depends on you and your goals. If you are more oriented to the general condition, a lighter bag will come in handy. A 50lb bag can be anything you ever need.

However, if you are a martial artist who is trying to develop punching and kicking technique and strength, you will probably want to start a little harder and shift in weight as your skills develop. Don’t make your eyes too big and get the heaviest bag you can from the start. As with weightlifting, starting too hard can be counterproductive. Starting with a bag that is too heavy can cause excessive strain on the joints and muscles, which can lead to injury. What’s worse is that you can develop the wrong technique because you are unknowingly compensating for a bag that is too heavy or too hard.

For most adults, it is ideal to start with a bag in the range of 50-70 pounds. It will be large enough to provide a good level of resistance without putting too much strain on your body.

Personally, I started with the Everlast 70lb platinum bag. It had a solid outer shell that really strengthened my hands (it literally has blood stains on it) and served me well for nine years. The downside was that as a cheaper bag, it was stuffed with torn clothes and subject to settling. This would leave the top too soft and the bottom hard, which would require occasional repackaging to even out the density.

Over time, I got to where I could really release those 70lb. Bag! This is a real increase in ego, but nothing much for further training. It’s a bit like never adding any more weight to your bench press routine. So I switched to using a 100lb bag at school, where I trained, while still using a smaller bag at home. Later, when I had space and cash, I bought my current 150lb bag.

Size comparison between 70lb bag and 150lb bag. (author’s photo)

I was excited to attack the new bag, which was a mistake. My body was still in anticipation of 70-100 pounds and when I planted my first side kick, I almost rolled back! I didn’t learn, I tried a direct lead and I almost ended up with my shoulder in my ear! The morale of the story is, take it slow as you move towards the heavier bag.

Another thing from a safety point of view is the way the bag is hung. Bags weighing 100 lb and larger put a lot of strain on securing them as they move. It is recommended to use a spring bracket for this purpose. This significantly reduces shocks and assembly stresses.

The spring holder significantly reduces the strain on the holders for bags over 100 lb. (author’s photo)

Other thoughts

Finally: Gloves or gloves? I prefer to work with a heavy bag without gloves. It helps to firm the skin and provides immediate feedback, which you will not get in gloves. When a bare hand hits a bag (especially if it’s a hard-packed bag), the fighter immediately receives a lot of information: Which part of the fist touched for the first time was too loose, the fist was turned on impact, off-center impact, and so on. Or, to put it mildly, if it’s not a clean punch, you’ll know it really fast!

So if you didn’t add a heavy bag to your training, do it, you won’t regret it. Just make sure you have the right bag and gain weight when you are ready. Apart from their own attitude, the heavy bag is one of the most valuable training tools for a fighter.

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