A punching bag is a cylindrically shaped bag used for training in various forms of combat sports. Punching bags usually contain some filling; these bags typically have a leather coating.
Punching bags can be easily suspended on walls or from ceilings to facilitate the proper height for hand to hand combat practice. These bags are available in different heights and weights. The hardness of the punching bags dramatically varies as well.
History Of Punching Bags
Punching bags have a detailed and storied history. They have almost been present for centuries. Punching bags have considerably evolved over the years, offering athletes great convenience.
The first ever use of punching bags is said to be around the early years of the third century B.C. Ancient Greece was hugely famous for their extensive use of punching bags back in the day. They used to call the punching bags Korykoi in the Greek language.
These punching bags were more cumbersome for the Pankratiasts and significantly lighter for the boxers. The Greek punching bags were not cylindrical like the punching bags we have today, in fact, they were round. People usually filled them with sand or grain.
The quantity of the grain or sand largely depended on the strength of the person training with the punching bag. The Greek athletes usually hung their punching bags on top of trees as they were extremely sturdy.
Military training all over the world heavily relied on and in some cases still relies upon punching bags to get military personnel in shape. Governments used to provide the military trainers with thousands of punching bags and people used to train day and night with them.
The reason why punching bags were a preferred choice for most people in the military is that they were instrumental in enhancing a person's endurance after a period of regular training.
Other than military training, there are a large number of sports and martial arts that require the use of punching bags for training. Contrary to popular opinion, punching bags are not only used for punching training but are famous for kicking and grappling as well. You can most certainly say that punching bags are multipurpose bags that offer great versatility in practice.
Muay Thai, karate, taekwondo, boxing and many other sports benefit from punching bag training. These bags allow you to strike as hard as you want to while making improvements in your technique.
You will be surprised to find out that sports which do not require hand-to-hand combat also use punching bags at times. In the early days, when sword fighting was prevalent, fighters used punching bags filled with stones or rough leather to practice their sword fighting skills and techniques.
Punching drills can help you increase stamina for any sport. Thirty minutes or an hour of punching can prepare your lungs for strenuous activities. It is safe to say that punching bags were a useful invention and have cemented their place in history books.
Sports That Use Punching Bags
As we discussed previously, there are a large number of contact sports that use punching bags. Let us consider some of the contact sports where the use of punching bags is predominant.
Boxing is a sport that only relies on punches. Therefore, the use of punching bags is a no-brainer. Boxing gyms have a variety of punching bags as boxers have to practice a variety of punches while improving their punching efficiency and countless other techniques.
Even though punching isn’t as prevalent in jujitsu as it is in boxing or other combat sports, the use of punching bags is still necessary. There are a variety of grappling and submission drills that people the athletes need to practice.
Instead of hanging these punching bags on large platforms, trainers usually lay the punching bags on the floors as most of the drills involved in Jujitsu require the athletes to be either sitting or laying belly down.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Mixed martial arts have slowly grown to be the combat sport that has gained more popularity than ever before. The use of kicks and punches is exceptionally high in mixed martial arts, even though it is an all-around sport that also involves grappling and submission maneuvers.
MMA trainers usually require hard training bags to train their athletes as this is considered to be the most demanding form of combat sport among all the others. Therefore, it is quintessential for the athletes to make sure that their hands, knuckles, shins, toes, and palms are callous as the risk of injuries in mixed martial arts is considerably high.
As the name implies, kickboxing is a sport that only relies on kicks. Kickboxers are required to have an extremely high skill set, and they should learn multiple kicking variations as their arsenal is already limited, to begin with in many cases.
Punching bags hung at a high platform are usually the norm for most kickboxers as they need to practice high kicks and to jump knee strikes on a regular basis. The athletes also practice low kicks, but that is in the presence of a sparring partner.
The use of chops and kicks is highly prevalent in the sport of karate and needless to say that punching bags are a must-have for every karate trainer or trainee. A variety of standing punching bags, banana punching bags, and low punching bags are famous in karate clubs.
Similar to kickboxing, people practicing karate should also know a variety of high kicks and jumping knee strikes, and what better option than punching bags to carry out all of these things.
Muay Thai is a combat sport from Thailand. Most of the combat involves clinching and stand up striking. Stand up striking requires the use of punching bags at eye or chest range.
Types Of Punching Bags
There are several types of punching bags. All of them have their unique quality that helps in facilitating the athlete with their particular sport. Let us discuss some of the most common punching bags that most athletes use.
Speed bags are mostly tiny, resembling the shape of a semi-deflated balloon. If you are looking to improve hand and eye coordination, you wouldn't be able to find a better option than speed bags. Speed bags not only strengthen the hand-eye coordination of the athletes, but they also make sure that you keep your hands and head up at all times.
People perform quick punching on speed bags. These bags rebound exceptionally quickly, making sure that you have fast laser punches just after a few weeks of practicing. Also referred to as speedball bags or speedballs, these bags usually contain air and are made out of leather.
You do not need to worry about these bags popping or bursting like balloons because of the air present inside them. The leather these speed bags are made from is extremely tough, and it would take an extremely sharp object, a lot of time, and effort to cause any significant damage to the speed bags.
These bags are available in large sizes as well, but people usually do not prefer them as they are remarkably slower than the smaller ones. Smaller speed bags aid in improving hand speed while bigger ones are a better option for people who are looking to build endurance and strength.
People usually hang speed bags vertically; however, recent versions of speed bags allow you to attach them horizontally. Speed bags offer exceptional versatility, and you can install them on a myriad of platforms with relative ease.
Maize/ Slip Bags
Slip bags are not as commonly used by people mainly because most people are not aware of them. However, they are extremely beneficial for athletes who are looking to improve their head stability and movement during a fight.
These bags are filled with maize and should be a must-have at every fighter’s disposal, as training on them regularly will make evading strikes significantly easier.
Swerve Balls/ Double End Bags/ Floor To Ceiling Balls
These bags share many similarities with the speedball bags with size being the fundamental difference between them. In some cases, the shape is different as well. Another distinction that separates these bags from speedballs is the fact that you can attach the cables of these bags to the floor as well as the ceiling.
Similar to speedbags, these bags react according to the pace of strikes, the harder you hit, the quicker the ball reacts. A feature that makes swerve balls so incredible is the fact that they move in the different angle with every strike, increasing difficulty for the fighter. It simulates real fights and helps the athletes to work on their reflexes.
These bags are the most commonly found bags in almost every gym. They only come in cylindrical shape and are suspended with ropes or chains. Suspending these bags with steel chains would be an ideal option for people who are looking to add weight and stability to their punching bags.
If you are trying to develop your technique, then these bags would not be the right choice for you. Instead, these bags are incredibly beneficial for fighters who are looking to add power to their punches.
Muay Thai trainers and fighters use a bulkier and more extended version of these bags called "banana bags." These bags are longer to facilitate fighters to train their knee strikes and low kicks.
Free Standing Heavy Bags
Instead of hanging these bags on high platforms, people usually install these bags onto weighted pedestals. If you want to stop your punching bag from moving around and stability is what you are looking for, then free standing heavy bags will prove to be the right fit for you.
Even though they share a lot of similarities with the heavy hanging bags you can also lay them on the ground for practicing ground and pound strikes. There are a variety of combat sports where ground and pound is an essential part of the fights. Therefore, training on freestanding heavy bags can significantly improve your skill set.
There are different variations of freestanding heavy bags in the market. You can also get freestanding bags that have higher reflexes than the usual variety of freestanding heavy bags.
You can also suspend these bags horizontally to practice some different punches, like the uppercut. These bags are not limited to cylindrical shapes, and there are a variety of non-cylindrical shapes available in the market, primarily designed to match a fighter's convenience.
The twenty-first century saw the arrival of uppercut bags. So, you can say that these bags are still relatively new. With various training equipment available at a fighter's disposal, uppercut bags are a welcome addition as they add much-needed variety to the already present training equipment.
As the name implies, these bags are ideal for training uppercut punches. However, it is not only restricted for the uppercut punches, and there are a variety of other strikes that you can practice on it as well.
Curl punching, jabbing, and quick bursting punches are among the list of strikes that you can train on with uppercut bags. There are a variety of uppercut bags available in the market ranging from teardrop bag, upper horizontal bag, wrecking ball/ body snatcher bag, bowling pin bag. You can train low kicks and hooks on these bags as well.
Wall bags are usually found in home gyms and inside rooms as they are relatively cheap and easy to install. You can easily mount these bags on your walls vertically or horizontally. These bags are especially useful for hooking practice.
Body Opponent Bag
Body opponent bags are usually placed on weighted pedestals and are use synthetic materials in their production. They typically have the shape of a person's upper body. There are some forms of body opponent bags that can be hung from ceilings as well.
When training for big fights, people should use body opponent bags as they simulate the body of a real person. It helps practice striking on areas that are vital to putting an opponent down while also making sure that you do not hit on areas that are deemed illegal.
Fighters don't think of body opponent bags as punching bags; they are considered to be an entirely different animal instead. A lot of self-defense training experts heavily use body opponent bags as they allow people to learn and adopt fighting techniques way more quickly than the usual punching bags.
Tips To Improve Your Power And Technique Using Punching Bags
There are a large number of people who firmly believe that throwing punches and kicks in the air on a regular basis will immensely help them improve their technique and power. It couldn't be any further from the truth as punching bags are significantly better for developing strength, endurance, speed, skill, method, and stamina.
Proper form is essential for training on punching bags. The reason why we are stressing the importance of good shape is that once you land a punch on your punching bag, shock waves travel throughout your body beginning from the wrist and ending on your toes.
If your technique is not correct, then there is a considerable chance of the trainee sustaining injuries. On the contrary, if your form is perfect, you will develop strength and muscle and lose a significant amount of fat. There are several things you can do to make sure that you improve your power and technique with the use of punching bags.
The first thing you should do for improved punches is to make sure that you get hold of a simple punching bag weighing no more than sixty or seventy pounds. Once you start getting in the groove, increase the weight of the punching bag by sixty or seventy pounds.
Your muscles will become stronger by then, and your body will be able to resist a higher amount of pain. Several studies indicate that a professional boxer usually trains in rounds of three minutes.
They put all of their intensity in these three minutes by practicing a variety of hooks and punches. Once a boxing round is over, they usually rest for sixty seconds and move on to another. A typical training session for a beginner should consist of ten to twelve rounds at the very least.
A common mistake most fighters make when they are training with heavy bags is that instead of punching the bag, they push it. The goal of combat is hitting, not shoving. Therefore, you should continuously keep on checking yourself to make sure that you are doing it the right thing.
An easy technique to find out that you are correctly punching is to listen to the sound of your punching strike. A thudding sound is a clear indicator of a push or a weak punch. Smacking sounds indicate the perfect punch, and that is what you should aim for in most cases.
If you take a quick peek at the professionals, you will soon discover that they do not rest while they are throwing punches. They'll take a breather for two or three seconds at the maximum, and even while they are not active, they throw some slower punches.
Continually throwing punches makes sure that you do not lose your tempo during a fight. Beginners should use lighter bags, in the beginning, to make sure that the punches do not hurt as much, and they are easily able to throw continuous punches for minutes without rest.
Another thing you should keep in mind when you are training with a punching bag is to make sure that you always move your feet around. One thing that separates the pros from the beginners is the fact that the pros tend to keep their feet moving even if they are not throwing punches. It dramatically helps them maintain their rhythm during a fight.
To make sure that your punching strikes the land with optimum power, you should always ground your feet before throwing a punch. People who have one foot in the air while fighting has weak and imprecise punches.
Maintaining Your Punching Bag
Even though punching bags do not require constant maintenance, you should always check up on them after every two weeks to make sure that they last longer and do not have any defects.
People who use punching bags on a daily basis should always clean the pack with a dry cloth or towel before using it. Cleaning barely takes two or three minutes and makes sure that the surface isn't slippery.
You should check the bag after every few weeks to make sure that there isn't any wear and tear on the bags - moreover, if you happen to find any tears, patch them up immediately. Clean the punching bag with disinfectants after a long and strenuous workout. Punching bags tend to absorb sweat if you don't clean them off, which leads to the bag giving out a bad odor.
In this article, we have discussed the history of punching bags in great detail. We have also discussed the different types of punching bags and their unique features in this article. You can also read about the sports that use punching bags and some tips that will help you improve power and technique using punching bags.
It is an ultimate blueprint for anyone who is looking to gain knowledge about punching bags. We have provided a comprehensive buying guide down below to make sure that you can buy a punching bag that would best suit your needs.