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JACK SLACK: THE BIBLE OF STRIKING

FIGHTLAND BLOG
By Jack Slack

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

There is no agreed upon boxing textbook. Partly because it is a physical art, not an exact science, and
partly because many great coaches just never put pen to paper. And, of course, there are so
many styles of boxing that you can never truly teach all of them in depth. Most books, consequently, are
written in the modern era and focus on the building blocks rather than the strategy of the ring.
Do not be disheartened though, there have been some truly excellent treatises written on the sweet
science. Jack Dempsey's Championship Fighting, Daniel Mendoza's The Art of Boxing, George
Carpentier's Boxing as a Fine Art, Jimmy Wilde's Art of Boxing, Champ Thomas' How to Be an AssWhipping Boxer, John Walsh's Boxing Simplified, Frank Klaus' Infighting, Jim Driscoll's excellent four part
series, Nat Fleischer and James J. Corbett's How to Boxwe will look a little at each in the future.
But today, I wanted to discuss the ideas of one of the greatest influences on meand on many others
Edwin L. Haislet. Haislet was Assistant Professor of Physical Education and boxing coach at the
University of Minnesota, and produced a great line of Golden Gloves champions. In fact, for a good period
the two powerhouse names in coaching amateurs were those of Haislet, and his friendly rival, John

Walsh. Walsh'sBoxing Simplified and Haislet's Boxing are therefore fantastic texts to play off against each
other.
You might not have run into Haislet's name before, but he's touched on many of the boxers and fighters
you watchlargely indirectly. There is some controversy over Bruce Lee's legendary The Tao of Jeet
Kune Dobecause it is largely made up from his own notes, and therefore wound up being, in parts,
plagiarized. Almost all of Lee's notes on punching technique and strategy come from either Jack
Dempsey'sChampionship Fighting or Haislet's Boxing. Now think about how many people have read The
TaoI would guess it is one of the most read martial arts books of all time, and a great many in the UFC
will have studied it.
Haislet's tremendous influence on the martial artists we know and love is the reason I am naming this
seriesThe Bible of Striking.
The Set Ups
What is remarkable about Haislet's work is just how comprehensive it proves in just its one hundred or so
A5 pages. Rather than explaining cover ups, bobs and parries as the go to defenses for various punches
Haislet gives an overview of methods which have proven effective for other fighters, not simply his
favourites.
While Haislet denotes the eight elementary countersand declares that everyone should master at
least fourhe declares that it is impossible to master all counters because the number of counters
available with each of the basic punches off of one of his many listed defensive strategies exceeds seven
hundred possibilities.
And this is what is so wonderful about Haislet's texthe prioritizes but allows for personal preference. He
believes everyone should master four of these eight elementary counters, but any other counters you
want to study are up to you.
But the counters and defenses of Haislet's masterwork are for another day. Today I want to focus on
Haislet's Set Ups.
Haislet does not use the term combination in the way that you will often see it describedhe instead
believes that a combination of strikes should act primarily as a set up for the last strike, which is to do the
hurting.
The One-Two-Three Series: 1-2, 1-3. 1-step-3, 1-2-3, 1-3-2
[An expert boxer] delivers his blows in a well-planned series, each opening creating another, until finally
a clean 'shot' is obtained.
Haislet provides a good few set ups but they fall into three categories: The One Two Threes Sequence,
The Triple Blows, and the High Lows.
The One Two Three Sequence are the easiest set ups to wrap your head around. There is the basic onetwo which I'm sure everyone understands. It is the jab, followed by the rear straight. It is the standard two

punch combination and has made careers. Gene Tunney's entire game was to circle the ring and slam in
a hard one-two when his opponent missed.
Following these Haislet discusses the much less used jab, hook combinations. Hooking off the jabyou
will often see me writeis a vitally important skill for a good striker. It might not be as powerful as a good
one-two, but a good one-three can throw an opponent into confusion.
Of course, there have been some tremendous power punchers who have picked up the skill and become
twice as dangerous with it. Joe Louis could hook off the jab beautifully, and it provided a whole new
dimension to Louis outside of his ferocious one-two.

Haislet lists hooking off the jab, with a step in between. In this instance the hook carries extra weight and
is intended to be a power punch. The standard defence for a jab, and one which fighters get into doing
almost exclusively, is to parry with the right hand. When you parry with the right hand, you expose your
right jawline. This is how the jab-step-hook puts people to sleep. Here's Roy Jones Jr. demonstrating it
masterfully.

The one-three-two or jab, right straight, left hook might be the least familiar combination to many readers.
One hooks off the jab, and as the opponent fumbles to get back into position to check the hook, one fires
a right hand down the middle. It is a case of bringing the opponent's mind into his right hand, and having
him forget about his left. A beautiful example of this technique appeared in Ingemar Johanssen versus
Floyd Patterson I.
This is the genius of ithow the two series play off of each other. To quote Haislet:
They are blows which seem to follow each other naturally. One series, that is, the jab, cross, and hook, is
intended to narrow the opponent's guard and create an opening for the hook from the outside. The jab,
hook, and cross series is designed to create an opening for a final straight blow to the chin.
So the one-two narrows the guard, setting up the hook around the arm. The one-three widens the guard,
creating a hole down the middle. Moving off to the left as one hooks on the one-three-two almost means
that the right shoulder can be placed directly on line with the hole in the guard and the point of the chin
shortening it's path and assuring the quickest connection.
You will see this left hook setting up the right straight everywhere. It is the first big punching set up that a
power puncher will teach himself, it seems. Igor Vovchanchyn used it constantly, Mark Hunt uses it all the
time, and there have been thousands of other men in between.

Ezzard Charles doing it in the 40s.

Mark Hunt doing it last year.


The Triple Blows: Inside, Outside
The Triple Blows are a little more complicated in that they are almost pre-emptive counter punches, into
combinations. They are essentially a systemized version of the flurries that Floyd Patterson and Mike
Tyson were so famous for.

The inside triplewhich Haislet asserts was a favourite of Jack Dempseyis to slip to the inside (left for
an orthodox fighter) while throwing a right hand to the body, then come back with a left hook to the body
and a right hook to the head. This is called the inside triple because you are moving to the inside of your
opponent's lead hand and legto infighting position, inside position.
The outside triple begins with a slip to the outside and a left hook to the body, followed by a right to the
body and a left to the head. It is called the outside triple because you are trying to take a slightly dominant
angle, on the outside of the opponent's leg, rather than pushing into the opponent's chest.
In truth, they are simply three punch flurries, lead with a slipping hook. Slipping with the right hook is fairly
elementaryfolks do it with the overhand all the timeslipping with the left hook is a little more
challenging.
These are infighting combinationsfor men who want to get in close and do some damage before they
get tied up.
But the heart of Haislet's triples is the two blows to the body, followed by a blow upstairs, using head
movement to make one evasive at all times. This is exactly the sort of sequence which Cus D'amato
drilled relentlessly into a young Mike Tyson and into Jose Torres and Floyd Patterson before that.

Constant head movement while throwing body, body, head flurries. Tyson at his best. This flurry is led by
a slip to the left combined with a right hook to the bodymaking this an inside triple, the kind that
Dempsey was known for.

Body, body, head is a crucially important part of infighting combinations to this dayand the act of
slipping as one does it is vital in avoiding both the blows, the tie ups and even the clashes of heads which
so often happen when you get into what Dempsey called exchanging range.

It is simply well practiced patterns sewed together seamlessly. Tyson throws a combination to get to the
inside, then throws the same four punch combination led by that right hook and inside slip again.
High-Lows and Low-Highs
The High-Lows and Low-Highs are set ups which draw the opponent's attention either down or up, then
strike him in the uncovered portion of his body. The left hook to the head, followed by a left hook to the
body is a classic high-low. The other way around and it is a classic low-high!

The left to the body, followed by a left to the head is a classic Low High. The other way around and it's a
classic High-Low.
The favourite of Haislet is the left hook to the body, right straight to the headwhich also demonstrates
one of his principle beliefs, that linear and circular strikes are used to set each other up. The left hook to
the body, right hook to the head has been responsible for many a brutal knockout or knockdown.
In an especially famous instance, Joe Louis won the world heavyweight title by using the low left hook to
the inside of Jim Braddock's left elbow to throw that hand out of the way, before throwing the right straight
down the center.

So that's the three set up series. Pretty simple eh? Well you know what's brilliant? Almost every
combination or set up you can think of in a professional fightexcept some which involve a little
advanced footwork and anglingstem off of the principles of these three series.
A great many of the combinations you will see make use of the narrowing of the guard to hook around it,
or opening of the guard to come up the middleas in the One-Two-Three Seriesthe exploitation of the
high low principle, or of the body-body-head kind of flurries involved in The Triple Series. The best ones
can include elements of all of the above!

Next time we will look at some of Haislet's brilliantly simple observations on defence and counter
punching. In the meantime, get online and find the PDF of his book for free, or order an old copy for a few
cents!
Pick up Jack Slack's new ebook, Fighting Karate at his blog Fights Gone By. Jack can also be found on
Facebook and Twitter.

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Written by: Jack Slack
Aug 19 2014Tags: Edwin Haislet, boxing