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Using the Fitzsimmons “Killing” Shift in Your JKD

April 7, 2011

One of the hardest punchers in the old days of boxing was the great Bob Fitzsimmons. Weighing only 160 lbs, he fought for the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship against “Gentleman” Jim Corbett in 1897. Corbett had the advantage in weight versus Fitzsimmons. Even though he was knocked down in the 7th round, Fitzsimmons held his own through the rest of the fight and eventually wore down Corbett.

In the 14th round, it happened.  Bob Fitzsimmons delivered the knockout by using his famous “shift.”  He threw a left lead while in a standard stance (left foot forward) and then immediately did a shift bringing his right leg forward (in a southpaw stance) and simultaneously delivered a right hand strike to the solar plexus of Corbett.  He dropped and could not get back up.

The shift that Bob Fitzsimmons used comes from the earlier days of fighting in Europe, including Savate & Fencing.  Both of which Bruce Lee studied.  What we know of sports fencing today and in the movies was not what was taught in the old days.  In fact, the art of the fence was actually the art of fighting.  We know one area of it called “defense.”  The art of the fence incorporated “defense” and “offense.”  Bob Fitzsimmons was a master of both and especially offensive fighting.

His famous shift is not taught today.  Probably because most boxing trainers don’t know how to do it properly.  It takes some practice and timing.  It’s easy to learn and simple to apply when you know how.  It can be adapted in the way the strike is done too.  You can go from striking with the fist to striking using an open palm, finger strike, or any number of ways.

I think that most JKD Practitioners can easily use it because we tend to train with both a left and right lead.  One other thing about Fitzsimmons, he was a student of the human anatomy.  He understood the weak and most vulnerable areas.  You should do the same thing.  That’s probably another reason he was able to defeat fighters much larger than him in and out of the ring.

See how you can use this with your own skills.  Again, use what is useful and discard the rest.

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