I've been training in martial arts since the 1980s and consistently since the '90s. I am a 2nd-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate.
While shadow boxing or forms or doing techniques "in the air" will give you a bit of a cardiovascular workout, depending on your effort—and such activities do burn movement into muscle memory, the brain, and neural-pathways—it is still good to be able to hit something that has resistance to get the body used to the shock of making contact with an actual solid object. Of course, boxers and other fighters have used punching bags for a very long time.
The problem with the standard punching bag is that it can be cumbersome and inconvenient. it can either be hung from the ceiling or some other structure, so you are limited in where you can put the bag to use, and the weight of it makes moving it around difficult. Typically, a punching bag is left where it is (e.g. in the gym) so there are space requirements for using it, and you have to have a space reserved for its use. This is not so with the Wave Master free-standing punching bag.
What Is a Free-Standing Punching Bag?
- The Wave Master free-standing punching bag is a padded cylindrical bag with a width of a few feet and a height of several feet like a regular punching bag, but it is mounted on a base and the height is adjustable.
- A long, more slender piece comes up from the base on which the bag is attached.
- Grooves in the slender piece allow the adjustment of the bag at certain notches by turning the bag horizontally and lifting or dropping it vertically.
- Down at the base at the bottom of the slender piece is a cap that you can unscrew so that you can open the base to fill it with water or sand. I've always preferred to use water, a more accessible and easily usable resource. Filling the base provides weight that keeps the bag in place and offers resistance when you punch the bag. Otherwise, you'd be punching the bag to the ground 5,000 times and having to pick it back up and not get the workout you intended.
Why Train With a Bag?
Spend 5 minutes punching and a kicking the bag and you will feel how hard your heart and lungs are working.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Punching Bag?
There are many benefits to hitting a punching bag, generally.
- For one thing, your muscles, your fists, your hands, your arms, your legs become accustomed to and conditioned by the impact of hitting a resistant object. It's a bit of a shock if you've never done it. But the muscles eventually strengthen and grow and the bones and joints get used to the jarring they are subjected to when punching the Wave Master.
- Also, it is a great cardiovascular workout. Spend five minutes punching and a kicking the bag and you will feel how hard your heart and lungs are working. Again, over time, the body gets stronger and conditioned to handle the workout.
- You are forced to use correct form. If you don't have your wrist straight, elbow tucked, and body in tight alignment with weapon, you could get hurt.
- You learn to use proper body mechanics to generate power. You practice using your body correctly to hit that bag hard. It can be exhilarating, but it also teaches brain and body how to move together correctly and efficiently.
- You also develop speed. While the main purpose of using the bag is to develop power, still, doing the moves over and over again and hitting the bag hard naturally develops your speed. Part of the formula for power is speed. Mass and velocity is power. Just trying to hit the bag hard makes you faster. Repetition also develops speed. You perform quickly what is repeated and burned into muscle memory and the brain.
So, hitting the punching bag is a great addition to your martial arts training regimen.
Benefits of Using a Punching Bag
It is a good cardiovascular workout that works the legs, heart, and lungs
The muscles of the whole body are worked and conditioned; the legs, the hips, the abs, the arms, and glutes
Since part the formula for power is speed, as you work your power on the bag you are also increasing your speed and burning technique into muscle memory
Convenience of a Free-Standing Punching Bag
One of the main advantages to using the free-standing bag is that it is convenient. Old style punching bags, as stated in the beginning, had to be permanently hung from the ceiling or some structure and couldn't be moved or were difficult to move. They either had to be detached and moved (and they're heavy) or had to be on a structure that moved them somehow. At any rate, it was more complicated to move them.
However, free-standing bags are different in this regard. Basically, you tip the base at a 45-degree angle so that the edge of the bottom is on the floor, and roll the bag to where you want it. You could be punching it out in the middle of the floor and when you're finished with your workout, roll it to the corner or to the side. So, it is convenient for home or Dojo, school or gym. This is one of the main reasons why I like them. It's easy to keep one at home in the garage or the bedroom.
Also, they are essentially portable. Go outside with it, unscrew the cap where the water goes in, and turn over the base to empty the water out of it. Pack it up in the truck and take it to the next event or demonstration or to your training partner's back yard so you guys or gals can get in a decent workout.
Which Free-Standing Bag Is Best?
The original Wave Master Training Bag has a substantial base and a bag only slightly taller than the base. It is an excellent bag for punching and boxing techniques. It has a solid base and you can wail on that thing to your heart's content.
There have been a couple of new models that have come out after the introduction of the original, which I like for one main reason: You can easily perform low kicks on them. A low roundhouse kick to the thigh is one of the most effective techniques you could burn into muscle memory; a well-placed kick a few inches above the knee in the thigh could drop an aggressor, just to let you know.
At any rate, these new —one is called the XXL Training Bag and the other is called an Aerobic Wave Master (sometimes called Cardio Wave Master)—have taller bags and shorter bases. Muay Thai boxers have used bags like these for a long time because one of their standard techniques is a low kick to the thigh. They use long hanging bags and have for a long time.
The Aerobic bag is standard for aerobic kickboxing classes. The resistance provided by the base is somewhat compromised because of the less substantial base, but I still like these bags because you are less limited in the zones you choose to kick.
So, there you have it. These bags are an excellent addition to your martial arts supplies and good to put to use in your training to increase your strength, endurance, and speed. They are convenient, easily moved around, easily stored, and also can be easily transported.
Nathan Bernardo (author) from California, United States of America on July 27, 2013:
Good point about the traditional bags; I do like those, and there's advantages/disadvantages with both types of bags; convenience is the main good thing about the Wave Masters. Yes, I've tried the human shaped ones, it's a good thing to replicate an actual person as much as possible, gives you a feel for the actual hitting someone, how to aim, etc. Thanks for the input and for visiting.
Insane Mundane from Earth on July 27, 2013:
Those XXL Wavemaster bags look pretty decent. Of course, if I had the room, I'd prefer the traditional heavy bags. I don't know if you have tried them or not, but those body opponent bags (human-shaped punching bags) are also really nice. I recently wrote a hub about those, as well.