Heavy Punch Bags, Traditional Hanging Bags
In part one we looked at the different options and categories of Punch and kick bags. In this blog post we will look at the old school punch bags and its variants.
In this blog post I will cover the general usage of each of the heavy bag variants, correct hanging of the bag and then go on to a general comment on the construction and materials of these punch and kick bags.
Types of Traditional Heavy bags
1. 4 Foot Heavy Bag (see note for 3 & 5 Foot)
2. 6 Foot Heavy bags
3. Colossus or Fat Heavy Bag
4. Wreaking Balls - Maize Balls
5. Tear drop & Bowling Bags
6. Uppercut Bags
7. Pole Bags
4FT Punch Bags (and yes.....3 & 5 Ft Heavy Punch Bags)
The four foot bag is the staple of boxing gyms and whilst you could kick it, really its designed for punching. There are 3 and 5 foot variants of this punch bag but these are largely hybrids for home markets and really neither 3 or 5 foot are needed unless this is solely due to space. A 5 Foot bag really is a shortened 6 foot bag, whereas a 3 foot bag is a shortened 4 foot.
An average weight for a 4 foot bag is 35kg, they need to be hung so that the head shot is around 1 foot below the top of the bag.
If you Box and are unsure of what to buy......Well its got to be this version, period!
Usually a between 4 and 5 feet long, the Colossus, Daddy or Fat bag is essentially a variation of the 4FT heavy bag. The old boxing adage light bag hit heavy, heavy bag hit light is very much the case with this bag which is designed to encourage lighter footwork and fast hand combos NOT what many people think which is that the additional weight makes it the heavy hitters bag, this is not really what it was designed for.
6FT Kick Bags
Sometimes termed the Banana bag or Muay Thai bag, a 6ft bag is a kickboxers bag and the kick boxing staple. A boxer has no use for the extra 2 feet of a 6FT bag, which is essentially going to the floor (the top of the 6ft bag still being roughly in the same place as the top of a 4Ft bag) whereas a kick boxer now benefits from the ability to low point the bag as well as up kick, punch and knee.
The bottom of a six foot bag generally wants to be around 3 to 6 inches from the floor, some people like to have them just touching the floor which reduces movement.
An average weight for a 6FT bag should be between 50 and 60 Kg. Less than this will make it too light for kicks. Cheap thin 6Ft bags should generally be avoided and watch out for poor seams on a 6FT bag that can split. Great examples of this bag are the Fairtex banana bag and the excellent REVGEAR 6FT bag.
Wreaking & Maize Balls
The spherical shape of these bags if hung correctly allow movement in and around the bag that the tubular versions do not. The smaller Maize balls are used for developing bob and weave techniques whilst the wreaking ball allows a greater range of power with a little less swing on the bag.
Generally speaking these bags are hung so that the middle of the bag is a head shot.
The Wreaking ball could easily be used in place of a four foot bag for many boxers gaining value for uppercut and hooks but losing some in body head combinations.
Tear Drop Bags & Bowling Bag
Whilst these two heavy bags are not the same in design they were largely developed for the same purpose which was to incorporate up kicks and knee strikes into a routine.
The teardrop bag s a better bag if you want to mix up punches with kicks and knees, it can be used just for boxing and its shape doesn't cause any issue for a pure boxing work out however the design allows a neck level clinch with knee strikes and the lower shape allows up kicks for Muay Thai and kick boxing.
The Bowling bag is a relatively new bag. Many people see it as a Knees and clinch bag for Muay Thai but its major use is actually body and front kicking. Not much use for punches at all but for a Muay Thai fighter this should probably be the bag you buy after a 6FT.
Heavy Bag Materials:
In the 21st century, hanging punch bags or kick bags are largely made of vinyl, the better quality materials are sometimes marketed as synthetic leather but rest assured they are as synthetic as it comes, however this should not be mistaken for a lower quality option, most the so called leather car interiors nowadays have zero actual leather content and are actually fully synthetic so the term seems to only be an issue depending on the product we are describing. HOWEVER.... The fact is that for punch bags (not cars), a good quality vinyl has some serious advantages on the more old school leather material.
So, whilst some punch bags are still some made of leather, in terms of construction leather has little or no advantage on quality vinyl but it is generally much more expensive, also you must remember leather has many different grades.
If you see a leather bag for what seems like a bargain price you can bet the leather is far less than top drawer.
The major advantage of quality synthetics is to do with moisture. The cheap leather you see on most punch bags is coated in a plastic paint in any case. The leather underneath is obviously organic and once it gets a little moisture absorbed (say via the sweat filled atmosphere or if hung in a garage the damp in the air) then natural temperature changes will start expansion and contraction causing the outer layer to crack. Also leather can rot from the inside out if exposed regularly to moisture.
Synthetics simply don't have this issue.
BUT there are major differences between synthetic qualities. I visited a gym near Manchester recently to find puncture holes in several bags. When I asked the owner how long he'd had them it was under 12 months! They used to be on Fightstorepro, that brand no longer is!
Moral of the story, just like with everything else there are major differences between grades of synthetic materials, don't think they are all the same because they really are not!
American Brand Revgear and Thai brands such as Fairtex & Danger Equipment all use high quality synthetics, 22 ounce vinyl in their heavy bags, these bags if looked after can last ten years!
Although there are a few variations, most traditional style bags are filled with a combination of shredded textiles and plastic pellets (for extra weight). We wrote a whole blog on how to do this and buying an UNFILLED bag can save you a lot of money, but its not simple!
The cost of filling a bag, or the reason its much more expensive to buy a filled bag than an unfilled is simple. Filling is expensive, shipping them between a filling factory and warehouse is even more expensive.... Period. Some bags almost double in price for the filled option but when you weigh up the cost of filler then its easy to see why.
HOWEVER IF YOU WANT A HOT TIP OF BAG FILLING HERE IT IS!
The cheapest way to fill a heavy bag is to buy (or acquire) a broken one and use the filler from that to transfer into a new one....Easy!
NEXT BLOG HOW TO HANG YOUR HEAVY BAG!