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A Sensei Breaks Down How Boxer Mike Tyson Actually Uses Karate

YouTuber, sensei, and self-branded “karate nerd” Jesse Enkamp is all about educating his viewers on all things Karate culture and technique. He’s previously fought Muay Thai champion Petch-Eak Sitjaoph0, and gave his take on the Netflix series Cobra Kai.

In his latest video, he breaks down heavyweight boxing legend Mike Tyson’s “peekaboo” style of boxing and how it is influenced by Karate movements.

“To be honest, old school boxing looks very similar to traditional to karate, because both are done without any protection (it’s bare-knuckles), and you don’t really use any rules,” says Enkamp.

To dig deeper, Enkamp enlists the help of Allstars Gym boxing coach Jay Elder to discuss Tyson’s style. Elder explains that Tyson’s peekaboo style starts with his hands close to his chin, which is not the traditional boxing stance.

“That means Tyson’s got to be quicker than the other person because he’s further away (from them), but he’s rolling off his shoulders and his hips to throw,” says Elder. “It’s a lot more square. He’s incredibly fast, and if you watch he’s just bobbing, rolling and throwing. I’ve never seen that in Karate.”

To test it out, Elder gives Enkamp a boxing lesson with a few moves, punches, rolls, and footwork to get him thinking and feeling like a boxer. As he practices, Enkamp comments that Tyson was truly built for boxing. But Elder keeps telling Enkamp to keep his head down.

“That’s a Karate habit, because you want to keep your head back. So the chin is a little bit up,” says Enkamp.

“That’s a huge difference between Karate and boxing,” says Elder.

As they keep working on combinations, Enkamp laughs. “This is so awkward!” he says.

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Elder explains, “Because you kick in karate, you have to have a more upright body. You need the space to kick. Where as boxing, I’m not going to throw my legs. It’s different. In boxing, you’ve got to almost sit.”

He goes on to explain that for those looking to infuse their Karate with Tyson elements, it comes down to boxing theory.

“If you start understanding where the torque is, how we shift our weight, how we throw from different positions, I start understanding your distance. I start understanding patterns. For example, understanding the reason I go low is to bring your hands low, so that I can throw high,” says Elder. “If you start listening when a coach is talking about why you do things, then it’s much easier for it to become part of you.”

“As I like to say, don’t be a martial artist…be a smartial artist,” says Enkamp. “Mike Tyson is a karate master.”

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