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Old 11-29-2009, 10:26 PM   #1
MexicanJew
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Default What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

First off, a fighter is either born with a great chin or he is not. Due to specific physiological factors, which I will discuss in a moment, some boxers are simply able to absorb head shots better than others

Firstly, these are the Genetic factors-these things cannot be changed, a fighter either has them or he doesnt

Genetic Factors


1. Skull density-A fighter with more thickly built skull, of greater bone thickness and density, will be better able to absorb head punches, as the bone will absorb more of the impact.

2. Ability to maintain Intracranial Pressure
-This is the pressure inside the skull. Surrounding the brain is fluid, this fluid acts a protective barrier to the brain. The volume of this fluid is generally fixed. However, sudden trauma can cause this fluid to change in pressure temporarily. These pressure changes can result in the brain being stunned, and lead to bleeding on the brain or gray tissue damage.

- The mechanisms that lead to maintaining intracranial pressure are not well understood, but it can be postulated that a fighter who possess the unique physiological traits to better maintain intracranial pressure would be better able to absorb sudden impact to the skull.

3. Skull shape
- fighters with great chins most often have squarely built skulls, often with particularly thick bone density behind the ears and back of the head. This squarer shape benefits the fighter. When absorbing the punch, the punch energy will be most absorbed through the area of impact before reverberating throughout the skull.
-This is advantageous in an ironic way. Firstly, although the area of impact will absorb more damage, it actually protects the brain from some of force. On the downside, it also can lead to bone microfracturing, and is a less efficient form of energy absorption.
-It is a disadvantage though long term. Fighters that can take punch after punch will in the long run suffer great neural damage than a fighter that is simply KOed.

4. Neck length and musculature-It is often noted that long necked fighters are more susceptible to being KOed. This is true. A fighter with a longer, and often thinner neck is at a structural disadvantage when it comes to head punches. Their naturally longer neck will not be able to absorb as much impact energy as a shorter thicker neck, and punches such as uppercuts or crosses to the chin will snap the head sideways.
-Compare this to a weight attached to a very thick and short rubber cord. If you push the weight, it will not swing much, simply because the cord is too short and thick for their to be much range of motion
-However, if you attach the weight to a longer, thinner rubber cord, its range of motion will be much greater, simply because the cord is longer and not as thick
=Why is this rubber cord analogy relevent? Because when the head is struck and snapped sideways, the brain moves inside the skull. If the head moves quickly, so does the brain, and it will collide with the skull, resulting in a fighter being stunned or KOed

5. Actual Chin thickness and Jaw Structure- A Fighter with thicker and denser Mandible, thats the bone that makes the chin, will be better able to absorb punches, due to the mandible absorbing more of the impact before it travels to the skull. Additionally, a thicker jaw structure with more densely muscled temporomandibular joint (the joint of jaw bone and skull) will asborb larger amounts of impact fact, lessening the impact energy that the skull must absorb.

-A fighter with a lighter and leaner bone structure will have a structural disadvantage to taking punches specifically to the chin than a fighter with a thicker and denser mandible structure and temporomandibular joint.


Changeable factors-

1. Learning how to absorb a punch-Every has heard "the worst punches are the ones you dont see coming". This is true. When a fighter can predict or prepare to be hit, their punch resistance is dramatically increased, due to the increased tension in the neck and head muscles, as well the mental readiness
-Fighters that have never been hurt before can sometimes panic in the ring. Not used to getting hit flushed, they do not know how to react
-The flight or Fight response can be conditioned so that when a fighter is hit in the head, they "fight" back, either by immediately returning fire, or knowing how to tie up and not allow themselves to be hit again
-Fighters that do not have this conditioned response will make mistakes such as leaving themselves open to be hit again, and will act on instinct, backing up in a straight line and not tying up.

2. Conditioning neck muscles-Whether a fighter has a long or short neck, the muscles of the upper back and neck can be conditioned and thickened. Compare this to the rubber band being thicker. A thicker rubber band will not swing as much.
-This will be advantageous, as the neck will be better able to absorb the channeling impact of the skull.
-Additionally, when a fighter prepares to get hit, the neck will be better stabilizer than before.

3. Mental preparation
-Studies have demonstrated that when athletes spend a minimum of 15 minutes each visualizing themselves performing at optimum levels, they can increase their actual athletic performance by 10-20%. For a boxer, mentally affirming that they "cannot be KOed/Cannot be Hurt/Can come back from anything" could have a dramatic affect on their punch resistance. By increasing their cognitive ability to take a punch, they synergize with their natural physiological advantages. A fighter could take this even further. By cognitively conditioning themselves to believing they cannot be hurt, they can create a conditioned mental instinctual response when they are actually caught flush. "He caught me, but I'll HURT him" for example.

- This would explain why some fighters when hurt will actually fight back with more aggression than they were prior. By priming their conditioned response with a natural adrenaline rush, the brain will recover faster due to the increased oxygen availability and blood flow. Additionally, the neurotransmitters of the brain fire faster and more efficiently. This facilitates a rapid recovery. Combined with the short term increase in strength and enhanced reflex response time, a fighter can attack their opponent harder than they were before


4. Hydration-(MOST IMPORTANT)-Hydration plays a greater part in punch resistance than any other factor.

To illustrate this, here is a comprehensive list of the effects dehydration can have on the bodies functions

*Most damaging are the changes in blood volume and blood pressure. The decreased amount of blood and lower blood pressure and viscosity leads to the following changes in body function:

-Athletes can experience a 10-30% drop in response time, muscular strength, speed, and overall athletic performance

-The brain is more susceptible to being damaged due to decreased fluid density within the intracranial cavity.

-Muscles become susceptible to cramping, and bruising is more immediate and more painful

-Nausea can result, headaches are more likely to happen, especially if head trauma should occur

-Balance can be severely affected, because of changes in intracranial and inner ear pressure.

-Dehydrated individuals can have clouded vision, may suddenly have blind spots in their sight, and may have difficulty focusing visually and maintaining spacial awareness. Head trauma/punches can all exacerbate this

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN=A figher MUST be properly hydrated to perform at optimal levels. Being dehydrated SEVERELY affects performance and puts a fighters health at risk
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Last edited by MexicanJew; 11-29-2009 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

Interesting post......I bet it's a combination of all that stuff probably. I always wondered how Vitali can take such a hit?
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:42 PM   #3
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

Interesting read, great write up. As much as the psychological and physiological have effect, it mostly deals with naturally having a great chin. Whether that naturally is even a psychological benefit of a fighter just being generally more tough or more willing to get hit and fight back and think "I can't be KOed."

One thing you didn't go over was the chin. You talked about the skull, but not taking punches right on the chin. Which besides the physiological (Neck) and physiological aspects there is no real necessary indicator nor attribute to improve this aspect.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

Balls are a key element of an iron chin.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by PetethePrince View Post
Interesting read, great write up. As much as the psychological and physiological have effect, it mostly deals with naturally having a great chin. Whether that naturally is even a psychological benefit of a fighter just being generally more tough or more willing to get hit and fight back and think "I can't be KOed."

One thing you didn't go over was the chin. You talked about the skull, but not taking punches right on the chin. Which besides the physiological (Neck) and physiological aspects there is no real necessary indicator nor attribute to improve this aspect.

I totally forget to add it in. See Number 5 under genetic factors
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

Bone density doesn't play much of a factor at all with boxing gloves. It never gets to that level. Bone does not flex to absorb impact. Your skin would give way long before. As would your consciousness...

I think the neck is the most important factor. When a guy gets truly sparked, it's generally from the head snapping, not necessarily the power of the punch itself. It's all about holding the head in place. Which is why being able to see a punch coming and prepare for it is so important.

Holyfield and Tyson both had huge necks, and as such, they had very good punch resistance.
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

Probably comes with 'hydration' to some degree, but when many fighters have gone down weight divisions they have suffered KO's. There may be a combination of reasons for each specific instance. However, to my mind, weight loss seems to be a factor in becoming more KO'able.
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Old 11-30-2009, 12:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaws View Post
Bone density doesn't play much of a factor at all with boxing gloves. It never gets to that level. Bone does not flex to absorb impact. Your skin would give way long before. As would your consciousness...

I think the neck is the most important factor. When a guy gets truly sparked, it's generally from the head snapping, not necessarily the power of the punch itself. It's all about holding the head in place. Which is why being able to see a punch coming and prepare for it is so important.

Holyfield and Tyson both had huge necks, and as such, they had very good punch resistance.
Bone density does play a factor. While bones do not flex, they do microvibrate and absorb energy. The impact of a punch travels through the skull into the intracranial cavity. A fighter with denser bones, more of that energy will be absorbed before it reaches the skull cavity.
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Old 11-30-2009, 12:21 AM   #9
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

It apparently has nothing to do with bragging to HBO staff that you can take any punch because you relax yourself internally.
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Old 11-30-2009, 09:49 AM   #10
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by MexicanJew View Post
First off, a fighter is either born with a great chin or he is not. Due to specific physiological factors, which I will discuss in a moment, some boxers are simply able to absorb head shots better than others

Firstly, these are the Genetic factors-these things cannot be changed, a fighter either has them or he doesnt

Genetic Factors

1. Skull density-A fighter with more thickly built skull, of greater bone thickness and density, will be better able to absorb head punches, as the bone will absorb more of the impact.

2. Ability to maintain Intracranial Pressure-This is the pressure inside the skull. Surrounding the brain is fluid, this fluid acts a protective barrier to the brain. The volume of this fluid is generally fixed. However, sudden trauma can cause this fluid to change in pressure temporarily. These pressure changes can result in the brain being stunned, and lead to bleeding on the brain or gray tissue damage.

- The mechanisms that lead to maintaining intracranial pressure are not well understood, but it can be postulated that a fighter who possess the unique physiological traits to better maintain intracranial pressure would be better able to absorb sudden impact to the skull.

3. Skull shape- fighters with great chins most often have squarely built skulls, often with particularly thick bone density behind the ears and back of the head. This squarer shape benefits the fighter. When absorbing the punch, the punch energy will be most absorbed through the area of impact before reverberating throughout the skull.
-This is advantageous in an ironic way. Firstly, although the area of impact will absorb more damage, it actually protects the brain from some of force. On the downside, it also can lead to bone microfracturing, and is a less efficient form of energy absorption.
-It is a disadvantage though long term. Fighters that can take punch after punch will in the long run suffer great neural damage than a fighter that is simply KOed.

4. Neck length and musculature-It is often noted that long necked fighters are more susceptible to being KOed. This is true. A fighter with a longer, and often thinner neck is at a structural disadvantage when it comes to head punches. Their naturally longer neck will not be able to absorb as much impact energy as a shorter thicker neck, and punches such as uppercuts or crosses to the chin will snap the head sideways.
-Compare this to a weight attached to a very thick and short rubber cord. If you push the weight, it will not swing much, simply because the cord is too short and thick for their to be much range of motion
-However, if you attach the weight to a longer, thinner rubber cord, its range of motion will be much greater, simply because the cord is longer and not as thick
=Why is this rubber cord analogy relevent? Because when the head is struck and snapped sideways, the brain moves inside the skull. If the head moves quickly, so does the brain, and it will collide with the skull, resulting in a fighter being stunned or KOed

5. Actual Chin thickness and Jaw Structure- A Fighter with thicker and denser Mandible, thats the bone that makes the chin, will be better able to absorb punches, due to the mandible absorbing more of the impact before it travels to the skull. Additionally, a thicker jaw structure with more densely muscled temporomandibular joint (the joint of jaw bone and skull) will asborb larger amounts of impact fact, lessening the impact energy that the skull must absorb.

-A fighter with a lighter and leaner bone structure will have a structural disadvantage to taking punches specifically to the chin than a fighter with a thicker and denser mandible structure and temporomandibular joint.


Changeable factors-

1. Learning how to absorb a punch-Every has heard "the worst punches are the ones you dont see coming". This is true. When a fighter can predict or prepare to be hit, their punch resistance is dramatically increased, due to the increased tension in the neck and head muscles, as well the mental readiness
-Fighters that have never been hurt before can sometimes panic in the ring. Not used to getting hit flushed, they do not know how to react
-The flight or Fight response can be conditioned so that when a fighter is hit in the head, they "fight" back, either by immediately returning fire, or knowing how to tie up and not allow themselves to be hit again
-Fighters that do not have this conditioned response will make mistakes such as leaving themselves open to be hit again, and will act on instinct, backing up in a straight line and not tying up.

2. Conditioning neck muscles-Whether a fighter has a long or short neck, the muscles of the upper back and neck can be conditioned and thickened. Compare this to the rubber band being thicker. A thicker rubber band will not swing as much.
-This will be advantageous, as the neck will be better able to absorb the channeling impact of the skull.
-Additionally, when a fighter prepares to get hit, the neck will be better stabilizer than before.

3. Mental preparation-Studies have demonstrated that when athletes spend a minimum of 15 minutes each visualizing themselves performing at optimum levels, they can increase their actual athletic performance by 10-20%. For a boxer, mentally affirming that they "cannot be KOed/Cannot be Hurt/Can come back from anything" could have a dramatic affect on their punch resistance. By increasing their cognitive ability to take a punch, they synergize with their natural physiological advantages. A fighter could take this even further. By cognitively conditioning themselves to believing they cannot be hurt, they can create a conditioned mental instinctual response when they are actually caught flush. "He caught me, but I'll HURT him" for example.

- This would explain why some fighters when hurt will actually fight back with more aggression than they were prior. By priming their conditioned response with a natural adrenaline rush, the brain will recover faster due to the increased oxygen availability and blood flow. Additionally, the neurotransmitters of the brain fire faster and more efficiently. This facilitates a rapid recovery. Combined with the short term increase in strength and enhanced reflex response time, a fighter can attack their opponent harder than they were before


4. Hydration-(MOST IMPORTANT)-Hydration plays a greater part in punch resistance than any other factor.

To illustrate this, here is a comprehensive list of the effects dehydration can have on the bodies functions

*Most damaging are the changes in blood volume and blood pressure. The decreased amount of blood and lower blood pressure and viscosity leads to the following changes in body function:

-Athletes can experience a 10-30% drop in response time, muscular strength, speed, and overall athletic performance

-The brain is more susceptible to being damaged due to decreased fluid density within the intracranial cavity.

-Muscles become susceptible to cramping, and bruising is more immediate and more painful

-Nausea can result, headaches are more likely to happen, especially if head trauma should occur

-Balance can be severely affected, because of changes in intracranial and inner ear pressure.

-Dehydrated individuals can have clouded vision, may suddenly have blind spots in their sight, and may have difficulty focusing visually and maintaining spacial awareness. Head trauma/punches can all exacerbate this

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN=A figher MUST be properly hydrated to perform at optimal levels. Being dehydrated SEVERELY affects performance and puts a fighters health at risk
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I very good write up. I would also like to add that the BMA (British medical association) despite being vehemently opposed to all boxing and combat sports has a great deal of research posted on the boxing section of their website. They have an interesting section which examines the specifics of protection within the skull itself from trauma. From their research it can be concluded that punch resistance can actually be increased from sparring sessions such as the ones pacquiao is accustomed to in training camps where he allows fighters to hit him to build his punch resistance.

Also the recent examples of both Librado Andrade and Antonio Margarito suggest that every fighter can be knocked out and knocked down. Lucian Bute's first 4th round knockdown of Andrade clearly demonstrates your point about being knocked unconsious temporarily from punches you dont see (as Librado was falling to the ground he was most definately out but recovered very quickly).
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:12 AM   #11
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

Also:

Leg strength - strong legs, look at chinny fighters like Wlad they usually have tooth pick legs, the legs strength helps support the chin
Lower Back Strength - helps hold the body/neck in place firmly, meaning any impact is
Stamina - your strength of everything drops when you're tired and you cant withhold the same punches

Technique:

Tucking the chin - punch your chin with ur chin tucked to your chest
Not leaving the chin high in the air - now punch ur chin with your chin high in the air

Roll with the direction of the punch - takes the edge off the punch

Other Factors:

DEFENSE - allot of fighters who are credited with great chins, are also good at keeping their hands up, roll/slip more shots than given credit for.

Survival Instincts - knowing when to be defensive, tuck up, when not to take risks, when to hold.

'Keep him honest' - when your smash him back, to the body is usually good, makes him think twice about going for the KO

Put a puncher on the backfoot - punchers cant usually get leverage on the backfoot
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:14 AM   #12
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

In terms of bone density Holyfield seems to have a somewhat light skeleton by the looks of it
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:20 AM   #13
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by prime View Post
Balls are a key element of an iron chin.
Tony Zale once said, " it isnt so much glass chins, as glass hearts".
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:49 AM   #14
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

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Originally Posted by MexicanJew View Post
Bone density does play a factor. While bones do not flex, they do microvibrate and absorb energy. The impact of a punch travels through the skull into the intracranial cavity. A fighter with denser bones, more of that energy will be absorbed before it reaches the skull cavity.
MJ, I expect the debate on this to continue. During Hagler's heyday, a medical scan was made of his head. (I forget if it was a CAT scan or an MRI.) This examination revealed that the sheath of muscle surrounding his cranium was fully an inch thick, where it's normally a quarter inch thick with the average human. In the article which broke this story (I believe it was in the Boston Globe), it was also explicitly asserted that Marv's skull was absolutely normal. (This article did not include the scan images themselves, just a discussion of the results.)

It can be argued that intracranial pressure and proper hydration integrate significantly. Griffith, Robinson and Armstrong frequently came in so far under the limits of the weight divisions they were competing in that they had to swill gallons of fluid to make themselves heavier. This held them in very good stead when having to go the distance, or withstand and recover from punishment. In 492 combined fights, they only sustained a total of three attrition induced stoppages. (One apiece - Robby to Maxim, Hank to Zivic, and Griff to Monzon.)

Where mental preparation and learning to absorb a punch is concerned, LaMotta is probably the poster boy for mastering these changeable factors (and in fact articulates this very well in a segment of, "The Way it Was," with Curt Gowdy when reviewing the Valentine's Day Massacre with Robinson, describing subtle defensive movements, and actually using the term, "self-hypnosis"). Chuvalo has also indicated something of the LaMotta template.

A distinction can be made between chin and temple. Norm Goins decked Howard Davis twice, and said the temple was actually Howard's weak spot on the head. Holmes made the same observation abut Cooney, saying Gerry could take it on the chin, but when hit on the temple, "he wobbles like a duck."

MJ, it's a brilliant and carefully worded analysis you crafted here, worth far more careful consideration that I can provide on the fly. These are only intuitive initial impressions on my part which I might revise or even discard entirely on further evaluation. However, I did want to at least acknowledge your hard work with some preliminary "gut feelings."
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Old 11-30-2009, 11:46 AM   #15
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Default Re: What makes an IRON CHIN?-A Physiological analysis

I think a lot of it is mental. If you love a scrap and go into it welcoming a bit of punishment, embracing the pain, then you are far less likely to go down than if you are in constant fear of how you will react to a solid shot.
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