By Ross Enamait – Published in 2004
This tip is directed to those combat athletes who compete while wearing a mouthpiece. I’ll get right to the point. If you fight with a mouthpiece, you need to train with your mouthpiece.
Consider the sport of boxing. You will always box while wearing a mouthpiece. Unfortunately, it is very rare to see a boxer hitting the bag while wearing his mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is only worn during sparring sessions. The sparring session therefore is used not only to develop sport-specific attributes (ex. combination punching), but it also takes on the task of familiarizing the fighter with his mouthpiece. This is a mistake.
When you constantly hit the bag without a mouthpiece, you get used to breathing through your mouth, rather than biting down on the mouthpiece (and breathing through the nose). Your breathing patterns are not sport-specific to what you will be doing inside the ring.
Whether you are hitting the mitts with your coach or hitting the heavy bag on your own, you should wear your mouthpiece.
As a youngster, I was taught to run with my mouthpiece. I learned to breathe through my nose during brisk roadwork sessions. A fighter who breathes through his mouth will be much more susceptible to a knockout. You need to bite down on the mouthpiece while fighting on the inside. A solid punch (or kick) to the chin will be devastating to the fighter whose mouth is wide open. Learn to breathe through the nose by training with your mouthpiece.