Boxing is awesome for self-defence. And yet it can be an underrated martial art when it comes to self-protection. Let’s break it down, beginning with a definition.
What is Self-defence?
According to the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary, self-defence is
“the skill of being able to protect yourself from physical attack without using weapons.” Obviously, how you try to protect yourself depends heavily on the individual circumstances viz. the environment (are you cornered?), the opponent or opponents, if you’ve been trained in a martial art, your fitness level, the dynamics of the situation and so on. There’s many variables.
Two reasons why boxing is criticised in self-defence circles is its inability to be effective if the altercation goes to the ground and it’s heavily disadvantaged in terms of striking options when compared to eastern martial arts such as Muay Thai, kickboxing or karate. However, assuming the fight or altercation remains face-to-face standing, boxing skills can be a highly effective and efficient means to defend yourself.
Obviously, a boxer or someone trained to use their fists can use hooks and uppercuts and jabs and crosses etc to vanquish an attacker — using either single punches or a myriad of combinations. Many street fights have been won through a well timed and accurate punches or haymakers. But a trained boxer is much more than strikes. A trained boxer can defensively outmanoeuvre a street or bar room thug. Defence can keep you safe. Defence can make you a hard target to hit and win you fights. Two major players in in a boxer’s defensive arsenal are footwork and head movement.
Beginner boxers can underrate footwork. Good footwork will frustrate and fatigue an opponent. This frustration and fatigue can lead to mistakes and open up opportunities to counter strike and potentially finish the fight. It’s the feet which control your punching power though hip rotation and it’s the feet that control balance, agility and distancing. Moving swiftly and pivoting for example, will not only protect help protect you from strikes but also re-position you against a rushing-in opponent who is attempting a takedown.
A boxer’s two glaring weaknesses in an urban stoush are takedowns and vulnerability to low roundhouse kicks to the front thigh. Nimble feet can reduce the likelihood of success of both. Fast and agile feet can prevent the fight from going to the ground — which would of course nullify a boxer’s punches and footwork. As Royce Gracie demonstrated in the early days of the UFC, a grounded boxer is no match for a skilled Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner. And fast and agile feet can minimise the possibility of receiving a thudding roundhouse kick to lead thigh. Repeated kicks to your thighs can severely hinder the fluency and speed of your footwork and hamper punching power. A boxer generates punching power from his legs.
Defence: Head Movement
Aside from footwork, a boxer can outdo his opponent through head movement. Good head movement can keep you out of harms way. The most common punch an untrained person will throw is a wild overhand right (assuming right-handed) — a major part of boxing defense training is avoiding such punches. Having the ability to slip, pullback, roll under and duck can set you up for a counter strike. The better your head movement, the more likelihood your opponent will be swinging and hitting nothing but air and that will put him or her off balance and once again, set you up for a counter strike. Make ‘em miss and make ‘em pay. That’s the motto of many a boxer.
Boxing training is super to improve fitness. balance and co-ordination. Throw in the offensive and defensive skills that come with the sport and you have a solid game to protect yourself. Just be aware of its weaknesses and where a boxer is vulnerable.
Train Hard. Train smart.
Yours in Boxing,