Some fighters might think it counterintuitive to learn a martial art that strictly focuses on a single discipline. Mixed martial artists tend to believe that all training should involve all the skills they need to compete in the cage. This line of thinking is not unfounded, this is mixed martial arts after all. To be successful, a fighter must utilize several forms of martial arts not only to attack but also to defend. However, there is a case to be made to deep dive a specific martial art from time to time, especially when it comes to boxing.
It is at this point in a conversation when hardcore fighters and fight fans alike would throw their hands up and say something to effect of, “Why box? They’ll just kick out your legs or take you down in a fight.” Yes, this is a valid and understandable statement. But if you ever hear this from peers or so-called arm chair experts, be quick to remind them that your sojourn into the sweet science is a temporary one, but nonetheless important.
By taking an in depth look at boxing a fighter will be able to greatly improve their punching techniques. The slight rotation of the fist right before it lands, the force generated by the feet making its way through the body and into the hands, the torqueing of the hips to maximise the impact of the punch, and other nuances can only be taught and internalised by stepping foot within the hallowed halls of a boxing gym. Only by working with a boxing trainer can a fighter glean the strategies passed down through word of mouth, muscle memory and countless of hours slinging leather. From this, the fighter will develop new skills, new dimensions of attack and increase their overall versatility. The goal is also to increase their striking efficiency and increase the percentage of landed strikes.
There is no question that learning boxing will better a fighter’s offensive capabilities, but it will also increase their defense as well. In the heat of a match, boxers will throw punches at dizzying speeds, but that means that they will also expect the same kind of ferocity to come from their adversary. This means that the transition time between offense and defense is ridiculously small. Through the lens of boxing, a fighter will quickly learn to attack and defend simultaneously. They will find a whole new respect for the concept of range, the various distances and their corresponding attacks. A focus on boxing will mean a focus on sharpening a fighter’s reflexes.
To believe that boxing’s sole focus is the fists would be sorely mistaken. The hands may do the damage, but it is often foot movement that will prevent damage. Muhammad Ali encapsulated the importance of footwork when he yelled, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!” Being able to out maneuver the opponent not only allows the boxer to avoid strikes but it will also allow them to create openings to mount their own counterattack. Learning how to deflect, parry and evade will also decrease the damage that a fighter will take.
Let us not forget that boxing is the distilled form of one of the oldest forms of combat. To engage in boxing is to immerse oneself in generations of fighting. Its intensity is unmistakable. As a martial art it is one of the most realistic fighting methods. And it all begins with a single decision, a single step through the doorway of a boxing gym.