Boxing is a popular combat sport wherein two people partake in a round inside a boxing ring. Known for throwing a lot of punches and intricate footwork, boxing is a lot easier said than done.
As a result of the skills needed in the popular combat sport, it’s often assumed that boxing is good for self defense.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where it’s becoming increasingly important to know at least the basics of self defense.
Whether you’re a vulnerable person or you just want to protect yourself, you might be wondering: is boxing good for self defense?
Here is everything you need to know about whether boxing is good for self defense!
Why Boxing Is Useful For Self Defense
Any experience with a combat sport will undoubtedly give you a lot of skills handy in self defense, which is why boxing is good for self defense.
Here are the main reasons why the combat sport is so useful in protecting yourself in real life situations.
Improves Fitness Levels
There’s never any downsides to increasing and improving your fitness levels, which is partly why boxing is such a useful skill for learning self defense.
If you were in a real life situation against an attacker, you’ll stand far more of a chance in defending yourself if you’re fit and healthy.
Boxing is known for being a full body workout. It truly incorporates every part of the body, including the muscles in your upper body to intricate footwork in the lower part.
It’s not even about the combat sport itself. When training and warming up for boxing, your trainer will take you through a series of high-intensity exercises, including running, weight-lifting, and jumping, before they teach you the technical skills of boxing.
All of these attributes are highly valuable in the world of self defense.
In the same way that boxing improves fitness, it also subsequently vastly improves your stamina.
Defending yourself against an attacker is no easy task, especially if the attack lasts a long time. You’ll need a significant amount of stamina to fight the perpetrator off, after all.
The way boxing improves stamina is through committing to weeks of training. Within each session, your stamina will start to improve slightly. However, this is a long-term goal that cannot be achieved in one or two beginner boxing sessions.
Teaches How To Block Strikes
The key to self defense is all in the name – it’s about defending yourself, not attacking the perpetrator. Of course, it helps to know a few attacking techniques to confuse the offender, but you need to learn how to block strikes before anything else.
That’s where boxing comes in. Not only does boxing teach you how to throw punches with your fists, but it’ll also teach you how to dodge the strikes coming at you. This is achieved by a technique known as blocking.
Blocking can be done in many ways, with the aim to simply protect yourself against the attacker’s strikes (which can cause serious harm). The most common form of blocking is by relying on your arms to protect your head, neck, and upper body.
This is why boxers are taught to always keep their arms in an upright position, so their reactions will be faster when blocking a strike. The key is to protect your head and neck with your arms, as these are the most dangerous points a perpetrator will try to attack.
The best way to prepare for a strike with your arms is to tense up your muscles. This is a technique boxers are taught, as the tensed up muscles help to protect the bones and organs underneath.
Of course, it’s not a surefire protection method, but it might be the difference between a broken arm and a bad bruise.
Tensing your muscles is also known as bracing, or bracing for impact. Bracing your arms while protecting your head can protect yourself from a serious concussion or head injury.
Another key point in blocking strikes is light, intricate footwork. Boxers are trained to always move their feet, keeping their knees bent at all times and focusing on light footwork.
This allows the boxer to willfully shift their weight and know when to change their direction without the perpetrator knowing.
Develops Motor Skills
Boxing is far more than simply throwing punches and keeping light on your feet. It’s an intricate combat sport that requires a lot of finite details that are often overlooked by beginners.
These details can be the difference between life and death when coming into contact with an attacker.
Hand-eye coordination is the key to a boxer’s motor skills. This is generally achieved by constantly maintaining eye contact with the opponent, which is easier said than done when in a physical fight.
The reason for this eye contact is mostly so the boxer can see exactly what move the opponent is going to pull. This will help to improve your reaction time. However, maintaining eye contact isn’t easy, which is why this takes practice to maintain in your boxing training sessions.
Plus, maintaining eye contact can often make the perpetrator uncomfortable, so there’s a mental benefit to eye contact, too.
Another motor skill benefit from boxing is that the combat sport naturally improves your reflexes. Reflexes are your body’s natural and uncontrollable movements in an attempt to protect yourself.
In time, boxing will work to improve these reflexes, so you will naturally start to defend yourself without even realizing it.
These reflexes are particularly beneficial when being attacked from behind. Your reflexes will give you enough time to process the attack and plan your next course of actions.
Improves Accuracy Of Strikes
Self defense isn’t all about defensive skills. Sometimes, you’ve got to throw in a few punches to ward off the attacker. Of course, nobody wants to be in a physical fight, so only use these skills when necessary.
Boxing is all about throwing punches with clarity, confidence, and complete accuracy. During your training, you will be taught how to deliver tactical strikes, including the power, accuracy, and speed of the punches.
Not only will these punches be useful in a physical fight against an attacker, but knowledge of these punches will give you an idea of how best to defend yourself against an opponent also using those punches.
This will give you an idea of how to block the punches and how best to counteract them.
Of course, nobody actively wants to get into a physical fight and cause serious harm to another person. These strikes are simply taught to give you time to escape or plan your next move in a real life situation.
This is particularly useful when forced into a setting with multiple attackers.
Along with the light feet, boxers are taught to maintain a permanent stance to keep them stable and upright.
When you’re attacked in a real life situation, odds are you’re going to end up on the floor at some point. The best way to tackle this is to develop a boxer’s stance, which helps to keep you on your feet.
Even if you are pushed to the ground, boxing training will teach you the best way to quickly get back onto your feet without being knocked down again.
As much as boxing looks like an aggressive sport, it’s all about discipline. Boxers are taught from day one to never seek out a fight with their new skills.
Technically, the only time their skills should ever be used is in a boxing ring. Of course, these skills can be used as a last resort in a real life situation against an attacker.
The skill of discipline is essential in a real life situation, because it will teach you to remain as calm as possible in a fight. This levelheadedness isn’t easy to achieve without boxing experience, as it helps to keep any emotion out of a physical altercation.
Without such emotion, you can rationalize and focus purely on the situation at hand, allowing you time to figure out your next move when escaping the attacker.
Prepares You Mentally
At first, boxing is a world of unfamiliarity for a lot of beginners. It might seem completely unnatural to be prepared for a fight so often, but it will soon become the norm.
This doesn’t mean you’re constantly aggressive and ready to fight – instead, boxing will prepare you mentally when facing an opponent outside the boxing ring.
Not only this, but you will become more familiar with the feeling of being beaten up. Your pain tolerance will be much higher and your mental durability will increase, giving you more of a chance of beating a potential attacker in the street.
In the same way that boxing helps to improve your mental preparation and discipline, it also dramatically improves confidence.
You will need the confidence in yourself to block and throw strikes both in and out of the ring, which will give you a boost against a potentially untrained attacker.
With this confidence in your skills, you will naturally have a more rational approach to a fight in a real life situation, so you’ll know where to strike and where to block.
Plus, especially if you appear like a “vulnerable” individual (like a woman or someone with a small physique), they probably won’t expect to see a confident fighter.
Disadvantages To Using Boxing As Self Defense
While boxing certainly has its advantages when used in self defense, it also comes with its downfalls. Here are the main disadvantages to using boxing as self defense.
Boxers Are Used To Gloves
The main piece of equipment in boxing is the infamous boxing gloves. These are designed to protect the hands (and therefore support the wrists upon impact) and to throw impactful punches and strikes.
Problem is, boxers are used to fighting with these gloves, which is why the strikes hit slightly differently without them.
When fighting with bare hands, a boxer might take a while to adjust to the new setting.
The gloves also provide an extra form of protection when lifted around the head and parts of the body, but without them, you’re left with only your bare knuckles to defend yourself.
As a result of this, boxers actually risk breaking their fingers, knuckles, or hands in a fist fight. This is because boxers are used to throwing powerful punches with the protection of gloves.
This is one of the reasons why people might argue that boxing isn’t useful for self defense, because it doesn’t implement the same techniques and preparation as bare-knuckle boxing.
Because of this, modern boxers should look to also train in bare-knuckle boxing if they wish to use their skills as a form of self defense.
Different Setting To Boxing Ring
Fighting in the street is very different to fighting in a boxing ring. Not only will the physical surroundings be different, but boxers aren’t always trained to fight from the ground.
When you’re pushed to the ground in a real life situation, boxers can only really depend on their defensive skills (such as blocking and protecting your head).
Knowledge Of Only One Combat Sport
Because boxing is predominantly an upright and upper body combat sport, individuals should train themselves in other combat sports and martial arts to develop skills in ground grappling.
Martial art forms like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai teach the user how to fight from the ground, which is a huge advantage against modern boxing.
Still, fighting someone on the ground is a huge risk of injury and harm. With the discipline from boxing and most other martial art forms, users will have to remain emotionless while rational in a physical altercation for both legal and moral reasons.
After all, punching someone’s head into the ground can cause life-changing injuries, and has the potential to even be fatal. Of course, the opponent knows this, but that doesn’t mean two can play at that game.
Plus, modern boxing doesn’t train the user about using their legs. Other martial arts will train in leg kicking defensive skills, which can be invaluable when the fighting has moved to the ground. This is particularly beneficial when defending yourself in a sexual assault situation.
Dangers Of Boxing
It’s no secret that boxing is a dangerous combat sport. While the sport teaches discipline and self defense skills, it doesn’t mean that a boxing match will be a fair fight.
Whether in or out of the boxing ring, boxing can be responsible for serious injuries, and even fatalities.
Even if you’re not comfortable being responsible for harming another person, in a real life situation, the opponent will be actively trying to hurt you. Somebody is going to be injured regardless.
While in a real life situation, boxers will be without their protective gear. This includes lack of protective gloves, headgear, mouth guards, and more. Without such protection, a range of injuries might occur.
Below are some of the most common injuries that occur in a boxing match:
- Brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Muscle damage
- Eye damage
- Internal bleeding
- Cuts and bruises
- Mental health problems from head injuries
As you can imagine, the likelihood of these injuries occurring is far more likely in a situation outside the boxing ring. Also, remember that it works both ways – you can also cause serious injury to your opponent.
While this can be a form of self defense and could ultimately keep you from serious harm, this could lead to legal complications.
Difficulties Of Boxing
Boxing isn’t easy to pick up. You can’t expect to complete one or two beginner boxing sessions and count that as a skill in your self defense inventory. While it might not be the hardest combat sport to learn, it takes a long time to master the skills.
To no surprise, boxing is incredibly physically demanding. While a great workout, it literally uses up every muscle and ounce of energy in your body.
It will take a while to get used to the physical demands of boxing, but you’ve got to stick with regular training to gain stamina.
Boxing is a technical sport, and you need to commit your time to the sport to understand the science behind it. You will learn what muscles to use when punching to make the strike most effective and to avoid injuring yourself.
After all, a punch doesn’t come from the hands and wrists. A successful punch comes from the ground – it travels from the feet to the legs, hips, core, and back, before its delivery.
And it all happens in a split second. This takes a lot of time and practice to perfect, which is why a handful of beginner boxing sessions won’t suffice as self defense.
You will also learn the best parts of the body to strike. While you might assume you should aim for the head, there are other parts of the body that cause bad damage, such as strikes to the kidneys or liver.
Conclusion: Is Boxing Good For Self Defense?
Learning any basic skills in combat will help you to defend yourself in a real life physical altercation.
Whether you’re being attacked or mobbed, learning how to defend yourself with the skills from boxing can be the difference between a mere bruise and a serious concussion.
Modern boxing teaches users invaluable skills, such as how to strike, how to block, how to remain stable and on your feet, how to apply discipline and confidence in an attack, and more.
Still, it’s worth considering implementing other martial arts in your self defense training. This is because boxing has its downfalls, too – you will get used to fighting with protective gear, and boxing doesn’t teach you how to fight from the ground.
Despite this, if you’re looking to gain strength in punches and how to block strikes from a potential attacker, then boxing is definitely a useful skill.
You’ve got to be prepared to commit to regular training sessions to gain all the benefits from boxing, which will subsequently give you the best chance against an attacker in a real life situation.
About The Author: Ahmed Mir
Ahmed Mir is the founder of MMA Boxx. After a weightlifting injury redirected his athletic journey, Ahmed discovered a passion for mixed martial arts (MMA), immersing himself in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai.
Beyond the mat, Ahmed lives in Thailand and is a seasoned entrepreneur, earning recognition in notable publications such as Entrepreneur, Legal Zoom, and The Washington Post.
As the visionary behind MMA Boxx, he’s dedicated to fostering a community where enthusiasts can explore the world of MMA.