Why ALL Fighters Should Learn Boxing

October 17, 2013 October 17, 2013 by Johnny N Boxing Basics, How to Box 54 Comments

Why ALL Fighters Should Learn Boxing

Boxing can teach you more about fighting than you might ever realize.

 

Those who’ve never tried boxing could easily say:

  • Why bother with a limited fighting art that only uses the hands?
  • No kicks, knees, or elbows? Boxing isn’t real fighting.
  • Boxing is only about landing the knockout punch, anyone can get lucky.
  • Boxers have bad punching technique.
  • Boxing is so unskilled, it just looks like a brawling street fight.

 

Those who HAVE tried boxing could easily say:

  • Boxing is tough. Tough training, even tougher competition.
  • Pure athleticism. Raw speed, power, and endurance. Tiring and painful.
  • Incredible reflexes and extremely fast fight reaction time.
  • Very skilled, commonly misunderstood and under-appreciated fighting art.
  • Very humble fighters and learning environment.

 

All fighters, mixed martial artists, could benefit from learning how to box. Even if you don’t care for boxing techniques or boxing punches, you could still learn a lot. Boxing can make you a better athlete, improve your reflexes, make you smoother, and more comfortable in a fight. There’s a reason why all MMA camps have dedicated boxing trainers on staff.

Here are my 5 reasons why EVERY FIGHTER should pick up some boxing skills:

 

 

1. Punching functionality

This one should be obvious, but for far more reasons than you’re aware of. To begin with, boxing punches are functionally superior to any other type of punching technique found in non-boxing arts. Punching is all we do. And we don’t just throw one kind of punch. We throw ALL KINDS of punches using different techniques that come at different angles using different body positions and different levels of energy commitments. Boxing punches are not only more powerful, but also faster, more surprising, and more deadly than other punches.

 

Boxers have more versatile and more efficient punching techniques

Sure sure, I’ve seen karate guys break bricks and MMA guys punch just as hard as any boxer, but the QUALITY of the punch is not the same. A boxer’s punch is faster, less telegraphic, and can strike at so many different angles from so many different positions. And we don’t just throw one, we can unleash a barrage of 10…and we do it using far less energy than other fighters.

 

Punching TECHNIQUE vs punching STRATEGY

Even if someone had technically mastered all the punches in boxing, he still wouldn’t have the experience to use them to their fullest potential. Throwing a picture-perfect jab on the punching bag is EASY. Now being able to throw that same jab in the middle of a fight, WHILE SLIPPING your opponent’s jab, AND watching out for his right hand…that’s much harder. :)

It’s the same with the right cross. Anybody can throw a right cross. But can you really see the timing? Can you time it perfectly so that your punch lands as your opponent turns into it? Can you aim it perfectly into his chin? Can you even see all this in the middle of a fast exchange? And can you do all this instinctively?

But what about the non-power punches? How about using a fast punch like the jab to win an entire fight. Or using small tapping shots to distract and turn the opponent, keep him away, or set him up for your bigger shots? Or how about body shots? Or how about feints? Or how about punches with your body leaning forward, backward, crouched position, upright? Punches in close range, long range, straight, curved, head, body, while pivoting, while slipping, while rolling. Can other fighting arts really teach you AND train you to become as effective at that? No, they do not.

 

*** Incredible PUNCHING FUNCTIONALITY and versatility. ***

 

The benefit of boxing punches:

  • more power
  • more speed
  • more angles
  • more efficiency
  • more versatility
  • better precision
  • better timing
  • better punching functionality overall

Punching is all boxers do and we are VERY good at it.

 

2. Reflex speed

The pace of a boxing match is so much faster than other kinds of fighting arts. We get closer and we throw with 2 hands and we attack and defend simultaneously. For sure, boxing happens at a faster than pace than wrestling or grappling, which is more of a strength game and you have a little more time to think when you’re holding each other. With boxing, there really is no time. Once you get in there, you better be fighting. If you’re planning on thinking inside the ring, you better do it while you’re punching. There’s really no time or safe place to step back or go into a stalling position.

 

Fights are closer-range when kicks are not allowed

But what about fighting arts that involve kicks? I used to think that a fighting style with 4 weapons (hands & legs) would be at a faster pace than a fighting style with only 2 weapons (hands only), but this isn’t the case in my opinion. Range and power would be the biggest differences in a fight involving kicks vs a fight with only punches. The respect of an opponent’s kick combined with the farther fighting range because of the long kicks tend to slow down a kickboxing-style type of fight. In a fight allowing both kicks and punches, the fighters don’t get as close and do not throw as many strikes.

 

Simultaneous offense and defense

Boxing fights are generally very fast-paced. The hands are not only quicker than the feet, but the weapons are closer to the head, and can be thrown in much faster and more successive combinations. Not only are the hands faster, but they can also be thrown while defending. I would say that in kickboxing type of fights, putting up a defense could easily occupy your “weapons”. For example, blocking a kick could easily use up your legs which then prevent you from kicking back simultaneously or even rotating for a counter-punch. Sure, you could counter AFTER defending the kick but not during. (Of course, there are always exceptions.) But in boxing, it’s very common to attack and defend simultaneously.

Having to attack and defend simultaneously against closer-positioned and faster weapons certainly makes boxing a much faster fighting art. Perhaps what I love most about boxing is that you truly learn how to fight on reflexes. No thinking or planning, you get in there, and you feel your way through the fight. There’s no safe distance or position to slow the fight down. You’re either close or REALLY close.

The only thing you can do is what’s natural, using your natural reflexes. And learning how to fight “natural” in boxing will improve your fight reaction time. I’m sure other fighting styles do the same but I truly feel boxing does it on the highest level.

 

*** Simultaneous offensive and defensive REFLEXES at high speed. ***

 

The benefit of a boxer’s reflexes:

  • faster attacking reflexes
  • faster defending reflexes
  • improved multi-tasking abilities (simultaneous offense & defense)
  • improve overall natural fighting reflexes

 

3. Slickness

“Slickness” or “the ability to be slick” is something truly beautiful to watch. There’s TECHNIQUE and PERFECTION. And then there’s ART and EFFICIENCY.

Boxing is more like jazz and breakdancing than it is like ballet and gymnastics. You aren’t really held down so much by rigid forms and structured techniques (maybe only as a beginner). Beyond the fundamentals, you can pretty much do whatever you want. As long as you’re winning, you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT. This freedom is what makes boxing so beautiful. Many of the greatest fighters you’ll ever see have broken the rules, and it takes a great sport like this to allow them to do that.

 

ART + EFFICIENCY = SLICKNESS

I think this incredibly artistic and efficient quality of boxing is why they call it the “sweet science”. It isn’t only there to look pretty, it’s actually effective. There truly is nothing like it. Slickness shuts down opponents. Slickness wins fights without lifting a finger. Imagine one guy slipping, ducking, rolling, and parrying out 20 punches in a row…without breaking a sweat. Like I said, the SWEET science. A little tilt of the head is all it takes to evade an attack, nothing more. It’s the absolute definition of efficiency.

This slickness can only be appreciated by somebody who’s been in the ring. You’ll know exactly how it feels to unload combinations on a guy standing right in front of you and miss every punch. You’ll know how it feels to chase down a guy who isn’t really running. You’ll know how it feels to be helpless against a guy who isn’t even hitting you.

To the untrained eye…slickness looks unskilled, untrained, lazy, unimpressive, and definitely ineffective. The untrained eye can’t see the battle for weight manipulation on the inside. “Inside fighting” looks like dirty clinching. The untrained eye can’t see the beauty of the slip, it looks like a guy with his hands down and no defense. The untrained eye looks at punch exchanges as a streetfight. They don’t see the simultaneous offense and defense, and constant on-the-fly adjustments going on.

A trained boxer, on the other hand, will not see a boxer’s slickness in other fighting arts. It’s rare if it ever happens. I think Anderson Silva was the closest thing in recent times.

 

*** The SLICKNESS of the sweet science at work. ***

 

The benefit of a boxer’s slickness:

  • increased efficiency
  • ability to completely relax in a fight
  • ability to completely shut down opponent’s attacks
  • developed artistic expression and fight identity

 

4. Full intensity combat

Boxing is one of the best fighting arts to experience a full-intensity combat. I’ll compare it to other fighting arts I’ve seen, in 2 parts: “FULL-INTENSITY” & “COMBAT”.

By full intensity, I mean that you truly get to train at full speed, full force, and full brutality. There are some fighting arts that are “too powerful” or “too deadly” for everyday training. They use barehands or otherwise attack in ways that can’t be practice without full safety gear. And then of course, the safety gear hinders their ability to move and practice certain kinds of attacks. Ultimately, they cannot spar at full intensity.

In terms of combat, there are several fighting arts (such as judo, wrestling, grappling/BJJ) that lack the fear factor. You’re not getting punched or kicked in the face. You’re not worried about taking serious damage. You’re not truly in a fight. It’s not the same. And so you don’t get to enjoy or benefit from all the emotions that happen in a striking art.

 

Boxers can train regularly at full-intensity using ALL of a boxer’s weapons

Boxing, on the other hand, easily offers both the experience of FULL-INTENSITY and COMBAT. The fighting art itself is quite simple. You can attack with two hands, using closed fists. And you can strike the head or body. There’s nothing “dirty” about it. No groin or behind the head or spine or other critically sensitive areas. They call it “the gentleman’s sport” for reasons like this. It was a fighting art evolved FOR SPORT moreso than actual real-world combat experiences. Because of this, it’s so easy to experience the full rawness of boxing without taking away from its brutal qualities.

And we benefit so much from boxing because it’s quite protective and at the same time very much a fight. You have headgear and gloves but none of these actually take away from the quality and brutality of boxing. You still get to be in a fight. You still have to worry about your face getting bashed in, you can still get knocked out. You can train at full intensity every day because you’re wearing some gear that protects your head and your weapons BUT the gear doesn’t hinder your boxing movements in any way. You get to enjoy fighting in a somewhat controlled environment that doesn’t take away the fun (*COUGH* danger) and intricacies of the art.

Boxing allows you to experience the full brutality of a fight,
in a somewhat controlled environment.

 

Being able to train at full intensity improves your raw fighting ability

Being able to fight and train at full intensity greatly improved my overall fighting abilities. I developed more refined techniques and much deeper fighting strategies because I actually got to practice them in the ring. Aside from the technical and strategic improvements, boxing has made me a better combat athlete. When I compared myself to friends who did other fighting styles, I could easily see that I was far more athletic than they were. My body was a better tool. I wasn’t only faster or more powerful but also much more relaxed, more slick, and much more agile. I had more dexterity in my hands, feet, and entire body. I had better balance and footwork. My eyes were so much more reactive. My body was so more coordinated than theirs. My breathing was so much more effective than theirs. The way they moved felt a bit stiff to me even if it was “perfect technique”.

 

*** Controlled and yet brutal fighting. Boxing strikes an impossible balance in civilized FULL INTENSITY COMBAT. ***

 

The benefits of boxing sparring:

  • practice/experience a brutal “fight” in a controlled environment
  • experience the rawness of a fight at full intensity
  • practice all your offensive and defensive weapons in actual combat mode
  • learn how to deal with fight or flight reactions
  • learn more realistic fighting methods
  • great for building confidence and becoming relaxed in a fight

 

5. Collective Skill Environment

One of my favorite things about boxing, where it truly stands apart from other fighting arts is the amount of combined skill and experience present in training environments. This was the determining factor that led me to leave MMA/BJJ and go into boxing forever.

 

How I started boxing…

When I was 19, and just got out of Army basic training, I went around looking for a fighting gym to train in as I was fascinated with the UFC and MMA. I went to Royce Gracie and Rickson Gracie’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools only to find business institutions only focused on the bottom line. The head instructors were never around. The learning was structured into hourly classes taught by family members and lower-ranked students of the head instructors. I had to pay $175/month and I never saw Royce or Rickson in person. Although the art of BJJ was amazing, the actual learning environment was not. Everybody in the class was a white-collar educated type of person, the kind that would never EVER fight in the street, probably never fight in a competition either. They did BJJ because of their fascination for the art. They didn’t care much for fighting or competing. I was unimpressed and so I turned to a friend who took me to a boxing gym.

I enjoyed the idea of boxing as a sport but originally dismissed it as “not a real fighting art” because you could only use your hands. But I’m so glad I tried it out because from the moment I walked in, I fell in love with the place. I was home at last and I’ve never looked back since.

 

What I saw during my first time in a boxing gym…

  • On my left side, was a 3-year old standing on top of a flipped-over trashcan, hitting the speed bag the way Rocky did it in the movies. Another fighter (about 20 years old), fully wrapped up, with blood and sweat all over his shirt, jumped rope as he cooled down after a sparring session.
  • On my right side, young boys, older men, and even GIRLS, were smashing the heavy bags with their fists. They were so incredibly powerful. Just sheer force and brutality. I respected them simply because of the sound they made when their hands hit the bag. I know a BJJ armbar is amazing but to hear the sound of a punch shaking the bag is a whole other world. You can feel the thump in your bones and you realize the rawness of boxing.
  • In the ring, 2 middleweights battled in a test of wills. Round after round, punching, slipping, pivoting, and smashing each other in the most skillful way possible. At times narrowly missing each other, at other times, exploding their fists with pinpoint precision. Watching them up close, they seemed like gods, almighty powerful and invincible. My friend explained to me: one was a former champion, the other was a world contender. Each proving he was worthy of the other.
  • In their corners, older men yelled instructions from their decades of wisdom. The expressions on their face told stories of a time before, when life was hard and people worked harder. You respected them not because they were old but because they were real men. They had lived a harder life than we did.
  • Outside the ring, amateur fighters (wearing groin protectors), gangsters (wearing long denim jean shorts), and local tough guys, geared up to get in the ring. I was amazed to see how excited they were to fasten their gear and jump in the ring. No pep talks needed, these guys couldn’t wait to fight.
  • All along the gym, sat “the old guys”. Retired men each with his own fight story. Ask any one of them, and you’ll get a complete fight record, fight history, where they travelled, who they trained with, who they sparred with, best knockout they’ve ever had, most famous fighter they’ve ever fought. Sometimes you don’t have to ask…they’ll tell you anyway, and they’ll tell you everyday as if they’ve never told you before.
  • Meanwhile, the guy with the bloody shirt is STILL jumping rope. It’s been what…over 30 minutes? You get the feeling he’s been there over an hour. Still the same relaxed expression on his face. Still the same calmness and rhythm as before. He hasn’t tripped up once. Hard work is just routine for these guys. It truly is.

It didn’t take me long to realize this wasn’t a “fight academy”. This was a fight factory. You didn’t come here to “learn boxing”. You came here to become a fighter. The trainers weren’t charging anything, so they only had time to work with “fighters”. Ask someone how to throw the left hook and the response would be, “Get in the ring, I’ll show you.” For as long as I was willing to fight, I had received the best fighting instruction anybody could give me. Everyone wants to help when they know you’re going to step into the ring.

The unspoken rules of the gym were,
“Respect everyone, hit hard, and never say sorry.”

 

Boxing is a FAR more competitive sport

The boxing scene is incredibly competitive—everyone with dreams of going to the Olympics or turning pro. Boxing tournaments were everywhere. Even the competition in the boxing gyms was intense. Everybody here had been in at least 20 fights whether outside or inside the gym. Many fighters had over 100 official fights. We had competitors at every level—local, regional, national, and international. We had amateur boxers and professional boxers. We had trainers with over 50 years of boxing experience who learned from other trainers with over 50 years of boxing experience.

And when I say “boxing experience”, what I really mean is FIGHTING EXPERIENCE. EVERYONE had been in a fight. Everyone had spent their years in the ring. You don’t see that in other fighting arts. When was the last time you’ve heard of a martial artist who FOUGHT for 20 years (10 as an amateur, 10 as a pro)? Here at the boxing gym, we’ve got DOZENS of them. We had 10 year old kids fighting almost every weekend. Boxers wore their surnames proudly on their trunks because they had a rich family tradition to live up to. Boxing is very much an intact and FUNCTIONAL fighting art that’s still being used today. It’s not only the techniques being passed down but the actual fighting experience as well. Where else can you find this kind of fighting environment? It’s rare nowadays.

I think the preservation of boxing has directly benefited from modern-day prizefighting. It’s very possible for boxers to turn professional and support their families by boxing into their later years of adulthood (35-40 years old), whereas other kinds of martial artists couldn’t have made any money and had to quit fighting at an earlier age. Typically with other martial artists, they compete as an amateur for some time and then simply become a teacher by age 30 and open up a school to make money. When a sport makes more money teaching than fighting, you tend to have more teachers than fighters (students). And you tend to gravitate towards a more watered-down quality of instruction.

The fighters were the kinds of guys I got to train with everyday in the gym. Modern-day warriors who actually fought every single day and competed every month. There’s something I respect about people who actually train to fight. And trainers who actually train fighters. There were no white belts or black belts, only title belts. Everybody respected each other because everybody fought. You can see why I fell in love with boxing and why I have so much respect for the sport.

Everybody respected each other
because everybody fought.

 

*** A boxing gym full or locals, amateurs, and pros. All fighters. ***

 

Benefits of a boxing environment:

  • surrounded by pure fighters
  • many fighters, many trainers, many styles, all battle-tested
  • collective knowledge from centuries of experience
  • absolutely BS-free learning environment
  • absolutely proven fighting techniques

 

Boxing is the sport of all sports

Boxing was a sport designed to be a sport. It wasn’t meant to be a deadly ancient fighting art designed to kill opponents. Boxing was simply a fighting sport to showcase brutality and skill at the same time. It takes hard work, heart, courage, and more. The rules were evolved to make it more entertaining, not less brutal. Padded gear was meant to prolong the fights, not necessarily to cushion the impact. Times have changed a bit but boxing is still in many ways the same at heart.

I’ve taken many friends from other fighting styles and martial arts to my boxing gym over the years. EVERY SINGLE ONE was completely amazed by the skill and brutality of boxing. They saw the training, they heard the breathing, and they felt the punches. And they were ALL humbled. These are guys with years of “fight training” now taking a seat because they were too scared to look foolish in a boxing gym. The ones that stepped in the ring never lasted 2 rounds (even against a beginner boxer). There is NO PLACE like a boxing gym (especially one with competing fighters). If you’ve never been to one, please go and see it with your own eyes. If you ever want to judge a boxer, do it from inside our home. And even better…from inside the ring.

I could go on and on about the benefits but really all I want to say is for all fighters to give boxing a chance. It’s been around a long time. It’s highly HIGHLY refined with completely functional moves. And the many lessons in practicality can be passed on into other fighting arts. It is for these reasons that just about every single MMA camp nowadays will have a dedicated boxing trainer on staff. There is no substitute for the skills and knowledge of a boxer.

Boxing can make you a better fighter,
in any fighting style that you want to do.

And if you’re like me, you might just quit your fighting art and become a boxer for the rest of your life. There’s no other fighting sport like it. Give it a try. :)

In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela describes his love of boxing (and why he did it):

I did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it. I was intrigued by how one moved one’s body to protect oneself, how one used a strategy both to attack and retreat, how one paced oneself over a match.

Boxing is egalitarian. In the ring, rank, age, color, and wealth are irrelevant . . . I never did any real fighting after I entered politics. My main interest was in training; I found the rigorous exercise to be an excellent outlet for tension and stress. After a strenuous workout, I felt both mentally and physically lighter. It was a way of losing myself in something that was not the struggle. After an evening’s workout I would wake up the next morning feeling strong and refreshed, ready to take up the fight again. (Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, page 193.)

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54 Comments

ben October 17, 2013 at 9:09 pm

i want to see a video that elaborates on the thumbnail for the article

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KOB October 17, 2013 at 10:02 pm

So true. It is the sweet science.

The other fighting sport that is trained the same way is Muay Thai – lots of sparring, lots of padwork at full power, lots of offense as a counter – but requires great trainers and sparring partners to have the full arsenal. The top fighters are slick like boxers, and ‘boxing fit’ reflected in some of them becoming boxing champions. Inside there are knees and elbows and clinches and throws; outside are kicks and punches. It’s also a great fun sport not a ‘martial art’ as such. Video link attached of Samart, one of the greatest Muay Thai fighters of the 80s, who also became a boxing champ….
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VLD7hEzZEs&list=TLc1ICVBUHFAzVSf0amhMlUXY2XdaAQRjI

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Johnny N October 19, 2013 at 4:25 am

Great fighter for sure. Skilled hands, slick. Thanks for the video.

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DM November 7, 2013 at 10:05 pm

I agree.

The Southeast Asian Boxing Styles (Muay Thai, Muay Lao, Pradal Serey, Lethwei, and Tomoi) and the East Asian Boxing Styles (San Shou, Kyuk Too Ki, and Shootboxing) are excellent combat sports that are able to differentiate themselves from other ‘martial arts.’ You can’t go wrong with these styles.

-Johnny,

I enjoy coming to your website. Excellent source of information on Western Boxing that beats 99.9% of the other boxing websites and blogs. Keep up the great work and I wish you the best.

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David Walker October 18, 2013 at 11:03 am

I Turned 59 in August and have trained in “self defense arts” for over 30 years. About 4 years ago I stepped into my first boxing ring to spar, box, with a couple of young boxers who I would most likely destroy in a street fight or self defense situation. Much to my surprise there ability to hit me and not get hit was both embarrassing and frustrating. Limited to just my to hands and unable to do anything but strike with them I quickly learned what a science / art form boxing really is. It also dawned on me how much better my other techniques could be if I could gain these skills and incorporate them in my arsenal. I have been hooked ever since. I train and spar 2 times a week in the sweet science and this old dog is learning some knew tricks. Your article really captured the essence of what makes boxing so great. Keep up the good work.
Dave

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Johnny N October 19, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I love your comment, David. One thing I hear from martial artists all the time when the first spar a boxer, is that boxers never stop moving. Either way, I’m glad you gave you a try and incorporate it into your existing skills. It’s a fun sport and not as physically demanding when you turn down the pace and throw in a bit of skills.

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Billy W December 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Hey Johnny I have a fight tomorrow. Here’s the thing. I trained hard for it. But I feel like when I was training I wasn’t focused. So it feels like I didn’t work hard. I think it has to do with the holiday in the middle of the training camp. But I feel like I didn’t give it my all. This is my biggest fight yet. Do you have any tips on how to get confident about the fight tomorrow and get my head in the game? I have a feeling your going to say “train harder in the gym next time,” but I feel like I did train hard. But then in a way I feel like I didn’t give it my all. & it make me nervous about tomorrow. Any tips on getting confident? Thanks!

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 7:36 pm

At this point, all you can do is focus on the fight. Give it your best in the fight and go from there. And yes, train harder next time. As for confidence, that comes with training and experience. The more experience you have, the more confident you become.

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Waleed October 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm

awesome article Johnny

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40yearoldboxer October 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I’m a 41 year old beginner boxer preparing for my first amateur fight. I too started boxing for mostly the physical benefits and then got hooked for the sweet science itself. However, I’ve had to deal with some injuries as a middle aged beginner. I know Johnny went from MMA/BJJ to Boxing, but has anyone here gone the other way from Boxing to MMA/BJJ esp. if you got a start late in life? I still want to box b/c I enjoy it the most (and for all the reasons Johnny put on here), but maybe 1x/week and do more cross training (BJJ/grappling) b/c of my injuries/head ringing. I noticed in BJJ or grappling, they can spar hard every day b/c there’s no punching. They have injuries too, but it’s different from boxing esp. to the head. Maybe I’m sparring too much. Most likely, I’m just old/overweight/out-of-shape.

Any thoughts on this (cross training mma/bjj/boxing) would be much appreciated. Thank you Johnny for the best site!

PS I started a blog detailing my journey to my first match b/c I couldn’t find anything on the web where an old fart like me started from scratch.

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Johnny N October 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I’ve seen some people go the other way for sure for exactly what you said, worries of brain damage. The important thing whether you stay in boxing or not is that you have to spar at your pace. If this means going much slower, so be it. Once your reflexes are there, you don’t get rattled so much.

PS: Good blog! I used to write something exactly like that. My sparring chronicles and daily workouts.

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Anthony H October 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Great article. Very well written, love this website! :)

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Max October 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm

You just summed it up better than anyone I ever heard talk about this before.

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D October 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Thanks Johnny, great article. I think boxing is vastly underrated as a martial art. One of the key things about it is that you are tested and the art/science is tested constantly. There’s no question whether a technique works, the art evolves so that only effective techniques are preserved or added. Also things such as distance, timing, rhythm and accuracy are learned and not against a compliant partner but moving targets and people who are really trying to hit you. I studied traditional arts for over a decade but it was only after a few years boxing I felt confident as a martial artist. Boxing reveals and builds character like nothing else I know and fighters are special people that deserve more respect. Peace bro.

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Johnny N October 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm

“…it was only after a few years boxing I felt confident as a martial artist.”

Such a great quote. All of my friends in traditional martial arts who I took to the boxing gym were immediately impressed by the skill level of boxing. Not a single one lasted 2 rounds in the ring (even against beginner boxers) but they had been training in their arts for years and thought they had trained punching technique.

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Fabian October 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Awesome article,

Makes me feel inspired to focus on boxing again. I’ve trained BJJ for 3 years at various schools and can’t help but get that feeling you are just important to instructors because you are a paying customer. Left me feeling disillusioned with martial arts honestly. Quick Question: Ive never had any fights but have been training (sparring included) boxing for around the same time as I’ve been doing BJJ. All this time I’ve been a right handed southpaw . I know you recommend against this but is it worth trying to change after all these years?

Thanks again!

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Johnny N October 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I had the same feeling you did, Fabian. I was just a paying customer and not somebody they really felt passionate about teaching their craft. It’s like I chose my teachers but my teachers never chose me.

Answer to your question: it’s worth learning to fight the way you were made to fight. The natural way is the best way. Every technique you ever learn should be helping you to become successful in your natural way. It doesn’t matter how invested or well-trained you are in a less-effective technique. If it’s less natural, it will never perform as well as your natural technique. I could learn how to write with my left hand (even though I’m a righty) but it still wouldn’t mean that my left hand has more potential than my right hand.

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Fabian October 20, 2013 at 11:11 am

Thanks for the time you took to reply Johnny. Really makes this site the best on the internet in terms of boxing technique and training. Keep up the awesome work!

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Pete October 19, 2013 at 7:23 am

I’ve never met an MMA guy who could box.
I work in a prison, and many of the guards there train in MMA.
When they find out that I box, they don’t show me much respect when they’re around their fellow guards, but when they’re with me one on one, they always ask me to help them with their boxing.
I have a lot of respect for anyone who does MMA, or any fighting art for that matter, (I trained in tang-soo-do for years), but for me, boxing, and the training and strategy that go with it, is second to none.

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Lee Paxton October 19, 2013 at 8:20 am

Anyone thinking MMA or UFC is superior to boxing in or out of the ring are woefully il-informed or lacking real life experiences. It’s not really the styles as much as the men and you won’t generally find tougher men than found in boxing; rated by ESPN as the toughest, and by the way, more dangerous, as the statistics show in comparison to MMA. Boxers are almost always much harder punchers than their counterparts in MMA, also, they are inured to more punishment. For some good discussions and a good reading regarding boxing’s effectiveness, I recommend reading Ned Beaumont’s books; very informative.

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Johnny N October 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm

This is a very good point. Boxing as a sport is definitely more dangerous than MMA. More precisely-targeted head shots, much faster and much more rapid shots to the head. Far more deaths in boxing than MMA. I’m not exactly proud of that but it’s an important fact to know so we can minimize risks.

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Jeff October 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Great article and your description of the sport really resonates with me as I have followed the same evolution coming from BJJ to really settle into boxing and am now helping to train a really talented amateur for the last few years. Out of all the sports I’ve competed/participated in, boxing has taught me the most about myself and others. One of the most important things boxing has taught me is how to exist in the storm of chaos and aggression of another human and mastering my emotions.

Nobody can really know the dedication, skill, and heart of a boxer unless you have gotten in the ring and experienced the whole gym wander over during the first minute of the first round to watch you spar and you start to feel the pressure. How about the pressure of putting it out for all to see, putting it on the line in a pure test of what it means to be victorious or defeated. Nobody puts more on the line in such a basic and pure fashion as a fighter does and can make it look so good as a boxer does.

Some have said that boxing is dead or dying, but those are people who don’t know #%@&. Boxing is alive and well in any MMA fight as any other art and the PPV numbers speak for themselves.

Thanks for articulate description of your story and the great site!

I love this sport…

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D October 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Thanks Johnny, it’s so cool to hear like-minded folks who share the love of the art :) instead of arguing about nonsense. Bigups to one all.

The more I learn the more I love the Sweet Science. In the past week I made a slip bag @ home with piece of a handwrap tied to a juggling ball and after seeing Lomachenko training for Ramirez I made that thing where you tie a tennis ball to the back of a baseball cap with a few rubber bands. It’s awesome fun, great for training rhythm, timing and concentration.

Just wanted to share a thought on orthodox vs southpaw. I’m orthodox but am learning how to switch, I find it to be a nice skill to have in the toolkit because the different angles often throws people. Also boxing is so dynamic that in the heat of the action I sometimes have to throw from a southpaw stance because I don’t have time to reset. Peace.

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hearns October 21, 2013 at 1:59 am

you must be frustrated at how underrated boxing is especially since you have almost unlimited knowledge on the sport. like how einstein would feel if a kid told him science is useless subject matter
expertboxing.com is the best site ever and i check it everyday

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Johnny N October 21, 2013 at 4:34 am

On one hand, I do feel a bit angry that boxing isn’t as respected as it should be. But on the other hand, I know boxing is the truth. Everyone who has ever tried it knows. And I’m so proud to represent this sport and so honored to get the opportunity to contribute to it as best as I can.

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Run4 October 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Coming into this as an MMA and karate guy, I gotta say, you’re right. The level of science in both is pretty awful even at the highest level, when compared to boxing.

I hope SOMEDAY MMA and boxing can finally put the BS aside, stop tearing each other down and that each sport can see what it can learn from the other instead of whining about how a fighter from one sport would get routed competing in the other. Sure, James Toney and Milo Savage got choked out under mixed rules, but even the best MMA striker’s going to wake up to a ring doctor asking him if he knows what day it is if he tries to box.

I learn a lot just reading this site and practicing with the college boxing club. Keep up the good work!

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Leroy October 22, 2013 at 8:53 am

You are becoming an amazing writer mate..

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Robert October 23, 2013 at 11:40 am

Just finished reading the article, and I must say this get me back into the sport. See I started boxing when I was 24 (late bloomer in college) I always loved the sport, had a couple of fights sparred some contenders, Now fast forward to 2013. Got a great job here in Houston and looking to get back into it. I’m now 33 and feel like an old man for the sport, but you guys give me hope. I plan on having my first professional fight after I finally get my eyes fixed (bad vision, which really stopped my progress) anyone here from Houston? keep fighting guys this sport is for warriors!

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K-C October 26, 2013 at 2:33 am

I have been practicing martial arts off and on for most of my life. I have a strong Karate foundation, and have trained in Tae Kwon Do, and Jujitsu as well. When I met a friend that was a boxer, and offered to train me. I have been completely blown away from that point on. Of all the years that I was in those other arts, I never knew how to throw a proper punch! I am learning things about movement, striking, and defense that were never emphasized by any of my previous training. Though I will never regret the skills I learned in those other disciplines, I feel more fit, and capable than I ever have in my life after just 2 months of training. I believe I am hooked for life, and am floored to see how much I have to learn. Thank you for spreading your knowledge!

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Chris cat October 28, 2013 at 2:44 pm

As a person who has boxed and trained mma and actually has fights for both, I gotta say I’m pretty disappointed that so many people here couldn’t find a good mma gym to train at. Everything said here is all subjective and a desperate attempt to keep boxing “alive”. To say the science in mma is non-existent is ludicrous. The science is different in mma then boxing but its certainly not non existent. If mma was so easy then any top level boxer who isn’t making huge pay days in boxing could spend a year working on grappling and come in and dominate and become a millionaire. I train everyday and you gotta spend as much time in each asset or you’ll fall behind. But how is that possible if mma isn’t scientific? Couldn’t they all just lift weights and perfect their hugging technique? Lol. I honestly love watching boxing matches and have been watching and admiring the top level boxers for years! They’re just two different sports. Even the stand up technique is different because you don’t wear shoes and the gloves are smaller so power shots are more likely to be thrown then jabs. It is fighting after all not boxing. Plus there are kicks, knees, elbows, and takedowns you have to worry about. So it is very different.

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Johnny N October 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm

I agree with some of your points. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chris. MMA is definitely a real sport and very scientific in itself. Something like BJJ is almost pure science…you really can’t just muscle your way through it.

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Joel October 29, 2013 at 5:11 am

Hi
Please put a video of your sparring Johnny.

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Johnny N November 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm

That’s in the works but not a priority right now as it serves no purpose other than for people to see a video of me sparring. It doesn’t improve anyone’s boxing skills and doesn’t help me in any way…unless, of course, I put in the hours to cleverly edit the video to make myself look like a god. Either way, it’ll be up sooner or later.

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Tran Bronstein October 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm

“Boxing can make you a better fighter, in any fighting style that you want to do.”

This is what it all comes down to, guys. Here’s the amazing thing about boxing: it’s not the hitting that makes it so great even though everyone concentrates on that — it’s the MOVEMENT and FLUIDITY that you learn. Boxing teaches you the best movement and fluidity of all the martial arts, period. The great thing about it is that you can then transfer that movement and fluidity to the other martial arts you practice. That’s the real value of boxing.

Like Chris above, I also train in mixed martial arts (though I do not compete, unlike him) and think it’s very wrong to believe that other martial arts are not as scientific. There’s a lot of science to all of them and I strongly believe they should be used to complement each other. I love the striking versatility of Muay Thai but I find the movement in it to be very slow and rigid. So I also train the hand speed and fluid movement of boxing to go with the kicks, knees and elbows of Muay Thai and I think of it all as one big striking martial art.

To date, boxing is the only art where I’ve learned properly as a smaller person how to get in on a larger opponent and strike on the inside. Once I use that movement to get in I find that it helps with all the Muay Thai strikes, especially the elbows and knees which are also short range. That alone makes it worth its weight in gold to train.

You don’t have to go to the extreme that Chris does and actually compete in both but I highly recommend that you train some pure boxing to go along with your other martial arts and judge for yourself just how helpful it actually is.

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bakeru October 31, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Man went from my mma gym to a boxing gym because the mma gym cost 100 /month compared to 30/ month boxing…. its way different atmosphere, really poor kids there. But I got to spar ex pro boxer buck smith who is almost 50 years old …I hit him once in 2 rounds, he jab’d me to death and was. 10 tomes faster than anyone I ever sparred before

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Tempest November 5, 2013 at 2:24 am

$30?? I thought boxing gym cost over $100 :O

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Johnny N November 8, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Boxing gyms are usually much cheaper than MMA gyms.

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Andrew November 5, 2013 at 2:41 am

Hey Johnny. Just found your website and am so thankful for it. It really inspires me as you seem to really have the passion and love for the sport. Thank you for offering the free training for those who do not have much money. I intend to explore your site further as well as begin my training. God Bless…

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Justin November 5, 2013 at 8:59 am

Just wanted to say great article. I think you’re right about how boxing is so much faster than other combat sports that include kicks. It really makes it exciting, and you can tell the difference in the reflexes between, for example, Muay Thay fighters and boxers.

Great write up.

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Gonzo November 11, 2013 at 11:24 pm

That’s right,

Out of all Martial Arts, boxers have the best hands. Do not let anyone tell you any different. And, it is good to see that you caught my trainer Rodrigo Mosquer from Eddie Herredia Eastside Boxing Club at the Wild Card Boxing Gym.

Thank you teacher.

Gonzo.

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Simon November 19, 2013 at 7:30 am

I agree that every fighter should train boxing. Im BJJ fighter but I train some boxing and muaithai and I have to say that boxing develop:
the fighting spirit, strength of mind, will to fight (it was a limiting factor for me but until i train boxing and muai thai i develop determination and power of will).
Sometimes I think about give up boxing training but when I stop to train boxing I notice that im starting to lose fighting spirit, will to fight, reflex and focus…. spiritual and mental side of boxing are very imoprtant for me as a fighter, I feel that boxing strengthens me mentally and physically
Johny I want to say that you have the best website about boxing training and You are very intelligent person with a lot of knowledge and experience not only about boxing but about fighting at all.

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soul_yodsanklai December 31, 2013 at 3:17 am

Any fighter in combat sports should always work on boxing and understanding as deep as they can about boxing to be versatile. There’s a lot in boxing that can easily transition into other combat sports. Even some of the most Legendary Muay Thai fighters have went off to compete in and focus strictly on boxing–even they recognize boxing’s importance.

As far as being able to attack simultaneously after defending kicks– It is actually certainly possible to defend and attack, or even counter before, during, or after defending a kick. The common defense people recognize about blocking leg kicks is that you use your legs to do it (checking kicks), but you have a huge variety and flexibility to defend back. You don’t even need to use your legs sometimes to defend kicks.
Examples:
- (common kick defense) checking by lifting your leg to defend against leg, then returning with a counter.
—a few other possible ways:
- using the checking leg to change it into a push kick (can be done before, during, or after defending)
- using the checking leg to chain into superman punch (can be done before or after defending)
- using the checking leg to transition into a switch kick (done after opponent attacks)
- using a cut kick to take out their leg even before their kick (done before opponent attacks)
- using a kickboxing swipe to parry their leg to counter back with a punch (done during opponent’s attack)
- using footwork to pull away and counter back with kicks or punches (done during opponents attack)
- catching the kick to counter back with punches, kicks, or sweeps

kickboxers have tremendous variety depending on their style and preference.

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Bouche Dag June 25, 2014 at 1:37 am

Ducking an opponents jab and landing low jab to your opponent’s robs is an example of using defense (ducking his jab) and offense (landing a low jab on his rib section simultaneously).

Every kick you talk about defending and then attacking aren’t fine simultaneously, it’d a defensive maneuver followed by an offensive maneuver. It’s akin to blocking a hook and returning
With a cross….

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Xyan January 5, 2014 at 1:58 pm

What would it take for MMA as a sport to get more people fighting and less teaching or just learning?

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Johnny N January 9, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I think it would help to have a big governing body to organize and oversee amateur MMA competition. The same way boxing has with USA boxing. Having an official amateur MMA organization would help the sport grow by allowing people to become exposed “safely” to the sport.

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Ray Chavez February 24, 2014 at 9:26 am

Hi well glad i took boxing ,but took JUDO first. got in to fight with boxing state Champ was hard to grab him he bounce around me .but once i grab him it was all over beat him bad, coach wanted to meet me. after that’s how i found boxing for 3 years just to learn how to punch right never was a bouncer i was a toe to toe fighter. Judo has help in all my fights i think its the best ,i watch UFC and see fighters fall between legs of someone down i Always get there head in arm for control, and kicking i don’t do because anytime someone tried to kick me they went end over end landed on there face then i was on then it was over after that .and why Judo over wrestling when you learn young there’s no weigh classes it go by age so u fight guy always bigger than you for me it didn’t matter still was AAU Champ ….

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Johnny N July 22, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Awesome background, Ray. Thanks for sharing.

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Laura White May 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm

I was a first skeptical about Boxing back in the days when I did Muay Thai, I thought Boxing was a part of the game. How wrong I turned out to be. I ended up doing boxing a few years ago due to problems with my knees, and I’m glad I did. I’ve become a much better, composed and confident fighter since. Eventually I left Muay Thai because it became too hard on my knees, but I still do Boxing and thankfully its forgiving on my joints.

Every fighter should learn basic boxing, they’ll be amazed by the results.

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Johnny Reitmann July 6, 2014 at 4:01 am

I’ve trained in various martial arts for most of my life, but the one thing that struck me the most when I first entered a boxing gym was how friendly, respectful and helpful everyone was. There was none of the arrogant posturing or egotism you see in many martial arts clubs, everyone was willing to offer help and advice. One thing that sticks in my mind was a powerhouse young heavyweight whom I’d just seen hammer his opponent in sparring very politely asking me if he could borrow my spare water bottle because he’d forgotten his.
The gym was in a tough neighbourhood and run by a notorious local gangster. The boxers that trained there were mostly poor, some didn’t even own cars (in contrast to the long lines of Audis and BMWs you see parked outside commercial gyms), yet they were some of the most pleasant people I’d come across and the trainers were all really friendly, patient old guys. If I’m ever back in my hometown I’ll be sure to pay a visit.

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Johnny N July 22, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Very funny comment but I agree with you completely, Johnny. Boxing gyms have so much respect and I feel this is in part to the fact that ALL BOXERS fight. But in other gyms…those dudes have so much ego because they don’t actually fight. And so it’s easy for them to walk around thinking they’re better than everyone else because they’ve never had the opportunity to be humbled.

I think after everyone’s been in the ring a few times, you learn very quickly to respect everyone. Not because it’s a sign of fear but because you know understand the courage and hard work it takes to get in there.

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Johnny Reitmann July 24, 2014 at 7:14 am

Thanks Johnny! On a more serious note, one of the main reasons I gave up martial arts and transitioned into boxing was that I was fed up with being injured and seeing other people injured by the aforementioned arrogant douchebags who would deliberately hurt you in training or sparring to show what total “badasses” they were. Most of them would fold like spaghetti against even a beginner boxer. Boxers don’t need to strut around bragging about how tough they are. They’ve proved it multiple times in the ring. This is not to say that there isn’t a fair amount of good natured interplay between the boxers in my gym – as one of the older guys I get a fair amount of ribbing from the young boxers. With gloves and headguards on I can hold my own with any of them and this is greatly respected. It’s also highly satisfying when self styled “Tough Guys” strut into our gym looking for a spar and get their asses handed to them by one of the quiet, unassuming guys there.

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A.J. July 11, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Hahah I like your description of your first time in a boxing gym. The old guys telling you the same story everyday are definitely a classic part of training in a gym… its the same here on the east coast. This article was great. You really read my mind. While UFC fighters obviously punch just as heavy as us, they are very telegraphed… I often see them pull their hand back to load their punches before they throw it.

While I respect UFC-style fighters for being tough enough to get kicked in the head and having so many weapons at their disposal, the result is a fight that turns out to be surprisingly simple. An MMA fighter can’t do much slipping and weaving since they’ll get grabbed and thrown down right away. The lack of limitations and rules gives an advantage to the MMA fighter who goes for broke and throws wild haymakers and kicks. In boxing, you have to really outclass your opponent to get a first or second round knockout. It’s been said many times before… Boxing is like a game of chess. Every move has counter moves. Somehow, limiting striking to only hands creates a much more diverse fight.

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Johnny Reitmann July 12, 2014 at 12:38 pm

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, AJ. The skillset in boxing is relatively small compared to something like MMA. While an MMA fighter can use his feet, knees, elbows, chokes and holds to get him out of trouble, a boxer, limited to his fists, has to manoeuvre his opponent into a position where he can land effective punches, all the while his opponent is trying to do the same to him. Boxing is about mastery of a few techniques, not partial knowledge of loads of them. I firmly believe that boxing is far more skilled than MMA for precisely this reason. Guys like Kimbo Slice who can’t fight at all have had success in the UFC. I doubt if he could last more than a couple of rounds against even a journeyman professional boxer.

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