A guide on helping martial arts to adapt a physical boxing style and mental boxing attitude. Perfect for martial artists looking to cross-over and learn boxing skills to help their overall MMA (mixed martial arts) ability.
Physicality and Endurance
Boxing is a very raw sport. It’s a lot more than just technique, you will have to be in great shape to even have a chance of executing proper boxing techniques. If your opponent is bigger, stronger, faster, or longer-lasting he or she has a great chance of beating you in the ring. All the most amazing technique in the world is nothing if you are not in top shape. Bruce Lee himself admired boxing for the amazing athletes and conditioning that they put themselves through. It’s one thing to train yourself to break bricks or fancy moves. It’s another thing to train yourself to throw hundreds of meaningful punches over several rounds. I would dare say that given all other variables are even, a C talent boxer with great endurance would easily beat an A level boxer with mediocre endurance. I would also say that a B level boxer with amazing speed could destroy an A level boxer with mediocre speed. My point is, to be a boxer or even attempt boxing you’re going to have to get in really great shape or else all that technique you learn will be meaningless. You can’t just be a better tactician, you’re going to have to be a better athlete.
Many martial artists don’t respect a boxer’s ability to withstand damage. When it comes to absorbing punches, a boxer is very well trained and conditioned to take punches. I’m dead serious, boxers take hundreds of punches everyday in training from all angles in the ring of various types of power. There are too many martial artists that have been trained to think that they have “secret” single punch moves that can cripple any human being. Do not be surprised if you land 10 of these on a boxer only to have him laugh at you.
Combinations VS Single Shots
In some martial arts, it’s common to see fights being fought one strike at a time but that attitude won’t work in boxing. In a typical boxing match, you can expect hundreds of punches to be thrown throughout the rounds. It would be foolish to think that everyone has Mike Tyson’s power and can win fights with a single punch. You should be prepared to throw numerous punches in combinations non-stop from start to finish. Instead of focusing on just trying to score with a single punch which isn’t enough, you have to throw numerous punches to finally break through your opponent’s guard. You will throw offensive punches, counter-punches, and even retreating punches. Many of these punches will vary in power, angle, speed, and intent.You should also remember that because the fight is fought in combinations, you must be prepared to defend against combinations of punches.
Head Movement & Body Movement
Boxing utilizes a lot of foot, body, and head movement. Punches are not simply avoided by just clever arm deflections and hand-trapping maneuvers. Many boxers will utilize clever footwork, weaving, and head movement to evade your punches as they come in closer for devastating counter-punches. Just as you must be aware of a boxer’s versatility, you must also learn these movements yourself. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how amazing you are; if you leave your head in the same place, you will get hit.
Practicality & Evolution
If you’ve never tried boxing, you will find that there’s far more technique involved than just throwing punches and blocking them. Even though you are only attacking with two hands, it is by no means an easier fighting art to master. There is very much involved and many levels of advanced technique that is unseen by the untrained eye. For example, a non-boxer would never notice professional boxers rolling away from punches as they get hit; they would simply see a boxer taking a punch straight on. When televised, many viewers don’t notice the amount of clever footwork that goes on in boxing matches; often the feet is cut out of the overall camera shot as the focus is only on the upper body. Non-boxers might not also notice the feints a boxer uses to manipulate his opponent’s guard. My point is, boxing has been around for a very long time and there are many high level techniques that are not appreciated until you spar against someone of that level. Needless to say, the techniques have been far more refined than they seem.
Styles & Inferior Technique
Many traditional martial arts have a strict set of rules that govern the methods of striking and defending used by practitioners. In boxing, other then relatively basic rules on how to throw punches and defend against punches, boxers are free to attack and defend as they please. The saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is heavily agreed upon by many boxing coaches. There are many boxers that are not technically sound but their “flaws” allows them to have an advantage over other boxers. In a sense, inferior technique is often allowed and used to confuse other boxers who are not accustomed to the technique because they have been taught never do that in the ring. There are many styles and many boxers that break numerous rules in boxing. It’s a very freestyle form of fighting and because there is no rigid guideline or belt-earning practice, boxers are never really bound by any techniques. Over time, it’s common for boxers to teach themselves to use only what works in the ring and not what is taught to be correct by the book.
This article was meant to be an eye-opener to all traditional martial artists looking to venture into the tough world of boxing. I would never intend to offend or disrespect any other martial arts. I would never dare say that boxing is superior to any other fighting style. To venture into the world of boxing with the wrong attitude could be dangerous. Do take care of yourself and have fun!
Good article. Being a martial artist who went to a boxing gym after getting his black belt and went on to MMA I can say all of this is true. I fared very well against the pros and amateurs in the gym and came to give each other a good fight and get the better of each other from time to time.
So i’d like to add the following:
-Go in with an open mind. Just as there are many different styles of marital arts, different boxing gyms have different styles of boxing. This also holds true if you learned to box in your style. Pay attention to the fine points of the technique, you may learn something.
-If you learned to box from your style AND are a style that fights hard, just as you would in a boxing gym ring, don’t leave your style/skills behind. If you are experienced you already know things that work for you and don’t. You’ll see quickly what does and does not work the same in the ring as it does in Martial Arts. You’ll also find similarites between the arts and the way you learned to box.
-If you learned to box from your style and you are NOT a style that fights hard: You truly didn’t learn how to box. You have to be able to take it to give it, even out-fighters who stay at range know what it’s like to get hit and hit back. Realize that you may have the technique but using it is you next step.
-if you didn’t learn boxing in some form in your style, then think of how boxing is going to help you and why you want to learn. If you want to purely box, then purely box. If you are there to augment your skills then start from scratch but put it back together with what you have.
-Conditioning is 90% of boxing. Everything the author said about an A class boxer with mediocre endurance getting beat by a B class boxer with outstanding endurance is true. Many time boxers with nowhere near as much skill or talent get beat by the guy who worked harder. Strive to be the A Class boxer with A class endurance (and speed/timing).
To sum it all up:
-Go in with an open mind
-Learn to take a punch (if you havent already)
-Conditioning is prime
-Don’t leave behind the skills you already have if they are applicable to the ring/you already learned how to box.
-“To venture into the world of boxing with the wrong attitude could be dangerous.” You’re gonna get hit.
Hope this helps.
I’ve studied martial arts for a long time, and personally have been floored by the knowledge you drop on your site. I would have to say I am totally convinced to try boxing now. Time to hit the track and build up some wind, it seems.
@K-C Wonder – that’s awesome, man. You’re gonna love it.
I trained in the martial arts as well, and overall it was a positive experience that taught me some valuable techniques to get out of a jam. Also, it gave me a basic foundation of fitness that I had lacked beforehand.
My school used to close for a week in the summer for vacation. One year, I decided to drop in at a local boxing gym, just to get a couple of workouts in. My boxing knowledge was limited at that time, and I thought that I would breeze through the workouts because of my karate training.
The training at the boxing gym was much more intense than I had imagined, and I ended up joining the gym, cross training boxing and karate, then eventually dropping karate to concentrate solely on boxing.
I haven’t regretted my decision for one second.
The intense conditioning was the thing that sold me on boxing.
It was the same for me, too! I thought being a former US soldier and super athlete would make boxing come easy for me but it didn’t.
THANK YOU, it needed to be said. Ive been training in the martial arts for years, and I grew tired of people claiming to know how to destroy anyone with one punch or one kick. What I really hated about it was that no one EVER proved it could be done. No one ever fought against anyone with opposing ideas. I fought against a boxer for the first time believing what I had been taught and got demolished. Since that day i have converted to Boxing and kickboxing for the simple fact that its believable. I dont believe in the way most traditional martial arts are taught. They are brainwashed and desensitized to reality in so many ways. Im glad I was woken up the way I was. I still train in the martial arts but with a much different mind set.
holy words. I recently switched from Kung fu to boxing, because I was tired of listening to the brain-washing about the martial art and never being allowed to spar, because it’s “too dangerous”. I went into a ring for the first time and got punched all over by a scrawny kid half my age. It ain’t pretty, but it’s real and it’s the only way to learn.
I have so much respect for doing that. There are so many martial artists who claim to know how to fight but never even practice sparring. And then they try sparring a boxer and lose in 2 minutes. 🙂
Agreed but don’t underestimate them either my dad always told me: the stronger the man the better they hide their strength.
Johnny thanks so much for all ur effort n info sharing on the website. After 10 years of kyokushin, then a break, I am now boxing. This, as every page here, is so helpful. Being female, 40, and in Australia, there is little local to help me out (except my great trainer). Loved the article about building spirit too;-)
Thank you. I’ll be curious to hear your updates and see how you compare boxing to kyokushin.
I am glad you are now in a real life. Boxing is a foundation of any real striking style where punches are being thrown on the head… when you have good hands it doesn’t take very long to readjust them for muay thai, MMA… Besides boxing, some wrestling skills are also very important for the man.
Hey there , Johnny
I am Santosh and am from India , am an ameture boxer and evrytime when people talk like Boxing is dead in America ,it freaks me out ??? is it true that MMA has taken over and is boxing really declining ??
lik to hear it from a guy from you ?? a
I have no idea whether or not boxing is really dying but there is definitely a decline in skill and participants compared to several decades ago. Nonetheless the art of boxing will live on and I’ll be doing it forever. Only those who actually box will ever understand this.
be careful and critical believing what people say in their comments online:)… internet attracts lots of stupid morons to write their opinion, while people who know about the stuff tend to write much much rarer… If you believe what you read you can get very crazy nonsense ideas, the fantasies of internet “warriors”… and will be forced to live in a nonsense world..:) Personally I don’t take everything for granted and use my own experience, judgment and logics when reading online stuff, and I also recommend to do the same to you.
I have a blackbelt and I have recently ventured into boxing. It’s nice to see a page that validates boxing as a form of western martial art. I think all the advice for the transition is wonderful to read, I have one question though…and this is probably going to make me sound like a pussy but I didn’t spend a lot of time taking punches in my own training.
So, how does a guy learn how to do that?
Start with slow sparring. With time you will be able to withstand and defend yourself against more damage.
in boxing you train not to take punches at all… the main boxing philosophy is to hit the head of your opponent and run away… then hit the head two – three times in a row and run away again… running in a ring is slightly different than 3 mile running, but not that much…
I disagree with the running away part^^^ Avoiding punches and attacks with bobbing,weaving,or slipping is what its about, But you also should be able to take multiple punches as well..
As master bruce lee said There should be only one style “THE STYLE OF NO STYLE”.Boxing itself is a martial arts………..THE ACTUAL CONCLUSION-Don’t get bounded by styles.Be formless and shapeless like water.Now you put water into a cup it becomes the cup.You put water into a teapot it becomes the teapot.You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle.BE WATER MY FRIEND-Bruce lee
Agree 100% on the stronger opponents and contact point. Sometimes I hate typing with a touch pad.
Great piece. Agree 100% on the If I hadn’t come from a martial arts gym with an “alternative” approach to contact I would’ve spent every boxing session I’ve been to in a heap on the floor. Boxing taught me that my footwork is average (if you’re being kind), my body movement is respectable but my head movement is absolutely lousy.
That and the fact that my face is not the hardest part of my body.
Agree 100% on the stronger opponents and contact point. Sometimes I hate typing with a touch pad.
Sorry. I am REALLY BAD at this today.
Great article! And absolutely in line with my own experiences. As a multiple-dan-graded student of a “traditional” karate style, I thought I would take up boxing for maybe 3-6 months to improve my punches. I was gobsmacked (figuratively, but also literally) by how often I got hit, something that hardly happened in the dojo. So I learnt that lesson about moving your head very quickly, the hard way. And boxing is soooo deep: 18 months later, I still feel that I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface. What a great sport!!
Beautiful sport indeed and very humble of you to share your honest experiences. There are so many people, trained martial artists and street brawlers alike, who come to boxing and are shocked by its intricacies. It’s a highly evolved sport. And made so much more complicated because it doesn’t seem that way. You can’t see what’s going on, and it’s hard to learn what you can’t see.
Just want to let you know, like so many others, that you have a great website here. Whenever I find myself questioning a technique or a workout I should perform to hone some skill or anything to improve my boxing, THIS is my online boxing directory. Thanks.
I’m glad to have you, Macho!
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I loved this article, it was very validating to the sport/art of boxing that obviously deserves more credit than it sometimes receives. I just started this martial arts system which incorporates a great deal of boxing into it’s style. I have spent years dabbling in defensive tactic, mainly with weekend courses etc never fully committing to anything, I suppose nothing every ‘grabbed’ me enough to continue. I started this defense class 2 months ago and thought, oh, this will be easy, I know how to kick, punch etc. already. How hard can boxing be? I have never worked out so hard in my life. And I am a very active, athletic person. I am constantly challenged (in part thanks to a great teacher) but boxing is a bonified art/sport and I highly recommend anyone who may have scoffed at it in the past to give it a try, I think you will be surprised and impressed with how much fun it is, and what an intense workout it is.
Hi! As usual awesome article. I myself used to train in wushu, wing chun and Taichi and I did find a lot of similarities between those disciplines and what the pros are doing in boxing. By that I mean all the dirty tricks they come up with to touch, move around and annoy/control their opponents. I remember in a previous article you wrote about mayweather’s clever fore arms tricks, it sounded very wushu to me according to my experience in hungar style. Since you are a nerd of techniques I suggest you have a look at some choi li fut arm rolls drills it can be used against in fighters and clinchers,I would be curious to have your feedback.
james P mock
Boxing wins hands down even though Kung Fu, Karate and even Tai Chi have many Boxing moves nobody punches better than a Boxer when it comes to kicks nobody kicks better than Taekwondo a Boxing combination does more damage than a Wing Chun combination most fights go to the ground because most people can’t Box
After 5 years of practiceing karate (Okinawan style) and gaining a black belt, I nearly got in to a street fight everything I had practiced in karate elbows knee strikes throws joint locks chokes strangles just went completely out of my mind all I could think of useing was the boxing style punches I’d learned I had really admired boxers as a kid that and the fact that there was no sparing at karate I decided the time to switch to boxing had come , went to a boxing gym trained there then an MMA gym training boxing Muay Thai and a little bit of BJJ then moved again to a excellent boxing gym found a excellent coach and I have been there eversince boxing is a great game and a extremely tough one , I love the rapid fire no nonsense no bullshit of boxing to much Hong Kong phooey in martial arts good dojos can be extremely hard to find