Many, if not all of us, have been in a situation where we sensed danger. It could be as simple as feeling uneasy about someone walking behind you or following you into an elevator. Whatever the situation, there are ways to avoid the situation or be prepared. Here are five lessons you can learn from boxing that will aid you in self-defense. Put up your dukes!
Self-defense lesson #1: Build confidence
Learn how to love looking at yourself in the mirror. In boxing, it’s important to literally watch yourself so you can observe your technique. Seeing yourself in a “fighting pose” immediately starts to build your confidence. As your skills improve, you’ll build your second layer of confidence. Once you start hitting those punching bags with force and precision, you’ll develop your third layer of confidence. All of your punching prowess builds the ultimate layer of confidence: your posture. Your confident bearing becomes one of your primary means of self-defense.
Self-defense lesson #2: Learn awareness
Boxing heightens your awareness of your surroundings. Even if you never step into the ring to compete, the focus required in the training alone sharpens your senses. Most boxing programs have a circuit-training format where you go from one station to another as soon as the bell rings. You must constantly follow your trainer’s instructions, listen for the bell and make sure you don’t run into anyone as you switch stations. Working out on the punching bags with a group of people also requires you to be aware of the person next to you on another punching bag. It forces you out of tunnel vison and takes off those “blinders” — and this is exactly what you must do every day as you are walking down the street, getting in and out of your car, and entering and exiting any building, including your house. Wake up!
Self-defense lesson #3: Build quick reflexes
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” were the watchwords of the great Muhammad Ali. This really means: Be relaxed, but be able to react quickly and effectively at any moment. To build those reflexes you must practice fast movements, which require mental sharpness. Your reaction time comes from first being aware, then responding, without having to think it through. In boxing training you learn to quickly react to a potential punch coming your way. You also learn to use fast footwork and defensive movements. Whether you are shadow-boxing, hitting punching bags or actually sparring, you’ll practice this concept repeatedly, which will hone your defensive “cat-like” reflexes in no time!
Self-defense lesson #4: Build stamina
Being confident and aware isn’t always enough — sometimes your best alternative is to run. Boxing requires an immense amount of conditioning — jumping rope, punching-bag work, running and plyometric drills – which improves your cardiovascular fitness. With all your training, you’ll be able to run fast, and even use your plyometric training to jump over obstacles in your way — you’ll look like Angelina Jolie’s stunt double as you race to safety.
Self-defense lesson #5: Learn punching power
If you can’t avoid a physical confrontation, it’s time to use those lean, mean fighting skills. As a woman, you’ll likely be smaller than your attacker, so you must learn how to use your entire body for force. Boxing teaches you how to throw your punches doing precisely that: Using your legs to generate power in the uppercut punch, and your core , including hips, to generate power with straight and hook punches. Once you learn how to punch with power, it’s like putting a dumbell in your hand — what a wallop! Use this newfound power and go for the nose with a straight punch, for the ear and ribs with a hook and under the chin with an uppercut. Then refer to Lesson #4 and run!