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A martial artist's view of boxing

The first thing I was told going into the ring to spar in the boxing ring for the first time was don’t use your kicks!’. Coming from the striking arts, and having practised them for the past 10years it was extremely hard to keep my feet on the floor even when hitting the punchbag and focus mitts. Having got used to combining hands and feet fluidly it was a thought for the first few weeks. Having overcome that hurdle, I started to realise the benefits of having Martial Arts experience.

For a start, getting a stiff jab in your face or being put under pressure with a combination of punches was nothing new and didn’t shock me in the way it might someone who had no previous full contact sparring experience. Another advantage was that my hands were up at my face covering me at all times. When sparring in the Martial Arts, you are never really out of range because of the distance covered with shifting kicks and back leg kicks so you get used to protecting yourself at all times and not dropping your hands when out of punching range. Another obvious advantage was fitness, although boxing training is hardcore and a few hard rounds of the pads could seriously fatigue even the fittest newcomer!. One of the differences I found hard to adjust to in boxing was the footwork. Cutting off the ring is nothing new to any full contact Martial Artist but I found cutting off the ring in boxing was more to do with taking steps and stalking whereas in Martial Arts a well placed kick can cut off the ring or sparring area. On the pads also, setting your feet for the body shots was a new experience. I hadn’t really concentrated on body shots when working the pads for Martial Arts and it took a while to get used to.

Another area that was new was the head movement. Bobbing and weaving isn’t used as frequently in the Arts but is essential in boxing to avoid punishment and was drilled by shadow boxing, ducking and evading the pads and on the punch bags. Before my first boxing match, I worried about using kicks if I got under pressure and muscle memory took over. Getting disqualified in my first bout wouldn’t have been a great start (even if it were a good kick!). After running through some drills on the pad, it was time to glove up and box. I controlled the adrenaline flow and relaxed as much as I could. Another advantage of having experience in a competition environment. The first round was quiet with myself and my opponent circling and jabbing to get the distance. The second round was a complete contrast as the distance suddenly closed and the fight turned into a brawl! The body shots I had been practising paid off and my opponent went down for a count of 7 and took standing 8 count near the end of the round. The third and last round saw us going toe to toe for the 2minutes although the pace had dropped due to fatigue setting in. At the bell we touched gloves in a mutual show of respect and I won a unanimous decision. I was glad I hadn’t lifted my feet and even though my nose felt twice the size of my head I was quite pleased with my performance.

Since then I have had 7fights: won 5, lost 2 and have no problem switching between my Martial Arts and boxing training and have combined them well in my full contact training. Before I began boxing, I was reluctant to stay in punching range having always been a kicker but now I feel I have gained the confidence to stay in punching range if need be.

Content by John Jamieson.

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