The Answer To All Of Your Problems
Call me biased, as someone who teaches Boxing, I’m going to say Boxing is the answer to your problems, but before I carry on and explain why, I will also add Boxing isn’t the answer to your problems….in fact I believe any combat sport such as MMA, Muay Thai, Ju-Jitsu(including BJJ), Greco-Roman wrestling to name a few are all answers to your problems. The important point to note here is that it is not necessarily the combat sport you are participating in whether one is better than the other which is the breaking point, but rather which one you find yourself gravitating towards and are more comfortable with. I have dabbled in Muay Thai and Greco-Roman wrestling in the past but I have always come back to Boxing, that’s simply what I prefer doing and what I enjoy the most.
The point of this article is not which is better and whether someone who does Muay Thai would beat someone who does Wrestling. The point is, taking part and learning a combat sport is something which not only has health benefits, but mental benefits too, and it is this mental aspect I would like to discuss in this article.
Everyone is insecure about something, we all have fears and we’ve all had bad experiences. Some of us may have even been bullied at some point in their lives, that could be at school, in the work place or even by a partner. I myself went through a period of being bullied as a very young child – perhaps that is why I gravitated towards going to the gym to lift weights, I’m sure there are many people in the same position whose reason for lifting weights was because they were bullied by someone or a group of children at school. Others make a commitment to lose weight and undertake a total body transformation after someone made a comment about their weight. But do I believe weight training or bodybuilding helps overcome these issues of insecurity? To some extent yes, if the reason you started the gym was because you weren’t happy with your body then working out and creating a better body for yourself would help overcome your insecurities. But what about if your problems run deeper? Mentally or physically abused by someone, or bullied daily at school – it is difficult to build an intimidating body as a child or as a woman, that’s not what human physiology is about, maybe you are a teen and take to the gym in an effort to get bigger so people won’t pick on you any more, the memories of your school days still fresh in your mind or conversely, you don’t want to be frightened of any one, but does weight lifting really help you overcome something like bullying,mental or physical abuse? I don’t really believe so, I have been lifting weights for more years than I care to remember, it didn’t make me a better fighter, sure it gives you added confidence but how would you react in a fight or flight situation? If you are someone who was subjected to mental or physical bullying then those squats won’t help you when you are faced with the same situation and your legs turn to jelly. My own experience is that going to the gym did increase my confidence to a certain extent but I was still the quiet guy just like I was in my youth, drifting towards the table or seat in the corner of the room, did it increase my self esteem? No, did it improve other areas of my life such as my ability to interact with other people or ‘simple’ things such as a social gatherings, again not really. But when I 1st started to Box, that was when I noticed an increased sense of confidence and self esteem, that was when ‘fear’ began to dissipate and I began to believe in myself and from there it created a snowball effect in to other areas of my life.
I saw the same with one of my very first clients I took on, he was a student who had moved here from abroad, he was now working as well as studying and came to me because he wanted to lift weights and get into shape, he decided upon weight training followed by some Boxing at the end of the session. It was whilst learning to Box where his eyes would light up at being able to throw punches on the bag and the pads, all of a sudden this guy, who would turn up in his sweater from the 1980’s, his rucksack over both shoulders and a very timid disposition would transform into another person, wide eyed and smiling as he pummeled the pads with all his might. Sure enough, a few weeks later he was turning up to the gym with his sweater around his waist and his rucksack slung over one shoulder, even his hairstyle had changed! He was a much more confident person, his voice had loudened and his whole persona was different. The body language was much much better, and this is why I do it, having an impact on someone’s quality of life is priceless.
This last point on body language is important to note, its a sad fact, bullies or the bullying type/aggressive characters will often pick on ‘weaker’ targets. How do you know someone is a weaker target? Very often, they screen their victims out from their body language, if your body language is poor then there are types who will take advantage of this. When your body language is good and you are confident in yourself, people will begin to ponder why is this person so confident, there must be something about them which makes them feel so confident else they wouldn’t be acting like this and they will be unlikely to take the risk to find out. Muhammad Ali, the most famous sportsman, and indeed the most famous Boxer in history was someone who epitomized self belief and confidence in his abilities began Boxing because he wanted to beat the person who stole his bike, Mike Tyson, famously known as the baddest man on the planet, took to Boxing despite having a troubled childhood, Boxing is full of such stories, Sugar Ray Leonard, Johnny Tapia, Kevin Lueshing – all overcame physical, mental or sexual abuse. There are tens of thousands of children suffering abuse in the UK today, Many won’t have an outlet like boxing, but in these Boxers they have an example of how to rise above the horror and better themselves.
I am not advocating violence, I am advocating in giving yourself the skills to better handle the situations in your life, and I believe in Boxing and Combat Sports, we are giving ourselves these skills. I am not even saying you have to step into the ring and fight someone(although I believe sparring at the very least is essential) but just knowing you are capable of defending yourself will make you feel much more secure in yourself, it will give you the confidence to speak openly, express yourself better, carry yourself better and stand up for yourself if you are ever required to – with confidence. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said ‘Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.’ You will be able to channel your frustrations in a controlled environment whilst building character and discipline, the latter two will help you throughout your life, not just in the gym.
We are all aware of the physical benefits of Boxing and combat sports, better health, endurance, stamina, weight loss but we often overlook the mental benefits of the squared circle. People often to forget they must exercise the mind not just the body, what you are on the outside is the result of what you are on in the inside and to create a balance you must take control of your thoughts, by learning to Box you learn to face your fears, discipline yourself, be accountable to yourself and so much more, this will allow you to take control of your mind and believe in yourself and once you have taken control of your mind, there is nothing in this world that can bring you down, not the bullies, not the haters neither anyone else who has a negative impact in your life. The world will change if you only change yourself, get rid of the negativity in your life and create a new and better life for yourself.
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Writer for the Ringside Report Boxing Author of: (Available for download on Amazon) The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit! Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle