Growing up as a kid I tried various different sports, like almost every kid does. My impulsiveness took me to many different roads, from skating for a week to going to exactly 3 judo classes before being bored and quitting it. But most of my childhood years I spend on a hockey field, playing field hockey. For 8 years I loved this sport and everything that it had to do with it. However, after I moved to London for my internship a few years ago, my perspective changed 180 degrees. I found out something that caught my fascination; boxing. 2,5 years later I fell in love with boxing and even got a little taste of Mixed Martial Arts; which tasted god damn good! In this week’s blog I want to emphasize how I made this transition from a posh team sport to a martial art, why I fell in love with boxing and why I think people are overthinking it.
Growing up as a kid I loved playing field hockey. I loved the sport because you play it in a team, on an outside pitch and you can run as hard as you can. Unfortunately I wasn’t too good of a runner, since I had to carry quite a lot of weight. Not to talk about sprinting, since that was a lost cause before I even started. After playing at every position on the field I loved being the goalie the most.
So far for my ‘field hockey career’. As I explained before, my move to London made me change my perspective completely. When living in London I was looking for a sport that I could do on my own, would be (insanely) good for my conditioning and that wasn’t an ordinary weightlifting gym. I am just not a gym type of guy. I don’t have much affection with lifting weights and just the whole gym environment. So after doing some research I found out that there was a boxing/Mixed Martial Arts gym right across the corner of my house. Bingo I thought! Time to try something new…!
Before I continue my story, I would like to address what I thought when I started boxing; boxing for me was never something to let go of my aggression. To have a place to ‘lose your mind’. My motives weren’t based on aggression or anger or whatsoever. And yes, boxing is violent. Yes, you punch someone in the face. Yes, professional fighters do get concussions. Yes, it might be dangerous. But what most people forget is, is that boxing can be compared to a game of chess. It is about out-striking your opponent. It is about being faster that your opponent. It is about slipping that punch to counter with a combination. It is about the thrill when you notice how to move your body in order to be faster and more precise. At least, that’s what boxing is for me.
But let me get back to the story. Walking into FightZone London I immediately thought I was in some kind of boxing movie. Walking into the door, I entered this big garage space that was divided in different segments; a small strength and conditioning part, a boxing ring surrounded by mats and a mat area. But it just straightaway felt like a dodgy garage Rocky Bilboa style movie. I was impressed.
My first boxing lessons didn’t go that bad. Obviously I sucked big time, not doing a single technique correctly. But one thing I noticed, there was no time to feel sorry for myself or getting a different training; I was part of the training group and I had to figure it out myself. But I was curious and excited to figure it all out. Until the part came where we had to spar…
You can guess how that ended up. I wasn’t knockout or any of that, but I did nearly hyperventilated. It is hard to put that moment into words; the moment you step in the ring and someone pressures you and punches you in your face (not full force obviously). The moment of panic that hit me is something I will never forget. I panicked because I did not know what to do, how to defend properly and how to get out of this situation. Logical, right?!
So how did I ever end up loving boxing? ‘That story sounds horrible’ you might think. Well, it might sound that way but it taught me a lot; it taught me that giving up is never an option, that throwing me to the loins is the best way to learn and overcome fears and that boxing is so much more than just ‘punching each other in the face’.
After that training I was hooked. I was hooked with learning how to do proper rope skipping and how to improve my boxing. And I was hooked for a particular reason. I was hooked because I learned boxing wasn’t power that is generated in your shoulders or arms; it is power that is generated from the movement of your hips. And that’s the keyword for me; Movement.
That’s why I fell in love with boxing (and later Mixed Martial Arts); because you learn how to move your body. You learn how to turn your hips to generate faster and harder punches. You learn how to move your head to slip punches. You improve your footwork and almost learn how to dance. You learn how to control your breathing and keep your emotions in control. You learn how to align your mind with your body. You learn how to be mentally and physically strong.
To summarize; I believe boxing is so much better for you than just for your conditioning, strength and endurance. I think boxing helps with connecting your mind with your body, and moreover, teaches you how to move, anticipate and seize an opportunity. For me boxing is almost like learning a dance; you start with basics and you practice it over and over again. While continuing practicing the basics, you start to use them in real situations (sparring’s). And little by little you notice that you start moving quicker, reacting faster and that you are more in control. And that feeling to me, is something no ordinary gym can give me.
Boxing is so much more than just a violent sport where the goal is to hit somebody in the face as hard as you can. It is a sport where you learn how to move. And once you learn how to move your body in ways it never had before, a whole new world opens up for you.
So do you still think boxing is violent? Do you hate boxing? Or would you give it a shot in the future? No matter what your opinion is, I hope I made you rethink your perspective. There is so much more to talk about regarding (mixed-) martial arts and movement, but I will save that for another time ;)
Have a great week!