Self-defense is one of the most popular motivations for people who take up martial arts, and there are many different types of fighting styles people pursue to increase their confidence and self-defense capabilities.
In fact, self-defense is incredibly lucrative, and there are a lot of biases and vested interests which means there is constant debate about which martial art is most beneficial for self-defense, and what you should train in order to become more confident in your ability to defend yourself.
One of the most popular options people turn to is boxing, and it’s easy to see why, as there are many benefits to boxing and it’s no surprise that even moderately trained amateurs are often capable of handling themselves very well in street fights and self-defense scenarios.
There are many reasons for this, which we’re going to look into a little later, but the reality is that even a moderate amount of boxing training will put you at a significant advantage in most situations against untrained fighters or attackers.
That being said there are many other useful martial arts too, and boxing is a very narrow discipline which is why many people say boxing leaves you vulnerable in certain self-defense situations which is why the debate about the best self-defense martial art is so complex.
In this guide, we’re going to unpick just how good boxing is for self-defense and why this is the case, as well as some concerns and other considerations to make a note of so you can be aware of these and try to cover any gaps in your knowledge or capabilities.
But first, let’s look at what makes boxing good for self-defense.
What Makes Boxing Good For Self Defense?
Boxing develops many skills and attributes that will improve your ability to defend yourself, and in this section, we’re going to look at these to show just how important and beneficial boxing can be for self-defense.
Improved Accuracy And Coordination
It’s impossible to win a fight if you can’t accurately hit the other person attacking you.
Being strong and powerful counts for nothing if you aren’t accurate, and boxing is the best way to develop the coordination, accuracy, and technique required to harness whatever power you have and use it efficiently and effectively.
Boxing will allow you to strike quickly and accurately, and boxers are often able to overwhelm attackers at close to medium range with flurries of powerful blows and a range of different punches and combinations, all delivered with accuracy and precision.
This is often enough to deter larger attackers or even multiple attackers and is one of the reasons why boxing is so useful as a form of self-defense. This only scratches the surface, however.
Another big benefit of boxing training is that it develops incredible power and strength, through better technique and physical fitness.
It’s amazing just how few people can effectively throw a single punch, and many people throw very inaccurate and inefficient punches which are weak and ineffective. Boxing helps you to harness your power and deliver incredibly devastating blows no matter your size or strength.
Better Footwork And Distance Management
Arguably the most important benefit of boxing in self-defense is footwork and distance management. Being able to manage your distance effectively and use your feet to maneuver and position yourself sets up various aspects of your technique, from your punches to your defense.
A lot of the best boxers in the world such as Vasili Lomachenko started out as dancers, and this mastery over footwork is an often overlooked but critical component of successful boxing as well as defense, as it allows you to choose your engagements, avoid incoming damage and flee or attack effectively depending on the situation.
Better Defensive Instincts
Boxing improves your defensive instincts in many ways, from encouraging you to protect your head through a good well-positioned guard, to using proper head and lateral movement to make yourself harder to hit.
Footwork is also a part of this, and boxers who spar a little or who are only beginners will be more effective at reducing the damage they take, making it more likely they will be able to win a fight on the street.
Defensive instincts also govern the controlled application of force, meaning boxers don’t overextend or leave themselves exposed, and only attack in ways that don’t put themselves in danger of being countered or hurt in the process.
Better Mentality And Reactions
Boxing improves mental toughness and confidence, meaning you’re more likely to stand up for yourself and be able to deal with a situation without panicking and putting yourself in further danger.
Boxing allows you to handle threats calmly and effectively, and it also develops good reactions meaning you’re better able to identify threats early and respond quickly, handling altercations rapidly before they get too messy.
What Makes Boxing Unsuitable For Self Defense?
As you can see, boxing has many upsides and benefits, but it does have some weaknesses that are worth mentioning.
Boxers Aren’t Trained In Grappling Or Ground Fighting
Boxers don’t incorporate grappling or ground fighting into their style, and it’s a pure standing and striking discipline, which can leave boxers vulnerable to throws and submissions, especially if the fight goes to the ground.
It’s also true that most street fights and self-defense scenarios do go to the ground, so boxers can be vulnerable here and it’s a big weakness that can be exploited by attackers who have the ability to take advantage of it.
Fighting With Gloves Is Different To Bare-Knuckle
Fighting and training wearing boxing gloves are very different from fighting without them, as they increase the surface area of your punches, protect your hands and wrists from damage, and can actually improve your accuracy.
While boxing does improve wrist strength and toughness in the hands, punching someone without the protection of the gloves and wraps boxers use will leave you open to damage, and many boxers may find themselves a little less accurate or have worse timing as they may not be used to fighting without their equipment.
This is less the case for experienced boxers, however, or boxers who shadow box a lot without gloves, and the core techniques remain the same which still put boxers at a significant advantage in most stand-up fights.
Boxers Don’t Use Kicks
At medium to long-range, boxers can be confused by the kicks and long-range attacks of other martial arts such as kickboxing, taekwondo, karate, Muay Thai and other martial arts which incorporate kicks of various styles.
Boxers excel at fighting in relatively close engagements, and have few tools with which to deal with kicks, leaving them potentially vulnerable and unable to effectively defend them as boxers do not train to use or defend kicks, due to them being outlawed in boxing.
Boxing is one of the very best forms of self-defense, and it is one of the preferred methods of close up self-defense, however, it does have holes that can be exploited, so you may wish to incorporate other martial arts such as Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu or Judo into your regime to make yourself a more well-rounded fighter.
There are other disciplines that incorporate elements of boxing and various other martial arts and which are dedicated to self-defense in street scenarios, and examples of these are disciplines such as Krav Maga which is the martial art of the Israeli Mossad, specially designed for potentially lethal self-defense scenarios.
Nonetheless, boxing will make you a much more confident, calm, and effective fighter, and even with its holes, most boxers will be very difficult to handle in most street fights and can often successfully defeat or defend themselves against multiple opponents and there are many documented cases of this.
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