People take up combat sports for a variety of different reasons. Fitness, fun, to blow of some steam, mental resilience, to name a few.
Another popular reason is to learn how to fight out in the world. To take care of yourself and loved ones if some clown gets aggressive and you’re left with no option. I personally love feeling more confident in my ability to fight, but how good is boxing for self-defense, really?
Boxing is great for self-defense. It provides you with the fundamentals of fighting. You learn how to punch hard, fast, and accurately. It trains your reflexes, it teaches you how to move, and gives you the mentality of a fighter. You’ll have a clear advantage against most untrained aggressors out there. However, being assaulted in the real world is still very different to a fight in the gym.
Why boxing IS good for self-defense ✔️
The vast majority of aggressive muppets out there won’t have any fighting training. So, knowing how to box will put you at a big advantage against most people. However, the best form of self defense is to avoid the fight altogether, and no amount of boxing training will help you if the aggressor is armed with a knife.
If you can, always try to get out of there. If you can’t, here’s why knowing how to box will help, providing you with some core fundamentals of fighting:
- Learn to punch
- Reactions and speed
- Learn to take hits and defend
- Fitness and strength
- Confidence and mentality
1. Learn to punch 👊
One decent punch can end a street fight. And almost all street fights involve punching. So, knowing how to punch is invaluable.
The most obvious skill that boxing teaches you that is applicable in self-defense is that of punching. A trained boxer knows how to use his weight, balance, and momentum to punch in a much more powerful and decisive way than an untrained thug.
A boxer who knows how to punch can take down an adversary with a single punch or a quick devastating 1,2 combo to end any fight very quickly. An untrained bloke on the street however will likely lunge in with a flailing right hook lacking in power and balance.
If you want to learn how to punch, then there is no better way than to train in boxing.
2. Reactions and speed 💨
Movement is everything in boxing and in a real-world fight too. The fighter who can avoid getting hit and who can run rings around his opponent will come out on top. Boxing training focuses heavily on sharpening your reflexes so you can instinctively dodge and duck out of the way of incoming punches.
If a well-trained boxer gets attacked on the street with a punch, his heightened reflexes will help him slip out of the way of that punch and then set him up for a counter to lay out the aggressor. In street fights, the majority of people are going to be throwing punches rather than kicks (ever tried a roundhouse kick in a pair of jeans?).
3. Learn to take hits and defend 🛡️
Street fights are ugly, and they are messy, and they are over fast. Usually because one or two bare-knuckle punches are enough to KO someone.
Boxing teaches you how to block incoming punches that you may not be able to avoid and also hardens you to be able to cope with blows to the head and body. This will give you an edge over an untrained fighter who does not know how to cover his vulnerable points and has never been punched before.
4. Fitness & strength 💪
If you box regularly and for long enough you’re going to get fit, you’re going to get strong, and you’re going to get tough. Fighting anywhere is exhausting, so having the physical conditioning that boxing gives you is going to help.
And, if you’re heavily outnumbered, then you’ll have the fitness to get the hell out of there! In fact, we’d recommend running away anyway if you can. The best form of self-defense is avoiding the fight altogether!
5. Confidence & mentality 🤨
This may help you avoid the fight in the first place. You’d be an idiot to attack someone who holds themselves with confidence and then clearly looks like they know how to fight. Also, you’ll be aware of the risks of fighting and how important it is to avoid it in the first place.
From boxing over the past 6 years, I’ve gained huge amounts of self-esteem that I believe would prevent things from getting physical at all.
- Should I Start Boxing? (7 Reasons Why YES!)
- How to Defend In Boxing (The 5 Essentials)
- Boxing Combinations (20 Essentials inc. Defensive Moves)
Why boxing IS NOT good for self-defense ❌
There’s one MASSIVE reason why boxing isn’t great for the real world. And it’s why you shouldn’t train in boxing if your sole aim is practical self-defense:
1. Street fights are very different to boxing 🔪
Boxing is a sport with rules. Out in the world, the objective of the fight is to hurt the other person in whatever way you can. As quickly as you can. No rules.
Street fights may end up in grapples or on the floor. There may be knives involved. You might be outnumbered. You aren’t used to punching someone bare knuckle etc etc.
The best way to hurt someone in a real fight? Use the hardest parts of your body, like your knees, elbows and heel of your palm, and go for the softest spots of your opponent: neck, groin, eyes etc. Boxing doesn’t teach you this.
2. If you don’t do any sparring 🥊
Boxing training will only be useful if you do some sparring. You need to know what it is like to slip and move. To punch a moving target and be punched.
Sparring will develop your timing, your movement, your footwork, in a way that punching the bag or pads never can.
The only way to learn how to fight is to actually fight. So, get in the ring. Otherwise your boxing training will be of little use for a real fight.
What else could teach me self-defense? 🙋
Boxing is great at giving you the fundamentals of fighting that will serve you well in any fight. Knowing how to punch, move, and avoid getting hit are key. But it doesn’t give you everything you need to defend yourself in a vicious real world fight.
If street fighting and self-defense is your sole purpose of training then you’d be better off learning Krav Maga. Krav Maga is designed for real-world situations and is used by Special Forces around the world. It doesn’t care for rules or opponents’ well-being.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), jujitsu, kick boxing and other combat sports will all also be helpful in learning how to protect yourself. Anything is better than nothing.
The important thing is that you find something that you enjoy otherwise you are less likely to stick at it long enough.
12th Round 🔔
The best form of self-defense is avoiding the fight altogether. Use your wits, your presence of mind and your words as a first line of defense. However, if things do escalate, then being trained in boxing will certainly give you a big advantage.
Remember though, street fights are ugly and very different to a fight in the ring. So, learning more practical self-defense skills like Krav Maga may make more sense if your sole purpose of training is learning how to fight out in the world.
Happy fighting! 🥊🥊
“He went to the hospital with bleeding kidneys and me, I went dancing with my wife.” – George Chuvalo