Boxing is an awesome activity. I personally boxed for about three to five years. On and off in the last two years, that’s why I say three to five. I really like boxing, I’m proficient in boxing but certainly not an expert and I think it has great cardiovascular benefits. I think it’s super fun to just hit a bag and all of that but what I would urge you to do is, if what brings people to boxing is always ‘well I want to be able to fight and I want to be able to defend myself’, while boxing is super cool and it’s a lot of fun, it’s not what you want to do to defend yourself if you can stand in a range to box where we’re throwing punches back and forth. Now you assume this person’s a lot bigger than you, you don’t want to stand there and figure out if you can take their punch because the likely answer is, you can’t. If you get someone a good foot taller than you, throwing bombs at your head and, no matter how good you are at boxing, you will get hit.
Floyd Mayweather, like him or dislike him, is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of this era. He gets hit, he’s good at not getting hit and he still gets hit. So, if a super highly trained boxer stands in boxing range and they still get hit, the odds that you get hit are astronomically higher.
What you’re going to find, most likely, is that you can’t take a hit as well as you think. Especially not when it’s thrown by someone a good foot taller than you. Now, I don’t want to discourage you from ever doing boxing, but I’m just going to give you this thought process.
Why not start with Jiu-Jitsu?
Your goal is self-defense and Jiu-Jitsu has a much greater proven track record of self-defense than boxing does. Jiu-Jitsu is the perfect thing for dealing with that person who’s a lot taller than you, because I’m not going to stand there and try to strike with someone who’s a lot taller than me. I’m going to try to get away from that person who’s a lot taller than me.
Now, if they grab me, that’s jiujitsu, I must get free from those grips. Jiu-jitsu is going to show me how to do that and could even dramatically allow me to throw that person. But I’m going to get free and be able to get away.
If that bigger person gets on top of me, maybe they surprise me, Jiu-Jitsu is what’s going to get me out from being underneath that person, get me back to my feet, get me back to that running range and getting me away. If I have to stop this person because they are harmful to other people in my life, loved ones, Jiu-Jitsu is perfect for this too. I can’t hope to knock out someone a lot bigger than me, but I can do various takedowns to bring them to the ground and from a top position, I could choose to strike from there, which is going to be much more advantageous for me, or I can look to do various chokes and arm locks and things like that, that do not depend on power, do not depend on me being stronger than my opponent.
We know that Jiu-Jitsu works for this because we’ve seen it in reality. In 1993, UFC 1, we watch a whole bunch of fighters gather from various fighting disciplines and the jujitsu fighter, 180 pounds, goes out and beats everybody in one night. He wins the tournament.
His first match was against a boxer; he took him down before the boxer could ever even throw a punch. That’s the value of Jiu-Jitsu, because if I can get close to you and I can bring you down, it is roughly akin to me throwing you in the deep end of a pool and you can’t swim but I can. That is the advantage the Jiu-Jitsu fighter has and that’s why it works so well for self-defense.
It’s great for women getting attacked by men, having to fight off their back, trying to fend off rape, things like this. It’s all well situated for very real-world encounters, not for challenge matches in cages as most people think of fighting.
I’ll give you another reason to think about Jiu-Jitsu. First, I started with Jiu-Jitsu before I ever went to boxing and I think it gave me an enormous advantage when I went and started learning boxing. One, I knew a lot of grappling, so I knew where I could and couldn’t throw a punch and I knew how to follow up a punch to actually get into grappling range when I did MMA later. But having that Jiu-Jitsu base beforehand was super important for that, knowing what a good location for a punch was and what wasn’t. Also, what I found was that because of my training in Jiu-Jitsu I had a large background in thinking about how to move in a technically sound way, because jiu-jitsu means the soft method, Jiu means soft, jitsu means method. So, what I’m learning from the ground is, I have someone maybe 250 pounds on top of me and I’m learning how to move them without having to lift them and that requires technique and technical understanding of physics and anatomy. When I applied that way of thinking to my boxing training, when I learned, one of the things that my coach noted right away was that I threw very technically sound strikes and we talked about this a great deal. I saw it in the gym quite a bit, in the boxing gym where I was training, that most people just couldn’t get past the idea of just putting a fist on the mat, on the pad or on the heavy back. That’s the extent to which they could conceptualize things, whereas what I was able to conceptualize was the importance of torque and the importance of angles, because I had been working on that in Jiu-Jitsu before. Every boxing coach that I’ve worked with has said the same thing. I have three to five years in boxing, they say “Wow, you throw really clean punches. Your punches are really clean”. I’m not trying to say I’m some boxing world champion, but I think that I throw the best punch that I can throw for my body size, largely because I understood the mechanics of hip rotation and shoulder rotation and how to maximize those things by lifting people off me on the ground essentially and throwing people before I ever learned to throw a punch. I really believe in that when I go to do that. Also, I started, and I also felt that I had a profound strategic advantage in understanding boxing better than other people because I thought in terms of multiple contingencies, and I think in terms of layered attacks which is the bread and butter of Jiu-Jitsu. When you start looking at actual quality combinations in boxing, most of those things have a tremendous parallel and they work together in that same way, that I want to layer up my strikes. Assuming that I miss with some of them, and having follow-up strikes that take advantage of that person moving, and really starting to categorize what are the most common ways that people try to avoid getting hit and how do I create a follow-up strike for that situation.
I really think that if you can start with Jiu-Jitsu, one, you’re going to find the self-defense that you’re actually looking for, but two, if you take up boxing later, you will really make your training something worth your time and not just something that’s just kind of like a fitness kind of thing. You will actually maximize your growth within boxing by having a strong Jiu-Jitsu base of at least one or two years before you ever take up boxing.
Come down to our gym at SBG Texas, come check out our Jiu-Jitsu program, our foundations program, which is brilliant. I think you’ll have a lot of fun if we try to have the perfect formula of learning something new having a bit of fun and getting some sweat in there.
Have a great day