For many people, boxing is viewed as a tough man’s sport. We all remember when Sylvester Stallone knocked ten bells out of a side of beef in Rocky, but while this visceral image makes for a great movie, it’s hardly an incentive for the rest of us to hit the gym!
There’s no denying that boxing is a physically demanding sport. Many people fancy the idea of learning boxing or another martial art, but they’re put off by the brutality of the training and the health risks. No sport is worth developing problems with your joints, nerves and bones, and becoming punch drunk for.
With the health risks of boxing being well documented, why on earth would someone risk it?
The Benefits of Boxing
Only a small percentage of people that learn boxing ever try their hand at competitive fighting. The majority of people train purely as a way to get fit.
Boxing training is a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout that torches calories. A session on the bag or focus mitts can easily burn 400-600 calories per hour. The explosiveness of the movements combined with the weight resistance from a heavy bag also offers superior strength conditioning for the upper body. And if a punch is thrown properly, it engages not just the muscles in the arms and shoulders, but also the back, stomach, and legs. Why do you think boxers have such well-defined, athletic bodies?
But that’s not the only benefits of boxing training. Here are just some of the other advantages boxing offers:
- Full-body Workout – Define every muscle in your body.
- Strengthen Your Core – Develop a solid core with lumps in all the right places.
- Self Defence – Learn a valuable skill you can call upon in any time of need.
- Stress Relief – There’s nothing better than pounding the bag for lowering cortisone.
- Workout at Home – Setting up a home boxing gym is fairly inexpensive.
- Weight Control – Boxing training offers one of the highest calorie burn rates.
- Improve Cardiovascular Fitness – Give your heart and lungs a good workout.
- Be More Confident In Your Own Skin – Looking and feeling your best leads to confidence.
If you opt not to fight, the benefits of boxing far outweigh any potential drawbacks.
However, I realize that for some people, the sheer physicality of the sport will always remain a barrier to their participation. You may not be taking a punch, but there’s still heavy impact on your joints and great strain on your muscles. However, there is a form of boxing anyone can do irrespective of their level of health or mobility. Introducing… shadowboxing.
What is Shadowboxing?
Observe any boxing training session, and you’ll see boxers throwing punches at the air, and duck and dive as if they’re fighting an invisible opponent. This, in essence, is shadow boxing.
Shadowboxing is an activity that anyone can do – even if you struggle with sore joints or are recovering from an injury. It can be performed as a gentle warm up, or a vigorous cardio workout depending on the intensity you set.
It engages both the body and mind as you mentally place yourself in a fight scenario and visualize your attacker. Once you get the hang of it, shadowboxing allows you to not only practice your movement and punching technique, but also drill counter attacks, blocking, and slipping and parrying punches.
The Benefits of Shadowboxing
If practiced regularly, shadow boxing will improve your boxing skills, fitness, and flexibility. You’ll get fit and learn how to defend yourself without having to endure punishing training.
Sure, tai chi offers similar physical benefits, but unlike boxing, tai chi leaves you with no practical self-defense skills. While gracefully mimicking the flow of water may be calming, try that on an attacker on the street, and the only thing that will be flowing will be your burst nose.
The other plus with shadowboxing is that it requires no equipment or training partner, and can be practiced anywhere with enough space to move freely.
How to Get Started
Joining a boxing gym would be the fastest way to learn how to box. However, they are renowned for being intimidating, not to mention dark and dingy sweatboxes that are almost always located in the worst parts of town.
But you need not worry. There are plenty of online resources you can use to teach yourself boxing from home.
Once you’re comfortable with your stance and you know a few basic techniques, it’s best to start off shadowboxing in front of a full-length mirror. This is especially useful if you’re training on your own, as you’ll be able to spot and self-correct your mistakes. The ultimate goal is to shadowbox in a fluid manner, with grace, speed, and flexibility. It’s all about getting the body moving freely while sharpening your fight skills.
Shadowboxing costs nothing to get started apart from your time and dedication. With everything to gain and nothing to lose, why not give it a try?