As far back as I can remember, I was always ‘hot headed’ and let my mouth get me into stupid situations.
I have been punched in the face more times than I can remember.
I have punched back, but I have had my ass owned more than a couple of times.
I was angry growing up, angry at the world and trying to find my way and trying prove something to someone.
Was it myself? Or was it for people that had walked out on me? Maybe I was scared and lashing out? Whatever it was, It got me sparked more than just a couple of times.
After years of contemplating and wanting to scratch that itch, I realised that I needed to learn to make some changes and learn how to fight properly, so I took up boxing.
During this time I have learnt many more skills than simply ‘learning to fight’.
1. Becoming Mindful
When you are learning to fight against an experienced opponent, it takes about 2 minutes to realise that you truly have no idea what you are doing.
Even though I’d been punched a fair few times before, being in a situation where you have nowhere to run and hide with a set of rules quickly makes a situation very very real.
Your mind goes into fight or flight mode.
But there’s no option of flight.
So you stand and fight.
This becomes transferable into real life situations, which are not necessarily revolved around fighting but in situations where you face adversity or stressful situations eg. Job interviews, meetings with your boss, public speaking etc.
You gain this ability to be mindful and confident in the moment which requires you to be prepared.
2. Learning Discipline
Learning martial arts teaches you discipline.
Learning an ‘art’ requires focus, strong mentality, willingness to learn and of course both physical and mental strength.
Letting your guard down or not putting in the work can leave you sprawled out on the ground.
Like life, if you aren’t punching back then you are simply leaning on the ropes and taking a beating.
If you don’t want to constantly lose, you need to learn some form discipline in all areas of your life.
This could be making sure you move every day, letting go of vices holding you back, improving your nutrition etc.
3. Learn To Control Anger
This can work in two different ways.
If you are in training and punching the heavy bag, then you actually physically relieve built up stress.
Some prefer breathing and/or meditation which also has huge benefits.
But to really ‘release’ that tension through the bag is one like no other.
Then there is learning to get hit without losing control.
If a boxer gets hit and loses concentration and goes all out attack, an experienced opponent will use this to their advantage and pick them off due to their lack of focus and discipline. They will inevitably step forwards into a calculated punch.
Each time life comes at you with a new challenge, you need to be able to calmly approach the situation and resolve it logically and not emotionally.
Or, like the boxer, you will end up leaving yourself vulnerable and open to more mistakes.
4. Improved Technique
How many times have you heard someone say ‘I don’t want to get into a fight because I just end up seeing red and I could really hurt someone’.
This actually is quite the opposite of what is likely to happen.
People talk shit. They are just scared.
This falls under a similar category to controlling anger whereby the more focused and controlled you can operate, the better your technique will be with a higher likelihood of you winning the bout or situation you entail.
With better technique and practise, becomes better results.
Can there a be more accurate representation to the fundamentals of progressing in life?
5. Anxiety Goes Away/Confidence Builds
As someone who was raised somewhat inefficiently, going through countless traumatic experiences of which a lot were unavoidable I spent most of my childhood and my 20’s anxious and depressed.
Going through stages of feeling good, then feeling 10x worse again and raging against the world.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I have always been ‘angry’ and trying to prove something to myself.
The reality is, and Mike Tyson said the same thing when people asked why he was so angry, is because he like me was scared and lashing out.
I was scared of life, what came next and not believing I would have the strength for the next battle that came my way.
Having a victim mindset.
Why always me.
Knowing that I am physically able to defend myself has brought a whole new confidence to me psychologically which allows me to walk towards my problems and face them.
To slip and to punch back.
6. Fighting skills transfer into real life world skills
Understanding these different skills and how they transfer into real life is way more important than ‘being good at boxing’ for me.
I have no intention to become a professional heavyweight boxer.
My intentions were to build my confidence and learn about myself, which I knew and believed I would before I started.
The first time you spar someone is scary, but then you get hit and realise you are still ok. You are still standing, you are not made of glass and you (hopefully) will learn from each punch that catches you.
Not only that, but you will learn to punch correctly and accurately, figuring out what works for you and how you can outwit your opponent.
Life is complicated.
It is way bigger than a boxing ring.
Boxing will not solve all your problems.
But if you commit to learning and understand these transferable skills, you will stand yourself in good stead for future challenges that inevitably present themselves.