“Mental strength is really important because you either win or lose in your mind. And I'm not solely talking about sporting matches, boxing events - anything you do, you do it first with your mental strength. And you can actually train and develop it, and I am responsible for what I'm saying because I have experience with that.” - Wladimir Klitschko

Each year, many people join boxing clubs to learn about combat sports or martial arts. Boxing is a way to improve your agility, defence, strength, composure, and strategic thinking. You can also build an athlete’s body and learn more about self-defence.

Warning: You cannot learn boxing to brawl!

In the UK, professional boxers need to be licensed. This is to ensure that they’re properly trained and take the necessary precautions. With that said, let’s have a look at how boxing can help you with self-defence...

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Which is the Best Combat Sport for Men?

Despite the growth of women’s boxing, men’s boxing is still the much bigger sport.

Which are the best combat sports for men?
Which combat sports are useful for self-defence? It depends on what you enjoy. (Source: WikiImages)

So which is the best combat sport for men?

Almost all of them.

Different Types of Boxing

There are four main types of boxing: traditional boxing, savate, Thai boxing (also known as Muay Thai) and kickboxing. The first only uses punches above the belt. The three other types also allow kicks. Thai boxing and kickboxing also allow kneeing to the legs, body, and head. Thai boxing is the only one that allows elbowing, which is considered to be as dangerous as a knife in some cases. The latter is one of the most complete disciplines but also one of the most dangerous since almost anything goes.

Traditional boxing is nicknamed the noble art due to its aesthetic qualities. Chaining fast powerful blows together involves almost every muscle in your body and is a great cardio workout. Boxing is a great way to unwind, channel your energy, get rid of stress, and work on several aspects of your physique through a demanding workout. It’s also great cardio training.

It’s difficult to say which type of boxing is best for defending yourself since each has its techniques; you need to find the type of boxing that works for you. Each session will tone your body, hone your reflexes, and strengthen muscles in your arms, back, abdomen, and legs. Boxing also improves the speed of your legs.

Other Martial Arts

In addition to boxing, there are also martial arts such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu which can be used for self-defence. This involves different grapples and holds which are useful for combat on the ground.

In situations with multiple aggressors and combines techniques from mixed martial arts (MMA), which draws from multiple disciplines, can be useful. MMA courses often include techniques from jiu-jitsu, Thai boxing, and many grapples and holds.

Finally, Krav Maga from Israel is the martial art taught to the Israeli police forces and the Mossad.

It’s widely considered to be one of the best disciplines for self-defence and includes elements of boxing, karate, Greco-Roman wrestling, and jiu-jitsu.

Get to take boxing classes on Superprof.

Which Is the Best Combat Sport for Women?

When it comes to sport, women are largely underrepresented in the media.

Which are the best combat sports for women?
Combat sports are useful for women wanting to defend themselves. (Source: ignacioserapio0)

For every female athlete in the media, there are four male athletes. Women’s sport also occupies around a sixth of newspapers’ sports pages. However, when it comes to self-defence, there are a lot of women interesting in learning how to box.

We should mention that in boxing clubs, there are rules, equipment including boxing gloves, mouth guards, shin guards, chest protectors, etc., and bare-knuckle boxing and brawling in the street are neither allowed nor encouraged.

Generally, women are seen as physically weaker to men. Due to being perceived as weaker, women are often subject to physical or verbal abuse in the street. However, troublemakers or aggressors are rarely adept at boxing.

Again, there’s no single type of boxing that’s the best as each combat sport teaches techniques that can be useful. Of course, fitness boxing or cardio boxing won’t help get you out of a dangerous situation...

In most boxing clubs, there are mixed group sessions.

Here are some of the main types of boxing that women can practise to defend themselves:

  • Savate
  • Thai boxing
  • kickboxing
  • Chinese boxing (Sanshou)

Similarly, women can also practise Krav Maga and Taekwondo.

The combat techniques can help women to defend themselves from aggression.

Discover how boxing can help you manage stress.

How to Defend Yourself with Boxing

So how can you use the techniques learnt in the gym when confronted by danger in the street?

You won’t have any protective equipment or time to warm up...

How can you defend yourself with boxing?
Your knowledge of combat sports should only be used for defence and not for offence. (Source: 378322)

Keep in mind that in traditional boxing there’s more of a focus on punches than in the other disciplines we mentioned. Traditional boxing focuses on powerful, efficient, and quick punches. When faced with an aggressor, you may be in a small enclosed space such as a lift, corridor, narrow street, etc. How you throw your punches in important. Even a seemingly small action can be used to defend yourself.

Similarly, make sure your legs provide a firm foundation. Standing firmly will allow you to put more power into your blow.

Of course, excessive use of force is also illegal so you need to defend yourself using the least amount of force possible. You don’t want your aggressor to become the victim. Be fluid and flexible so that you can avoid your opponent’s attacks.

Generally, follow the golden rule: one step at a time, one punch at a time. Don’t strike your opponent while doing something else. Each punch needs to be thrown while anchored to the ground and breathing out.

This advice is essential as it allows you to throw a punch immediately after having dodged an opponent’s attack. You must keep your guard up.

Are you familiar with the basic guard?

This is when you keep your arms by your chin so you can block punches by raising your first. This also allows you to protect your chin and quickly respond.

Find out how you can lose weight with boxing.

How to Train to Defend Yourself with Boxing

Not have the time to attend a boxing club?

Get yourself a punching bag. Of course, this won’t teach you to dodge attacks.

How can you train to defend yourself?
Your skills might help you get out of dangerous situations. (Source: PublicDomainPictures)

You’ll also need some accessories:

  • Punching bag.
  • Skipping rope.
  • Boxing gloves.
  • Resistance bands.

Don’t forget to warm up. Start with five minutes with your skipping rope. Then do your squats, sit-ups, burpees, or push-ups. With your guard up, pull your leading leg back slightly so that you face slightly to the side. This, even while being attacked, can decrease the exposure of hitting areas. Constantly move and work the legs. Always look straight ahead; never down!

Work on jabs and crosses. The jab is with your non-dominant hand and the cross is with your dominant hand. Lightly pivot your back foot when you do so that your toes face forward as you do. This will also train your core and increase the strength of your punches. Chain together jab and cross combos while always returning to your guard position.

If you do a style that involves kicking, you may want to do a sequence of two jabs, two crosses, and a kick with each leg, for example.

If you'd like to do boxing, mixed martial arts, or kickboxing classes, consider getting in touch with one of the many talented and experienced tutors on Superprof. There are three main types of tutorial available, face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials, and each type comes with its pros and cons.

Group tutorials tend to be the cheapest per student per hour since they're all paying for a share of the tutor's time. Of course, this means that you'll get less one-on-one time with your tutor or coach and they won't be able to tailor the sessions to just you as they'll have other clients that they need to keep happy.

Face-to-face tutorials are just between you and your private tutor. In this case, you'll be paying for a bespoke and tailored service and during your lessons, you'll enjoy the tutor or coach's undivided attention. This all comes at a price and while face-to-face private tutorials are the most cost-effective, they also tend to be the most costly per hour.

Finally, thanks to the advent of the internet, you can now enjoy online private tutorials. With video conferencing software, a webcam, a microphone, and a decent internet connection, you can enjoy private tutoring from tutors all over the world. Since the tutor won't be travelling to their students and they can schedule more tutorials each week, they can charge a more competitive rate and online tutorials are usually cheaper per hour than face-to-face tutorials.


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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.