Every Martial Artist Should Cross-Train In Boxing Part 1

Posted: March 11, 2014 in General Martial Arts
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Every Martial Artist Should Cross-Train In Boxing Part 1

*Authored by White Dragon

        Knowing how to throw effective punches and also defend against them is very important for self defense. Most people on the streets throw punches first before anything else. Whether or not a martial artist trains in a striking or grappling art, knowledge of boxing is a must. Every martial artist should cross-train in boxing, whether or not for a long haul or just a couple months, to learn the fundamentals of fist fighting. Just because your martial art style includes punching does not mean you should neglect practical, simple, and proven techniques by masters of punching technique. A boxing trainer is a master of the punch as well as a master of defending the punch. Who else is better to go to in order to learn better punching and defenses against punching but a boxing coach! Taekwondo has punches just the same as boxing but boxing is pure punching and nothing else. So to master punch fighting I, White Dragon, decided boxing is a must for me to grow as a martial artist and also a man. This article will document my training in boxing for 2 months and will be separated in parts in separated articles until I have completed 2 full months of boxing training at a real boxing gym under a qualified level 3 USA Boxing trainer who has had 87 professional fights. The article will be separated by each week.

        I have to admit that at first I was very intimidated to walk into the gym and ask to sign up for boxing. Part of me signing up for boxing was that 1. the gym was close by and the cost was not that expensive nor was there a contract 2. I want to grow as a martial artist and overcome my fear of getting hit hard in the face. Yes I have been in street fights and self defense situations and have taken punches to the face, but still the thought of facing experienced punchers is intimidating and the intense conditioning is something I need. This is going to be a life changing experience for me.

        Boxing culture is different from other martial arts styles’ culture and does not emphasize morality training like Taekwondo ( 5 tenets) or Karate (5 rules) and it is very street tough. The types of people who train at boxing gyms are typical guys and some are street tough and others are not, yet still tough. These people are not at all afraid to get hit in the face. The attitude is very matter of fact and definitely not politically correct at all. Boxing is not a baby sitters club nor does a boxing gym exist to teach you proper morality as boxing is purely a physical sport. It is about competition. The work is extremely hard and surviving the workouts alone is hard enough in itself. Even so, boxing still produces a sense of honor and real honesty in what a man can and cannot take. Boxing training has no place for an egomaniac or macho man tough guy. You will be set in your place and you will not like it if you come in thinking you are already good. On the other hand if you come in with an empty cup, admit you know absolutely nothing and are a baby and need to grow then training at the gym will be a very positive experience. At the current gym I went to the atmosphere has all ages, 9 years old and up. There are middle aged to even older people training there as well as young athletic guys and girls.

        I remember my experience signing up at a local MMA gym and hated every minute of it there for 1 month. You could cut the ego in that place with a knife! Everyone had something to prove and walked around with a chip on their shoulder or a stupid macho man attitude of “yeaaah man lets fight!” People always got hurt, the fighters who sparred you did not ease you into sparring and there was not much safety gear worn. The females there also were ridiculous and full of ego and just wanted to be one of the boys, or enjoyed hanging out with sweaty men. The F word was thrown around constantly by everyone for everything and yes it was not a very positive environment. And if I said a boxing gym is not PC, well this MMA gym is far less PC. I got rocked with punches in boxing class and Muay Thai. I got choked far beyond the time I had tapped out from a choke and even got a mat disease that lasted about 2 months on my wrist. The trainers at this gym including the head trainer barely taught me anything. I was left on my own just to free roll or hit pads with people who had no clue how to hold them. Everything was taught in a class and not much room for personal training existed unless you wanted to pay tons of money for private lessons. Then their cross training workouts were way too intense. People constantly got injured because of rough sparring and Jiu Jitsu rolling. So much ego and macho behavior caused a lot of people to lose control and hurt each other. This MMA gym was a negative place and dangerous to train for anyone who wants to learn real martial arts and get good fast.

        I came into the boxing gym wary of such attitudes yet the trainer assured me he was not like that and in fact everything the MMA gym owner knew about boxing he had taught him as he was his previous student and the boxing coach laughed and mocked at the thought that anyone could learn boxing in an MMA gym. On my first day I had sweat pants on with a Tapout logo on them. When he saw that he yelled at me and made fun of me for wearing that MMA shit.” He said that is how you can get your ass kicked and that if the guys in his gym saw it they would want to fight me. I only bought those sweats because they were really cheap at the Burlington Coat Factory and they allow me to kick well! He was pretty much joking or using sarcasm to just screw with me about it, but he was very serious about not wearing MMA stuff in his gym. He said, “Why would you even think that is cool???” Yes boxing gyms have cussing but not as much as the MMA gym it is very mild compared to an MMA gym. I now knew never, ever, ever to wear anything MMA related into his gym again! Yet the stange this is sometimes MMA fighters come to his gym to learn boxing and he is okay with them and helps them out. When I started training at this boxing gym it was very positive and the coach actually taught! He would literally teach me technique on his own, as well as have his fighters teach me technique and he coddled me into sparring and eased me into it just like any white belt needs to be! People at the gym said, “We are not here to beat each other up but to help each other learn.” But that did not mean the fighting was soft because after all it is boxing and boxing is full contact so you will get hit. Also, the workouts are given to you as the coach knows exactly what training and conditioning you need to do that day and you only do what he says so it is totally structured. Before I trained here I assumed the gym would just be like an open gym and you would be left on your own. Partly that is true but the coach gives you a definite structured direction on what to do every day. There is also group stomach work classes (sit ups, planks, burpees etc). Everything happens spontaneous. You are working on the speed bag then all of a sudden the coach yells at you to get in the ring with everyone to do ab work. Then later sparring. You do what he says. The following is my experience training for 2 months week by week. This is part 1 of the article separated by weeks:

Week 1

        I survived 1 week of boxing training! I feel amazing, yet still some fear exists because I have no yet spared fully yet.

Monday–        First day the coach has be jump on the elliptical for 45 minutes. After that he taught me the speed bag and lt me work on it for several rounds, then he gave me a crossfit routine with situps, pushups and dumbells. Later I had to learn a 4 punch simple combo that teaches hip rotation with punches.

Tuesday–        The second day I did much of the same and he told me where to go and what to do each time. I was having a lot of fun and feeling great that I am working out really hard. If I did not have a coach I would not want to do such exercises or be motivated. I did more of the punch combo.

Wednesday–        Day 3 I learned how to get into a proper boxing stance and throw a jab and cross. He went over the ins and outs of boxing with me that evening and took time to talk to me with much enthusiasm. I could tell this coach loved his craft and loves to teach. He also taught me a hook punch. He was also impressed I learned the rhythm of the speed bag on my 3rd day. Usually it takes people weeks. He realized I had to have some training before. I had to admit that I am a Taekwondo guy and he was cool with it. I was relieved because most people will bash Taekwondo or think I am some kind of competition for their commercial gym since I also teach martial arts. He let me work around in his gym on my own this day and every so often gave me corrections. When he gives corrections he is somewhat abrasive and sarcastic but he only does it to coach me. Boxing trainers are arrogant but they know what works and what doesn’t and you must be humble and accept his correction.

Thursday–        The fourth day I was taught by one of his amateur fighters and trainers how to move forward and backward in a boxing stance as well as throw combos. I felt so happy! The trainer told me I looked good.

Friday–        Day 5 there are no classes held on friday. This was a rest day.

Saturday–        Day 6 I had a realization that I WILL have to fight and will be in the ring. I saw guys sparring and they do not really pull punches much. I felt intimidated. I know i do Taekwondo and I have sparred and even did Kickboxing sparring but in a boxing gym there is no notion of “light contact” but there is a sense of “go easy” yet it is still rough. Boxing is not for the weak. In boxing you learn simply by trial and error. You are taught the correct form for techniques then thrown out to try it against someone who knows how to box. You will get punched in the face and no you will not like it, but how you react to getting hit will speak volumes of your abilities. Knowing this I have this anticipation about getting hit and I do not look forward to it. I am a Taekwondo guy who has sparring experience yet not much face punching towards me experience and I want to overcome my fears of punches coming at me and build confidence for full contact punching.

Sunday–        Day 7 he had me jump rope and did not tell me to stop and I ended up jumping for an hour and a half. He seemed impressed. I was taught more on blocking than the first day he showed me a boxing stance and jab and cross. Another student worked with me on catching the jab and jabbing back. Also the second block to a cross punch by lifting the wrist and elbow to the ear. I was told to spar in the ring now with jabs only. I sparred with jabs and catching the jab blocking against a seasoned boxer who threw the same back at me. I was hit a couple of times and no I did not like it but I also did get a couple of hits in myself. Boxing is extremely tiring and you have to have extreme cardio and stamina to survive. This is a life lesson. A real fight can be a marathon and if you are not in shape you will die. I felt great after training was over. But began to dread the next day.


White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program. 


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