Self-defense or Boxing?

Self-defense or Boxing?

Self-defense or Boxing? So, which is best to defend yourself with, boxing or self-defense training? Well, the good news is they’re both good, and will work. Let’s look at both options.


Many different martial arts – There’s so many different types of martial arts, choose the one you feel comfortable with, more importantly, really learn and understand the techniques you are being shown may be needed to seriously defend yourself with someday, we hope not, but you never know and must be prepared for the worst these days.

Understand what you’re learning – Don’t get caught up in the `speed game` what I mean by that is simply don’t race through the colored belts and certificates like it’s some kind of challenge to see how fast you can become black-belt. Really understand why you’re learning self-defense, if your life is in danger the colored belts and certificates will be useless to you if you haven’t really understood the techniques you’ve been taught.

Forget the movies – First of all, forget all the fancy and elaborate moves you see in the movies, they look great, but are not at all realistic and will not help you in a dangerous situation. If you start jumping around and trying high spinning kicks, you`ll end up on the floor at your attacker’s mercy, the last place you want to be.

You can only hope your antics amused him so much he couldn’t attack for laughing! Seriously though, these kind of `movie theatrics` will be disastrous should you try them. Keep them in the movies where they belong!

Being attacked is nothing like training – If you are attacked out in the streets, this is the real deal and no matter how much training you might have done cannot prepare you for the level of violence your attacker may be capable of inflicting on you.

The shock of being attacked for real can stun even the most competent of martial artists, while their brain is trying to accept what’s happening the adrenaline is in overdrive! So always accept the fact you might be next, no one is immune from attack, it’s how you handle the situation that matters.

Skills and confidence – First of all, you must have the skills needed to deal with an attacker if you’re using self-defense, trying to put someone in an arm lock for the first time while being attacked simply won’t work. It takes many lessons and months, even years to truly learn how to successfully know these moves inside out.

Even if you truly have the skills, that’s still not enough as you must also have the confidence to execute the techniques correctly. Even knowing what to do, if you go half-heartedly into an arm lock not sure you can successfully pull it off you’re already defeated!

Confidence plays a crucial part of the skills needed to defending yourself successfully, which goes back to what I was saying earlier about learning martial arts correctly. You`ll wish you had if that time comes.

Learn for the correct reasons – Martial arts knowledge is not about teaching someone a lesson, or getting even with someone, or being the toughest guy in the bar. Never use your skills to threaten or bully innocent people.

Learning self-defense comes with many positive benefits, three of which are self-control, discipline and respect for others.

Self-defense myth #1 – Self-defense is one of those subjects plagued by myths. The greatest myth, mainly propagated by action movies, is that of invincibility. Here the well-trained warrior always wins through a mixture of way over-the-top techniques and unwavering courage, none of which would help you in a real-life attack situation.

The movie battles are brutally but beautifully choreographed, with astonishing and complex moves, and he ultimately defeats all challenges, again, with techniques that have no use outside movies.

A classic example of this would be the Bruce Lee movies, as much as we all love him, you have to admit the fighting sequences are way over the top, certainly where he’s surrounded by twenty or more guys and he’s blindly flailing those arms and legs and people are dropping like flies! Looks great, but totally unrealistic. But Bruce Lee is a legend and I love him as much as you do, but you get my point, right?

Another example is the Van Damme movies, where in every movie he takes a real beating then miraculously defeats almost everyone with his signature jumping spinning around ballet like kick, looks great, but would you seriously do that in front of someone? No, of course you wouldn’t as 9 out of 10 times you’d miss and end up on the floor at the mercy of your attacker! But again, they are great action movies.

For me, the most realistic martial arts movies were the early Steven Seagal ones, I say early ones simply because later he got so out of shape nothing remotely looked realistic about him or his movies!

Anyway, that’s enough of bashing the actors in these movies, you understand my point, right? They’re good to watch, but if you think you can defeat someone in that manner you’ll be in for a rude awakening.

In reality, no matter how expert a person becomes in unarmed combat, he will always remain terribly vulnerable in a street fight. Ask anyone who regularly faces true violence, such as nightclub doormen or police officers, and almost all will confess to feeling deep fear before and during any fight.

This fear comes from knowing that a person can go from victor to vanquished in a matter of seconds with a single punch. Real fights, unlike those in the movies, always have uncertain outcomes, and it`s not always good. Just because you are the good guy does not mean a thing out in the streets.

Self-defense myth #2 – The second myth is slightly more insidious, as it can be propagated even among those who have achieved a high level in the martial arts. This is the belief that somehow fights can be clean and controlled, and that knowing advanced techniques can guarantee victory.

There are many people that have never done martial arts in their entire life, but instead have fought and won numerous real fights. All the martial arts classes and even sparring will not prepare you if you are suddenly confronted with someone who is hell bent on causing you serious injury.

The type that just attack without warning, where you have to act instantly to have a chance, this is where you quickly realize all the training you have done hasn’t prepared you for the level of violence that’s now coming your way. This is the real deal and you better have a plan of action to deal with it quickly, as you may only get one chance to survive.

They may be high on drugs or alcohol which can add to the problems you now about to face. Not everyone is a happy drunk, and when high on drugs, some turn extremely violent.

Nothing will prepare you for a real fight, the level of violence can be shocking, where there are no rules, and if you go down, the attack may well continue. The explosion of adrenaline can paralyze the most well studied fighter if he has only experienced training sessions, who suddenly finds himself in a real-life fight situation. It can and does happen.

I personally know many black belts who look great in training sessions but would have to question their chances in a real street fight. Many get caught up in the game of flying through the different colored belts as fast as possible and getting that fancy certificate, seeing that as the main challenge, rather than truly being able to defend themselves.


Boxing training offers so many benefits. Boxing, a great form of exercise and sport. Boxing as a sport requires a high level of athletic prowess: strength, speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, endurance, nerve, and power, just to name several required attributes. Boxing as a fitness activity enables the average person to hone those same athletic skills, all without having to take a punch.

If you’re hoping to get in great shape and improve your health, you just might want to sign up for a membership to your local boxing gym. There are a number of reasons why, and here’s just a few of the benefits of boxing.

Many people would be surprised to see boxing categized as a martial art. However, boxing is one of the purest forms of martial arts in history. It is highly effective in MMA as well, teaching fighters head movement and footwork technique.

It is also extremely effective in self-defense situations, as most fights start standing up. Boxing is a sport that has been celebrated by the masses throughout history. It’s also not that hard to become a better boxer with practice.

You don’t need fancy and elaborate moves to defend yourself, boxing is a straight forward no-nonsense defend and counter attack, perfect in a street fight really, and as that’s the most likely place you’ll get attacked, you’ll be glad to have some boxing skills under your belt.

Enhanced Cardiovascular Health – You hear it all the time: You need to do cardio to protect yourself from heart disease, burn calories, and lose or maintain your weight. But “doing cardio” doesn’t have to mean hopping on a treadmill to log your required minutes – how boring is that?

The whole point of cardio is to place a moderate amount of stress on your heart and lungs so that they’re challenged enough to make beneficial physiologic adaptations to support the higher level of physical activity. But how you choose to place stress on your heart and lungs is up to you. As long as you keep your heart rate up during your workout, there’s no reason you can’t punch, kick, and jump your way to a healthy heart at your local boxing gym.

Better Hand-Eye Coordination – You may not think about the importance of hand-eye coordination and its effect on total health, but hand-eye coordination plays an important role in a person’s motor skills. Individuals with good hand-eye coordination tend to have faster reflexes and reaction times and tend to have better physical coordination as a whole. This is particularly important during aging, as coordination and balance become compromised, increasing the risk of falls.

Boxing can help hone hand-eye coordination. When you’re tasked with punching a speed bag (a lightweight boxing bag suspended from a disc that turns and bounces quickly with each punch), or you’re paired up to spar with a partner (practice punching your partner’s padded mitts), you must be able to see the target, react to the target, and hit the target, all while the target is moving and changing position. It’s tough, but with practice, your hand-eye coordination improves substantially.

Increases Physical and Mental Toughness – Boxing is as much mental as it is physical.  When starting out, someone going at you and threatening physical harm is a scary thing.  Many new people just turn their backs and try to get away as soon as the barrage of punches come.  The fight-or-flight response kicks in and your body starts to react by retreating.

But the more you spar, the more you train your brain to stand and fight, instead of retreating (flight).  You eventually learn how to take a punch and how to stand and fight even when you are getting your butt whooped.  In essence, you are training your mind and body to persist.

The physical and mental toughness gained from boxing will translate into other parts of your life.  You will find that your pain threshold will increase, you will become less scared of physical harm, and you will become grittier. There is not much that will make you tougher than facing physical harm.

Ability to Defend Yourself – This is probably the most obvious benefit of boxing aside from the conditioning.  Boxing is a very effective form of fighting.

In order for boxing to be an effective form of self-defense though, you can’t just keep hitting focus mitts and heavy bags, you actually have to do some sparring—some real sparring.

Boxing teaches you to be controlled with your movement and strike at the right time.  So, when you are sparring with someone that knows how to box, the sparring is used to work on technique, not to kill one another.  People that don’t know how to box however, go into a sparring match with 100 percent power and speed.  It can feel like they are trying to kill you.

Improving Your Coordination – The next big benefit that you can reap from boxing and training for boxing on a regular basis is that you will develop better hand-eye coordination.

Training your hand-eye coordination works in the same way as training your cardiovascular endurance or your muscle strength, in the sense that the more you challenge it, the better it will get.

Boxing involves a lot of coordination because you need to be able to bounce around and move in certain direction with your feet, while at the same time landing punches on your opponent. Moreover, you have to be able to aim your hands perfectly to get that big punch in on your opponent’s sweet spot, something that requires a lot of coordination.

Moreover, training for boxing, such as skipping rope, or better yet using a speed bag, also helps to train hand-eye coordination and the connection between your brain, the part that tells you to do something, and your hands and feet, the parts which execute the maneuvers which your brain has instructed them to do.


Self-defense is great for many reasons, with so many health and social benefits, but if you haven’t truly learned the techniques correctly they aren’t really likely to work for you when attacked.

Now, on the other hand if you have truly learned the techniques, they can be very valuable for your safety, for example putting someone in a restraining hold, and taking the heat out of the attacker within seconds without causing harm to yourself.

Boxing is a great no-nonsense way of defending yourself, it doesn’t take very long to learn how to throw a punch correctly, and nothing will stop an attacker faster than a good old fashioned solid punch to the face!

Attackers are cowards, once they see and feel you have boxing skills they’ll be on their way very quickly feeling very sorry for themselves, knowing they picked on the wrong person.

So, to answer the question, which is better boxing or self-defense training? it’s a matter of preference. Personally I like to do both regularly. Both are extremely enjoyable and come with so many benefits, and you can easily defend yourself with both.

Never think you’re invincible, even if you can handle yourself, you may still take a punch so always be prepared and accept an attack could come your way. Deal with it quickly if it does!

Author: Nigel Taylor

I`m Nigel Taylor – originally from England – owner of The Backyard Gym in Round Rock Texas. We specialize in personal training, kickboxing cardio and self-defense. With over 25 years experience as a personal trainer, I know what works! From weight loss to bulking up to toning up, I can help you get your desired look and achieve your fitness goals. I can also offer you the privacy of a 100% private personal training studio in which to enjoy and get the most out of your workouts.