My qualifications: Twelve one-hour classes and counting
What it is: A type of martial arts that only allow fists to be the contact points used for attack. Common punches include the jab, the straight punch, the hook, and the upper cut.
What techniques you’ll know: Usually a boxing gym will require you to take 1-3 beginning boxing classes in order to learn how to throw those various punches properly. This is so you don’t want to waste any extra energy or have bad posture that hurts yourself. You also will learn how to dodge and guard yourself from all possible punches.
What you’ll actually be doing: You will not actually fight somebody in boxing class. You will do that in sparring, which is the next level up. In boxing class, you begin with some cardio by jump roping for a long while. Then a series of drills focusing on your stamina and upper body strength, such as push ups, lots of abs exercises, and bear crawls. Some more cardio too to build your endurance and speed. You might use some tools like free weights and heavy exercise balls as well. You’ll get to practice combinations of punches on either a punching bag or a partner who’s blocking. Basically each type of punch is assigned a number. Both parties will know what the sequence will be ahead of time, so the receiver will know how to block properly by anticipating and switching the placements of fists.
Muscles you’ll be working: Um, everything. I used to think that punching involves only your arms. In reality a good punch takes muscles in your arms, shoulders, upper back, core, and more. Basically your entire torso, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to use your lower half as well. Jump roping of course is also great for your legs and many common drills I have encountered are squats and a lot of plyometrics. And don’t think that you get to rest when it’s your turn to block people. Just preventing someone’s fists from driving into yourself takes A LOT of work.
Music you are most likely going to hear during class: Oh anything upbeat and fast, really. Heavy bass helps. Ranges from hip hop and rap to house and pop. Haven’t heard any rock yet though interestingly.
What the instructors are like and what they’re likely to say or do: To me, many boxing teachers remind me a lot of my high school track & field head coach- seems very strict and serious to a point of mean, and likes to encourage you by aggravating you, but is actually super nice deep down. A lot of yelling at you to do better, push harder, and stop complaining already, geez!
Who are likely going to be in your class: Very diverse. I would say about 1/3 women and 2/3 men on average. Some little kids. Some middle aged folks. And trust me, once you see a man who looks about 40 years old walk around with a six-pack, you’ll feel deeply encouraged.
Suggested attire: Something that you can REALLY sweat in. Pin your bangs back or use a headband if needed. Also form fitting athletic shoes, preferably with hi-tops because you will turn quickly on your feet a lot and you don’t want to twist your ankles. Preferably not glasses if you can help it. SPECIAL NOTE FOR LADIES- Try not to wear tops with spaghetti straps because they might fall off your shoulders when throwing punches, and it’s hard to adjust them when you have gloves on.
Required items: Most gyms should lend you loaner gloves for the first few times, but seriously, they’re SO SMELLY so it’s required that you buy your own soon. You also need to wear wraps on your hands. They’re like really really long cloth bandages that you wrap your hands from wrist to fingers so your fist meets an object, the alignment of your wrist is protected and straight. The gym would most likely also want you to buy your own jump rope. Together these 3 items as a set should cost about $75.
What you will feel like right afterwards: OMG I’M SO TIRED AND SWEATY HOLY CRAP! Your hands might feel a bit shaky, and your knuckles might look a bit red and angry, but don’t worry- they will feel fine tomorrow.
What you might feel like the next day: OMG I’M SO SORE ALMOST EVERYWHERE!
Note about partner work: Everyone’s different. I’ve been partnered up with people who were a whole foot taller or twice the size as me, and I was fine. The thing is that even if they’re bigger and stronger, you may be faster or more clever. And honestly if they’re punching too hard or punching too lightly, all you have to do is let your partner know and he or she will adjust. The teacher also usually pairs up the left-handed folks together, by the way.
One tiny downside: I don’t know why but it seems like nobody cares about stretching in boxing, before or after. I highly suggest going to class a bit early and stay for a bit afterward to stretch and decrease the level of soreness you’ll feel the next day.
Bonus: Just feel like a badass in general. So many people tell me “Wait, it’s not kickboxing? That’s so hardcore!,” and the looks you get when slowly putting on wraps on public transit? Priceless. Also violence in a controlled environment really does help you release stress and anger. Who knew?
Extra tips: Do not go to boxing class with freshly done manicures. Nail polish totally can come off.
Seriously, knowing how to throw proper punches makes me feel, for a lack of better word, awesome. Not saying that I want to ever be in a situation to use it, but now I know if I ever were in one, I can protect myself much better.
A few times in class we did this following exercise: We were told that we can use only 70% of our full strength, and we are to combat our partner but only body punches are allowed, meaning no hitting of above one’s chest. I’ve never had a reason for someone to punch me before in my entire life (although I can’t say it remains true for the reverse statement), and when the opponent started swinging at me, my adrenaline kicked in and I went into full survival mode to fight and defend myself. And it felt A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.
The reason that I love boxing is that it is incredibly fun and stimulating. No two classes are ever the same and partner work is very interactive. It forces you to move AND think quickly on your feet. Also honestly each time after class, I feel like I lost a whole inch off my waist, so there’s that!
Please, I beg you. Give boxing a try.
Keep your guard up,