The wide variety of people using Commando Boxing continually amazes me.
Members range in age from less than 10 to older than 80. They are a fairly even split of men and women, although the proportion of women continues to grow. About 65% are brand new to the sport of boxing and looking to see if it is something they want to pursue.
The main reasons people generally give when joining the club fall into three general categories:
- a desire to improve their level of fitness using boxing training that isn't boring or that can be done at home;
- to improve self-confidence or learn self defense skills; or
- to increase performance and prepare for competition as a supplement to training they are doing in a physical club or with a trainer
Well, whatever your motivations are for being here, I first and foremost applaud you for getting involved in the sport. No words I type are ever going to convey how beneficial boxing can be in your life. It's something you'll have to experience for yourself and thousands already have.
Exactly how intrusive it becomes is totally up to you, but if you let it, your quest to become a better boxer can consume every thought and action. Thus, it's sometimes beneficial to stop for a second and maintain perspective as to why you are here in the first place.
Given that I'm writing this at the start of a New Year - it's a great time to reassess why you are here. So, I'd like to share some thoughts with the three groups of people using Commando Boxing:
- the boxing for fitness or recreation members
- those here looking to compete now or in the future
- and those looking to stay alive in a street fight (or learn some self defense and improve confidence)
Feel free to skip to the section that pertains to you.
To the Boxing for Fitness and Recreational Crowd...
If you've been reading my stuff for a while, you'll know that I truly believe boxing training is the most challenging, intense, and effective training you can do to improve your health and appearance.
To reiterate - the nature of boxing requires you to push the limits of all of your energy systems, get stronger, leaner, enhance flexibility, balance, and coordination. It has a mental component to it as well that you'll notice as your mood, confidence and outlook on life suddenly improves.
If you're here looking for the health and fitness benefits of boxing, then your focus needs to be on:
- Your nutrition - it's the basis of any kind of change you'll make in your health or appearance. If you neglect the nutrition, you are going to waste your time trying to get results from the boxing training you can do here.
I'm not saying training without nutrition won't get any results because the body has a way of adapting and will force you to give it what it needs to make it through the training (think about how your body lets you know when you need water or when you get cravings for certain things), but you'll certainly slow down your progress.
Boxing training will accelerate your results if your diet and nutrition match the training you are doing - supplying the necessary energy and nutrients to help you give 100% effort and mental focus to each training session.
- Fundamental boxing techniques - you don't need to know every boxing technique in existence. There are thousands of combinations, an offensive game, a defensive game, strategy and tactics to pick and choose from.
If you're here to get lean and strong, you don't need to know all of them.
You need to know just enough to be able to do the training in a safe and effective manner.
I'll never stop you from learning more, but once you've learned the basics, your time may be better spent on utilizing that foundation in your training to get to your fitness goals faster.
Any time you spend learning a new skill does have some benefit and will be something else you can implement in your training at some point, but skill development training does take away from the time available for focused training targeting strength, stamina, speed, fat loss and so on.
Once you've achieved the body of your dreams, then boxing training takes on a more maintenance role and you can look at it more recreationally - adding as many skills as you would like to know.
- Your training - the boxing training you do will complement and accelerate what your good nutrition is doing for you. It's essential to get stronger, faster, leaner, and so on as it forces the adaptations in your body to deal with the added workload and stresses you put it under.
But - you don't need to overdo it. A good diet plan and 5-9 hours a week (spread over 4-5 days) of targeted, progressive training is all you really need to propel you towards your fitness goals with most people falling in the middle of that somewhere.
Some can get away with a little less effort and some a little more because we're all different in some way.
- Your recovery - focus on sleeping - on a regular schedule with good, quality sleep. The sleep cycle is about 3 hours long. If you factor in the time it takes to settle down and actually fall asleep, anywhere from 6.5 to 8 hours a night should give you two good full sleep cycles and allow you wake up refreshed shortly after the second cycle.
It's during sleep and the time out of the gym that your body is adapting, repairing and doing what it needs to do to make you healthier, leaner and stronger (if your diet is supplying it properly). Not paying enough attention to recovery will nullify the hard work you put in in the gym.
To Those Looking to Compete...
Photo by The US Army - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- Spc. Zacchaeus Hardrick (right), a boxer representing the U.S. Army team, punches Air Force Staff Sgt. Gary Griffin (left), during their bout at the 2011 Armed Forces Boxing Championship at the Chaparral Fitness Center, Feb. 15, 2011. The AFBC is an elite competition between military service branches. Winning a gold medal in the event qualifies the athlete to compete in the 2012 Olympic team trials. (U.S. Photo/Staff Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)
First, competing means you need to be a member of a boxing club and have a trainer who is going to work with you in person. If you aren't willing to do that, then you need to come to terms with the fact that you are not going to be getting in a ring anytime soon and should probably start thinking about yourself as a boxing for fitness and recreation member.
If you're going to compete, your coach/trainer is going to supervise your development, but not every gym or club has daily gym times. Many only have classes two or three times a week. You should be approaching those classes as skill development classes, using them to improve your game and correcting issues under the watchful eye of your coach. They will be for sparring and putting the techniques you're learning to use. While you will benefit from them in terms of conditioning, if you're only working with your coach 1-2 times a week - you need to do your conditioning training on your own.
Fighting means training daily and sometimes more than that if required. The members here who are members of physical gyms use Commando Boxing to supplement the boxing training they get in their own club. The self-guided boxing training program provides conditioning workouts that can be done as part of a progressive training plan leading up to a boxing match (12 week lead time).
That kind of training intensity demands superior nutrition and adherence to a strict recovery plan. It means sacrifice and if I'm describing you right now, you are the type of boxer who should let boxing consume your entire life. If you want to be the best - make it your number one priority.
To Those Looking to Use Boxing for Self Defense, Improve Confidence, or Stop the Bullying...
First, I'm terribly sorry that you're finding yourself in any situation that is causing you to seek out help because someone else seems to think it is alright to pick on you, threaten you, or outright inflict physical damage on you. I sincerely hope you seek out real help from those around you in some position of authority who can affect the situation for the better.
At the same time, we can't exactly be complacent when it comes to our own physical well being and finding out how you react the first time you get punched in the face probably shouldn't be in a street fight. 99.5% of the time, there is absolutely no reason to resort to violence or need any fighting skills in order to lead a safe and fulfilling life and to be clear, Commando Boxing does not exist to teach you how to be a street fighter. Everything I teach is meant to be used for sport in a ring under the watchful eye of a referee, coaches, judges, and qualified medical personnel.
That said, yet again, the other .5% of the time when things are in crisis mode and you're faced with no other option, a basic foundation of boxing techniques can help with some aspects of self defense. It can also be a deterrence as knowing something about taking care of yourself physically naturally increases your level of confidence when in an unfamiliar situation. That feeling and look of confidence can actually mean the difference between being chosen as a target to victimize or not. And, of course, if chosen, that increased confidence can help diffuse the situation if you're able to deal with it head on.
You may be here just to learn some basic skills to help you cope with daily life. You are more than welcome to use the site for that and I sincerely hope you are able to improve your confidence and self-esteem by doing so. You'll find that your confidence does in fact increase as you learn skills and if you're doing any consistent boxing and fitness training, the exercise and nutrition can also positively affect your outlook and circumstances.
Member or not - if you're reading this, then you have some spark or flicker of interest in boxing no matter what category you fall into. Maybe you're investigating boxing for the first time or perhaps you've let your spark grow a little dim over the last little while. It doesn't matter. Now is the time to see whether you can fan that spark into a full-fledged fire, starting for the first time or picking up again wherever you left off.
I don't say it often enough, but I appreciate you for either being a member or even just visiting Commando Boxing and reading what I have to say.
You are truly an amazing group of people, all with a unique story of what brings you to boxing. Over the last 12 plus years it has been my pleasure to get to know many of you and pass on what I can as I have the time and resources to do so and I hope to continue doing it into 2016 and beyond. Thank-you and Boxon.