We’ve taught self defense and boxing for years at Trifecta. There’s a common misconception that a lot of boxing overlaps with self defense. But there are many reasons why self defense and boxing should be treated as two very different things.
I think people often equate “fighting” to self defense. So I guess a sport like boxing, in which you “fight” someone, might seem like it’s also good self defense. You often hear people say that they want to learn boxing because they’d feel safer and more confident in defending themselves if/when they needed to. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with feeling more confident in your abilities. But learning a combat sport isn’t the same as self defense.
It comes down to some very important and key differences.
- In boxing, there are a lot of rules. Almost all of these rules have been made to help protect the boxers. In self defense, there are no rules. If someone’s going to attack you, it’s safe to assume that they’re going to do everything they can do to hurt you. You can’t count on breaks, resetting, second chances, etc.
- Even though people talk about how dangerous high-contact sports (especially combat sports) can be, in boxing, there’s a lot of equipment that’s meant to protect you. Mouth guard, headgear, groin protectors, gloves that are required to have X oz of padding, hand wraps, etc. You’re also expecting your opponent to be roughly your size, or at the very least, the same weight as you. When you’re in self-defense mode, it’s not about squaring up for a fair fight; in fact, it’s safe to assume you would have a physical disadvantage in most cases.
- When you’re boxing, you’re looking to score points, outwit your opponent, and win every round. Meanwhile, the purpose of learning self-defense is to keep you alive and safe. Most times that means you should run and scream (get the attention of anyone nearby).
- If you’re being attacked by someone in a real life situation, you’re most likely not going to be prepared. It’s nothing like boxing, where you know what’s coming for the most part and have probably spent time preparing for it. And being prepared mentally can make a huge difference.
When it comes down to it, self defense is about keeping you alive by whatever means necessary. It’s also about situational awareness and trying to avoid escalating situations if possible. Boxing, on the other hand, is a sport. Even though it’s a combat sport, and even though it can make you feel like you could defend yourself in real life, it’s not the same thing as learning self defense, which hopefully you’ll never have to use, but it’s always better to be prepared.