Can Boxing be Self Taught?

For the most part, the sport of boxing cannot be self-taught. There are too many intricate skills that require a boxing coach to learn. Furthermore, trying to box yourself means that you won’t get experience from sparring which is a fundamental element of boxing. Without it, its nearly impossible to develop an intuition for fighting.

However, while learning the sport of boxing alone is a herculean task, using boxing for fitness is most definitely something you could learn yourself. In fact, you could probably learn most of the correct forms and techniques for boxing alone. The problems would only occur during sparring, not being accustomed to the threat of an opponent often causes fear. Fear leads to panic and panic leads to danger. Being comfortable in this environment of threat is what makes someone a “good boxer”. Everyone still experiences nerves but they are controlled and directed.

So who needs a boxing coach?

Anyone who wants to seriously learn the sport of boxing needs a boxing coach. I think for the majority of people who want to box casually as a hobby or for fitness, spending large amounts of money on a boxing coach doesn’t make sense. Professional boxers will often have coaches that structure their lives around them due to intense schedules but this essentially comes down to what the boxers can afford and the return they get on their investment. Having a full-time coach is expensive but for a professional athlete, its worth it.

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Lots of amateur boxers often have coaches that they share with several other fighters and many fighters are often trained by their parents or family members. This means they don’t have to pay large amounts of money at the start of their careers and they have a coach that understands them well. I think this is the best way to start boxing, if you have a family member who knows how to box, ask them if they can give you a few pointers and if you can train with them.

However, there are many gyms that offer classes for members that I think are very well suited to most people who box and they are reasonably priced. These lessons usually consist of drills and different training techniques. Some gyms often offer some one-on-one time with each member to see how they are getting along and offer some personal advice.

Benefits of boxing alone

I’d to make it clear up front that I think the drawbacks of boxing alone far outweigh the advantages. However, there are particular facets of boxing that suit solitary work and others that require people and teamwork. Listed below are some of the advantages of boxing alone:

  • Can learn at home from videos
  • Requires little equipment
  • Costs less
  • You won’t be self conscience
  • Can work at your own pace

Drawbacks of boxing alone

The drawbacks of boxing alone are substantial. Frankly, its nearly impossible to reach a high level without training and input from other people. Listed below are some of the obstacles you have to face when trying to teach yourself boxing:

  • You may struggle to push yourself
  • You could subcosciencially pick-up bad habits
  • Lack of experience with real sparring
  • No direction
  • No feedback
  • Lack of competition
  • Slow improvement
  • Limited to certain excersises

Elements of boxing you can learn alone

Shadow BoxingShadow boxing is an exercise that is great to perform alone, especially once you have a good understanding of form and combinations. Having someone there to correct your form when you’re starting is useful but once you have grasped the basics, its incredibly simple and easy to do on your own while still being highly effective.
Heavy bag workUsing the heavy bag is really something you can only do alone. Technically you can get someone to hold the bag for you but really it’s an exercise that is meant to be performed by yourself. Hitting the heavy bag allows you to practice technique and power on something roughly the same size and weight as a person.
Jump ropeJumping rope is another exercise that is great for boxing and you can learn alone. It’s a motor skill and simply requires lots of practice in order to learn. The benefits of jumping rope include but aren’t limited to, agility, footwork, timing, and cardio.
Fitness/CardioI think for fitness having a strength and conditioning coach is beneficial as they will push you above your limits which is good for people who tend to quit when facing physical adversity. However, fitness and cardio are relatively easy to train alone. Running, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and swimming are often integral elements for boxing training that can be performed alone and are great for overall fitness and strength.
Boxing Analysis Out of everything in this table, I believe boxing analysis is the most valuable practice when learning boxing. There is so much knowledge you can soak up from watching fights that you can then implement into your own training. Having someone who knows boxing to help break down fights can be helpful but watching boxing is definitely something you can do alone. There are also lots of fight breakdowns you can watch on YouTube.

Elements of boxing you need trainers/partners for

SparringSparring is something that you need a partner and preferably a coach for. Sparring against someone that understands your level and treats you appropriately is important. Some people may bully inexperienced boxers any chance they can but this means neither you nor them will have the opportunity to grow and improve. Having a coach also helps with sparring as they can help give you pointers from an outside perspective.
Pad-work/Mitt-workI think for mitt-work, you have to have an almost synchronous relationship with your coach. Mitt-work is great for practicing movement, speed, power, accuracy, timing, combinations, and more. Mitt-work helps cover a wide variety of elements in boxing and I think its especially helpful to new fighters as it helps pull these elements together. However, it is an exercise that is heavily dependent on the skill of the coach, holding the mitts isn’t easy and requires both the fighter and trainer to have a good understanding of each other.
Timing & AccuracyTo learn good timing and accuracy you have to spar with a variety of people. Timing often involves counter punching and the only way to learn this is by repeatedly doing it. Accuracy also requires lots of practice but can be improved through the use of mitt-work, speed-bags, and double-end bags. This is part of the “intuition” that we mentioned earlier. It’s an un-conscience instinct that is refined and polished over time.
Intuition Having boxing intuition as a whole requires both a good coach and lots of sparring partners. Intuition includes but isn’t limited to managing distance, keeping your head off the center line, managing your gas tank, and counter-punching.
AggressionAggression usually isn’t something that people have to learn but being effectively aggressive is. When people box for the first time, they often swing wildly trying to bully their opponent because they want to escape an uncomfortable situation they aren’t accustomed to. Aggression is good but panic or uncontrolled aggression doesn’t usually end well. Having a coach who can harness aggression is pivotal to the success of a boxer because unless you have freakish power, swinging wildly only goes so far. Sparring partners are also important for aggression, having a sparring partner who poses some real danger will stop you from trying to walk through them.

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