Saturday, December 14, 2019

boxing with CP

A heartwarming video of a boxer with cerebral palsy who gets the chance to meet her hero:

While I harbor no illusions that Kate Farley, the feisty boxer in the video, might actually be able to box her way out of a real-life crisis situation, I admire her grit and her determination to keep boxing, anyway. And her personal hero Anthony Joshua turned out to be a stand-up guy, so that's got to be a plus.

Digression: I remember when a few of us college students, back in the day, got into an argument about whether to classify boxing as a martial art. I was definitely on the "no" side, and I still am: boxing is a sport with rules, and fortunately or unfortunately, as the proverb goes, you fight the way you've been trained. In a street situation, you'll find yourself needing your knees, elbows, and fingernails; and boxing—while it will definitely help you develop your speed, punching power, and ability to take punishment—doesn't prepare you for any of that. It certainly doesn't prepare you for grappling and groundwork, and if the Ultimate Fighting Championships have taught us anything, it's that most fights, if they last more than a few seconds, go to the ground. It's not a bad idea to take up Greco-Roman (or freestyle/folkstyle) wrestling alongside boxing: this expands your repertoire and keeps you versatile.

So, based on what I just wrote above, it should be obvious that I'm not averse to the idea that boxing might be a component of a larger martial-arts syllabus, which is exactly what you see in something like MMA fighting systems. There are recognizable elements of boxing in taekwondo, in muay thai, and in many systems of wushu. The kwon in taekwondo comes from the Chinese character chuan (拳, 주먹 권), which can be translated as "fist" or even "boxing." Punching is pancultural, so it should be no surprise to find some form of "the way of the fist" in all parts of the world.

Boxing isn't a martial art, but it will improve your endurance, your agility, your situational awareness in crisis situations, and your ability to deliver some truly crushing blows. All of this is taught within a sporting context, however, so boxing isn't a martial art by any means. Then again, if you pair boxing up with other forms of fighting, it can easily become part of a larger martial-arts syllabus. And a word of caution to martial artists: don't assume that the boxer you're facing is helpless. If he lands one good blow on you, your ass is going down.


Ross LeCompte said...

Hey Kevin, why Greco-Roman? I wrestled freestyle and folkstyle (modified from the American traditional catch-as-can wrestling). With both of those systems you spend a lot of time on the ground. Roman Greco is mostly from neutral and focuses on controlling the upper body for big throws. To be honest, I only tried it a few times, but if memory serves, I could not go after the legs at all.


Kevin Kim said...


Thanks for the comment. Greco-Roman is the only form I'm even a little familiar with, so it came to mind easily. It's the form that was taught at my high-school gym class sophomore year, although I get the feeling that my high school wasn't the only school to teach it. A bit of reading around shows that, as you say, Greco-Roman doesn't allow shooting for the legs. Strange omission in the syllabus, that. Maybe freestyle and folkstyle are better.

Kevin Kim said...


I've amended my blog post to include your insights. Thanks.