By: Moose Lee, Martial Arts Correspondent
Although roped rings and title fights are part of one type of boxing style, there are many other forms the average person can use to help get them in shape quickly and to give them the skills they need to defend themselves in the real world.
American-style boxing is an excellent way to build your core strength and to increase your cardio workout.
American-style boxing works out your upper body and tightens your core by giving you a variety of punching combinations to choose from.
Jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts are all styles of punches boxers use, each one posing a specific threat to the opponent.
Jabs and hooks can be used to stun or to offer a distraction from crosses and uppercuts, the power punches.
Although kicks aren't used in American-style boxing, feet are still important. Stances and body movement are critical areas of focus, and when done properly make you a more effective boxer and give you a better workout.
The strength in using American-style boxing as part of your workout is the cardio component. After two minutes of hitting the bag vigorously your arms will feel like Jell-O and you'll be standing in a pool of sweat, winded and exhilarated.
American-style Boxing: "The Long Drill"
Thai boxing, also known as muay thai, is the national sport of Thailand and can be traced back thousands of years. It was originally created by soldiers who had lost their weapons in battle as a last stand tactic.
Muay thai uses stand-up striking techniques where opponents traditionally exchange blows, specifically kicks, until one wins out. The blow-for-blow foundation of muay thai has evolved to include using the entire body. Today muay thai incorporates knees, elbows, and punching, but kicking is still very much a part of the foundation.
A Thai kick is different than the kicks used in other martial arts forms like Taekwondo. In Taekwondo the kicks are snapped out with speed and are often used as a stunning technique to allow for more fatal strikes. Thai kicking, on the other hand, is about brunt force and requires an enormous amount of core strength because the hips must be rotated more aggressively than they are when using stunning kicks. The kicking is what makes muay thai an excellent form of boxing for strengthening your core and tightening leg, and more importantly, ass muscles.
Muay Thai - "Long Drill"
Panantukan is the boxing component of Filipino martial arts. Since an organization hasn't adapted its forms for safety and conformance, Panantukan has the reputation for being a "dirty street fighting" method.
Frequent targets in Panantukan are biceps, triceps, eyes, nose, throat, jaws, temples, groin, ribs, spine, and the back of the neck.
The idea in Panantukan is to take out the vitals: vision, air and sound. Once an opponent can't see, breath or hear, they're virtually defenseless.
The main benefit to practicing Panantukan is the self-defense skills you acquire. Although the physical workout is fairly strenuous, the mental workout is tougher. In Panatukan your strikes are quick and pointed, and your defense is purposeful and aggressive. The sequence of combinations, when practiced with a partner, can get your heart rate pumping, but it's the mental challenge of knowing what combo to use in which situation that's the true workout.
Filipino Boxing - "Counter Series"
You don't need a lot of money to box. Shadow boxing is free, and if you focus on your form, breathing, and foot movement while in front of the mirror, you'll find your muscles will quickly start burning and you'll get your heart rate up.
If you want a more focused workout, punching bags are reasonably priced at retail stores or you can make your own with sand and an old army duffel bag. Either way a punching bag can be supported by most stud beams and can be easily stored in a closet when not in use.
If you don't want to invest in buying equipment but still want to sprinkle some boxing into your workout routine, most traditional fitness gyms have at least one punching bag, and many offer specialized classes in boxing and kickboxing.
If you want to go in whole hog, most major cities have specialized boxing gyms because doing boxing as a workout is a growing trend.
The prices for membership at boxing gyms vary, but some can get quite expense depending on the location and available services and hours.
Martial arts-style boxing classes are a little harder to come by. You might want to start at your local martial arts center to see what's available in your community.
Whether you sign up at a gym, shadowbox, or hang a bag in your garage or spare room, boxing in any form is an excellent way to build core strength and give you practical self-defense skills, if ever the need arises. Boxing builds muscle tone, endurance, speed, strength, and power. Give it one month, and you'll find it's a fun, effective, and invigorating exercise that produces results.
Plus, it's a great way to relieve stress.