Boxing for the Brain

It may seem weird to recommend to someone with mental health issues to strap on a pair of leather gloves and start throwing punches.  However, more and more people are finding great benefits in adopting the ways of the “sweet science”.  Boxing has been around since early man balled up their fists and swung at an attacker.  Throughout the millennia it was honed into a fighting art and used in combat.  In the last hundred or so years it has become sport and a martial art.


Using a combination of punches, swift and deft footwork, and flowing evasiveness a boxer is able to attack, defend, counterattack and parry all while making it look like a deadly dance.  But before they even step into the ring.  Before the bell of the first round ever sounds, boxers have to develop the discipline to learn and hone the techniques needed to survive in that arena.  And, it is in the development of discipline in which many today believe that boxing may be able to help someone throw more than just a punch, it may help them change their life.


Bristol, England’s Empire Fighting Chance Boxing Club co-founders Martin Bisp and Jamie Sanigar recently engaged the British House of Commons and proposed that they recognize the role of boxing in developing a mentally healthier individual.  Using testimonials and with the help of Ron Tulley, Head of Development at England Boxing they were able to convey to the panel at the House of Commons just how boxing can improve the lives of its participants.


Among other things boxing is a physical way to exert anger.  Let’s face when you feel like you have to punch something maybe it’s actually better to punch something, and since punching people often gets you into trouble it may be better to hit a heavy bag, speed bag or a pair of mitts in an ever increasing tempo.


Anger is a form of stress and boxing is amazing at relieving yourself of stress.  It is an act that requires focus and discipline.  When engaged in the techniques, conditioning and routine of boxing very little else matters when you are in that moment.  You are free from stress as you literally cannot be focused on something else when training to avoid being hit in the face.


Boxing is a martial art.  It requires discipline.  It requires focus.  It requires determination.  It forces you to learn the techniques required to achieve your goals; whether that is to have faster hand speed, better hand eye coordination or losing weight.  This is a transferrable skill that permeates into other facets of life.  If you develop the will and ability to lose weight or punch a speed bag non-stop for 15 minutes then you also have the ability to meet work targets, personal goals and follow through on your commitments.


Finally, boxing empowers people.  It doesn’t just give them the ability to physically defend themselves if the need arises, but it also gives them a boost in morale.  Those who embrace the “sweet science” are often beaming with self-confidence, not because they can throw punches, but because they know they can beat any obstacle that they set their minds to.