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March 28, 2006



Boy that's just how I feel. Like boxing.


I do olympic-style taekwondo sparring regularly, and I don't think of the practices or the matches as violent, though it's possible to hurt or be hurt. From a training perspective, it's an interesting skill to learn, and from a competitive perspective, the matches present fascinating puzzles, to score points without getting scored on.

One of the things I'm coming to grips with in my training is that there are some guys who are sparring with different goals than the rest of us: Where most of us are trying to learn the sport of olympic-style TKD, others are trying to practice their TKD kicks, full-contact. That goal-mismatch can cause injuries, because the rhythm of this kind of match is significantly different than a match where both players are concerned about points.

At first, when faced with one of these "kickers," I'd just square off and kick back! But when I did that, I found when we switched partners and I was paired up again with a good player, my sparring was much, much worse. So now I am trying to keep my focus the same with either style of opponent, and develop the proper fakes & footworks against the "kickers" as well as the good players.

So my advice to you, as you get started sparring in your boxing, is to try to find a couple of partners with the same training goals as you, and spar with them for a while. Save the slugging it out for when you want to do it, not when a sparring partner wants to.


First off - what exactly are you doing with your running shoes? Mine are good for about 1000 miles, or more - are you doing that in 6-8 weeks?

Anyway, I also am a pacifist and though I don't box, I do fence. I know that both are perhaps about "scoring points" but both are also potentially lethal sports. The last person to die in fencing was a result of a broken blade which continued through the mask, the eye and into the brain (they subsequently redesigned the masks), and the same rare occurances occur in boxing sparring as well (for instance boxing a person with Marfan's Syndrome or a ruptured spleen). Compared to auto accidents or even swimming deaths these are minute. Still, for me, it is important to remember that I am not doing a "safe activity" but rather a "dangerous activity made safe" and respect the responsibility and control I must maintain to ensure it stays that way.

Anyway, Kudo's to you for challenging yourself physically as well as mentally by taking up Boxing.

Robert Hayes

If I think of boxing as "scoring points", I can imagine myself sparring with others without abrogating my commitment to non-violence.

I think of running around with hookers the same way, and that way I can imagine myself getting my freak on without abrogating my commitment to monogamy.

Dude. It's a war sport. (And thus cool.) I don't see any way to square the circle.

And a long post about masturbation percolating in my head too...

There's our nominee for "Statement Least Likely To Inspire Regular Checking Back At Hugo's Blog". :P


Nah, Robert, I think you're trying too hard to be glib. Boxing's rules make the difference between the sport of boxing and the violence of fighting. You're hooker analogy doesn't address that difference.


Apologies for the incorrect use of "you're" when I meant "your." Things get ugly when rules aren't followed....

Mister Nice Guy

Getting into fights is to boxing...

...as banging hookers is to flirting?

That's not quite it, but I'm closer to it than Robert is.


they're all very confused that I've started boxing.

Confused? Nah.

Laughing our asses off? You bet!

Sociopathic Revelation


I participate in contact fighting in part, because I find that many martial art schools are lacking with a crucial factor: a resisting, counter-attacking opponent. I believe that a certain volume of 'aliveness' training is important because in a real self-defense situation, I don't care about grading levels, points, or 'gameness' as much as surviving an encounter in one piece. Thai boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jutsu are sports inclined, but anyone who denies that they have practical implication (and I'm not saying you have specifically) hasn't ever looked into them objectively.

Yes, I understand why someone might not want to go full-bore all the time. It isn't always pleasant, but I've never suffered severe injuires, either. I've sparred with moderate contact several times, but not every session. As aggressive Muay Thai is (among other activities) rest and respite are vital, and I even go to massage therapy in addition to yoga to compliment my physical conditioning.

"If I think of boxing as "scoring points", I can imagine myself sparring with others without abrogating my commitment to non-violence." -Hugo

I don't see this as the epitome of cognitive dissonance, but I still wonder what your long term motives are. Is it just fitness oriented or what?



I want to know where "Boxing" is a masculine activity in the first place.

Tell that to all the girls I learned it with.

The Gonzman

I highly recommend this gent: http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/ - for some plain - if sometimes overly verbose - speech on the differences between self-defense, sport, exercise, and fighting.

Much he says, I am sure, will be counted as heresy, but I can find little but to quibble with him about.


Indeed, Antigone -- at the boxing gym we belong to, over half the serious clients are women. Including, as I have mentioned more than once, my wife.

My long-term motives for boxing are twofold: one is, of course, to introduce another activity into my fitness regimen. (Man, boxing does aesthetically pleasing things for one's deltoids!) I'm also interested in mastering something new -- I like new challenges, particularly challenges that go against my most basic instincts (like fear.)

The Gonzman

I'd suggest your local SCA, Hugo. You'd be amazed what some time in armor, muscling about a sword and shield, will do for the old hand/eye and whole body.

Of course, I'd probably (Given your lanky structure and empahasis on endurance) recommend you take up polearm eventually, but you might find something you like better.

You'd be in the "Barony of Angels" and part of the "Canton of Canyons" in the Kingdom of Caid. http://www.sca-caid.org/canyons/

The Gonzman

And given your love of History...


Elizabeth, I burn through my shoes pretty fast. They get me about 300-400 miles. Of course, I take road shoes up on to the trails and abuse them mercilessly. I hate wearing trail shoes, so I persist in taking fairly light-weight trainers through mud and rocks and streams. My body likes it that way, but the shoes give out pretty fast. Somewhere, I have a pair of Montrail off-road shoes I need to start wearing more often. They just feel so danged heavy.

Gonz, I had friends in SCA in college. (For readers, we're talking about Society for Creative Anachronism, NOT Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, another fine organization that shares the same acronym.) I may be a medievalist, but I don't like the dress-up stuff; it reminds me too much of Renaissance Faire (not my cup-of-tea). I don't like role-playing in my recreational life, largely because I spend so much time doing it in the classroom.


Wow, that leaves a wierd image...


"Wow, that leaves a wierd image..."

As I intended! ;-)


Hugo, in addition to being raised a feminist, I was raised a boxing fan -- the kind of fan that keeps a scorecard and knows the history. Because of your pacifism and your commitment to participate in the sport in a way that is consistent with that commitment, I suspect you'll liek this story:

All-time great Willie Pep once won a round without landing a punch.

It's a story that floats around among boxing fans like an urban legend, but it is a true story. Bert Sugar documented it. Pep told the media in advance of his July, 1945 matchup with Jackie Graves, a quality southpaw, that he would win the third round without landing a punch. Instead, he put on the sort of display of defensive genius that made Will o' the Wisp famous. He left Graves flailing at air for three minutes, spinning him, feinting him and pulling him off balance. Pep never landed a punch in the third round, coasted to an easy decision, and on the scorecards at the end, he had won the third round.

And so you don't have to take my word for it:


Correction: Pep did not win by decision. He mounted a sustained offense later, stopping Graves in the 8th.


Love it.

The Gonzman

Heh. Though at one time it was argued that SCA stood for "Society of Consenting Adults."

And now that I've raised THAT image... my work here is done for the night.


Correction: Pep did not win by decision. He mounted a sustained offense later, stopping Graves in the 8th.

As far as I'm concerned, this inconvenient little fact raises serious questions about the compatibility of pacifism and boxing. Your cited source reports:

"Pep knocked Graves down 9 times, ending the fight in the 8th round via TKO."

That's 9 knockdowns in 5 rounds, almost an average of two knockdowns per round. Willie Pep won the match beyond dispute, but he also gave Jackie Graves one hell of a beating along the way.

Have you ever been knocked down in a boxing match, Thomas? If you have, then multiply how it felt by 9 times and you'll see the point I'm making. Pounding the hell out of an opponent like that doesn't seem consistent with pacifism.

I know your earlier point was about the value of Willie Pep's defensive skills, but I see an inconsistency here that I can't reconcile.


Losing in front of your hometown...
You wish the ground...would open up and take you down.
And will time never pass, will time never pass for us?

Your weary wife is walking away;
Your nephew is true, and he thinks the world of you,
And I have to close my eyes...

Losing in front of your hometown...
The crowd calls your name...it loves you...all the same.
The sound, the smell, the spray...
You will take them all away...
And they'll stay...'til the grave...

Your weary wife is walking away;
Your nephew is true, and he thinks the world of you,
And I have to close my eyes...

Losing...in your hometown...
Hell...is the bell...that will not...ring again.
You will return one day, because of all the things
That you see when your eyes close.

Your weary wife is walking away;
Your nephew is true -- well, he thinks the world of you,
And I have to dry my eyes...

Morrissey, "Boxers"


TRH, I have been knocked down -- in fact, I was once knocked down three times in three rounds by a left-handed light heavyweight. I have a lot of experience as a fan but limited ring experience. I'm primarily a fan, not a fighter.

I also have only a lukewarm interest in helping Hugo reconcile pacifism and boxing, because I'm not a pacifist. However, I do note that Pep and Graves were professionals -- prizefighters -- fighting a fifteen round match with no headgear. Amateurs fight short matches with headgear. Not only do these factors dramatically reduce the risk of injury, but they also reduce the number of knockdowns and knockouts among fairly evenly matched fighters, which in turn puts a premium on clean, scoring punches. Body punches are harder to see clearly, so amateurs throw far fewer; and a light punch scores as much as a heavy one, so amateurs have an incentive to privilege accuracy over power. Conventional wisdom is that many amateurs have to make significant alterations to their punch mechanics if they turn pro, turning their punches over to punch through the target and transfer the energy instead of impressing the judges by landing.

That said, I have seen professionals fight fights oriented almost entirely around scoring. Pernell Whitaker made a whole career of it.


BTW, TRH, your "multiply how that felt" comment seems to indicate that you're unacquainted with the ring yourself. Getting knocked down is generally disorienting or frustrating, or both, but not painful. Body punches are painful, but body punch knockdowns are comparatively scarce-- the highest profile ones (Virgil Hill by Roy Jones and De La Hoya by Hopkins) coming years apart.

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