Boxing is a Natural Fighting Technique that has been Stylized and Refined in Different Ways
Punching with your fists and kicking with your feet come naturally when untrained fighters fight with each other. Add a few other tactics such as elbowing, kneeing, biting and head butting, and you have a complete fighting routine. Many of these are in fact are elements of some boxing styles like Muay Thai or Thai Boxing.
When the boxing becomes a trained discipline, the techniques are refined so that their effectiveness is enhanced and they are adapted to different fighting situations. In particular, training can help fighters counter opponents better and increase the impact of their own punches, kicks and other kinds of attacks.
Boxing has thus been developed into formalized systems with codified practices in different regions of the world. In addition to Muay Thai, there are other systems such as Burmese Boxing, French Boxing and modern Western Boxing.
Thai Boxing or Muay Thai
The process of refining techniques can be illustrated by looking at some practices of Muay Thai. In this system of boxing, the use of feet for kicking has been abandoned in favor of kicking with the shin. The feet contain many fragile bones that can easily get broken if used for kicking. The shin, while quite sensitive in an untrained person, can be developed into a formidable weapon through training. Thai boxing also minimizes hand punching at the body of the opponent, instead focusing on the head. The theory is that when you try to punch lower, your own head is exposed to attack by the opponent’s elbows and knees.
Muay Thai involves extensive use of hands, shins, elbows and knees, and is known as the Art of Eight Limbs. In the traditional style, a ninth limb, the head, was also used. Head butting has been banned in modern Muay Thai. This style of boxing also uses grappling to some extent. Clinching, where you hold the opponent’s head with your hands while kneeing the person, for example.
Strikes like punches, kicks and others involve the use of the full body. The fighter turns the full body from the hip while striking, and thus adds considerable force to the attack.
Thai boxing originally used a flat handed kind of punching, striking with the heel of the palm. It has now incorporated all the different punches of modern boxing, such as jabs, hooks and upper cuts with fists and knuckles.
Other fighting techniques of Muay Thai include:
- Kicking with the shin,
- Different types of Elbowing,
- Jumping, flying and straight Knee strikes,
- Clinching the opponent’s head while striking with the knee and
- Foot Thrusts to throw the opponent off balance
Defensive techniques include Blocking, Redirection, Avoidance, Evasion, Disruption and Anticipation.
Western boxing, with its focus on reducing boxing to a rules-based sport and minimizing injuries is what we call modern boxing. It had its origin in the Greek Olympics of pre-Christian era. The boxing of Greek times was different from what we know as modern boxing, and serious injury was common.
Modern boxing places considerable focus on minimizing such serious injury. Heavy gloves have to be worn by the contestants, and only hits by the gloved fists are allowed in fighting. No elbowing, kneeing, head butting or biting are allowed. Referees can stop the fight if one of the contestants is deemed to be unable to continue fighting.
The rules of modern boxing include:
- The use of three minute “rounds” of fighting with one minute rests between each round
- The use of “corners” where the boxer can rest during the break, and can receive help and advice from coach and helpers
- Prohibition of certain kinds of attacks, such as hitting below the belt, holding the opponent while striking and the elbowing, kneeing etc mentioned earlier
- Three methods of deciding a winner, viz. Knockout when one of the fighters touches the floor of the ring for a count of ten, Technical Knockout when the referee determines that one of the contestants cannot continue the fighting and Referee Decision or Judges’ Points if neither Knockout nor Technical Knockout occurs
- The use of a referee, who monitors the fight closely working inside the ring, and ringside judges who score points for each boxer
Modern boxing also ensures that only fighters with similar weights are matched against each other. Even in this case, if the fighting shows that the fighters are seriously mismatched, the referee can stop the fight. Amateur boxers are also required to wear headgear while fighting.
Modern boxing is thus very different from traditional fighting that allowed all kinds of attacks, such as kneeing, elbowing, biting and head butting. However, many of these elements can be seen in other boxing styles such as Thai Boxing. Even in these cases, rules have minimized their lethal character so that contestants are not maimed or killed.