Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Boxing As Self Defense

About three years ago, a group of us from the gym were at a show fight that was held at a suburban country club.  Someone was talking about using boxing a self-defense method.  Another coach at the event said, "Oh, no, you don't want to rely on boxing for street fighting.  You'd rather use mixed martial arts for that."

Both mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to defending against an opponent on the street.  One main disadvantage both fighting arts share is this:  if an opponent has a weapon, and you're not able to disarm them, the fight can become one-sided very quickly.  No amount of hand movements, fancy footwork or kicks are much of a match against bullets or blades. 

That is not to say that boxing is not a good thing to know.  Sometimes, having knowledge that a potential victim will hit back and knows how to make it hurt may cause a perpetrator to back down.  But one has to be careful.  Deciding to go the bullying route is not cool.  I remember my mother telling my younger siblings and I to fight back if other kids hit us.  "Hit them hard enough so that they won't do it again," she'd say.  But she'd add, "I'd better not hear about you bullying someone or I'll kick your ass."  In other words, don't start none just to prove how tough one is. 

There's a boxer I met years ago who bragged about beating down a guy who crossed his path.  Supposedly, he was sitting on a stoop when a guy allegedly made a pass at him.  Okay. . .I have heard many stories from guys who were propositioned by other guys.  It still doesn't justify gay-bashing.  The boxer could have politely said, "Naw, man, I don't swing that way," and went on about his business.  But nooo, like the late John Belushi used to say.  The boxer jumps on the guy and beats him to a pulp.  I remember the guy laughing as he was telling the story.  Not a good look.

That story points out another problem with using boxing, or any other fighting art, as self-defense.  The law has no problem with anyone fighting off a would-be attacker and escaping from them.  If I continue grinding someone who tried to snatch my purse into the sidewalk just to prove a point, I could find myself being slapped with assault charges.  They tried to hurt me, but I could get dunned for it, especially once it is learned that I know how to box.  Unfair, but very true.  A judge will ask, "Once you got them off of you, why did you go on to knock out their teeth and black their eyes?" 

In the case of the gay-bashing boxer, he wouldn't have been able to tell the cops anything like, "I felt my safety was in jeopardy!"  All the other guy did was say something to him that he didn't like.  He was lucky that no witnesses or cops were nearby, or that would have been a battery charge.  The judge would have went extra hard once he found out the guy knew how to box.

There was a movie called Undefeated starring Wesley Snipes. Snipes was a boxer doing a long stretch because he beat a guy to death who was playing around with his girl.  His sentence was made particularly harsh because the judge ruled that Snipes' character's hands were lethal weapons.  The movie was fictional, but the situation Snipes' character was not unusual.  Anyone who's in a fighting art should always pick their battles outside of the ring or the octagon very carefully.

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