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Him: I think maybe I should not specify boxing in my resume...
Me: Why not?
Him: I always get questions like "are you a violent person?" "do you have anger issues?"
Me: What? It's ludicrous!
Him: Combat sports don't look good. You should think about it too.
There are three type of boxing, basically:
English: Involves only punching techniques. No blow under belt level allowed.
Thai (on which kick boxing is based): Fists, elbows, knee, and feet techniques. Comes from a very old martial art called muay thai. Every part of the body (except crotch or throat) can be the target.
French boxing, known as savate: Fists and feet. Savate was created by fencers, and thus shares some rules with fencing. Used to be extremely codified. It's forbidden to hit the opponent in the back. So is hitting with the back of the fist. Kicks are delivered with the toe area for fouettés and with the sole of the shoe for chassés.
I used to do thai boxing. Had a long break from sport and then did two years of karate. I discovered french boxing this year, not as a complete beginner since I already knew how to deliver kicks and punches, but with a brand new attitude.
Each kind of boxing has its own state of mind, its own history and identity, but they all share some basic attitudes.
I used to be prone to fight. I'm not anymore. Did boxing help me? Hell yes. This is why.
Sparring partners are not people you hate or want to hurt. Quite the opposite, they are people you hang around with, and the last thing you wish is to harm them. There's no feeling as bad as causing pain to one of your pals. So boxing isn't about letting the anger out, it's a matter of balance and control, it's about knowing how to deal with your own strength, and respecting your partner's rhythm and limits. Do you know what's going to happen if you go to a boxing club and intend to "let the anger out"? The guy you're fighting with will either be someone of your own level and skills, or lower, and get hurt. And nobody will want to spar with you again. Or it will be someone with more skills and higher strength, and you'll be looking like a frustrated kid as he will proceed to block your every move and maybe give you a glimpse of what a hard, uncontrolled punch feels like.
Thus, boxing clubs are no place to be violent.
Now, the outside world has no ring, no rules, no gloves and no trainer to tell you when that's enough.
The best boxer I've ever met is called Abdu. Skilled in both thai boxing and french boxing, he is tall, ripped, with a body that has not a hint of fat. He can take my most powerful kicks as if they were mere poking. He moves smoothly, almost graciously, and his boxing is not only efficient but also beautiful to watch. Abdu's elbow strike can kill a man and it's not hyperbolic. He knows it. Anyone who has ever faced it knows it. Abdu's skin is the colour of ebony. A bunch of dudes called him a monkey and provoked him as he was on his way back from the grocery store. But he didn't start a fight. Because fighting when you have his skills is like bullying a five year old. There's no point, and it would be stooping very low.
I won't make a portrait of the boxer as some sort of buddhist monk. We're clearly not that. But we do have a sense of responsibility. That indeed means that we are relunctant to get in a fight for personnal motives.
I, for one, have never hesitated to step in when I witnessed someone demonstrating a threatening or violent attitude toward a person who appeared helpless. But that's something that has nothing to do with boxing... or does it?
Maybe it does. Maybe it did make us all bolder, although I'm not quite sure. Fighting in the ring requires not to lose your temper. Maybe in the face of stressful events we tend to react with defensive stances. Whether it is in actual fight or in the face of adversity one may encouter during his life.
Boxing is a sport in which one learns through mistakes, sometimes painful ones. In this regard I think it gives some sort of psychological and moral strength, because quite honestly that's what the real world is about: getting knocked down and having to stand up when we think we'd just like to give up and go home. Running away isn't possible, the ring is closed. And whether you lose the fight or win it, at least you fought and in the end your opponent will pat you on the sholder and congratulate you whatever the outcome.
These sports are more about accepting to get punched than about delivery the blows. But that teaches you two things: to respect others in their weaknesses, to respect their pain, their efforts, and to avoid exposing them to danger as much as possible.
And, very importantly, it teaches you that you are to be respected. Because no matter how much of a shitty boxer you may be, even if your punches are weak and your guard too low and even if you're not going to win any fight, ever... well at least you stepped into the damn ring and agreed to follow the rules. That deserves some respect.
We all met that guy. The awkward one who does the exact opposite to what he should do. The guy who exposes his ribs to your kicks or uses his forehead to block you punches (both examples are true stories). The guy you're afraid is going to get himself killed and you can never really touch him because his guard is never where it should be and you don't want to hurt him (see above). This guy, even if his attitude can become somewhat annoying, is never made fun of. You'll witness the most experienced trainers or boxers scream at him a little because he doesn't do it right. But they won't laugh. They won't ridicule him. They will make him practice, they will explain, over and over, because that awkward guy is there every week and if he doesn't give up, they won't either. If that's being violent, then I'm glad I am. I'm glad there is one place in the world where people will never decide that you just suck and give up on you. It's not a sweet-and-kind way of being supportive. It's a different kind of support.
I'm not removing boxing from my resume.