Boxing For Kids: Should They Do It?

Boxing For Kids: Should They Do It?

The ring could be a scary place for the common eye, yet the world of boxing holds such potential, which could be harnessed for producing champions at the Olympics and the educational premises.

Boxing, a respectable martial art with a long history, has refined itself today to be a modest sport. Yet, it suffers in the face of misconceptions.

Far from the associated aggressive and barbaric tendencies, boxing holds in it the potential to be a significant contributor to the physical education program of schools.

With there being a greater demand for an extensive and intensive physical education program in school, boxing stands at the forefront of the child’s holistic development.

The art of pugilism or fistfight has various manifestations.

From the common scene of fistfights during the recess breaks between young adolescents to an aggressive breakdown between people fist fighting in public or otherwise, the actual act of fist fight has also formed the basis of a highly reputed yet controversial sport of boxing.

The spectrum of opinions goes as far as considering it to instill a sense of courage and self-defense on one end to one, where it is seen as a barbaric and brutal sport. 

From the knuckle bouts to the Gloves: The journey of boxing 

From the knuckle bouts to the Gloves: The journey of boxing

The Olympic sport traces its history back to the first evidence of cave paintings displaying a fistfight among the Sumerians.

It then made its way to the Roman and Greek circles, eventually marking an Olympics entry.

Boxing thus developed from being a raw sport, making use of the knuckle bouts, to a more refined modern sport, carefully shaped under the Marquess of Queensberry rules.

This helped boxing take its leap from mere violent entertainment to one that exhibits a combination of fair play techniques and athleticism.

It also marks a departure from rudimentary gears like the knuckle bouts to a more modernized protective gear, like the boxing gloves and the headgears. 

Boxing today firmly stands as a modest sport displaying both a sense of sportsmanship and fair play.

It is celebrated as one of the most challenging yet refined forms of martial arts, producing great champions in Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Mike Tyson.

The sport is known to captivate its audience for its skillful display of such tactics and ferocity that it may leave one in awe. 

Knocking out the inhibitions: Boxing for holistic development 

Knocking out the inhibitions: Boxing for holistic development

Going beyond the misconception where boxing is seen synonymous with an amateur fight producing blue, swollen eyes, and distorted faces, boxing rather exhibits a wide array of benefits

It is a challenging sport that demands complete focus and concentration to respond aptly to each move.

It is closely associated with chess, for it requires one to plan four moves and display one’s ability to outshine in the face of consistent testing.

It is a full-body conditioning sport that contributes to a defined body with enhanced muscular power and cardiovascular fitness. 

More than just rudimentary fighting, boxing is a highly technical sport that demands full-body awareness. It is aptly called the sweet science that exhibits a unique choreography.

One needs to achieve both a sense of balance and dynamic flexibility to sync the actions and moves towards an effective attack on the opponent.

Beyond the plain delivery of punches, what it also teaches is the ability to defend oneself and not become an easy target.

Thus, it instills a sense of self-defense that is an important lesson to acquire both inside and outside the ring. 

Boxing And Personal Development

Boxing uses no weapons

It also serves to condition the mind to be strong and razor-sharp. It trains to enhance motor coordination, thus contributing to an intense synapse activation and alertness.

It helps to develop a sense of awareness of one’s body, gauge the environment and the opponent.

It instills a sense of accountability and understanding of one’s actions and decisions, thus enabling one to place themselves at the center, unlocking a greater potential.

Therefore, going beyond what one sees within the ring, boxing as a martial art helps develop moral strength and a sense of spiritual fulfillment. Thus, it has both fitness and recreational quotient. 

Boxing today appeals to a larger sect as it can be pursued by people across the spectrum of age, gender, and shape.

Boxing And Education

Teaching from the classroom to the ring

Boxing’s recognition in the education curriculum traces with its introduction in intramural athletics.

Today, many high schools and colleges worldwide pay recognition to boxing in the college gymnasiums, thus uplifting its skill factor and, according to it, the desired respect.

The educational potential of boxing sees it contributing towards the organic development of the child. It caters to the physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual development of youngsters. 

Physical educators believe that boxing can usher in a great sense of discipline among students. It places the kids in a specified regime and pushes them to maintain the same.

The cognitive faculties are sharpened as boxing instills the kids with a problem-solving approach, greater awareness, and focus, all of which support them both within the ring and outside. 

It provides a stimulating environment for the young in the otherwise monotonous world, with digital spaces taking up most of the time.

It thus marks a break from the emerging sedentary lifestyle and toxic digital content feeding the children. Boxing will enable one to develop a head and a heart and stay connected to reality.

With a greater investment of oneself in the physical world, the mind is expected to become more active and appreciative of the realities of existence. 

It could be an effective outlet for the damaged generation feeding on such digital content and junk that render them with twisted attitudes and a gloomy sense of self-perception. 

It is also pitched as a helpful tool for anger management and other behavioral issues like bullying, absenteeism, and aggression among the youth and adolescents.

With the popularity of violent video games growing among the youth, one sees a recent spike in aggressive tendencies that are both harmful to the individual and the social fabric.

Furthermore, most in their early teens become victims of what is known as the ‘Internet Gaming Disorder.’  To combat such impairment in one’s self-perception and mental health, boxing can be an effective mode of channelizing the energy to build something compelling.

Like most extracurricular activities, it has a self-perception therapeutic potential by becoming an outlet for such internal turmoil and suppressed emotions.

On the virtues front, it teaches courage and self-respect. Well, winning or losing does not become a matter of ego.

Instead, it becomes a matter of experience and growth. One gains newfound confidence and a sense of resilience to withstand harsh circumstances.

Boxing teaches one to develop a fight plan as one progresses through the various rounds, making requisite modifications and adapting to the fight.

Such thinking ability contributes to an enhanced understanding of situations around oneself. It helps one familiarise oneself on how to bounce back from adversity.

Boxing does not intend to produce a generation of thugs, but rather warriors who can combat adversity with the right display of tactics.

It has the potential to turn around a lazy generation munching and snoozing away most of the time in the fictions of the World Wide Web towards a more disciplined life induced with a greater sense of humility. 

The first punch towards effective development of the child

The Jab: The first punch towards effective development of the child

The potential of boxing can be particularly harnessed in developing effective pedagogy for children.

The aim should be different from what competitive boxing meant for entertainment would achieve.

Educational boxing would enable children to pick up a skill in their early development years and sustain it for a longer time. With a greater exploration to make the education curriculum wide and intensive, martial arts lessons could be harnessed for more holistic and effective development.

The basic training of boxing- ‘the fanatic subordination of the self’ as called by Joyce Carol Oates can be a great addition to the PE training. 

As put by Olympic Gold Medalist Anthony Joshua, boxing in schools need not be pursued in the form of full-contact boxing. Instead, the focus needs to be on pad work, skipping, drills, bag works- all effective for encouraging sound behavior.

Boxing can be a tricky sport at the face of it, for its close resemblance to a typical fight.

However, acknowledgment and awareness of the sport’s technicality, along with the usage of certified trainers, protective gear, and a controlled environment, would enable one to reap the benefits of boxing.

A detailed analysis of the body type of students, maintaining a record of past injuries, a proper grouping of batches would also serve effectively to help students train better.

The introduction of martial arts in a controlled set up is a good step towards developing a robust physical education curriculum.

Whether boxing would turn the youngsters into violent beasts and bad lads or whether it will enable them to be more aware of when and where to display aggression depends on how the institutions choose to carve the training process.

A constant reiteration of the essence of the sport with examples of boxing like Ali will enable more to draw the right inspiration.

Addressing the hiccup 

In many nations, including India, boxing does not command a significant fan following. The primary concern with boxing is the perceived aggression and brutality associated with the sport.

The common perception holds it to be a sordid sport that glorifies violence and puts at risk its consequent socio-psychological impact on children. 

Many students and their guardians also don’t prefer pursuing the same because of either a lack of interest or lack of facilities.

There is also a concern regarding the misuse of the techniques and increasing social tension.

Boxing also leads to livid and sometimes irreversible injuries, particularly to the head and eye regions. Many health groups recommend against youth boxing.

While it is true that boxers are susceptible to injuries, injuries by themselves stand as a common element in the world of sports. Improving the gear and protection is the vital way forward to address the same.

Preventive mechanisms in the form of effective management and safe practice and play should be encouraged. Furthermore, professional boxing stands different from amateur boxing.

While the former does make the participants prone to injuries to great extents, the latter focuses more on building and earning points on techniques like footwork, punches, and blows. 

The goal of educational boxing

While the reservations associated with pursuing boxing could be understandable, digging deeper would inform that safety is one of the foremost priorities of the trainers.

Moreover, a major emphasis is on adequate training, mastering the techniques, and not just resorting to mindless punching for entertainment. It is carefully controlled to make it more skill-oriented for the child.

Acknowledging the humble glove: Boxing for the right mind and right body

Acknowledging the humble glove

Boxing roars loud. It exhibits power, and it demands the grind.

Far from the commonplace notion that boxing stands for aggression, what it induces is a sense of composure that teaches one to use aggression at the right time and right place, specifically within the ring.

What is pivotal to this sport is the proper training and a gradual progression. The young should be accustomed to the virtues of the martial art before gloving up.

The Modus operandi should contain a well designed and wholesome set of instructions & training by the trainers. It would enable us to beat the perception of boxing being a sordid sport.

Further, there is a greater need for youth champions to set examples and run ‘The Right Information’ campaigns to spread awareness about the sport and beat the misconceptions.

With the emergence of young boxers (Devin Haney, Teofimo Lopez,  Vergil Ortiz Jr, Daniel Dubois) to the surface, the sport is on its way to shedding off its inhibitions and being perceived as a good choice for kids.

The framework of laws and regulations should also support the sport and realize its full potential.

Educational policies and legislation should reflect the changing demands and induce greater conversation on the need for martial arts to shape the young generation and an effective choice in the physical education curriculum. 

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