Updated: Dec 18, 2019
At our club, we currently have roughly 50 junior & youth boxers. These kids come from all walks of life, different ages, different religions, different colors, different sizes, different schools – the one common denominator, and what bonds them together – is their love of boxing. They are united within the club, no one is better or worse at boxing, they don’t care about who lives in a bigger house, has better toys, or who did or didn’t play with them at lunch time at school. They just come to box.
The difference between kids who prefer to box over playing football/basketball/soccer or team sports in general – is their inner drive – their only competition is themselves. If they muck up their punches, take a hit in sparring, or get too tired to carry on – there is NOBODY else to blame, or pick up the slack for them. They need to be resilient, and have enough confidence in themselves that their skills and willpower will get them through.
In saying that, boxing does also mean that they have to learn to operate in a team environment. They train together as a group, they will support and encourage one another, and they will put their skills to the test in sparring with one another. This instills in them a level of respect for each other – they all understand how each other feels, when they are tired, perhaps when they are hurt, or if their confidence has taken a bit of knock. They understand that none of them are perfect, and some days are just better than others.
This brings us to the core values of most martial arts. Everyday is not always going to be your best day, but its how you handle those tough times, disappointments and set backs that is the true measure of character. Case in point: SPARRING.
This is delicate one, and not many of the general population understand what is actually going on in there – when all they can see is two kids punching each other! Well there is a WHOLE LOT going on!!! Your child is learning some very valuable life lessons, that will help them cope in difficult & stressful situations, and hopefully enable them to develop a level of respect & understanding for their sparring partner, and learn to accept guidance and take advice from their coach or team. These values are to be encouraged to cross over into everyday life – and stay with them forever.
Most of the kids love getting in to spar, they especially love it when things are going their way – hell who doesn’t!! But taking a blow or feeling “not as good” as their sparring partner, or just feeling defeated can be hard to handle. Kids now days seem to have a strong fear of failure….which is NOT DOING THEM ANY FAVORS!!! Failure is how we learn, we learn from our mistakes, we grow from them, and we become better people because of them. There is NO failing, and NO winning or losing in sparring. Their only competition is themselves. They must focus on the task at hand, and try to remain calm amidst the chaos, stay in control of their emotions, and practice what they have learned – they also must keep adjusting, keep changing things slightly, try to read the other person, predict their next move, stay on alert, keep moving, keep safe, listen to their corner, breathe and TRY TO STAY RELAXED…..while someone else is trying to punch them in the face!! THERE’S A LOT GOING ON IN THERE!!! And sometimes its hard to see that, as a parent, as a coach – we only want them to be safe, and we just want what is best for them. And sometimes that’s a punch in the face. Because this is when shit gets a bit real for them – suddenly they aren’t in control – Mum & Dad aren’t their to pluck them to safety – their getting beaten – their little heart is racing – they cant breathe properly – the adrenaline in their system is through the roof! And this is the moment they learn to survive – that they can & will survive if they dig deep, trust in themselves, and have the confidence that they have worked hard enough during all their hours of training to get through this. Because at the end of the day – its just a punch on the nose – falling off bikes & skateboard, swings – you name it – chances are your kid has been hurt a lot worse in the past, and they got back up and kept going.
As coaches we see the beauty in it – we see their growth, their development, their skills improve. All those classes when we thought they were just staring out the window or not paying attention (some really weren’t listening or learning haha!) but most of them were actually listening & learning!! They get in that ring – and they know they want to shine, they need to work hard – or they will feel that face punch! Its amazing to watch, the behaviors they display under such pressure, the work rate, the sheer determination and resolve, it
truly is astounding. These are the moments when your child knows they are capable of great things, they can face adversity, and extremely stressful & difficult situations, and know that they will be okay.