Reach Out And Punch Someone


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The thought of being punched is unsettling to most people. Unless you have a history of participating in contact sports, the fear of being hit can be intimidating and can compromise your ability to defend yourself. In a confrontation the chance of being hit is significant.

What if you were struck, kicked or knocked down in a violent encounter? Would you be able to shrug it off and stay focused on defending yourself? If you want to enhance your ability to defend yourself, you need to come to terms with the reality of being hit.

Boxing and kickboxing training have become very popular with both men and woman as a means of developing all around fitness, skill, coordination, timing and reflexes. Just as importantly, training with boxing gloves improves your emotional resilience y “de-sensitizing" you to impact and reducing your fear of being hit. What's more, this training can be safe and enjoyable.

This article contains:

=> the benefits of boxing glove training drills => advice to improve training and reduce the

potential for injury => recommendations about the equipment you need


Far too often, people walk away from a self- defense class with a false perception of their own effectiveness. There is a good chance that defensive skills were not included in the training and if they were, they were probably in response to a static, predictable and unrealistic “attack. "

Incorporating light to medium contact boxing glove drills provides you with experience in responding to actual blows. Contact work, if properly done, can make you more resilient and relaxed in a confrontation.

Psychologists call this “de-sensitization. " You deliberately and repeatedly expose yourself to something you fear (being hit) and that fear will dissipate.

Before long, you can be “hit" several times during a training session and think nothing of it.

NOTE: When I say, “hit" I am not talking about a full force, solid punch to the head. I am referring to light to moderate impact, with protective equipment, during training drills consistent with your physical condition and skill level.


If you are considering incorporating some light boxing glove drills I congratulate you. However, I must also caution you that if done improperly, this training can be counterproductive and result in injury.

Keep these issues in mind when participating training with boxing gloves:


Unless you are already skilled at self-defense or martial arts, I do not advocate “sparring" on your own. For “self training" purposes I recommend simple, controlled training drills. If you are interested in sparring, I encourage you to seek out a qualified instructor and participate under supervision.


Nothing sabotages the quality of impact training like a competitive attitude. In order to train safely and gain maximum benefit, avoid “keeping score" or trying to out do your partner. The best way to de-sensitize yourself to impact is keep it light, non-threatening, and view being hit with disinterest. Learn to relax and have fun.


How intense should this training be? In impact training, intensity refers to the speed andforce of the strikes being thrown.

In an unsupervised, self-training session punch lightly and train on the “threshold" of occasional errors.

If you are making no mistakes and successful defending yourself against each and every blow, chances are the training is too easy. If you are being hit repeatedly, it is unlikely you are developing anything useful.

Adjust the speed and complexity of your drills based on an occasional strike landing.


I wrote this article in response to requests from students of my self-defense and defensive tactics seminars. I assume that the reader has knowledge of basic defensive skills.

Start slow and simple by having your partner throw a single attack. Gradually change the timing, the order and the number of strikes. Use your own “threshold of error" to determine the speed and complexity. Focus on relaxing and enjoying yourself.


In order to conduct this training safely, you need the right equipment. It's easy to justify the cost of training equipment when you realize that this training not only de-sensitizes you to impact but also is also excellent for conditioning and skill development.

You will need the following:


Duh!!! Obviously you'll need a training partner. Notice I said training “partner; not training “opponent. "

If your partner is not mature and trustworthy don't bother!

The idea is to conduct this training in a safe and cooperative manner. Competing or proving how tough you are will get someone hurt.


I recommend a decent pair of 14-16 ounce boxing gloves. These are firm enough to provide some impact energy but padded enough to reduce the potential for injury. Look for good quality gloves with Velcro around the wrists instead of laces.


A good “boil and bite" plastic mouth guard can be picked up at just about any sporting goods store for a few dollars. These guards are soaked in hot water until they are soft and then they can be molded to your teeth with your fingers. (read the instructions!)

Mouth guards prevent you from biting your tongue or chipping your teeth. The can also reduce the potential for a concusion if you were to take a hard blow to the head. (which shouldn't happen if you're training properly)


Wear groin protection. Boxers use equipment that protects not only the groin but the kidneys as well. If you can afford the boxing gear fine, but if you are doing only light, controlled impact work, a regular athletic groin protector will do. I encourage women to invest in athletic breast protectors.


Boxing headgear is an optional piece of equipment you might want to invest in. If you are going to get into sparring and more intense training, I highly recommend it. However, for lighter, more controlled “de-sensitization" training, it is not necessary.


If you are interested in developing realistic self defense skills you must come to terms with the reality that you might get hit. Self-doubt or being overwhelmed with fear compromises successful defense.

Properly conducted impact training is an excellent fear management strategy that will enhance your resilience and effectiveness.

Randy LaHaie

Randy LaHaie is the president of Protective Strategies and has been teaching reality-based self-defense for over 30 years. He is the author of several “Toughen Up Combative Training Guides" ( )

Subscribe to his Free Self-Defense Newsletter at .


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