As you strive and struggle through some of your workouts, there may be moments when all of it just seems unnatural. You feel awkward, like everything is forced and you may begin to question whether you’re cut-out for boxing at all.
Honestly, there are some individuals that simply aren’t made to compete. The truth is, nearly anyone can pick the sport up for fun, fitness, cardiovascular and strength-building benefits, but a smaller percentage are actually meant to get in the ring and fight for real. That’s just reality. But if your heart is set on it, you’re determined to climb through those ropes and put up your dukes, then let me reassure you that we, as human beings ARE hard-wired for combat. We were made to fight. Physically, mentally and spiritually, it’s in our DNA. There’s more to the sweet science than just the execution of throwing blows. There’s actual…science.
A recent study published by the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport demonstrated that when physical contact is heightened, it can actually cause your body to convert cells into lean tissue to help protect you. When traumatic contact is made, when you get hit, punched or even elbowed, it causes your brain to send signals to your body that it needs to be protected by muscle instead of by fat. This conversion occurs at a cellular level without you having to DO anything, other than endure. It’s your body’s natural way of helping guard and protect you from an attack. In life or in the ring you’re genetically predisposed to be ready for battle, for hand-to-hand combat.
Another new study in the Scientific Journal Biological Reviews suggests that male skeletal facial features have evolved to better cope with hand-to-hand combat. Early human skulls exhibited prominent jaw bones, but with the face being a primary target in fistfights, the skeletal structure changed to provide better protection. A protruding jaw would make for a primary target in fighting, so over time, the face has adapted to reduce fractures and/or injury by becoming flatter. The human body is a highly-adaptable machine. In this case, a fighting machine.
The other natural characteristic that is necessary for fighting (several previous blog posts have already been dedicated to this topic) is your natural response to FEAR. The “fight or flight response” or the feeling of being scared prepares your body for combat. Your brain sends a message that you are in some type of danger. It then releases a series of stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones create a burst of energy in anticipation to fight. That then causes your heart to race and increases oxygen and energy flow. Your blood pressure rises, your breathing increases and you start to sweat. Your body’s central nervous system goes into overdrive to adequately prepare you for combat. Although it can be an unsettling feeling, this process prepares your body for confrontation in a complete, natural way that you could never recreate on your own simply by thinking-through what you need to physically, emotionally and physiologically do to get ready to fight.
In addition, a recent study conducted by Keele University has shown that this type of adrenaline rush also gives you the ability to endure mild pain much longer…by as much as 65%. The Franklin Institute also found that adrenaline improves and heightens all of your senses. You can easily see how all of these “side effects” of being scared could be beneficial natural responses to draw on in the ring.
So, even though fighting may not always seem simple or like it comes naturally and there may be times when you feel like you’re not cut-out for the sport, you’ve actually been made to do it. Your heart, mind and body have all been magnificently created to fight for your life. All you have to do is act naturally.